When the 2004 Red Sox have their 10-year reunion at Fenway Park next week, there should be great memories of the characters that helped break an 86-year World Series championship drought.
Amid a festive atmosphere, Pedro Martinez hopes that Red Sox fans rise to the occasion and give Manny Ramirez a warm welcome in his first visit to Fenway Park since 2010.
“It took a lot for him to come,” said Martinez. “He wants to make it up to the Boston fans. He wants to show everybody that he’s a different person, that he’s a Christian man and a role model to his family. His kids are going to be here. It will be nice if we all kind of get together and just make a fun day out of it and remember that Manny was the MVP [of the World Series] and he’s the biggest reason probably why we won it.”
The ceremony will take place prior to the May 28 home game against the Braves.
When the Red Sox signed Ramirez to an eight-year contract in December 2000, Martinez was one of the players who helped recruit him.
Fittingly, Martinez also was one of the key people to encourage Ramirez to come back to Boston for a reunion in which nearly every core member of the “Idiots” will be on hand.
“Yeah, I tried to talk him into it,” Martinez said. “He wants to make up with Boston again.”
There were many highs and lows for Ramirez in Boston, but nobody can dispute he is one of the best hitters in club history.
In eight seasons with the Sox, Ramirez was a .312 hitter with 274 homers and a .999 OPS.
Ramirez was traded for Jason Bay in 2008 after several incidents, including a dugout skirmish with Kevin Youkilis and an altercation in which he pushed traveling secretary Jack McCormick to the ground.
After his departure from the Red Sox, Ramirez was twice suspended for violation of MLB’s performing-enhancing drugs policy, the latter of which occurred during his brief stint for the Rays in 2011.
But Martinez can sense how regretful Ramirez is of those incidents.
“He made a couple of mistakes,” said Martinez. “He knows it, but now he knows he’s a different man. He’s a Christian man and all he wants to talk about is God.”
This will be the first time Ramirez has done anything in affiliation with the Red Sox since his controversial departure from the club.
“His kids, I’m pretty sure, are very excited to come over and see their dad again in Fenway,” Martinez said. “I think fans should take that in consideration.”
Stephen Drew’s presence was missed enough by the Red Sox that the club has opted to bring the free agent shortstop back.
And thus ends an odyssey that started with Drew rejecting Boston’s qualifying offer of $14.1 million last November, only to return on a one-year deal that will pay him $10 million for the remainder of the 2014 season, multiple sources confirmed to MLB.com
While the Red Sox haven’t announced the signing yet, manager John Farrell acknowledged that Drew will undergo a physical in Boston on Wednesday. Assuming there are no complications, the deal will become official then.
“I think Stephen helped us out a lot last year,” said Red Sox designated hitter David Ortiz. “Great player, great teammate and hopefully he brings the same attitude that he had last year and helps us win some games.”
Before Drew makes his debut for Boston in 2014, he will need a Minor League rehab assignment of roughly 25 at-bats, according to Farrell.
Rookie Xander Bogaerts, who has been the starting shortstop through the early part of the season, will move to third base once Drew is activated. Third baseman Will Middlebrooks is on the disabled list for the second time this season after fracturing his right index finger last week.
When Middlebrooks returns, he could at least start at third base against lefties, with Bogaerts supplanting Drew at short for many of those games.
The Red Sox had a 20-23 record entering Tuesday’s game with the Blue Jays.
“Provided everything works out [with the physical], we’ve added a very good player to improve this team,” said Farrell. “That’s the one thing that [general manager] Ben [Cherington] and ownership have repeatedly shown — when a need exists, they’ll do whatever is capable and available at a given time to improve the team. Stephen’s return to us could very well do that. It’ll add stability to the left side of the infield.”
To Wil Myers, Fenway Park isn’t just the place he got heckled in the playoffs last year, but also the place he made his Major League debut earlier in the 2013 season. He was the American League’s Rookie of the Year, though Boston fans remember him most warmly for losing sight of a flyball by David Ortiz in Game 1 of last year’s playoffs.
“Yeah, it’s good to be back here where I made my debut. But I’m excited to get back here after the playoffs,” said Myers. “As bad as it was last year, it was kind of a cool experience to have all of the Fenway faithful chanting my name. So that was kind of cool. Obviously, it sucked that it happened. But the whole stadium cheering my name was kind of cool.”
Throughout Games 1 and 2 of last year’s ALDS, Fenway fans taunted the young outfielder with “Myers, Myers, Myers.”
“I was just trying to make light of the things and just kind of move past what happened and looking forward to the game today,” said Myers.
Though Tuesday night’s game was set to be played under chilly conditions, Myers expected the Fenway faithful to light up at him given the chance.
“Absolutely. I think for sure they’ll cheer or chant my name — I don’t know about cheer. They’ll definitely chant my name tonight. It’s all in good fun. But we’re looking to come out tonight and win” Myers said.
