Results tagged ‘ Terry Francona ’

Tito talks Farrell, Papi

The Red Sox open the 2016 season against a familiar face in Indians manager Terry Francona, who guided Boston to World Series titles in 2004 and 2007.

Francona is always all-business once the games begin. But he was expansive on his close friend  John Farrell as well as David Ortiz during Sunday’s news conference.

This will be Farrell’s first regular-season game since undergoing chemotherapy treatments for cancer last summer. Francona  accompanied Farrell to his first treatment and has been in constant contact with his former pitching coach.

“Once the game starts, you want to win so bad that you don’t really care who is over there. But certainly seeing him, I saw him earlier today walking to the clubhouse, certainly seeing him healthy and smiling and laughing is more meaningful than any game we’ll ever play. Once the game starts, we want to win bad. So do they. But seeing him happy and healthy and smiling is better than anything else.”

He’s one of my best friends so I’ve talked to him a lot. I don’t think he ever doubted this would have happened this way. I don’t think, as a friend, I would have doubted it either just because I know him. I know the care he was getting. That was really something to see. One of the things I was happiest about is that I knew Larry Ronan was watching out and was in charge of everything  that was going on with John. I was really grateful for that. If you’re going to have something that’s serious, you can’t be in better hands.”

Francona  has never downplayed how vital Ortiz was to the two World  Series rings he owns. There will be a lot of attention on Ortiz in this, his final season. Francona thinks the gregarious slugger deserves all the accolades he gets.

“I know what he’s meant to Boston. He went there and some guys kind of shrink in that atmosphere and he just blossomed. It brought out his true personality and he embraced it. He’s  been through a lot there. He’s certainly the face of the Red Sox, or one of them, and probably the same goes for the face of baseball. He’s got that big smile that when you walk in the room, or when somebody walks in the room, he can disarm you just like that. I don’t care who you are. He’s a big teddy bear.”

Then, Francona displayed the humor he is known for.

“I think all things considered, because it is his last year, I think he should take the next three days off and just enjoy Cleveland and we’ll honor him at home plate, but he should probably not play.”

Francona realized  early on in his time in Boston that Ortiz was not only an impact figure on the field  but also off of it.

“Early on when I got there, I realized real quick you could go to him if you got something you needed to get done, which is important, real important. And we had a lot of guys like that. David transcends languages, colors, things like that. If you were in his uniform, that was what mattered. That meant a lot to me. David and I went through a lot. Good. Some tough, The pinch hitting one year. He’s a proud man. That was hard for him. Hard for me. But we fought through it and that’s what’s more important.”

Farrell returns; so does Lovullo

Just as everyone was arriving to the ballpark for Game Number 162, the Red Sox announced that John Farrell will return as manager in 2016. Torey Lovullo signed a new two-year deal to stay on as bench coach, and continue to lend support as Farrell battles back from Stage 1 lymphona.

Here was the reaction of former Red Sox manager Terry Francona:

“I actually didn’t know it needed to be news. I really didn’t. So I’m not sure how to react because I didn’t know that it necessarily needed to be news. I guess I always figured he would. I’ve been so fixated on him as a friend and what he’s going through that I’ve really never thought about it. I never even thought to ask him. In all the conversations, I never thought to ask him. I guess as much as we all care about baseball, when that enters into it, I really never thought to even bring it up.”

Here was the reaction of Red Sox second baseman Dustin Pedroia:

“That’s the thought the players had all along. We’re hoping that John recovers what he’s going through and can’t wait to get him back.  It’s going to be good to have John back healthy and around the guys again. That’s’ everyone’s first concern, health. We want him to be back to normal and be fine. If he is, he’s obviously going to be our manager.”

 

Here was the reaction of Red Sox president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski:

 

“John’s case, and have been consistent and meaningful in his situation that I told him all along that he needs to be healthy, first and foremost. He finished his last chemo treatments, this round, this past week. At some point, we needed to move forward and kind of set where we’re going into the future. I called John yesterday and when we’ve had conversations, all of our conversations that we’ve had, which hasn’t been as numerous as would normally be the case if he was healthy of course, have always been towards 2016. But I never really gave him that 100 percent that, I had always given him the indication, but needed to be in a position where it basically closed that loop. Yesterday, I called him back and said we’re ready to step forward to do this. ”

“The problem with it is the process of his health is still first and foremost. All indications are good. He will have some tests again in about three weeks to see where he stands at that point so in his case it’s a  situation where in three weeks he’ll have a little bit better feel. But right now, he feels as if he will be OK for next year to move forward. The doctors have given that indication. The difficulty becomes, and I’m not an expert on this, so I cannot claim to give you any special insight, other than what doctors have told me a couple of times that I’ve talked to people, when you go through what John is going through, which is of course, major, the feelings are that he will be in a spot where 97 percent of the time you come through from a health perspective on this.

