Results tagged ‘ Jim Rice ’

Pedro unplugged as he returns to work

There was a buzz in the air, as Pedro Martinez put on Red Sox uniform pants and warmup jacket for the first time since 2004, when he dominated the Cardinals in Game 3 of the 2004 World Series.

Martinez is now a special assistant to Red Sox general manager Ben Cherington and he will spend time in camp working with pitchers — particularly Felix Doubront and Rubby De La Rosa.

During a 24-minute session with the media, Martinez was expansive and entertaining.

Does Martinez want to pitch again? “Oh no, not at all. Not to play. Coming back to see the Sox in first place, maybe. No, no, no, no chance. I just don’t think so. I did what I was supposed to do out there.”

What will he add? “I hope to add some knowledge. Any help I can for the staff in any aspect. It could be mechanically. It could be on the field, off the field, it could be mentally, which I know a lot about going through struggles –what we go through in the middle of a season, especially after the first half. I can relate to a lot of them and actually get them going and they can come in and ask questions and I’ll be more than willing to answer.”

Talked to Daniel Bard. What was that all about? “I actually was talking about him feeling comfortable in some of the things that he was doing. He explained to me some of the things that he does where he feels more comfortable. I suggested a couple of things, simple things, like getting into different habits of doing things so he can actually feel comfortable on the mound and off the mound and also to make adjustments.”

Putting the Red Sox uniform on for the first time since 2004: “You know what, it’s weird, but it feels like the first day to me. I get so excited just to be part of this team and be part of the tradition that we have here. To me, it was just like the first day. I was actually a little bit funny about putting a pair of [Red Sox] pants on again. Shorts are different. And regular pants like a player. Same size, same everything, even though I’m a little heavier.”

Less control than when he was a player: “You know what, when they’re in the field, I think they have ways to go around it, but when you’re not, it’s an empty feeling that you get inside of you. There’s nothing you can do from the front of your TV. Sometimes the few games that I stopped to watch at Fenway, it was painful to see the chemistry wasn’t there, the team wasn’t doing what they were supposed to. I was trying to be optimistic about the team playing together all year. That never happened. I know that was one of the biggest reasons why the team didn’t perform to the level that everybody expected.”

Could you have ever imagined doing this years back? “No, I never thought about it but I knew I wanted to be in the field somehow, not all the time. That’s why I automatically erased probably becoming a pitching coach and probably a manager. I don’t really see myself doing 162 games anymore. I did it for my whole career and if I take part in the field, it’s going to be this way.”

Why was now the time to start working again? “To be honest, I can’t sit still for so long. I have to work. I grew up working. Since I was 14, and I was dropped off at the academy by Ramon, which was a really good choice, after that, I just went on to play and play and play and I was never home. Even though my family needs me and I need my family now, I still need some time to actually go away, actually have a schedule, have something to do and at the same time, be where I like to be, which is in the baseball field, the baseball diamond, exchanging with guys  that I feel are like my family.”

What kind of schedule will you have? “You  know, I became really close to Benny and I offered him my help in any sense I could help. I’m open to help him out. I just won’t compromise  special times with my family. I won’t compromise things that are important to me in my life, in my independent life. As far as anything else, I’m open to do it.”

Working with Felix Doubront, who some say is out of shape this spring: “Well he’s so young and so full of talent that sometimes you take for granted the opportunity we’re given. But the same way it comes, the same way it could go. All it takes is a bad injury and you’re out of baseball. The only thing that prevents injuries is hard work. I believe he just doesn’t know. He hasn’t been taught that he’s going to be held accountable for his performance out there and the way he looks. That this is really a serious business. I think it takes a little while to get him mentally prepared to understand the responsibility that he has on top of his shoulder with the whole Boston community and the team and he’s so young. Nowadays these pitchers come up so young, so talented that they don’t realize how much they’re going to be counted on. And I think Doubront is a good example. I think he needs to know that it’s really important to this team, the organization, the community, to Boston, and that they’re counting on him to be one of the big names. But at the same time, he’s still a young kid trying to develop and he’s already in the big leagues trying to perform. You have to take that into consideration and be patient with him. At the same time, try to guide him through it. and I think I can be a good access to it to learn about some of the things that he has to do.”

Not pulling any punches with Doubront: “Baseball is not easy. It wasn’t easy for me. He has to expect it to be tough. One thing I’m going to be with him, just like I was always with you, I’m going to be straightforward an I’m going to say the way it is, point blank. If he wants to hear it or if he doesn’t, that’s OK. I want the best for him and I want the  best for the organization and I would love to help. I can’t handle the fact that I have all this knowledge and  not give it away. I would love to give it away and I hope he sees me as a good example of hard work and dedication and will to do things.”