Myers admits he underestimated just how strong the crowd reaction would be to his gaffe.
“Yeah, I was. I was definitely not expecting that. The fans here are smart baseball fans. They knew that play really turned the momentum. They’re smart about what they did.”
It was a tough offseason for Myers, he can now admit.
“To be honest, it stayed with me for most of the offseason, to know that play kind of turned the series, especially the momentum. It really made helped me work harder this offseason to get better. It’s definitely something I learned from, the playoff experience,” Myers said.
As the Red Sox welcomed one key hitter back to the lineup in Dustin Pedroia, they lost another — at least for the night — in Mike Napoli.
Pedroia is leading off tonight, with Bogaerts hitting second and Gomes hitting fourth. Napoli dislocated his left ring finger on Tuesday night in a gruesome-looking head-first dive into second.
He is day-to-day.
Daniel Nava will play first base in Napoli’s absence tonight.
Dustin Pedroia admits he had some concern that something was seriously wrong with his left hand. Instead, it was just inflammation, and the invaluable second baseman could be back in the lineup as early as Wednesday.
“Very [relieved].” Pedroia said. “If it was broke, I would have been out a long time. It’s good news. Hopefully I’ll be in there tomorrow. They gave me a shot to calm everything down. Hopefully, it takes, they say 24 to 48 hours to kick in and then get out there and go.”
More on the injury: “Yeah, I was a little bit worried. It was getting worse every day. it happens. I get taken out every day. it’s my job. I just felt like it was part of the deal. I’m still obviously doing the rehab on my thumb stuff. they wanted me to get checked out and make sure everything is fine.”
What is the issue? “Just inflammation in this area spot in my wrist. It was basically with my rehab stuff with my thumb. Just a spot where I got caught in a weird angle when I got taken out. everything just got inflamed and then I keep swinging and playing, it just adds up and so, you think something is really wrong.”
He hopes it doesn’t linger. “Yeah, that’s why I’m not playing today. I’m trying to strangle John and get in there but you know if one more day can, this can go away, that’s great.”
The personal collection of late Red Sox legend Johnny Pesky will be up for auction on Saturday at noon at Fenway Park. The event is open to the public and free of admission.
There will be over 200 items available, including Pesky’s 2004 and ’07 World Series rings and his AL championship rings from 1975 and ’86. Other items include autographed baseballs, trophies, Pesky’s Rolex watch and more. A portion of the proceeds will be donated to the Jimmy Fund, which was always a cause near and dear to Pesky’s heart.
The way Pesky’s son David looked at it, those items hadn’t been getting much use.
“We kept quite a bit. You’d be surprised,” said David Pesky. “We kept a lot of stuff that means something to the family or might be more personal things. It’s always tough to move on and have these things. Frankly, they weren’t getting displayed or seen by anybody.
“The rings were in a box in the bank, and that’s no fun for anyone. I really do think that some of Johnny’s memorabilia should be out there with the fans. They loved him so much and he was such a public person. He loved the fans. This is something that he would definitely appreciate. Having it at Fenway, even better. that’s his second home. He loved Fenway. He loved the Red Sox.”
Pesky, who had his number 6 retired by the Red Sox in 2008, died in August, 2012.
He was one of the fabled “Teammates” written about in David Halberstam’s book, along with Dominic DiMaggio, Ted Williams and Bobby Doerr. In fact, Doerr, the last surviving teammate, turned 96 earlier this week.
“Isn’t he a wonderful guy? I went out to visit him last summer and saw him out in Oregon,” said David Pesky. “Had a great time seeing him and talking about the old times.”
As for dealing with the loss of his father, David Pesky said, “I’d give anything to have him back but that’s the way life works.”
Live bidding for the auction will begin on Saturday, April. 12 at 12:00AM EST. Bids can either be made in person at the auction, via telephone at 610-524-0822, or online at www.HuntAuctions.com. Online pre-bidding ends on Friday, April 11th at 9:00PM EST. Absentee and phone arrangements must be made by Friday, April 11 at 6PM EST. More information on the event and photos of all the items being auctioned can be found at www.HuntAuctions.com.
Courtesy of Red Sox PR, here is the press release on Friday’s Home Opener.
BOSTON, MA – The Red Sox open their 114th home season this Friday, April 4, with Opening Day festivities set to begin at 1 p.m. The Red Sox play the National League’s Milwaukee Brewers at 2:05 p.m.
The pre-game ceremonies will include the presentation of the World Series rings, presented by Samsung, the performance of the national anthem, a helicopter fly-over, the Ceremonial First Pitch, and the call to “Play Ball.”
The ceremonies will include a moment of silence in tribute to Lieutenant Edward J. Walsh and Firefighter Michael R. Kennedy, who perished last week when a 9-alarm fire raged through a Back Bay home a mile and a half from Fenway Park. The firefighters were from the station on Boylston Street that also protects the ballpark.
