A shiny new deal for David Ortiz

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A shiny new deal for David Ortiz

From Comcast SportsNetBOSTON (AP) -- David Ortiz got what he wanted a lot easier than he ever expected.Ortiz, the face of the Red Sox since helping Boston end an 86-year World Series drought in 2004, finalized a 26 million, two-year contract on Monday, a deal that could be worth up to 30 million if he avoids another significant Achilles tendon injury next year.The soon-to-be 37-year old had expressed his preference for a two-year deal the past two seasons. The club decided that keeping him and agreeing to his desire was a good first move this offseason."I don't think there was any doubt," he said during a Fenway Park news conference. "They approached me this year and our negotiation this year was easier than ever. They know what they were looking for. There wasn't even ever a back and forth situation. It was pretty much: This is it and let's agree with it.' They know the pieces they need to put together to be successful this year."Ortiz gets a 1 million signing bonus payable on Jan. 15 and salaries of 14 million next season and 11 million in 2014.His 2014 salary would increase to 15 million if he has 20 or fewer days on the disabled list next season caused by an Achilles tendon injury -- such as the one that limited him to one game after July 16 this year. If he has 21-40 days on the DL next year caused by an Achilles injury, his 2014 salary would go up to 13 million. The 2014 salary would not escalate if he has 41 days or more on the DL next year caused by an Achilles injury."After the season we identified a lot of things we wanted to do this offseason," general manager Ben Cherington said. "The most important one was to get David signed. This is a very important first step to our offseason. David has been an incredible performer for the Red Sox for 10 years. What he's done on the field speaks for itself. He's also been an incredible leader of the team as well as one can possibly do that."Sitting at a table with Cherington to his right, one couldn't miss the World Series rings that Ortiz was wearing from 2004 and 2007.Now, he'd like to help the team build from a last-place finish and 69-93 record, Boston's poorest since 1966."My focus right now is to provide what this organization expects from me the next two years," he said. "I'm a person that likes to get prepared for a challenge. Ben talked to me during the season and told me and a couple of my teammates he wants to build an organization around us. It's very painful to see what we went through this season."During the club's historic 2004 run, Big Papi had consecutive game-ending hits in extra innings of Games 4 and 5 of the AL championship series against the Yankees as the Red Sox became the first major league team to overcome a 0-3 deficit in a best-of-seven postseason series.The eight-time All-Star has 343 homers for Boston, fifth on the team's career list, and has 1,088 RBIs."We looked at the body of work and the track record. He's been incredibly productive and durable throughout the course of his career," Cherington said. "He's been one of the more consistent and durable players in the game over a long span of time. That gave us the comfort to give him a two-year deal, which was important to David."Ortiz, who will turn 37 on Nov. 18, is a career .285 hitter with 401 homers and 1,386 RBIs.He was having another solid year, batting .318 with 23 homers and 60 RBIs before going down with the Achilles injury in mid-July. He played in just one game the rest of the season.During an interview on NBC Sports Network in October, ex-Red Sox manager Bobby Valentine said Ortiz "decided not to play anymore" after Boston traded Adrian Gonzalez, Carl Crawford and Josh Beckett to the Los Angeles Dodgers in a move predicated on dumping salary.Ortiz downplayed the issue in the first question of the news conference."About the Bobby situation, I try to not add too much," he said. "You guys know it was something that made me feel uncomfortable. You guys know I've been here the last 10 years and know how I go about my business. The most important thing is you guys are face to face with every day, and you already know how important it is to be on the field and represent what I need to do."He closed the answer with "It's time to turn the page and move on."Asked whether he'd like to finish his career after this contract, the very personable Ortiz had a playful answer."The one thing I always keep in mind is when I'm full swinging and the ball isn't going anywhere, that's when its time to go," he said, smiling. "But I haven't gotten there yet.""We're thrilled to keep him here. We want David to retire with the Red Sox," Cherington said. "We hope that's many years from now. Right now we're happy that he'll be sitting in the middle of our lineup next year."Ortiz has played 10 seasons with the Red Sox after he was let go by the Minnesota Twins.

Patriots may get help from Foster . . . but not the one you think

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Patriots may get help from Foster . . . but not the one you think

As Patriots fans across New England worked themselves into a fine lather at the sight of Arian Foster in Boston over the weekend, another running back of the same last name prepared himself for his first-ever week of OTAs. 

D.J. Foster may not have the resume that Arian Foster has racked up over the course of his seven-year career, but the undrafted rookie running back's skill set is intriguing nonetheless. And he's healthy, whereas the former Texans Pro Bowler is coming off of a season-ending Achilles ailment and hasn't played a full season since 2012. 

