Red Sox

David Ortiz on slow offseason: 'Who the hell is going to play?'

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David Ortiz on slow offseason: 'Who the hell is going to play?'

MASHANTUCKET, Conn. — Red Sox Winter Weekend began Friday night with most current players lining up on a stage at Foxwoods, ahead of a town hall discussion with fans.

Something was obviously missing: a marquis addition, or any addition at all, really, aside from new manager Alex Cora.

MORE - Return to health may mean return to form for Bradley

Before the town hall began, chairman Tom Werner offered the media something that sounded like assurance the assembly of players Friday will be supplemented come Opening Day.

“We’re going to make some more moves this offseason,” Werner said. “So, again, I’m not worried so much about where we are on January 17 as where we are on April 1.”

Werner even dangled a carrot of specificity.

“We are in active negotiations with J.D. Martinez,” Werner said. “People know about that. It takes two to make a deal. I can only speak for the Red Sox, we’re going to have — we will most definitely have the highest payroll that we’ve ever had and you know other teams have to make their own decisions but we expect to be competitive and we expect to improve from our team last year.”

Asked if there was momentum with Martinez, Werner went no further.

“I don’t want to get too into the free-agent discussions,” Werner said. “We’re hopeful to make a deal, but as I’ve said, it takes two people to make that deal.”

Later, it took only a couple questions from fans for Sox president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski to be asked where the 2018 Sox would get their power from. Other fans had similar questions about the pace of the offseason and the competition’s improvements.

“The players want more money than the clubs have been willing to offer,” Dombrowski said. “If you want to play, it’s going to change, and I think it’s going to change very quickly.”

As Dombrowski said at a different point in the night: “the ice is going to melt, and it is going to move very fast.”

David Ortiz, speaking to the media alongside Pedro Martinez, has been a busy man in retirement. But he’s noticed the crawl of free agency.

"I'm just wondering, who the hell is going to play this season?” Ortiz said. “Because nobody has signed yet. I'm wondering, what's going on? It's pretty much everybody. I have tons of guys, a friend of mine [who I asked], did you sign yet? Nope. It's almost spring training, bro. What's the deal?' That’s a question you guys should ask the owners.”

Gathered media indeed asked Werner about the pace of free agency.

“I can only speak for the Red Sox,” Werner said. “We’re going to have — we will most definitely have the highest payroll that we’ve ever had, and you know other teams have to make their own decisions, but we expect to be competitive and we expect to improve from our team last year.”

Martinez and Ortiz stopped short of saying the Sox had to add a bat, but they were naturally supportive of an addition like Martinez.

“You always need a bat like that,” Ortiz said. “A bat like that is never a waste.”

Martinez suggested Ortiz would need to come back if Martinez. 

“I was just talking to David, if we don't happen to get one of those big bats, I'm going to get you some lighter bats,” Martinez said. “And I don't know who's going to make those shoes [to keep you healthy], but we've got to make those shoes.”

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LeBlanc dominates as Red Sox fall to Mariners, 1-0

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USA TODAY Sports Photo

LeBlanc dominates as Red Sox fall to Mariners, 1-0

SEATTLE -- Despite having a fastball that doesn't reach 90 miles an hour, Wade LeBlanc effectively shut down one of the best lineups in the American League.

LeBlanc pitched into the eighth inning and Nelson Cruz had an RBI single as the Seattle Mariners beat the Boston Red Sox 1-0 Saturday night.

LeBlanc gave up just two hits and struck out nine over 7 2/3 innings. After a single by Mookie Betts on the opening at-bat of the game, he retired the next 22 batters until Eduardo Nunez singled with two outs in the eighth.

"What a changeup he had today. That has been his bread and butter his whole career, but today was probably the best one we've seen all year," Mariners manager Scott Servais said. "He knows his craft very well and when he gets on a roll like that, he just keeps riding it."

LeBlanc (3-0) wasn't a part of the Mariners starting rotation until the first week of May. But since replacing an injured Erasmo Ramirez in the rotation, LeBlanc has shined for the Mariners. He's posted a 2.06 ERA in nine starts and Saturday's gem was the best of the lot.

A near-capacity crowd at Safeco Field saluted LeBlanc with a standing ovation as he left the field after Nunez's single.

"That's a really neat moment. Guys that throw 86 (mph) don't really get standing ovations really often," LeBlanc said chuckling. "I definitely wanted to kind of take them in and show my appreciation for it."

Alex Colome got pinch-hitter Mitch Moreland to pop out to end the eighth, and Edwin Diaz struck out the side in the ninth for his 27th save.

It was LeBlanc's first start of more than seven innings pitched since his first outing of the 2011 season with the San Diego Padres. His nine strikeouts were also his most since striking out 10 against the Los Angeles Dodgers that same season.