“Sometimes you don’t feel up to 100 percent for three to six months, is what people tell me. I do know that. I’m just telling you what the doctors have told me. I also think that the commitment’s made to John, he’ll be our manager for 2016, he should be fine. But I also want to make sure, how do we protect ourselves in case when you put six months, and again, I’m not sure it’s going to be six  months, I hope it’s three months, and if it’s three months, the time frame works out well. But what happens if it’s six months? We’re already into the start of next season. You’re also in a position where you start talking about spring training, preparation for Spring Training, it’s a great time of year but it also can be a grueling time of year and I don’t want that extra stress on him to feel that I’ve got to be ready, I’ve got to be ready.

“Trying to come up with what ideally would be a fallback plan if he just wasn’t quite up to par. Thought long and hard about it. Have been very impressed of course with Torey and Torey’s done a great job for us. I don’t think he could have handled himself any better than what he has, not only running the club in John’s absence, taking control, but also always giving the proper authority to John and staying in contact with John, knowing it’s John’s team. So I had a thought that perhaps this would be a way that it would work, to protect ourselves. I didn’t know how Torey would feel about it. I ran it through John Henry and Tom Werner a couple of weeks ago my thought processes and how it would work in approaching Torey about staying on board to see if he’d be willing to do that. Offered him the two-year contract, but it wasn’t about that with Torey. It was really a situation where he thought about the scenario. He’s very committed to the Red Sox organization, very committed to John, so he has given up his ability to interview for next year as a manager. He made that commitment to the organization. We’re very thankful for what he has done. I think it’s a situation where hopefully we’re protected as well as we possibly can. Hopefully John’s back, he’s feeling great, he’s ready to go. If for some reason, he’s a little slower to come back or not 100 percent, his trusted right-hand, lieutenant is there for him to help him at that point, so that’s really how we went with it.”

Here was the reaction of Torey Lovullo on going back to his bench role, but being available in case John Farrell still isn’t feeling 100 percent:

“Like I said, I’m a processor, so I got as much information as I possibly could and I thought about a lot of things. That was one of the main reasons, is that I want to see that process through. I want to be here for John, I want to assist John in any way I possibly can, and I want to make sure it lines up the way it’s supposed to line up before I ran out on him, is how I’m looking at it.”

 

 

 

Here is Dombrowski’s reaction on if things could become awkward if the Red Sox get off to a slow start under Farrell, given  Lovullo’s success as interim manager.

“Not really, for the simple fact that he’s John’s guy. John is the one who brought him on board. He’s his closest confidant. That’s his bench coach. I think what ends up happening is, there’s always speculation in today’s world about what takes place if the club is not playing well. Hopefully that won’t be the case. Hopefully the club will play well. But it’s a situation – I can’t think of a situation where he’d be more comfortable with someone. That’s John’s guy.”

Here is Lovullo’s reaction on being secure enough in himself to feel comfortable passing  on managerial openings that might arise in the coming days.

“I’ve learned that being a major-league manager is all about timing and opportunity. They don’t come up all the time. Whether this enhances my ability to manage one day or not is out of my control, as it has been since Day One. I’m just going to continue doing my thing the way I know how, and the right situation will pop up if it’s supposed to happen. I’m a big believer in timing. We’ll see what happens once things move in the direction that I could possibly correspond with a team. For right now, for one year, it’s not going to be a possibility.”

 

Ortiz gears up for first reunion with Tito

When the Red Sox played Terry Francona’s Indians in Cleveland from April 16-18, slugger David Ortiz was still in the final stages of his Minor League rehab.

On Thursday night at Fenway, Ortiz will stand in the batters box against Francona for the first time since they parted ways at the end of the 2011 season.

“I mean, yeah, it’s definitely going to bring memories back,” Ortiz said. “I was with Tito for eight years. He’s a good dude. He did a lot of good things. I learned a lot of things from him. It’s going to be a little weird just watching him from the other side. It is what it is, right?”

Ortiz and Francona experienced a lot of success together, winning two World Series championships together, most memorably the one in 2004 that included the comeback from 3-0 down in the best-of-seven ALCS against the Yankees.

“It was weird watching him on ESPN at the beginning until you get used to it,” Ortiz said. “So now you watch him on the other side and it will feel weird for a couple of series. At some point, it will be pretty  normal.”

 

Catching up with Tito

Obviously the circumstances weren’t ideal for Terry Francona’s reunion with the Red Sox. Boston was devastated by tragedy on Monday, with three people getting killed and more than 100 injured by multiple bombs at the finish line of the Boston Marathon.

Here is a look at what Francona said to the media before today’s game.

Obviously Francona has roots in Boston, where he lived year-round for most of his eight years as Red Sox manager.

“I’m not sure you have to have roots in Boston to care about that,” Francona said. “Obviously I do, as you guys do, too. It just seems when you turn the TV on, it’s hard for everybody. Whether it’s personal or not, it seems like it gets personal. You turn on the TV and you hear left wing, right wing. I wish there were no wings. I just wish people would get along. I don’t understand it and I don’t pretend to. I hope there are people way smarter than me who are somehow, some day able to figure this out, so stuff like this doesn’t happen. It’s hard enough being an adult. You can imagine being a little kid growing up now? It’s hard. It just makes you feel bad.Can baseball help heal people during a tough time?

