Changing places in Baltimore

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Changing places in Baltimore

There was a time when Baltimore was just about the happiest place on Earth for the Red Sox.

Aside from Fenway, there wasnt a stadium in the American League more inviting than Camden Yards. There wasnt a team in baseball whether they were managed by Ray Miller, Mike Hargrove, Lee Mazzilli or Dave Trembley; led by Jeff Conine, Melvin Mora, Miguel Tejada or the great Rodrigo Lopez more ready and willing to roll over for the Sox.

For more than a decade, the Orioles were a joke and Boston always had the last laugh.

But now, for the second straight season, the Sox are living their worst nightmare at Fenway South. They're grasping at straws as the walls around their season crumble; meanwhile, you know their former punching bag cant get enough. Theyll never say it publicly (actually, they might), but the Orioles love every second of this Red Sox disaster.

A big reason is Buck Showalter.

From the moment he took the job in the summer of 2010, Showalter set out to instill a culture of Red Sox hatred in that Orioles clubhouse. He took a group of young, impressionable minds (which also happened to possess a ridiculous level of talent) and began molding them into an army of big market assassins.

"Id like to see how smart Theo Epstein is with the Tampa Bay payroll, Showalter said last spring. You got Carl Crawford cause you paid more than anyone else, and thats what makes you smarter? Thats why I like whipping their butt. Its great, knowing those guys with the 205 million payroll are saying, How the hell are they beating us? "

If thats what he was saying in public, you can only imagine what was flying around behind the scenes. And regardless of what it was, its worked. The Orioles are currently on pace for their first winning season since 1998. Meanwhile, Showalter's in a two-man race with Robin Ventura for A.L. Manager of the Year.

On the other side, the Sox can't keep from repeatedly slipping in the same pile of their own expletive deleted.

Of course, there are more factors in play within both these franchises than merely a focused and inspiring manager. In Baltimore, you have a ton of young, finally-developed talent, but also guys who know their place and are willing to learn, even though there's no question Showalter must rub them the wrong way from time to time. You have a front office willing to let Showalter to do his work; who haven't forgotten why they hired him in the first place and are smart enough to stay out of the way. You have timid expectations; resigned patience within the organization, the media and what's left of their fanbase.

In other words, you have the polar opposite of the Red Sox.

And with all we're going through here, it's no surprise that Baltimore's finding success on the other side of the coin.

Rich can be reached at rlevine@comcastsportsnet.com. Follow Rich on Twitter at http:twitter.comrich_levine

Pedro Martinez tells WEEI Ortiz will make comeback this season

Pedro Martinez tells WEEI Ortiz will make comeback this season

Never say never?

While Red Sox officials said at the team's annual Winter Weekend at Foxwoods on Saturday that they'd be traveling to the Dominican Republic to talk to David Ortiz about a role with the team, Pedro Martinez told WEEI he sees Big Papi returning to his old role - designated hitter - this season.

CSN's Trenni Kusnierek and WEEI's John Tomase talked to Martinez on their show Saturday at Foxwoods and Martinez said his old teammate would be making a comeback despite the long, emotional farewell tour last season. 

For the full interview with Martinez, click here.

Red Sox executives Tom Werner, Sam Kennedy and Dave Dombrowski made no mention of Ortiz returning as a player when talking about their Dominican trip. Ortiz has repeatedly said he is going to stay retired. 

Chris Sale on leaving White Sox: 'Time for both sides to do something different, I guess'

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Chris Sale on leaving White Sox: 'Time for both sides to do something different, I guess'

MASHANTUCKET, Conn. -- While there’s a deal of anticipation going into Spring training with the four Killer B’s, David Price and Pablo Sandoval’s shot at redemption and Rick Porcello looking to be something similar to his 2016 self, there’s one name that trumps them all.

Chris Sale.

The lankly lefty received an ovation from fans at the Friday night Town Hall, kicking off Red Sox Winter Weekend. With his consistent success, there’s reason to be excited.

But there’s also reason for apprehension given the way Sale’s departure from Chicago was depicted. But he’s made sure to clear the air.

“I wouldn’t say . . . ya know . . . I loved my time in Chicago,” Sale said when asked if it was time to leave the Windy City. “My best baseball memories are there [and] will be there forever. I love the city; I love the people in the organization.

“It was time for both sides to do something different, I guess. I talked to (White Sox Senior V.P.) Rick on the phone, I talked to (White Sox pitching coach Don) Coop (Cooper). We’re all cool, it’s fine. We understand where both of us are, it happens in baseball, but I thoroughly enjoyed my time in Chicago.”

He didn’t seem irritated discussing the issue, and certainly wasn’t timid -- we all know that’s not in his DNA.

He genuinely seems excited to deal with the large sum of Sox fans and to call a new place home -- in a city his wife’s fond of no less.

But ultimately, he’s focused on winning, nothing else.

“Every time I’m out there it’s gonna be all I got,” Sale said. "Every time, no matter what. Can promise you that.”