Ortiz offers perspective on tensions

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Ortiz offers perspective on tensions

BOSTON As Fridays ninth-inning, bench-clearing brouhaha wound down, David Ortiz put his arm around Luke Scotts shoulder and walked Scott several steps toward first base.

Scott had just been hit by a Franklin Morales pitch with two outs and none on, inciting the melee.

In that case, after things happen, go like that, or whatever, you just want to settle things down, Ortiz said.

Ortiz took it upon himself to be the one to do that.

Well, I have a lot of people that they respect me in the game, Ortiz said. And they respect you for a reason and you want to try to keep it that way. And yeah, the incident happened. Luke got hit. And when Im trying to calm things down, this is what Luke told me: 'Papi if you were in my situation, what would you do? Would you be mad?' And I totally agree with him. Id be mad just like you are, but just move on, you know what Im saying? And he understand what I say. He just went down to first base.

But I have a lot of respect for the Tampa guys, the way they play the game, the way they go at it. The situation happened in the game. Me? Im not a big fan of situations like that going down. Manager, players sometimes have their reasons to do whatever they do. But I still have respect for those guys because those guys through the years have come along real good and played the game and do what theyve been doing. I know some of them and they got to go about their business. So hopefully everything will stay right there and we move on and turn the page.

Ortiz is not expecting any retaliations tonight.

Probably not tonight. I dont think, he said. Were still in the same series with things going down. But Im not a pitcher. Im a hitter and like I say, this situation, I dont think the fans come to see that. The fans come and watch us compete. Sometimes things get out of hand and later on you cant control it. But hopefully we just move on and come back and play the game the way we have.

What are the proverbial unwritten rules in this kind of situation?

I dont know them, Ortiz said with a laugh. I dont know them. I focus on hitting the ball and doing my thing. Theres a lot of things about the game that I get caught into and I dont have an answer for them.

Rays manager Joe Maddon made some very blunt comments after Fridays game, saying the situation reeked of intent, calling the Sox actions ridiculous, absurd, idiotic, incompetent, cowardly behavior.

Ortiz said he could understand those sentiments.

Because hes right to be mad about the situation, you know what Im saying, Ortiz said. Hes the manager of their ballclub and just like Bobbys the manager of our ballclub and they got a right to go at each other.

But these kinds of incidents are not new to these two teams. More than any other team, the Sox have had run-ins with the Rays. Dustin Pedroia was hit earlier in Fridays game. Last week, in the two-game set in Tampa Bay, Morales hit Will Rhymes and Clay Buchholz hit Scott in the first game. In the second game, Matt Moore hit Adrian Gonzalez, Felix Doubront hit Scott, and Vicente Padilla hit Rich Thompson.

Its not like its not going to happen because you got 25 guys here and you got 25 guys over there, Ortiz said. You try to have everybody on the same page, its not going to happen. Same over there. Things happen, back and forth, some guy looking for retaliation, some guy looking for, you know, ok, its not going to happen here, its not going to happen there. And later on in the game things happen. But those are things that they are not predictable. Its a lot of adrenaline going on, the flow of the game, get caught into it.

Ortiz was not surprised the benches emptied on Friday.

No, to be honest with you, he said. Me personally, I just saw the thing happen, and I was like Whoa, OK. And of course when you get hit you get mad, especially the way Luke Scott got hit. It was pretty obvious. Because my boy Morales miss one time and then hit him. Of course, youre going to get upset. To me in that situation, you throw at me, the first time, you hit me, its all great. But if you throw at me and miss me and then end up hitting me, Im going to do exactly the same thing he did and probably worse. Because you already got your chances.

Scott was hit on the fifth pitch of the at-bat. After Morales first pitch sailed behind Scott to the backstop, Rays players who were already in their clubhouse rushed to the dugout, in apparent anticipation of an incident.

They were expecting it, Ortiz said. It was a crazy situation. But like I said you dont want to get your pitching star out of their focus. We got Josh Beckett going in tonight, they got David Price going in tonight. These guys are aces who through the years what they focus on is getting hitters out, not hitting guys. Thats not their best game. So when you see guys hitting guys you got them out of their rhythm and hopefully thats not the case tonight.

Scott is on record with derogatory comments about Red Sox fans and Fenway Park. Still, Ortiz is surprised he has become such a villain in Boston.

To be honest with you, yes, yes, Ortiz said. Because like last night was the first time I saw on the TV things that he have said about them, and, man, hes such a nice guy. Hes very religious. He might have his reasons to say what he say. I dont know.

But like I say, hes a good guy and hopefully things get better and sometime people say things that hurt your feelings and you carry that over. Probably thats what happened to him.

But, Luke, we got the best fans on Planet Earth.

Ortiz prediction for tonights game?

I know were going to try to win, he said.

And what about more hit batters?

Im not a pitcher, I dont know. I dont throw the ball. Hopefully I dont get hit.

Felger: Crazy can be good, but Sale needs to harness it

Felger: Crazy can be good, but Sale needs to harness it

Chris Sale brings with him to Boston some attitude. He also brings a measure of defiance and, perhaps, a little bit of crazy.

All of which the Red Sox starting staff just may need. And if Sale pitches as he has for much of the past five years, he'll probably be celebrated for it.

I still wonder how it will all play here, especially if he underachieves.