On Doubront perhaps not being in great shape: “Being out of shape a little bit is normal, probably not as much as before. But being out of shape a little bit at spring training, this is the only place you can be a little bit out of shape. You’re here to get in shape. He has plenty of time to get in shape. I think he’s going to do it right. At the same time, you have to hold him accountable to go and do his work.”

Does this job feed your competitive juices? “It’s more difficult for me to be as competitive because I can’t pitch. I would love to brush someone back. Hey, hey, get off the plate, this is my area. Now I have to sit and watch and rely on someone to do it so I can get my giddyup.”

More on inside baseball: “You teach them when to do it and how to do it and how to do it properly and effectively. It’s all part of the game. You have to pitch inside, you have to brush them back. You have to make them feel uncomfortable all the time, and one of the things that makes you feel uncomfortable is that pitch inside close to you. At 99 from Rubby De La Rosa or Doubront or Lester can get anybody uncomfortable. I will preach it: They need to pitch inside if they want to have success.”

The desire: “If you have all of the ingredients that lead you to it. You have to want it. You have to be crazy enough to do it. You have to be willing to do it. And you have to be willing to learn how to do it. You put all those ingredients together, and you have someone who can compete just as well as I used to.”

Now that you’re not pitching anymore, can you say how many of your hit batsmen were on purpose? “Probably 90 percent of them, but it was all in retaliation for my teammates.”

Did you drill Karim Garcia on purpose?  “Not on purpose. It didn’t even hit him. It hit the bat. Not on purpose. Who is Karim Garcia? He just hit a great homer for Mexico in the last Caribbean Series. Gerald Williams, no. Karim Garcia, no. Some others, I don’t know. There were some in retaliation to show them that there were things I wouldn’t allow them to do. You play around it. They understand it, too. They know they’re going to get hit for something that happened. If you disrespect a player or disrespect me, I’m probably going to take a chance, somewhere where you didn’t expect it or didn’t think I would do it, and there you have it. If you do it professionally and not hurting anybody. I don’t remember hitting anybody with a fastball to the head.”

Jorge Posada thought you were saying you wanted to hit him in the head in ’03. Did you ever get a chance to tell him that you were really saying, “I’ll remember that.”.  “No. No. It doesn’t matter. Posada is a human being. He’s got his family. He doesn’t need me in his life, I don’t need him. I wish him well with his family. There are some things that happen in the baseball field.”

Can you be a liason? “Hopefully we’ll be supportive to some of the players that don’t feel like they can talk to management. There are certain areas where a player doesn’t feel confident enough to express himself and have fun. I was crazy fun in the clubhouse, but the time to play was totally different. I knew I had something to do. There wasn’t anybody more serious on the day I pitched. But if I wasn’t pitching, I was so crazy fun, and those guys are going to get to know that. Even though I’m not playing, I’m going to keep it loose. I’m going to be loud. And you can do those things, but you have to understand that the time to work is the time to work and make a difference between work and loose time. When you have to express something, do it the right way. Hopefully I will be one of the bridges that reaches between the areas they weren’t able to reach the last few years.”

How do you relate to players when you probably had a lot more talent? “This may sound weird, but I never considered myself a great player. I made myself, along with my teammates, a better player than I was. I never thought I was a superstar. I worked like I was a hungry man going for his first game in the big leagues. I know that’s not going to be something you want to teach Doubront or any of those kids coming up, because they are rich in talent. All they have to do is try to stay physically healthy, here’s what they have and suck in a lot of the knowledge that everyone is trying to give them.”

How you put it all together: “I will say I had to learn a lot of little pieces together to become the person I was, the pitcher I was. I have a lot of me with Maddux, with Pettitte, with Clemens, Nolan Ryan, Tom Seaver, Bret Saberhagen believe it or not was someone I really analyzed a lot, Tom Glavine. I had a lot of little things I learned from everybody. I tried to pack them all together and use them, and that’s how I became who i was in baseball, but I never considered myself a superstar or a superhuman talent. I thought there was a lot of work for me to do each day to be consistent and have success.”

Fans serenading you with love during the workout today: “That’s because I’m probably one more fan out there in the parade. Since I left Boston everything was a parade, and every time I came back it was a parade. People got used to keeping the same attitude. I think I’m the same way. I was really happy that they could feel, in a baseball field, feel for me what they felt for me in the field when I was playing. They were like, ‘Hey, Pedro!’ Some of them even asked if I was going to come back and pitch. I said, ‘No, not a chance.'”