The singing of God Bless America in the middle of the 7th inning will be performed by the Boston Fire Department Quartet.
The Dropkick Murphys, along with Keith Lockhart conducting members of the Boston Pops Esplanade Orchestra, will perform during the ceremonies. Members of the Hanscom Airforce Base military will line the length of the Green Monster wall as the American flag drops for the anthem.
To maintain the Opening Day tradition of a fly-over at Fenway Park, the United States Coast Guard will fly a single MH-60T helicopter, representing all of our armed forces, at the conclusion of the national anthem.
In honor of the 2013 championship, players will wear special gold-trimmed Red Sox jerseys with gold stitching around the World Series Championship patch on the left sleeve, and around the letters and numbers on the front and back of the jersey.
Fenway Park gates will open at 11:35 a.m., 2 ½ hours before the first pitch. For the rest of the regular season, gates will open 1 ½ hours before the game, except for Season Ticket Holders and Red Sox Nation members, who may enter at Gate C 2 ½ hours before each game.
As always, and especially on midweek day games, the Red Sox urge fans to take the T. In addition to the familiar Green Line stops at Kenmore Square, the MBTA has also built a new Yawkey station for its Commuter Rail service.
The refurbished station, located just 511 feet from the doorstep of Fenway Park, now has as many as 40 scheduled stops per day, up from only 17 flag stops previously. Yawkey Station is part of the Commuter Rail’s Framingham/Worcester line, which runs from Worcester to South Station. The last outbound train from Yawkey Station departs at 11:36 p.m. on weekdays and 11:10 p.m. on weekends. Departure times for the last train leaving Yawkey Station are subject to change based on the length of the game.
Shane Victorino isn’t a fan of Major League Baseball’s rule this season to limit walk-up songs to 15 seconds. In this case, Victorino is speaking out on behalf of Red Sox fans.
His song, “Three Little Birds” by Bob Marley, turned all of his at-bats into a galvanizing moment at Fenway down the stretch last season. After “Don’t worry about a thing”, the crowd would then roar the rest, “because every little thing is gonna be alright.”
From the start of the song, it takes about 15 seconds to get to “Don’t worry”.
But fear not, Sox fans. Executive vice president Charles Steinberg indicated the club will do whatever it takes to keep the best part of the song going for the fans.
For example, the operations staff at Fenway can modify when the song starts so that the catchy part of the song can get in.
The song could start playing 10 seconds in and still have time for the whole lyric that everybody loves. Or it could start five seconds in, and the crowd could finish the lyric without it playing on the sound system.
“I just think it’s not right. It’s disappointing to hear that,” Victorino said of the rule change.
Victorino reasons that studies proved he was one of the most efficient hitters in the game last season in between pitches.
“Per pitch, I was like six seconds,” Victorino said. “It was the top five fastest between every pitch, getting in the box and going. There were only a few other guys who were ahead of me. Now you’re going to have however many disappointed fans every night because you’re changing that part of the game.
“I don’t want to [keep the lyrics] just because I want to listen to the whole song. It’s just because of the way it’s been picked up and the way it happened towards the end of the season, that’s why I let that part of the song go. I don’t pay attention to it, and I never do with my walkup song.”
Here are the official terms of David Ortiz’s new contract:
2015 season, $16 million.
2016 option starts at $10 million and vests in the following way based on the 2015 season:
425 plate appearances is $11 million.
475 plate appearances is $12 million
525 plate appearances is $13 million
550 plate appearances is $14 million
575 plate appearances is $15 million
600 plate appearances is $16 milion.
The 2017 option is strictly a club option, but it has exactly the same vesting escalators if the Red Sox choose to pick up the option.
It turns out Jose Iglesias was enduring more than people knew to start the 2013 season at shortstop with the Red Sox and to play third later in the season when Will Middlebrooks was demoted to Triple-A Pawtucket.
On Monday, Iglesias confirmed to Jason Beck of MLB.com and John Lowe of the Detroit Free Press that he has stress fractures in both shins. And he spoke about how much the ailment bothered him as early as last Spring Training.
“No idea. I just feel it from the very first moment of Spring Training [in 2013]. I just told myself to play through it, because I never expected something like that. I just feel pain, but Stephen Drew had a concussion at the time and that was an opportunity for me to start with the team. And I was like, ‘You know what, you’ve got to play through it.’ And I did it,” Iglesias said.
“We didn’t know what it was, but I played through it all year long. Last year I played through the pain all year long. Sometimes Farrell had to give me some days, the same as Jim Leyland here. He had to give me some days or take me out of the game because the pain was so bad. And I was like, ‘Man, I don’t know what to do to get rid of it.’ And I never found out until right now that it was a fracture.”
And in the ultimate irony, the injury for Iglesias could create a job opportunity in Detroit for Stephen Drew, who remains a free agent.