“I hope so. That would be terrific. If it helps anybody at all, that would be terrific. I think that is the case. Just from being there the time I was, that day is so special to people in Boston. They’re so proud of that day. You have the Marathon, the game, it’s a big deal. It’s kind of a personal day for the city of Boston, shoot, and New England. There’s no way, I don’t know how you quantify what happens. It’s unfair. I just hope maybe this game does help some people.”

How did Francona hear about the news?

“I was here at the ballpark and one of my daughters, I saw I had a bunch of missed calls, so I called her back. That’s how I knew.”

When did he realize the magnitude of it?

“I couldn’t get to anything right away. I was tied up for a while. Then I went and turned the TV on and saw right where it was. It’s personal for just about everybody. Some of those views, you can see the church my daughter got married in. It’s very unsettling, for everybody,” Francona said.

How about playing the Red Sox for the first time?

“It’s OK. Just being as honest as I can, I had a year removed. We’re not in Boston. I had mostly eight really good years. I don’t think I’d have scripted the way it ended, but sometimes it’s time to move on. I’m really happy where I’m at here. I think it’s unfair to the players for me to have a nostalgia week. Our job is to beat them, and it is them. It doesn’t take away anything, the people I’m close to there, there’s a lot of them. I like where I’m at. I think they like where they’re at. Everything’s pretty good. I do think it will be harder when we go to Boston for me.”

How does Francona think Boston will react to the recent events?

“I really don’t know. I don’t know how anybody could answer that. I imagine they’ll be very resilient. Wouldn’t surprise me at all.”

Did Francona have time to see his old buddy, Dustin Pedroia?

“I went out and saw him for a minute, me and [former Sox catcher Kevin Cash]. He didn’t get any better looking. Neither did I.

Francona on John Farrell?

“It’s hard when the season starts. You get tunnel vision. But the day he got hired, I said the glass became half full, and I still believe that. I hope for the next three days everything that could go wrong does for them. But he’s one of my best friends, not just in baseball, but in life. They got a good hire.”

The Indians come to Boston May 23-26. That should be a far more emotional time for Francona.

On Tuesday night, 11 of the 25 players on Boston’s roster played for Francona during his time in Boston. They are: Jon Lester, Clay Buchholz, Felix Doubront, Alfredo Aceves, Andrew Miller, Junichi Tazawa, Jarrod Saltalamacchia, David Ross, Daniel Nava, Dustin Pedroia and Jacoby Ellsbury. Add in three players on the DL (David Ortiz, John Lackey and Franklin Morales) and there are 14 Francona holdovers left.

Tito insightful, candid at Winter Meetings

Indians manager — yes, it still sounds a little weird to call him that — Terry Francona held court at the Winter Meetings on Wednesday in a media session that lasted nearly a half hour.

Francona spoke in-depth about his new challenges with the Indians while looking back fondly at his time in Boston, and sounding more at peace with how things ended with the Red Sox than he did a year ago.

Here is a sampling:

The swing of emotions from September of 2011 to a year as an ESPN commentator to, now, the manager of the Indians:  “Uneven.  A little bit of a roller coaster.  I think you go back to September of ’11, and that was tough, man.  I don’t care what city you’re in.  When you go 7 and whatever, 20, if you’re the manager, you’re wide open for criticism.  That’s just the way it is. And the way things ended was difficult.  I thought stepping back was probably a smart thing.  It’s not necessarily the easiest thing in the world to tell yourself you need to do that, but it was, I think, really healthy for me.  I know I get back into it now feeling like I’m better prepared to do the job correctly because it’s got to be almost 24 hours a day to do it right, at least I think so.  I was pretty beaten up by the end of that last year.”

Now on the other market of the small market/big market race, and losing out on Victorino to the Red Sox. “[Jerks],” quipped Francona. “You know what, it’s kind of hard to fault a guy like Shane Victorino for going to Boston.  When guys get to be a free agent, they earn that right to go wherever they want, and it’s a great baseball town. Again, I have a lot of respect for him and the way he went about his decision.  So it’s kind of hard to fault somebody for that.”

Difference in managing the Indians and the Red Sox? “When I took the job in Boston, the expectations were win or go home.  I remember being very thankful that Dave Roberts was safe.  I probably would have gone home.  This is a little different now.  We’re younger.  We’re not in the same position.  But our expectations, at least in my opinion, are still the same.  We’re supposed to try to win.  So Chris and I and all the guys are trying to put together the best roster we can, and when it’s time to put a uniform on, that’s when I get really excited, and we try to have our guys play the game correctly.”

People were surprised you took the Indians job? “First of all, people may not have known me as well as they thought they did, and the hurdle don’t scare me.  I know they’re there, the challenges, but I wanted to do it with a group of people where I knew I’d be comfortable, and I wanted to be part of the solution.  I didn’t want to be like a quick fix.  When Chris and I talked, it became evident to me real quick ‑‑ again, I was either going to take this job or not this year.  And I’m very comfortable with where I’m at.  Again, having a challenge isn’t bad.  Trying to find a way to tackle them is actually pretty exciting. And I’m not delusional.  We have challenges.  We have some things we’ve got to overcome, but trying to do that, I’m looking forward to it.”

