Red Sox

Red Sox-Yankees at London Stadium will feature a unique field setup

Red Sox-Yankees at London Stadium will feature a unique field setup

We've seen (American) football games on baseball fields. But how can you transform a massive soccer stadium into a venue for an MLB game?

We're finding out, as the Boston Red Sox and New York Yankees will face off at London Stadium this weekend in MLB's first-ever games in Europe.

That means stadium crews have had to lay down dirt and artificial turf to change the home of West Ham United into a baseball field. And apparently it's coming together quite nicely.

Here's a look at a few photos from inside the stadium:

MLB senior field coordinator and consultant Murray Cook, who led the London Stadium project, likened the transformed field to a "ballpark-in-a-box" that essentially plops an entire ballpark in the middle of an oval pitch.

"Under the armor deck is the track-and-field venue and this multimillion-dollar soccer pitch; we can't anchor or dig any holes," Cook told ESPN.com's Marly Rivera. "So everything has to be balanced or weighted to support all the fencing structure and foul poles."

The on-field dimensions are pretty standard (if slightly small): 385 feet to center field and 330 feet down each line. But the one unique aspect will be the massive amount of foul territory on either side that Cook compared to the Oakland Coliseum. There's also a 16-foot wall in center field that Cook calls a "mini Green Monster." (The Red Sox are the home team, after all.)

There's still work to be done ahead of the first game Friday, but this "ballpark-in-a-box" seems almost ready to host the Red Sox-Yankees rivalry on foreign soil.

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Can Red Sox win without Mookie Betts? David Ortiz has simple response

Can Red Sox win without Mookie Betts? David Ortiz has simple response

The Boston Red Sox have a tough task trying to replace the elite production Mookie Betts provided at the plate and in the outfield, but David Ortiz is confident the team will eventually plug the holes that losing an MVP-caliber player creates.

The Red Sox legend addressed reporters at JetBlue Park on Thursday and touched on a number of subjects, including a question on whether Boston can win without Betts after it traded him to the Los Angeles Dodgers earlier this month.

"They won without me," Ortiz said, immediately followed by some laughs. "I'm not saying that Mookie is not a big piece of what we are here. But once that happens, you got to move on. I was part of this ballclub in 2016, and in 2018 we won, and I wasn't playing. As a player, we are a big part of a team, but we also are replaceable. I'm not saying we're going to replace Mookie tomorrow, but sometimes another player shows up and does things that help you win ballgames.

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"This organization really appreciates as a player what we bring to the table, but they also know how to fix the (weak) spots somehow, some way. Mookie put a big hole in our lineup, but I'm pretty sure the front office at some point will figure out how to cover some of the holes that we're going to have because Mookie was good hitting, he was good defensively and he was good off-the-field. It takes time to replace that, but this organization, I know, is good at that, replacing things and moving forward."

The Red Sox did bounce back well from losing Ortiz. They made the playoffs in 2017 before winning a franchise-record 108 regular season games and the World Series in 2018. The Sox also won the World Series in 2013 following a blockbuster trade with the Dodgers in 2012 that sent high-priced veterans Adrian Gonzalez, Carl Crawford and others to Los Angeles. 

Each situation is different, though, and it's hard to envision the Red Sox competing for a playoff spot in 2020 with their current roster. Boston's offense should still rank among the American League's best. The Red Sox lineup still has some formidable players, highlighted by Rafael Devers, Xander Bogaerts and J.D. Martinez. Pitching is the real issue, especially the rotation. Chris Sale's health is a concern. Rick Porcello is very inconsistent, and Eduardo Rodriguez must prove he can duplicate his excellent 2019 campaign. There are question marks throughout the bullpen as well.

The Red Sox do have some advantages when it comes to replacing Betts. Ownership hasn't been afraid to spend money, and the farm system is better now than it was at the end of last season. There are reasons to believe the Red Sox can recover, but that isn't likely to happen in 2020.

Tomase: Why trading for Wil Myers would make sense for Sox

Red Sox legend David Ortiz gives his take on Mookie Betts trade with Dodgers

Red Sox legend David Ortiz gives his take on Mookie Betts trade with Dodgers

The realities of baseball can be harsh, and Boston Red Sox fans have found that out firsthand this offseason.

The Red Sox traded their best player, Mookie Betts, and starting pitcher David Price to the Los Angeles Dodgers in exchange for three young players earlier this month. Betts is entering the final year of his contract, and he's expected to land one of the richest deals in MLB history when his next one is signed. Losing Betts for nothing in free agency didn't make sense for the Red Sox, and they decided to get in front of that scenario by moving him prior to the 2020 season.

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Red Sox legend David Ortiz spoke to reporters at the team's spring training facility Thursday and gave his thoughts on the Betts trade. 

“Unfortunately, this game, it’s not just a game. It’s business,” Ortiz said. “Mookie’s situation, it’s hard to give up someone like him, someone like David Price. What they bring to the table, it’s more than enough. On the business side, we also know that Mookie is going to be a guy that’s going to get a deal close to what Mike Trout has. I’m pretty sure that’s going to happen at some point. I guess that’s the difference between having him here and having him going to L.A.

"We all understand that. I know fans are hurting a little bit because you let a franchise player go somewhere else, but that’s the tricky part about baseball. You fall in love with players, and the business side of it sometimes doesn’t allow the team to keep up with them, and it’s always that one time where you have to say goodbye like the conversations with Mookie and David Price. But it’s guys who did what they were supposed to do when they were here, and the fans are always going to appreciate that, and us in our conversation are always going appreciate the same, it’s going to be the same way. Always wishing them the best, and it don’t stop the train.”

Ortiz understands that players must do what's best for them and their family. One part of that process is maximizing your value because massive contracts like the one Betts is expected to sign as a free agent don't come around too often.

“Sometimes, people think that as a player we get greedy when it comes down to contracts,” Ortiz said. “But it only goes around once. It doesn’t go around twice. It goes around once and you’ve got to get what you have earned, because nobody gives you anything in this game. You’ve got to earn it. Mookie has earned every single dollar that he’s going to get. If I’m him, I’m not going to leave $50 (million), $60 (million), $70 million on the table out there just because, you know what I’m saying? It is what it is.

"We had a good offer for him, but I understand that he somewhere else was going to get more. I think the Red Sox’ decision with him was perfect, because you’re just not going to let a great player go after the season. Before the season even begins you try to get something in exchange that you can have for a long period of time. For both sides, I think it was really good. Plus, we all know that we are trying to reduce payroll. It’s just something that it wasn’t surprising. I wasn't expecting it this early, but I knew something was going to happen. It happened early enough. Like I said, this business, it is what it is.”

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