"He reminds me of that guy on the wall over there," Red Sox manager Alex Cora said gesturing toward a photo of Jamie Moyer. "LeBlanc was outstanding. Back-door cutters, front-door sinkers and mixed up his breaking ball halfway through the game, all on the edge of the strike zone."

LeBlanc had a little help from Dee Gordon at second base with diving stops to rob Rafael Devers and Xander Bogaerts of base hits.

The Mariners needed LeBlanc's stellar outing as they struggled to get a lot going against knuckleballer Steven Wright.

Wright (2-1) held Seattle to just one run and five hits with two walks and four strikeouts over seven innings.

Three singles - all to left field - off Wright in the third inning gave the Mariners their early advantage. Gordon reached with one out while Mitch Haniger and Cruz each singled with two down.

"We got just enough off of a really tough knuckleballer," Servais said. "Our guys are not used to seeing that and he was really good. The ball was dancing everywhere. He threw a lot of strikes with it.

"Our guy was just a little bit better."

It snapped Wright's string of 25 1/3 scoreless innings, which topped the stretch of 25 scoreless innings by Oakland's Daniel Mengden for the longest in the majors this season.

GILBERT SIGNED

The Mariners signed first-round pick Logan Gilbert earlier in the day. The right-handed pitcher from Stetson University posted a 2.52 ERA while going 11-1 with 157 strikeouts and 23 walks in 15 starts. His 157 strikeouts lead NCAA Division-I baseball this season.

TRAINER'S ROOM

Red Sox: LHP Drew Pomeranz played catch in the outfield on Friday and is expected to do so again on Sunday. Manager Alex Cora said Pomeranz still felt stiff from his left biceps tendinitis but that they didn't feel it was anything serious. "He was moving around better today," Cora said.

Mariners: RHP Juan Nicasio threw a live bullpen session prior to Saturday's game. Nicasio is expected to be activated from the disabled list during Seattle's upcoming series in New York. He's eligible to come off the disabled list on Sunday after having fluid buildup in his right knee.

UP NEXT

Red Sox: LHP Eduardo Rodriguez (8-1) has won each of his last five starts and hasn't allowed more than two runs in a start since May 15. He's posted a 2.15 ERA over 29 1/3 innings with 30 strikeouts over his last five outings.

Mariners: RHP Mike Leake (7-3) has pitched at least six innings in each of his last five starts, posting a 3-0 record with a 1.77 ERA over that span.

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Leger: When will David Price earn your forgiveness?

Leger: When will David Price earn your forgiveness?

For any player in Boston, getting the fans on your side usually comes down to one thing: winning.

But for David Price, it’s been more complicated than simply letting his play do the talking.

Price has done nothing but win in his last seven starts. The southpaw is 6-0 with a 2.24 ERA over that span. And yet, the applause that usually comes with such a dominant stretch has been drowned out by “shut up and pitch” comments and a grudge that’s been held ever since Price’s infamous run-in with Sox great Dennis Eckersley a season ago.

Surely, some of that also has to do with the fact Price is expected to pitch like an ace. Boston didn’t hand him a seven-year, $217 million contract for him to be anything less. But since that altercation with Eck in what was an overall rocky 2017 season, it’s been next to impossible for Price to get back into Boston’s good graces. 

His surprisingly stellar performance out of the bullpen during last year’s ALDS appeared to have finally won fans over, though it didn’t take long for that success to be forgotten. When Price exited his Apr. 11 start after only one inning vs the Yankees with “hand numbness,” it was back to square one. Especially when he was scratched from his May 9 start in New York and the silly “he’s playing too much Fortnite” story got going. 

At this rate, even with how well Price has been pitching lately, you can’t help but feel as though he’s just one slip-up away from being brought right back down. It’s been one step forward, two steps back for him since he inked his mega-deal in 2016. So what does he have to do to finally get over that hump?

One easy answer to that question is he needs to show he’s capable of shutting down the Yankees. The Bronx Bombers have had Price's number since he's joined the Red Sox and the current narrative that he's "afraid" to take the mound against them needs to be put to rest. But will a quality start vs New York be enough, or has too much damage already been done?

The other answer is that Price has to have a dominant postseason. By that logic, Chris Sale needs to be held to the same standard. Sale struggled mightily vs Houston last October allowing nine runs in 9.2 innings pitched, and remains beloved in Boston. If he scuffles again next time around, will he receive as much criticism as Price? My guess is no, he won't.

We've seen redemption stories in Boston before (hello, 2013 John Lackey), so there's time for Price to change the course of his Red Sox legacy. And if he keeps up what he's done over the last month, he'll be putting himself on the right track.

Unfortunately for him, it's up to the fans to decide what the benchmark is to finally become a favorite in this city.

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