BALTIMORE Before things got crazy in the Camden Yards visitors clubhouse on Tuesday, the mood was somber as longtime Sox players like Dustin Pedroia and David Ortiz paid tribute to Johnny Pesky. The 92-year-old Sox legend passed away on Monday and left behind six decades of association with the Sox organization as a player, coach, manager, ambassador, special instructor and in the last decade or more of his life as a living legend.
Ortiz and Pesky had a special relationship as the two would engage in a playful give-and-take within the clubhouse and dugout before games, and always seemed to find each other for a victorious embrace when the Sox captured their World Series championships. A sad smile stole over Ortizs face when he was asked what Pesky meant to him during his 10-year career in Boston.
A lot, man. Ive been in this organization for 10 years and Johnny is what the Red Sox franchise is all about, said Ortiz. Thinking about Johnny Pesky and not being able to have him around physically is hard to deal with. Its pretty devastating to find out that hes passed away.
He was an unbelievable human being. He showed you from the very beginning what love for this game was all about. I always liked to be shadow him when he was around he had some good things to say. He had some funny things to say. Im going to miss all that.
There wasnt a single story that leapt to mind for either Pedroia or Ortiz when it came to the franchises elder statesmen, but his image is still abundantly clear. Pesky would walk around the Sox clubhouse with bat in hand and boast to the players that he could still go out and do some damage with the bat.
It didnt matter who was pitching, and it certainly didnt matter that Pesky was pushing 90 years old. The Sox players loved him for his spirit and energy that age couldnt take away from him.
If you can hit .300 in the big leagues thats something hard to do, said Ortiz. There are tons of stories with him. The most important thing with him was his personality: the way he handled his business. Even at his age he said he could still get a hit. That was how strong mentally he was, and I appreciated all those great times I spent with Mr. Johnny.
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.
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.
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.”