Red Sox 'have a little bit of anxiety' with players in World Baseball Classic

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Red Sox 'have a little bit of anxiety' with players in World Baseball Classic

PROVIDENCE Provisional rosters for each country in the World Baseball Classic were announced on Thursday. Four Red Sox players are on rosters including right fielder Shane Victorino for the United States, right-hander Alfredo Aceves (Mexico), highly regarded prospect Xander Bogaerts (Netherlands, by way of Aruba), and right-hander Jose De La Torre (Puerto Rico).Final rosters are due Feb. 20, with pool play beginning March for the 28 teams in the tournament.Having players out of camp for an extended period, not under the eyes of their organizations, is not easy for teams.Its case by case, but the guys right now that are candidates to play were OK with, Sox general manager Ben Cherington said. And those are guys that weve talked to and talked about and are comfortable with their participation.Still, theres a degree of anxiety involved.I guess whenever you have less control over a player you have a little bit of anxiety, Cherington said. But, look, theyre going to be playing games one way or another. Theyre either going to be playing game in Fort Myers or in the WBC. I guess perhaps the intensity level is a little bit different but you take it case by case.If you have real concerns about a guy, sometimes its taken out because of an injury, sometimes you can have a conversation with a player and it makes sense to sit it out and the player decides himself, which weve had this year, and other times its not really much riskier and were comfortable with it. So I think its case by case but I think the organizations and each federation they really do a very good job. And each time its gotten better at including safeguards for players and managing workload and timing it at the right time of spring training so guys are kind of naturally ready anyway so its a pretty well-oiled event at this point and certainly one we support.It can be particularly nettlesome for a new manager, such as John Farrell, who is still trying to get to know his players, especially those new to the organization who werent with the team while Farrell was pitching coach from 2007-10.Well theres a couple of things that quickly come to mind, Farrell said. In this first spring training for us, for the new staff, with a number of new players, the time that we spend together will be critical for us as personally feel how we identify each other is going to be key. But were not going to stand in the way, nor can we stand in the way of the WBC and representing countries that our players are from. So what that final roster looks like, who we might miss, probably reserve judgment till we see the total number of players that might be out of camp.Several players will be leaving Fort Myers with questions. Aceves is expected to be in the Sox bullpen this season, but will be stretched out in case he is pressed into duty as a starter. How he will be used on Mexicos staff is uncertain.I dont know, Cherington said. Its safer to assume he is going to be a starter just from an innings standpoint so wed probablyunless were told hes nottry to get him stretched out and get his pitch count up before he reports.Theres probably two approaches, Farrell said, of what he would like Aceves to work on during the WBC. One, if youre a reliever, youre probably a little bit more accepting rather than that gradual build-up over time that a starter needs to go through. Our intent in spring training was to stretch Alfredo out. He and Franklin Morales will join five other guys as starting pitchers to get a number of guys with multiple innings under their belt. Well take the necessary steps to, if in fact, he does go and do what we can with the time allowed.Bogaerts, the Sox much-heralded shortstop prospect, will be on a Netherlands team that includes two other prized shortstop prospects, the Rangers Jurickson Profar and Braves' Andrelton Simmons
I dont know, Cherington replied when asked where Bogaerts would play. Im sure well have a conversation. I wouldnt expect him to put on catchers gear or anything like that. Im sure theyll find a spot on the field where he can be safe.I think wed probably mostly be concerned with safety and putting him in a spot where he can be comfortable. Im sure they want his bat in the lineup.

McAdam: Despite all the talk, Ortiz is still the retiring type

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McAdam: Despite all the talk, Ortiz is still the retiring type

CHICAGO -- Will or won't he?

It's the first week of May, and already the question is being asked. Sure, David Ortiz said he was retiring after this season. But will he stick to his word or change his mind? Inquiring minds want to know.

The questions get louder with every homer hit, every run knocked in, every milestone reached.

When Ortiz homered off Carlos Rodon Wednesday night, becoming the first lefty hitter to ever do so, the chatter began again.

It's unlikely to stop much in the coming months, especially if Ortiz continues to hit at this sort of pace. If Ortiz continues to produce like he has in the first five weeks, like he did a year ago, why would he walk away from a game he can still dominate?

But that's missing the point.