What would we do to him locally if he refused to pitch because he didn't like a certain kind of uniform variation the team was going with? What would we say if he not only refused to pitch, but took a knife to his teammates' uniforms and the team had to scrap the promotion? Sale did exactly that in Chicago last year, after which he threw his manager under the bus for not standing by his players and attacked the team for putting business ahead of winning.

All because he didn't want to wear an untucked jersey?

"(The White Sox throwback uniforms) are uncomfortable and unorthodox,'' said Sale at the time. "I didn't want to go out there and not be at the top of my game in every aspect that I need to be in. Not only that, but I didn't want anything to alter my mechanics. ... There's a lot of different things that went into it.''

Wearing a throwback jersey would alter his mechanics? Was that a joke? It's hard to imagine he would get away with that in Boston.

Ditto for his support of Adam LaRoche and his involvement of that goofy story last March.
 
LaRoche, you'll remember, retired when the White Sox had the nerve to tell him that his 14-year-old son could not spend as much time around the team as he had grown accustomed to. Sale responded by pitching a fit.

“We got bald-face lied to by someone we’re supposed to be able to trust,'' said Sale of team president Kenny Williams. ``You can’t come tell the players it was the coaches and then tell the coaches it was the players, and then come in and say something completely different. If we’re all here to win a championship, this kind of stuff doesn’t happen.”

On what planet does allowing a 14-year-old kid in a clubhouse have anything to do with winning a title? In what universe does a throwback jersey have anything to do with mechanics? If David Price had said things that stupid last year, he'd still be hearing about it. And it won't be any different for Sale.

Thankfully, Sale's defiance and feistiness extends to the mound. Sale isn't afraid to pitch inside and protect his teammates, leading the American League in hit batsmen each of the last two years. He doesn't back down and loves a fight. And while that makes him sound a little goofy off the field, it should play well on it.

In the meantime, the Sox better hope he likes those red alternate jerseys they wear on Fridays.

E-mail Felger at mfelger@comcastsportsnet.com. Listen to Felger and Mazz weekdays, 2-6 p.m. on 98.5 FM. The simulcast appears daily on CSN.

With trade rumors finally over, Sale shifts attention to dominating in Boston

With trade rumors finally over, Sale shifts attention to dominating in Boston

NATIONAL HARBOR, Md. -- Chris Sale had been the subject of so many trade rumors for the past year that he admitted feeling somewhat like "the monkey in the middle.”

On Tuesday, the rumors became reality when Sale learned he was being shipped to the Red Sox in exchange for a package of four prospects.
    
It meant leaving the Chicago White Sox, the only organization he'd known after being drafted 13th overall by Chicago in 2010. Leaving, he said, is "bittersweet.''
     
Now, he can finally move forward.
     
"Just to have the whole process out of the way and get back to some kind of normalcy will be nice,” said Sale Wednesday morning in a conference call with reporters.

Sale had been linked in trade talks to many clubs, most notably the Washington Nationals, who seemed poised to obtain him as recently as Monday night.

Instead, Sale has changed his Sox from White to Red.

"I'm excited,” he said. "You're talking about one of the greatest franchises ever. I'm excited as anybody. I don't know how you couldn't be. I've always loved going to Boston, pitching in Boston. (My wife and I) both really like the city and (Fenway Park) is a very special place.”
     
It helps that Sale lives in Naples, Fla., just 20 or so miles from Fort Myers, the Red Sox' spring training base. Sale played his college ball at Florida Gulf Coast University in Fort Myers.
     
"Being able to stay in our house a couple of (more) months,” gushed Sale, “it couldn't have worked out better personally or professionally for us.”
     
Sale joins a rotation with two Cy Young Award winners (David Price and reigning winner Rick Porcello), a talented core of mostly younger position players and an improved bullpen.

"There's no reason not to be excited right now,” said Sale. "You look at the talent on this team as a whole... you can't ask for much more.”

Sale was in contact with Price Tuesday, who was the first Red Sox player to reach out. He also spoke with some mutual friends of Porcello.

That three-headed monster will carry the rotation, and the internal competition could lift them all to new heights.
     
"The good thing in all of this,'' Sale said, "is that I can definitely see a competition (with) all of us pushing each others, trying to be better. No matter who's pitching on a (given) night, we have as good or better chance the next night. That relieves some of the pressure that might build on some guys (who feel the need to carry the team every start).”

But Sale isn't the least bit interested in being known as the ace of the talented trio.

"I don’t think that matters,” he said. "When you have a group of guys who come together and fight for the same purpose, nothing else really matters. We play for a trophy, not a tag.”

Sale predicted he would be able to transition from Chicago to Boston without much effort, and didn't seem overwhelmed by moving to a market where media coverage and fan interest will result in more scrutiny.

"It's fine, it's a part of it, it's reality,” he said. "I'm not a big media guy. I'm not on Twitter. I'm really focused on the in-between-the-lines stuff. That's what I love, playing the game of baseball. Everything else will shake out.”

After playing before small crowds and in the shadow of the  Cubs in Chicago, Sale is ready to pitch before sellout crowds at Fenway.

"I'm a firm believer that energy can be created in ballparks,” he said. "I don't think there’s any question about it. When you have a packed house and everyone's on their feet in the eighth inning, that gives every player a jolt.”