Capitals

Valentine: Ortiz shut it down after major trade

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Valentine: Ortiz shut it down after major trade

BOSTON (AP) Former Red Sox manager Bobby Valentine says David Ortiz spent more time than expected on the disabled list before playing one game and then returning to it after the team made a major trade that signaled it would not compete for a postseason berth.

Valentine made his remarks Tuesday in an interview with NBC's Bob Costas airing several hours after John Farrell was introduced as Boston's new manager.

Ortiz was working out at Fenway Park on Tuesday and spoke to Farrell amid reports that he and the team were closing in on a two-year deal to keep the potential free agent in Boston.

The designated hitter missed 71 of the last 72 games with a strained right Achilles and hit .318 with 23 homers and 60 RBIs. He had played in 89 of the first 90 games. His other game was on Aug. 24, one day before the Red Sox traded Adrian Gonzalez, Josh Beckett, Carl Crawford and Nick Punto to the Los Angeles Dodgers.

``David Ortiz came back after spending about six weeks on the disabled list and we thought it was only going to be a week,'' Valentine said in an interview on Costas Tonight on NBC Sports Network. ``He got two hits the first two times up, drove in a couple runs; we were off to the races. Then he realized that this trade meant that we're not going to run this race and we're not even going to finish the race properly and he decided not to play anymore. I think at that time it was all downhill from there.''

The Red Sox beat the Kansas City Royals 4-3 on Aug. 24 to improve to 60-66. After the trade, they were 9-27 and finished at 69-93, their worst record since 1965. They came in last in the AL East, four games behind the Toronto Blue Jays.

Valentine was fired the day after Boston ended the season with an eight-game losing streak.

ESPN reported on Tuesday that the Red Sox are closing in on a two-year deal with Ortiz and hope to finalize it this week, according to a baseball source. The report said the compensation has not been determined and that Ortiz is believed to be seeking $25 million.

He earned $14.575 million this season in a one-year deal.

General manager Ben Cherington said Tuesday he's talked several times with the designated hitter's agent, Fernando Cuza.

``We've had good dialogue since the season ended,'' he said. ``The goal remains the same. We want him back in a Red Sox uniform, and we'll continue to work toward that end.''

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Tom Wilson immediately moves back onto the top line for Tuesday’s game in Minnesota

Tom Wilson immediately moves back onto the top line for Tuesday’s game in Minnesota

After a neutral arbitrator reduced Tom Wilson’s suspension on Tuesday, head coach Todd Reirden is wasting no time getting him back into the lineup. Wilson will make his season debut against the Minnesota Wild on Tuesday  (8 p.m. ET, NBC Sports Washington) and he will play on the top line alongside Alex Ovechkin and Evgeny Kuznetsov.

“That's where he's most comfortable,” Reirden said after the team’s morning skate Tuesday.

“They had some preseason time together and I thought it was the right move to do tonight. I liked some of the things that we saw from some of the adjustments we made last game, but I think this will allow Tom to have the most success after an extended period of time out of game action.”

With Wilson’s return the Caps will have their full offensive lineup for the first time this season. After reuniting Ovechkin, Nicklas Backstrom and T.J. Oshie on the top line for Sunday’s game, Reirden has elected to change things again go with the same top nine that worked so effectively during the team’s playoff run last season, per Isabelle Khurshudyan.

Alex Ovechkin – Evgeny Kuznetsov – Tom Wilson
Jakub Vrana – Nicklas Backstrom – T.J. Oshie
Andre Burakovsky – Lars Eller – Brett Connolly
Chandler Stephenson – Travis Boyd – Devante Smith-Pelly

Dmitry Orlov – John Carlson
Michal Kempny – Matt Niskanen
Christian Djoos – Madison Bowey

Pheonix Copley to start.

The addition of Wilson dramatically changes the team’s lineup and chemistry. Not only does it make the lineup deeper, he also obviously adds a major physical element.

“He's such a big part of our team, of the way we play, of the culture on and off the ice that we've been missing something,” Oshie said. “It's been 43 so it's great to have him back.”

While the Caps are getting their top-line winger back, the team is also entering the game well aware that it may take time for him to get up to game speed.

“For him, we have to have realistic expectations that he's going to have a little bit of a learning curve here in terms of getting back up to speed and getting back up to the pace of play which is something that's at an all-time high this year,” Reirden said.

With that in mind, do not be surprised to see the Caps shuffle their offensive lines throughout the night rather than lean on Wilson to play 18+ minutes in his first game back, especially if the Caps get into penalty trouble and Wilson plays on the penalty kill.

While Wilson did travel with the team in the event that his suspension would be reduced and he would be eligible to play, neither he nor the team received any advanced notice that he would be available.

“I wake up this morning and at 8:30 I get news I've got to get ready to play,” Wilson said.

“It was definitely a unique experience, one that you don't ever want to go through, a bit eye-opening. At the end of the day, there's a game today, I've got to focus on that and it's a big road trip so I've got to focus on this team getting back on track and do whatever I can to help out.”

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TJ Oshie celebrates Tom Wilson's return with incredible 'Free Willy 3' poster

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TJ Oshie celebrates Tom Wilson's return with incredible 'Free Willy 3' poster

After 16 games and an up and down start to 2018, the Washington Capitals can finally welcome their stud right winger Tom Wilson back to the lineup. 

On Tuesday, Wilson's 20-game suspension was reduced to 14 thanks to a neutral arbitrator. 

TJ Oshie apparently couldn't contain his excitement as he took to Twitter sharing a hilarious poster to celebrate. 

This wasn't the first time Wilson's fellow right winger posted something comical regarding Wilson's suspension. In fact, Tuesday's celebratory tweet completed the trilogy. 

Remember the initial Free Willy poster that kicked things off in October 2017? 

Or what about the sequel from last May? 

The Capitals travel to Minnesota for an 8 p.m. puck drop Tuesday night and although his playing status is unconfirmed, all signs point towards it being likely the 24-year-old will be in the lineup. 

 

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