Foster could be considered one of the players on the Patriots roster who stands the most to gain from this phase of the team's offseason program. Not only will he be taught to put into practice that which he's learned during his brief time in Foxboro this far, but there could be valuable reps available to him as Dion Lewis works his way back from a season-ending ACL injury suffered last fall. 

Foster, who played receiver during his final collegiate season at Arizona State, may slot in behind veteran sub backs James White and Donald Brown, but he'll still have an opportunity to show what he can do this spring. This is considered a "teaching camp" by the Patriots, not a "competition camp," meaning the lines between first, second and third string are a bit more blurry than they might be during training camp. Everyone gets a shake. 

At 5-foot-10 and 193 pounds Foster may be considered slight to run between the tackles, but his quickness could help him make defenders miss in the hole. He ran a 6.75-second three-cone drill at this year's combine, which was fourth among wideouts. Had he been considered a back, he would've topped the list at that position for that drill. 

Foster worked primarily with running backs coach Ivan Fears when he first arrived at Gillette Stadium, making it sound as though he'll be in the mix as one of the team's pass-catching backs. But knowing the Patriots, they'll be open to splitting him out wide as well. 

Wherever he's used, Foster will have his work cut out for him as he learns the offense and tries to develop an on-the-field rapport with his quarterbacks. Slow going as his development may be, his ceiling is exciting. 

One thing's for certain: At this point, he's of more use to the club than a veteran back coming off of a major injury who isn't quite ready to pass a physical. 

Despite discord, Goodell's reign may not be nearing end

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Despite discord, Goodell's reign may not be nearing end

Monday may have marked a low point in the relationship between the NFL and its on-field employees.

The fight between the league and its best player of the past two decades was in the headlines again. Tom Brady, tied to the NFL’s bumper and dragged around for almost 500 days, had his NFLPA legal team baring its teeth again in the Deflategate mess. The eye-gouging and hair-pulling in that imbroglio over a puff of air allegedly being removed from footballs has cost the league and the PA about $25M so far.

Meanwhile, NFLPA President Eric Winston was saying the league "cannot be trusted to do the right thing when it involves players.” That comment flowed from a Congressional report alleging the NFL tried to exert influence over who would conduct studies regarding Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE), the condition that’s been blamed for a myriad of former players winding up addled, incapacitated or dead.

I say “may have marked” because the relationship between the two sides has cratered so frequently over the past two years, it’s hard to know exactly what the low point has been. Or how much lower it can go.

And, with the 10-year Collective Bargaining Agreement only half done, there is ample opportunity for things to get worse. Because, really, why would they get better?

With the NFL’s owners safe knowing that their emperor/puppet/human shield is still in place to take the hits and do their dirty work, there’s seemingly no groundswell among that group to relieve Roger Goodell of his duties. Despite reports of growing owner discontent over Deflategate, the Ray Rice investigation, and an appeal of a case in which the league was found to have withheld $100M from players, there is no Sword of Damocles dangling over the league to cut ties with Goodell.

He was able to oversee the league’s re-entry in Los Angeles (though that “triumph” was fraught with owner acrimony), is going to get a game played in China, keeps edging closer to getting a franchise based in Europe and may even land one in Las Vegas, has enhanced the league’s reach on social media (the announcement of some games being aired on Twitter) and keeps making billions hand over fist.

Goodell’s presence won’t be an impediment to a new labor deal getting done for another five years. By then, when the issues of Goodell’s role in player discipline, drug testing and his relationship with the union come to the fore, the owners might feel compelled to cut him loose after 15 seasons in charge.

But even then, the league’s owners will be in the business of pointing out to the players how good they’ve had it under the current CBA. The league’s salary cap structure – decried as a disaster in the first years of the deal – has seen the cap grow from $120M in 2011 to $155M this year. Players’ practice time and the wear and tear on their bodies has been reduced thanks to the new limits on contact enacted. Benefits are better. Retired players are getting better care. Players have more off-field marketing opportunities with companies that want to affix themselves to the most popular sport in the United States.

As bad as the headlines have been for Goodell, in five years (or probably fewer since negotiations on a new CBA will begin in 2020) who will remember the disaster that’s been Deflategate? How inspired will players be to miss games and paychecks for the satisfaction of knowing Goodell can’t be his own arbitrator anymore?

To sum it up, Goodell’s dark disciplinary reign may well continue unabated for a few more seasons. But as long as the league rains money on its players through the end of this decade, the clock isn’t ticking on Goodell and the owners in the form of labor strife.