What about the staff John Farrell has put together in Boston? “I want to be careful on rating everything that Boston does.  That’s not my job anymore.  I’m a manager of another team.  I think, being totally honest, I think Boston’s biggest weakness is their manager,” Francona said to a chorus of laughs.  “I want to kind of stay away from that.  I don’t need to rate everything John does.  That’s not going to work.”

Your upcoming book with the Boston Globe’s Dan Shaughnessy: “I don’t know.  I hope people want to buy it.”

Do you expect fallout? “Fallout?  I hope people buy it.  I spent a lot of time.  No, I think it’s more ‑‑ it’s eight years of a lot of funny, some emotional, a couple sad things.  I think Dan busted his rear end on this thing. The fact that, first of all, me and him were together doing it was a shock to me. First time I picked him up, I told him, you have to blackout the windows because I don’t want people to see you driving me around.  It ended up being probably ‑‑ I had a year where I could do it because under normal circumstances, you can’t do it.  And it ended up being kind of fun. I think, for the most part, if somebody ends up being bent out of shape, that was not ever the intent.  It was just to kind of tell the story, and I hope that people take it that way because I think it’s a really good story.”

Did you gain perspective on managing in your year away?  “It’s hard to sit and just say, I should have put a hit and run on on April 13th or something like that.  But in our game, the communication is so important, and if you get away from that at all, that can ‑‑ again, your talent level, if you don’t have enough talent, it’s going to get exposed at some point during a long season, but as a manager, if you have get your guys to play to most of their ability more often, you’re doing your job right.”

More at peace now with your departure from Boston? “You know what, I never had a problem.  I think it’s a little bit of a misrepresentation.  If you really think about it, it wasn’t like all of September me and you guys were feuding.  We had a really tough September.  It was a rough, uphill battle for us.  We were leaking oil like every day, but our biggest concern was to trying to get to the playoffs. We didn’t deal with any of those issues until after the season.  So it was kind of weird.  I didn’t have a chance to like sit back and think about not having that job.  Two days later, I was defending myself.  So it was hurtful.  And where it went from there was disappointing, but time does have a way of ‑‑ I don’t want to go through life being ‑‑ I don’t know if vindictive is the right word.  I don’t know if that’s healthy. I have too many people there that are too special.  I was disappointed with the way it ended, and I’ll probably always feel that way, but it doesn’t mean it wasn’t a great seven years and five months.”

Coming back to Fenway for the 100th anniversary: “I was conflicted.  I’ll be pretty honest about it.  I wasn’t planning on doing it.  I talked to some people who told me maybe I was a being a little too self‑centered.  I wasn’t too thrilled about that.  I was glad to be there, and I was glad to leave.  But I’ve never felt like ‑‑ besides that one guy in the third row that used to scream at me, I thought Boston ‑‑ it’s a wonderful place.  If you care about baseball, it’s a wonderful place.  Sometimes things happen in that city.  You can’t have all that good without having some of the bad, and I got caught up in it.”

Gain additional perspective on managing while working in the broadcast booth? “I hate to say this.  I hope it makes me more respectful to the media’s job.  Not you personally.  Actually, it was a great learning year.  One, you’re looking at a game not emotionally because, when the season starts, I don’t care what manager you talk to, you have no ability to view the game without emotion.  When you lose, you’re beat up personally.  You take it personally.  Whether you have enough talent or not, you try to make it work.  I also got to see what goes into putting that game on.  I used to think those guys showed up and did the game, and it was a lot of work, but I learned a lot, and I was with people that were unbelievably good to me.  So it was a great year. I just missed being on the field a lot, and that’s not a bad thing.  I was kind of hoping I would.  But I had a wonderful year.”

Crawford sits, Valentine explains, Tito reunites

It was a bizarre Saturday afternoon in the Red Sox clubhouse. ESPN color commentator Terry Francona held court with roughly a half dozen Red Sox players near Dustin Pedroia’s locker. As Francona initially sat down with just Cody Ross, Pedroia sidled up to him. Next thing you know, there were six or seven players (from Clay Buchholz to Jarrod Saltalamacchia to Nick Punto to David Ortiz) having a grand old time with Francona, which presented a semi-awkward scene for current Red Sox manager Bobby Valentine. By the way, Valentine didn’t see the scene as it was happening, but was told about it after the fact.

But before you know it, things got even stranger. When asked why Carl Crawford wasn’t in the lineup on Saturday, Valentine said it was part of a four-day plan mandated by the training staff. Crawford shouldn’t play more than four days, or games, in a row. Of course, Valentine broke his own rule when Crawford initially came back, playing him six days in a row.

Valentine was candid about the fact he blew off this plan earlier this month, when he wound up playing Crawford six days in a row when he came off the disabled list.

“Actually, I did a manager no-no thing and went against what I was told to do. Never to be done again,” Valentine said. “They told me before that game that he wasn’t playing, and I kind of did the old veto power. ‘Who says he’s not playing?’ And I played him.”

Crawford has a strained UCL in his left elbow and is all but certain to undergo Tommy John ligament transfer surgery before the start of the 2013 season.