Will you be a Red Sox lifer like Luis Tiant? “Probably. Probably around, yeah, when I’m an old goat running around. I probably won’t have the goatee, but I’ll be around hopefully like Jim Rice and Tiant, without the goatee. Johnny Pesky. Johnny Pesky. I remember him hitting me some fungos in my first year here. Then I saw him in his last days. I was really proud to have the opportunity to see Johnny Pesky. I’m hoping to become someone like that.”

Did you get over bitterness about the Red Sox not re-signing you? “I never held it against them. You have to understand, baseball has a dark side and it’s the negotiations. When you’re exposed to arbitration cases, you realize that there is a business part of baseball that forces you to look for negatives about the player, and the player tries to prove to the team that you’re worth whatever you’re asking, that money makes it all difficult. All that love for one day goes away. Then once we settle and reach an agreement, it’s all love again. It’s a lot like two boxers. You shake hands before and you shake hands after. That’s it. It’s boxing. I never held it against Boston, the fact that they didn’t sign me. They thought I wasn’t worth what I was asking, and I thought I was worth what I was asking. That was it. But no grudges, no grudges. Even though I was honest — probably too honest.”

You miss the glory days? “I miss [Johnny Damon], I miss Millar, I miss everybody. I miss every player I played with with the Red Sox. There’s nothing I can think of from ’04 and the previous teams I played, that I don’t miss. I was even telling [equipment manager] Joe Cochran, I was telling Joe I even miss seeing the flowers in the spring, when they first came out, the first part of the season where the leaves are starting to come out and the flowers are starting to come out, I miss that time when it’s starting to get warm and in the summer there’s all the flowers and Boston is green and beautiful. I miss all that over the last few years, even though I did visit — but not like I used to. Now I’m going to get to see it more often.”

What a show

If you ever forget how much you love baseball, come to Cooperstown — especially for an induction weekend.

We all love the actual baseball season. But this is a great change of pace from that hustle and bustle, albeit just for a couple of days.

I’ve been covering baseball on a full-time basis since 1997, but this weekend reminded me of what it was like to be a full-time fan in the 1980s, when I marveled at Rickey Henderson’s speed, his gaudy athleticism, his showmanship, and Jim Rice’s raw strength and power and that pure swing.

It was a joy being around these two guys the last couple of days and listening to them recall their careers.

I didn’t know that Jim Rice could have taken a full ride to play college football at Nebraska, but he talked quite a bit about that this weekend.

And Rickey — the utter fascination of Rickey.

I think the one bittersweet thing about the weekend for Rickey is that Billy Martin, his late manager with both Oakland and New York, wasn’t around to see this.

“My relationship with Billy Martin – he was like a father figure. I think Billy took me as sort of like his son,” Henderson said. “Billy figured I was the type of player who would run down a wall or break down some bricks because I loved the game. He saw the inner side of me. He was that type of player. he always felt I went out to win each and every day and I was a winner.”

I loved the story Rickey told during his speech about being a boy and trying to get Reggie Jackson’s autograph. Instead of giving Rickey an autograph, Reggie would give him a pen that said “Reggie Jackson” on it. Reggie, seated on the stage behind Rickey, nearly fell off the stage laughing at that recollection

“I didn’t get his autograph after the ceremony but he’s looking for my autograph. I’m just waiting for that moment,” joked Rickey. “Eventually I got Reggie Jackson’s autograph. I had to go out and prove myself to get his autograph. I think the time I stole 130 bases, the next year he was running to get my autograph and I told him, ‘I can’t give you my autograph this time because I never had your autograph.”‘

Rickey — who played for the Yankees and Mets — on the New York fans?

“New York fans, I always said they know the game of baseball and they know when you go out and play the game hard or when you go out and you’re not playing at all, or when you go out, as they always say, you’re faking or you’re jaking or you just don’t want to play. I think that’s the difference. Being in New York, in the spotlight, that excited me. I always wanted to take the challenge of the greatest organization and the greatest team in baseball. It was a challenge to me. I enjoyed every bit of it.”

And, as Rickey recalls — perhaps erroneously — he actually never did refer to himself as “Rickey”.

“I don’t think I ever called myself Rickey. I’m trying to think about where their lingo kept rising and rising. People said, I’m going to call myself Rickey. I think in baseball, and on a baseball field, we talk about a lot of different stuff. We talk about a lot of different stuff. We talk about different terms and stuff like that. It got out to the media and they just ran with it. You’d probably never hear me say Rickey. That’s not how I speak or talk about it. I speak fast, I talk fast, but I’m not going to see Rickey did this or that. In baseball, you see players talk about you talking to your bats, you’re mumbling, you’re talking about something. That was the way I would go out and concentrate and make me realize what I had to do,” said Rickey.

One thing you can be quite sure of — there will never be another Rickey.