Ortiz isn't retiring because he can't perform any longer. Remember, he made the announcement last November, weeks after he finished 2015 with 37 homers, the most he's had in a single season since his club-record 54 in 2006.

Ortiz couldn't have had any sense that he was nearing the end after what he achieved last year. And he can't be motivated financially, either; the Red Sox hold a $15 million option for 2017, meaning he knew he was walking away from that when he decided to quit.

So maybe, just maybe, Ortiz is retiring because he doesn't want to play any more.

He may still love the game and enjoy the lifestyle, but he's played professional baseball for the last 23 years, or more than half of his life. That's a lot of plane rides, bus rides and time away home and family.

And even though he's essentially been a DH for virtually all of his Red Sox career, there's still a physical price to play. The Achilles injury he suffered several years ago still affects him.

It was telling that Ortiz was out of the lineup for both games in Atlanta, a National League city where the Red Sox can't use the DH. In the past, he would have started at least one game at first base. But this time he pinch-hit in the first and didn't appear at all in the second.

Then there's the matter of the hype surrounding The Long Goodbye. Three franchises -- including the White Sox Thursday night -- have held ceremonies to honor Ortiz's last visit to their ballpark. In the coming weeks there will be pregame tributes in Kansas City, San Francisco, and Minneapolis, with many more to follow.

It would be pretty awkward for Ortiz for shrug his shoulders, announce he's had a change of heart, and give back those gifts.

There are planned promotions at Fenway, with sponsors cued up to take part in various events.

Ortiz has also agreed to be the subject of a season-long documentary by a production company that followed him around on Opening Day, the home opener at Fenway and will be around periodically throughout the season. What happens to that project? Does it become an inside look at the next-to-last season for David Ortiz? Would anyone watch "A Behind-the-Scenes Look at the Year David Ortiz Gave Careful Consideration To Retiring Before Changing His Mind?''

And while it's true Ortiz has developed a good relationship with president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski in a short period of time, and Dombrowski would undoubtedly welcome Ortiz back next season, it's highly unlikely Dombrowski's presence could bring about a change of heart.

After all, Ortiz has had a very good relationship with John Farrell and enjoys playing for him. So if Farrell, whose history with Ortiz dates back to 2007, can't sway Ortiz, it's highly doubtful Dombrowski could.

Mostly, this talk has surfaced because of the Sports Talk Industrial Complex, a business that traffics in conspiracy theories and is in dire need of debate and hot takes 24-7.

Noted player evalautor Sigmund Freud, however, once sagely noted: Sometimes a cigar is just a cigar.

And sometimes, a retirement is just a retirement.

Nothing more, nothing less.

Quotes, notes and stars: Red Sox 7, White Sox 3

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Quotes, notes and stars: Red Sox 7, White Sox 3

Quotes, notes and stars from the Red Sox' 7-3 win over the White Sox:

QUOTES

* "Where five days ago, he was able to harness things and command the baseball a little better, tonight that was not the case.'' - John Farrell on Henry Owens.

* "That was a momentum shift for us.'' - Farrell on the inning-ending double play that ended the fifth, with Mookie Betts throwing out Brett Lowrie at the plate.

* "They've done outstanding work, when our backs have been against the wall with some early exits by starters.'' Farrell on the bullpen contributions.

* "It's disappointing, (after) working hard on my mechanics the last five days.'' - Owens on his command struggles.

* "It's good to win a series, for sure, against this team.'' - Xander Bogaerts on the win.

NOTES

* Seven different Red Sox hitters produced an RBI.

* The Red Sox are 9-2 in their last 11 and 11-4 in their last 15.

* Hanley Ramirez, who homered for the second time in his last two games, has nine RBI in his last nine games.

* Jackie Bradley Jr. extended his hitting streak to 11 straight games.

* The Sox became the first team to beat the White Sox two games in a row at home.

STARS

1) Matt Barnes

Barnes picked up the win in relief, contributing five big outs in the middle innings and stabilizing the game for the Red Sox bullpen.

2) Dustin Pedroia

After going hitless Wednesday night in the cleanup spot, Pedroia was back in the No. 2 hole and got the Sox off on the right foot with a solo homer in the top of the first. He later added two more hits.

3) Hanley Ramirez

Returning from a one-game absence, Ramirez belted his second homer in as many games and also worked two walks, a good sign for someone who not long ago was too often expanding the strike zone.