The Red Sox actually had a day off on Thursday, which meant Valentine had the leeway to play him on Saturday. But the Red Sox are facing three straight righties beginning on Sunday, so Valentine felt it would be more beneficial to have him in the lineup for those games.

“My understanding is that I got today off and I know the medical people want me to get rest,” Crawford said. “I’m not really sure what’s the program on it. I guess that’s the way it is right now. I came here ready to play, like I always do. I found out this morning I wasn’t playing. That’s it, pretty much. Could I play? Yeah, I could play today. Like I say, they’re following that method right there. I’m just going along with the way things are.”

It is a unique situation for everyone involved – particularly Valentine.

“I’d like to have Carl every day,” said Valentine. “I’d like to have all my good players every day, but I understand the situation better now than I did then.”

Crawford was on the bench Saturday, despite his .319 career average against CC Sabathia.

Catching up with Papelbon

While David Ortiz was the only Red Sox All-Star this season, there was a familiar face in the room during the availability for National League All-Stars on Monday afternoon.

Jonathan Papelbon, a four-time All-Star with Boston, was back on the big stage again, this time for the Philadelphia Phillies.

As was always the case during his years with the Red Sox, Papelbon had plenty to say on a variety of subjects.

Has Papelbon’s newfound wealth changed him? “It hasn’t changed my life at all. I’m good, man. I bought two four-wheelers for hunting camp. That’s about it, man. I went from a Back Bay penthouse to a Renthouse Square penthouse. That’s about it, man. When it’s all said and done, man, I’m easy breezy. I mean, the contract for me, it never real was about money. I’ve said this from the beginning. If it was about money for me, I would have tried to stay and start.

“It was a pride thing for me. It was a thing that I felt like, what can I do to go enjoy myself every day man. But the contract for me and wanting to go year to year like I did, and into the free agency like I did, was, I think, more just the competitive thing for me. Like, I’m going to try to be the best on the field and if I can be best on the field, why not be the best off the field? You know what I mean? It’s just kind of the way I tick.”

Papelbon hasn’t lost any motivation just because he has financial security, right? “No, man, I’m always ready to go, ready to rock. I think, when that starts happening, you really have to ask yourself: should I keep playing this game? When your work ethic changes and you start getting lazy and stuff like that … I’m one of those guys, I don’t do anything [less than full speed]. That’s just what I do.”

It would have been tough for Papelbon to stay in Boston without the only manager he ever had there — Terry Francona. “Yeah. I truly do believe that. Tito told me how to play big league baseball. I tell you what, that [guy ripped into me] sometimes. He did. But a lot of times also, he picked me up when I was falling down. He told me the ins and outs of how to prepare, how to be successful, how to succeed. He told me something one day when I was a rookie, he said, I had Michael Jordan in Birmingham and he said, you’ve got to learn how to fail before you succeed. And man, something just clicked in my head.

“It’s things like that, when I was a young kid coming up, everything, from the first Spring Training I had in Baltimore, sitting down with me and explaining how it works and how to be successful and everything. He was like a father figure to me sometimes. A to Z, to go from having him for a manager from ’05 to 2011, it’s just, him being gone, that wouldn’t have been easy for me. I don’t think it’s easy for Dustin [Pedroia], and I don’t think it’s easy for anyone in that clubhouse. There are adjustments you have to make. ”

Was Papelbon gone pretty much the moment Tito left? “I’d say it pretty much closed the door, yeah. Not 100 percent but I wasn’t going to go there and not know what manager I was going to playing for. Even when Philadelphia showed interest in me, I asked around about Charlie, you know, because I think as manager has a lot to do with the way a player ticks and a way a player can go. It did – it had a whole lot. And then Theo bounces, ding, ding, ding, lightbulb went off in my head and I say to myself, Theo bounces, he created all of this. He wouldn’t just leave this behind if … so the wheels started turning.”

How weird would it have been to stay under the new regime? “I think it would be. I don’t think that would be an experience that I could really handle too well.”

The Red Sox never made an offer. “They wanted to see if I could go out and test the market and maybe come back. I don’t know if they would [have countered], but I don’t go back. I go forward.   go full steam ahead, man. I don’t look back. I’ve got a car that don’t have rearview mirrors in it, man. I just go.”

Charlie Manuel reminds Papelbon of Francona. “Charlie’s a really good manager. Charlie’s very similar to Tito. Charlie gets on you when he needs to get on you and lets you be who you need to be.”

Papelbon is thrilled for his close friend and former teammate David Ortiz. “I was saying that earlier. I’m excited for him, I’m happy for him. I mean, I think sometimes he gets his feelings get in the way but that’s Papi, man. Papi, he gets a little emotionally fired up sometimes. You guys know. I mean, I’m happy for him. I couldn’t be happier for him.”

Lack of security for Ortiz, similar to Papelbon’s final years in Boston? “I think it fuels him. He just talks about it a little bit more. David, he’s an emotional guy. He puts his heart and soul into this. I find nothing wrong with what David says. I don’t find … you’ve got a small window, bro. a small window to try to succeed. And what David said and what he’s trying to do, I don’t find nothing wrong with that. no, it don’t surprise me, man.”