I must say that at the end of the 2002 season, my first year on the Red Sox beat, I walked up to Rickey and shook his hand and said, “I just wanted to let you know it was an honor to cover you.”

I never said that to any player before or since. That’s just Rickey.

Anyway, back to Fenway tomorrow for some Red Sox-A’s. I hope all of you aren’t panicking about the ongoing slump of the offense. This, too, shall pass.

And so 2009 begins — unoficially

Though it won’t match the buzz you will feel at Fenway Park on April 6, when the Red Sox open their season against the Rays, there is at least some excitement here at City of Palms Park, with the Old Towne Team facing off against Boston College.

Ace Josh Beckett fired two perfect innings, striking out two. His first pitch of the season, at 1:02 p.m. ET, was grounded to second off the bat of J.B. MacDonald. Harry Darling had his bat sawed off by Beckett, but the righty deftly caught the looping liner for the out. Mike Augustine hit a soft grounder to short to the third out. The leadoff batter in the second was none other than Sam Shaughnessy, the son of the long-time Boston Globe columnist. I wonder what was going through Dan’s mind as he took in the at-bat in from the press box.Young Sam struck out looking on a nasty 1-2 pitch from Beckett.

The early “almost highlight” of the game came in the bottom of the third when Ortiz launched one to deep right-center. It was going, going and … caught at the warning track.

As we start the top of the fifth, with BC leading 1-0,  we are into Tazawa time. Here is Junichi Tazawa, signed out of the Industrial League of Japan and to a Major League contract back in December.  He is likely to start the at Double-A Portland,but the Red Sox have been impressed by what they’ve seen from him this spring. Against BC, he turned in a swift, 1-2-3 inning.

It must be a pre-exhibition, exhibition game. The Red Sox just sent up batting practice pitcher Ino Guerrero up for an at-bat in the fifth inning. Ino, who is best known for being a close confidant of erstwhile Sox slugger Manny Ramirez, drew a walk. Who would have thought that Guerrero would draw a walk in an exhibition game while Ramirez still doesn’t have a job?

Below is a Brita Meng Outzen photo on Ino being congratulated by hitting coach Dave Magadan after he came out for a pinch-runner.

20090225_bmo_bcvsbos_ino3.JPG

Guerrero, by the way, is 48 years old, according to a couple of trusty clubhouse sources.

“That was just to
liven up the day a little bit,” Francona said. “I liked the way he got the walk and acted like
he won the World Series. He may get another chance against Northeastern.”

It was like Christmas Day for the beat writers who cover the team, as we were handed copies of the 2009 media guide earlier this morning. Yes, that book will be our bible for the next eight or nine months, you can be sure of that. Snazzy cover this year, with a black and white image of Jim Rice “National Baseball Hall of Fame Class of 2009″ contrasted with a color image of Dustin Pedroia “2008 AL MVP GOLD GLOVE SLIVER SLUGGER AWARD.

Pedroia will play tonight against the Twins. Lugo, Baldelli, Ortiz and Drew are the regulars  today who played behind Beckett.

Ted, Yaz and Jim — Left field trio for ages

Finally, Jim Rice is in the Hall of Fame. And finally, the holy trinity of Red Sox left fielders is truly complete.

Think about this. Three Hall of Fame left fielders who played their entire career with one team, one succeeding the other. I am going to say it right now. This will never happen again.

I am now a sportswriter but when I was in my youth, growing up in the Boston area, I enjoyed the heck out of watching Jim Rice play baseball. I’ve never seen someone produce such swift bat action with their wrists. What a strong man he was. He played hard, he played hurt, and he smoked the ball, just about every day.

Yes, there were some double plays, particularly in the mid ’80s. But there were a whole lot more screaming line drives. He could also play left field. People forget this. This guy developed into a strong defensive player at Fenway Park, where he truly mastered The Wall.

Listening to him speak the last two days, it is unbelievable how relaxed and happy he has become. Jim always put up that front of insecurity, but it has been utterly gone the last two days.

I was at the game in 1982 when a little boy got nailed in the head by a Dave Stapleton line drive. The kid was bleeding and fans were in stunned silence, not knowing quite what to do. Jim Rice never flinched. He hopped out of the dugout, reached into the stands to grab the kid and got him into the clubhouse immediately to get looked at by the doctors. A young Theo Epstein was also at this game, and referred to it yesterday. I hadn’t thought about that moment in years, but when Theo mentioned it, the memories immediately flooded back of Rice so heroically handling the situation.

Now, he is a Hall of Famer, and for those who watched him every day for most of his career, it is nice to see.

I’m looking forward to the night when No. 14 goes on the right-field facade next year. Hopefully they can do some re-arranging with the numbers so the sequence is 9, 8 and 14.

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