Ortiz: Red Sox need to re-embrace the '04 approach

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Ortiz: Red Sox need to re-embrace the '04 approach

BOSTON -- It only took David Ortiz a little while spent with his 2004 teammates Tuesday night to figure out what the Red Sox need to do for 2013.

It's not about players, Ortiz determined; it's about team. And it takes leadership, which Ortiz hinted the current Sox lack.

"Tuesday night something happened to me,'' said Ortiz. "Every time I looked at somebody, I kind of had some highlight, some flash from '04 that that person was responsible for. Tuesday night was the first time I noticed that every group was led by a guy. You know what I mean?

"Like the bullpen was led by Mike Timlin and Keith Foulke. Those guys wanted to make sure that all the young guys followed them, that the bullpen was ready for whatever they said. They had time to go out there, time to prepare themselves . . . they had their own group and they protected each other. On the road, you'd see the bullpen guys together.

"Same with the starting pitchers. We'd have Pedro Martinez, we had Curt Schilling, Tim Wakefield handle whatever came up with starting pitchers.''

Ortiz recalled Martinez instructing Bronson Arroyo and other younger pitchers on the staff to change their between-start routine in midseason in order to preserve their strength.

"Pedro was looking out for his teammates,'' Ortiz said. "As a veteran, he was saying, 'As a young player, listen to what I have to say.' And next thing you know, boom, we're where we have to be.''

Asked where the veteran presence and leadership has gone in the present-day Red Sox clubhouse, Ortiz said: "It's not here right now. It's not here, to be honest with you.

"But I think we can get back there. It's not something you have to kill anyone to get there. It's just a matter of having veteran guys in charge.

"That's something that wasn't planned. It was Mike Timlin saying about the bullpen, 'Hey, I got this.' It was Curt, Wake, saying, 'Starting pitchers, I got this.' Hitting? Me and Manny Ramirez, we were in charge of the responsibility, the production and everybody around us fed off that.''

Setting the tone, Ortiz added, starts in the manager's office and no one understood that better than Terry Francona, the 2004 manager.

"Tito used to have me in his office when I was doing good and when I was doing bad,'' recalled Ortiz. "When I was doing bad, to remind me who I was; when I was doing good, to remind me who I am. And he used to be in the office with players, left and right, talking, going back and forth.

"That, to me, I thought was great because the guy built up my confidence. But at the same time, he didn't just build it up -- he wanted me to keep it at that level.

"Him talking to me was like my Dad talking to me. Whether he was mad at me or happy for me, I would take it the same way. Me and Tito, we never argued or anything. At some point, things got a little rough and he did what he was supposed to do. He'd say, 'I gotta make a move, I've got to change things.' ''

Asked if the Sox had the proper personalities to get back to the 2004 approach, Ortiz quickly responded: "Some of them. We need more.''

Ortiz added that the Sox need more talent, but as recent history has shown, not just any talent will work in Boston.

"We need guys who can come here and shock the world,'' he said. "Guys who come in and say, 'Okay Boston, you're a tough town . . . Here I am. Let me see. Let me try this.'

"You've got to be able to handle it. These days, you're not a baseball player, you're on TV like a movie star. So there's things that come with that.''

The Sox can't be turned around by bringing in one or two stars. Instead, the team needs to have a full roster to contribute.

"Every single person in the clubhouse needs to try to do something every day to win a ballgame,'' he said. "That's just responsibility. When I go to hit, I want to change the game. I want to make sure I put my team in a better situation. If you have 25 guys going at it like that, that's how you win the World Series.

"Tuesday night, I saw that. I saw it. I saw this guy that nobody knows, came in and played good defense. The guy who pinch-hit, nobody knows him, got the hit to win the game. The guy that comes in to face a right-hander and got his ass out. Those little things, 25 guys, are what you need.''

Ortiz said "there are some guys out there,'' who could help fix the Sox in a hurry.

"To give you a name,'' said Ortiz, "a guy I love to watch play, Michael Bourne. That guy's fun to watch. Let's say you have Cody Ross re-signed and Ells Jacoby Ellsbury -- I would have Cody playing left, and have Bourne playing right field (with Ellsbury in center). Now you have the whole outfield covered.

"He's going to hit at the top of the lineup, he's going to get on base, a good hitter, he knows what he's doing, plays defense. Guys like that, they make a difference everywhere they go.''

First impressions: Owens improves, Scott scuffles

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First impressions: Owens improves, Scott scuffles

NEW YORK -- First impression from Red Sox' 5-1 loss to the Yankees:

* Henry Owens looked improved over earlier starts.

The lefty took the place of Drew Pomeranz Thursday night and pitched into the fifth inning, allowing two runs on four hits.

Talent evaluators believe that Owens has the stuff necessary to be a back-end starter in the big leagues if -- and that's a big qualifier -- he can command his pitches.

Alas, that's often been an issue for Owens, who averaged 3.4 walks per nine innings last season in Boston and, in four starts earlier this season, a bloated 9.3 walks per nine innings.

On Thursday night, Owens showed far better control, issuing just two walks. Further, he managed to pitch ahead in the count, giving him an advantage against the New York lineup. And mixing his changeup and fastball, he fanned six.

* Robby Scott had a bad night at a bad time.

Scott's in the mix to make the Red Sox post-season roster as a lefty specialist, competing against the likes of Fernando Abad.

He had been effective in most of his previous outings, with no runs allowed in six appearances with five strikeouts and a walk.

But brought in to face Brian McCann with runners on first and second and one out in the sixth, he yielded a single to center.

After getting Aaron Hicks on a flyout, he walked rookie Tyler Austin to force in a run, then heaved a wild pitch that scored another run before retiring Brett Gardner on a flyout.

Keeping in mind that Scott wouldn't be asked to face that many righthanders were he to make the post-season roster, Thursday's outing wasn't helpful in making his case.

* Yoan Moncada is gone for now.

The Red Sox announced that the rookie third baseman had traveled to Fort Myers to prepare for his upcoming assignment in the Arizona Fall League next month.

Expectations were high for Moncada when he joined the Red Sox on Labor Day weekend in Oakland and when he collected multiple hits in each of his first two starts, it appeared as though he would get most of the playing time at third for the remainder of the season.

But not long after, Moncada began chasing breaking balls out of the strike zone and looking very much overmatched at the plate. HE struck out in nine consecutive at-bats.

That doesn't mean that Moncada won't someday -- likely in the not-too-distant future -- be a very good major league player. But it is a reminder of how big a jump it is to go from Double A.

And, it served to point out how remarkable Andrew Benintendi has been in making that same jump.