“Like I said, you have a small window to do your thing in this game. I’m so happy for him, man.”

Should the Red Sox weigh in intangibles more for a player like Ortiz? “Yeah, I think they should weigh it in. you’re talking about, in my opinion, the Red Sox are not the Red Sox without him, period. I don’t care what he asks for. I’m trying to make that big man happy.”

Papelbon is well aware that his former bullpen mate Daniel Bard, who is now in Triple-A, is having a rough time of it.  “I have. I haven’t talked to him. I’ve been meaning to actually talk to him here lately but, you know, Daniel’s the kind of guy, he’s a mature athlete and he knows what it’s about. He’s going to be fine. I really do think he’s going to be fine. He’s taking some bumps and some bruises right now but who doesn’t. You’re not in the big leagues if you’re not taking bumps and bruises. I took my bumps and bruises in 2010. You’re going to take some bumps and bruises. I think he’ll become better.”

Papelbon thinks Bard will be OK.  “He’s a pretty mentally strong kid. He really is. I saw that in the bullpen. I saw the days he got beat up and the way he  came back. I saw him have success the way he handled that. I think he’ll be fine.”

Tito’s change of heart pleases players

For all Terry Francona did during his time as manager of the Red Sox, the one thing he never got was closure. He remains a popular figure among the fans, even after last September’s 7-20 collapse.

On Friday, during the celebration of the 100th anniversary of Fenway Park, the fans will get their chance to give Francona a standing ovation. Originally, Francona indicated he wouldn’t participate in the pre-game ceremony, in which several key figures of the team’s history will be in attendance.

“I think it’s great.,” said Dustin Pedroia. “I’m excited to see him. I’m sure everybody else is. I’m sure the fans will enjoy it. It’s a pretty big thing we’re doing here for the 100th year and he’s a huge part of this organization.”

The ovation will probably be one of the loudest of the day.

“I hope so,” Pedroia said. “There’s not a manager to do what he’s done here. He was pretty important to this organization for a long period of time so I’m sure the fans will be excited to see him.”

“I think that’s good.That’s a tough personal decision for him the way things ended here for him a few months ago. But he’s such a big part of the recent history of the team and the ballpark. I think it’s only appropriate that he’s here,” said Daniel Bard

‘Tek tributes

Tremendous job by the Red Sox PR staff getting quotes from impactful voices near and far on the career of Jason Varitek.

Without further ado:

“Tek epitomizes what a true professional should be. He’s been a great teammate, but more importantly he’s been a better friend. The way he prepared and led the Boston Red Sox over the last 15 years has been an inspiration to all who have watched.  Although his leadership will be missed, his legacy in Red Sox history will be forged forever. It has been a true honor to have played with him for this long and I wish him nothing but the best as he starts a new chapter in his life. Congratulations Tek on an unbelievable career. I’m glad we’ve been able to share a lot of great memories together.” — – Tim Wakefield, Red Sox teammate from 1997-2011

“Ever since I’ve known him, dating back to being his teammate in college, he has been a tireless worker. His preparation and endless work ethic has made him a true champion. He is a great player, great teammate, great friend and even a better man. Thanks Tek for all you have taught me.” – Nomar Garciaparra, Red Sox teammate from 1997-2004, Georgia Tech teammate from 1992-94, current ESPN analyst

“It’s tough to see Tek go. He was a class act in the clubhouse, a leader on that team. He epitomizes what a captain is all about. It was a pleasure to have the opportunity to play with him, I never saw someone worked harder. We all loved him, he was a quiet leader, but when something needed to be said he said it.” – Trot Nixon, Red Sox teammate from 1998-2006.

“I want to congratulate Jason Varitek, a.k.a “Johnny Unitas fl at-top hair cut” on a remarkable career and mostly for being part of the fi rst World Series in 2004 with Sox Nation. It seems like yesterday we were in our hotel rooms on the road hitting with a pizza box going over our stances in our underwear during our struggles offensively. But above all, he’s a true professional, a true teammate and, best yet, an even better person. I wish him much success in the up and coming real world and we’ll see you soon with powder and an ear piece on TV.” – Kevin Millar, Red Sox teammate from 2003-05, current MLB Network analyst.

“In my 23 years of professional baseball I never played with or against a more selfless and prepared player than Jason Varitek. The ultimate team player, never hesitating to forgo personal success for the greater good, I’m proud to call him a friend and former teammate. I wish him God’s blessing and much happiness in wherever life takes him from here, he’s certainly earned it.” – Curt Schilling, Red Sox teammate from 2004-07, current ESPN analyst.

“Tek was a rare player. His first care was that his teammates succeeded even before himself. I have never seen a player so prepared for every game, even if he wasn’t playing. I learned a lot from him just by watching. I am glad to have been his teammate. Thanks for all you have done for the game Tek.” – Mike Timlin, Red Sox teammate from 2003-08

“He’s a true professional and was always the most prepared. He taught me how to be a leader and showed me how to be a champion. He should be a Red Sox Hall of Famer and it was a honor and a pleasure to have been his teammate and a huge fan of his since our high school days in Central Florida. I wish him all the best in the future.” – Johnny Damon, Red Sox teammate from 2002-05.

“Tek was hands down one of the best teammates I ever had. I have never come across someone who would prepare for the game more thoroughly than him. His dedication to his craft, and work ethic, were always qualities that I admired, and he was a true captain in every sense of the word. I wish him nothing but the best” – Mike Lowell, Red Sox teammate from 2006-10.

“Congrats on a Hall of Fame career. I will always cherish our championship memories together. He showed me how to be a Major League Baseball player with honesty, hard work and integrity without ever having to say one word and I am forever thankful for having him as a captain and teammate.” – Jonathan Papelbon, Red Sox teammate from 2005-11, current Phillies pitcher

“Jason is the consummate professional and teammate, he never waivers on who he is. He was a selfless leader and example for the entire team. He always cared about all 25 guys in the clubhouse and should serve as a role model for all baseball players present  and future.” – Bill Mueller, Red Sox teammate from 2003-05.

“Jason is a perfect example of what I think Red Sox baseball is all about: tough, gritty, passionate and most importantly, loyal. He has had an incredible run and was one of the biggest reasons why the Red Sox raised the Championship fl ags in ’04 and ’07. I can’t wait until he joins us in the Red Sox Hall of Fame, it will be a well deserved honor. He was a great teammate, a great friend, and a great professional. He should hold his head high and be proud of what he accomplished. Proud like the organization he spent 15 years with, proud like his teammates, and of course, proud like the greatest fans in all of baseball, Red Sox Nation! Congratulations Tek on a special career!” – John Valentin, Red Sox teammate from 1997-2001.

“He made himself with hard work into greatness. Fitting he led the Sox to two World Series championships. Couldn’t have happened to a better man.” – Mo Vaughn, Red Sox teammate from 1997-98.

“I have great respect for Jason’s 15-year career. I want to thank him for the great memories during my time with the Red Sox. I hope to see him pass down his wealth of knowledge to the younger generation.” – Hideo Nomo, Red Sox teammate in 2001, threw no-hitter to Varitek on 4/4/01

“He’s one of the hardest workers that I’ve ever seen at that position, as far as studying every day and taking pride in what he did. You look back and marvel at playing that position that many years and to see the stuff that he was able to see from his eyes. He should be proud of what he’s been able to accomplish.” – Derek Lowe, Red Sox teammate from 1997-2004, threw no-hitter to Varitek on 4/27/02, current Indians pitcher.

“With Tek, we always saw a guy that was really intense on the fi eld and baseball is his passion. He was always thinking about the little things. He caught me in my fi rst two full seasons and he was a guy that was an awesome resource for anybody to go to if they needed help in any aspect of the game. I’ll be forever in debt to him for that, I had a great time playing with him.” – Clay Buchholz, Red Sox teammate from 2007-11, threw no-hitter to Varitek on 9/1/07.

“It was a pleasure and an honor to be able to put this uniform on with him all these years. Congratulations Tek on a great career and congratulations on a well-deserved retirement.” – Jon Lester, Red Sox teammate from 2006-11, threw no-hitter to Varitek on 5/19/08.

”Congratulations to Jason Varitek on an outstanding career. As a former captain of the Red Sox, I can appreciate the way he approached the game. His leadership set a fi ne example for his teammates and the Red Sox organization.” —  Carl Yastrzemski, Hall of Fame outfi elder, Red Sox Hall of Famer, played entire 23-year career with Boston from 1961-1983

”Jason Varitek will always have a prominent place in Red Sox history. He caught more games as a Red Sox and helped the team win their fi rst World Series in 86 years. I am happy for him and proud of his accomplishments. Congratulations Jason!” – Carlton Fisk, Hall of Fame catcher, Red Sox Hall of Famer, played with Boston from 1969-1980.

”I think he was born to be a catcher. I was with him when he was a rookie, I remember seeing his fi rst Major League hit. To me, he was an over-achiever, but had a great work ethic and leadership qualities. He was always goal oriented in achieveing the best. He is an outstanding person and outstanding teammate. Definitely the type of player to win championships with. Bottom line he’s a baseball player.” – Jimy Williams, Red Sox Manager from 1997-2001.

”Tek was the captain seven out of my eight years with the Red Sox. The “C” on his chest was just a formality, he was the leader of the team with or without it. I could say a lot of things about Tek, but the most important thing was he kept everyone going in the right direction.” – Terry Francona, Red Sox Manager from 2004-11, current ESPN analyst.

”Jason was a rock during his Red Sox career and a rare leader who delivered in the most important games. He knew how to get the most out of all pitchers by giving his own best effort everyday.” – Dan Duquette, Red Sox GM from 1994-2001, current Orioles EVP of Baseball Operations.

”Jason Varitek has been the rock of the Red Sox for nearly a decade and a half. He was always prepared for each game and every situation and guided many diverse pitching talents and personalities to success while taking no personal credit. His future Red Sox Hall of Fame plaque will highlight the record four no-hitters he caught and his critical role in two World Championships as well as the quality of his character which made him such a strong leader and captain. I am thankful for his friendship and appreciative of how he gave his body and his heart to Red Sox Nation.” – Joe Castiglione, Red Sox Radio broadcaster from 1983-present

”Jason was one of those players that made the rivalry between our two teams so special. He was the type of competitor that brought out the best in everyone who was on the fi eld with him, whether you were playing with him or against him. He should be very proud of the way he represented the Red Sox organization throughout the years. He played the game with passion and dignity, and regardless of the color of his uniform I will always have a great deal of respect for the way he went about his business, day after day, and year after year.” – Jorge Posada, Yankees catcher from 1996-2011.

”I’ve always admired the way Jason played the game, and I appreciated the opportunity I had to get to know him throughout the years. He was a big part of the reason they had so much success as a team. Jason had a career that should be celebrated and I’m happy for him.” – Derek Jeter, Yankees shortstop from 1995-present, Yankees captain since 2003.

”Jason is one of the greatest players, not only to wear a Georgia Tech uniform, but to have played college baseball. There’s not a better guy in the world. He’s one of the best guys that I’ve ever had a chance to coach. I certainly wish him well and I’ll be interested to see what he does next.” – Danny Hall, Georgia Tech Head Baseball Coach from 1994-present.

Jeter stands by ‘flip play’; Tito weighs in

It had to be an amusing scene at Yankees’ camp today, what with Terry Francona roaming the clubhouse as a broadcaster and Derek Jeter being asked to defend perhaps the defining play of his career, which happened, oh, 11 years ago.

This came on the heels of Bobby Valentine saying on Tuesday that he thinks that Jeter was out of position on that flip play, and that the Red Sox would never practice that alignment in their cutoff drills. The moment in question happened on Oct. 13, 2001, Game 3 of the Division Series between the Yankees and A’s. Terrence Long lined a double into the corner, and Shane Spencer missed two cutoff men. But there was Jeter on the first-base side of the mound, in position to flip the ball home to Jorge Posda to get Jeremy Giambi, who didn’t bother to slide.

Valentine did tell me this morning he wasn’t trying to malign Jeter because he said, “I love Jeter”.

Anyway, here is what Jeter had to say from Yankees camp. Thanks to colleague Adam Berry for passing these quotes on.

On Bobby V. disputing the notion that the Yankees actually practiced that play. “I mean, we do. You know what I mean? You’ve seen it. You guys have been here.”

What does he think about this being a topic of conversation? “I don’t think anything. I really don’t. I have no thoughts whatsoever. Who cares? Why are we talking about this? They must be bored over there, huh? I don’t understand.”

Valentine’s motivation? “I don’t know Bobby well enough to tell you what he’s trying to do. I could care less, I guess is the best way to put it. I just don’t know why it’s brought up.”

“Think about it. We don’t practice it? We do. You guys see it. What else can I say. I was out of position? I was where I was supposed to be.”

Terry Francona’s view of the flip play?” I’m sure some of [what Valentine said] is in jest,” Francona said. I don’t know. I wasn’t there, and I’m out of it. I’m out of it. To me, it’s not important whether the Yankees practice that play or not. The fact of the matter is that he’s good enough to make that play. You could practice that play until you’re blue in the face, and he’s probably still the only guy who makes that play. That play was part of baseball lore. Again, I don’t doubt they do practice it. He’s probably the only guy that makes the play. He sees the field better than anybody in baseball. He’s the one guy that makes that play.”

Jeter was much happier to talk about his fellow captain for all these years, Jason Varitek, who will formally retire on Thursday.

“Talking about Varitek, I’ll point out the good things — an unbelievable career. I’m happy for him. I enjoyed competing against him all these years. That’s what we should be talking about as opposed to what Bobby said.”

Valentine praised Varitek in a blanket statement yesterday adding that he “beat up Alex”.

A-Rod didn’t feel like touching it.

“Like I said, I’m not going to win many battles here when it comes to words, especially against Bobby. But I will tell you this, I got my new press secretary that should be landing in the next couple days, Reggie Jackson, so I’ll let him handle that. All right? Thanks.”

More from Jeter: Rivalry still strong? “It’s the same. I don’t know. I can’t tell you that he’s trying to stir it up. I don’t know why you would have to stir it up. I think our rivalry gets so much attention anyway. But I am not saying that he is stirring it up.”

What will Jeter say to Bobby V. when he sees him?

“Hey, Bobby. That’s about it. I don’t think it’s that big of a deal, really. A lot of people have said that I wasn’t supposed to be here, and I’ve told you guys from Day 1 that’s where I’m supposed to be. That’s what we work on. He’s not the first person to say that. Since I’ve come up, we’ve done it the same way. We might be doing something like that the next couple days, so I invite all you guys to come out there and see that I’m in the same spot every time.”

How about seeing Tito in the Yankees clubhouse? “Yeah, I’ve always respected Terry. I’ve enjoyed playing against him, getting to know him throughout the years. I have a lot of respect for him and how he manages. Every player that I’ve ever talked to about him appreciated the way he managed and the way he dealt with players. I always had a lot of respect for him. Yeah, it is [strange having him in the clubhouse]. But it’s good to see him. He did a great job. It goes without saying how great he did in Boston. I’m happy to see him.”

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