Red Sox react to Rivera's injury, career

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Red Sox react to Rivera's injury, career

BOSTON -- Mariano Rivera may have single-handedly caused more anxiety for the Red Sox in recent seasons than any other player.

But seeing him crumpled in a heap on the warning track in Kauffman Stadium in Kansas City yesterday, clutching is right knee, and hearing the news of his torn ACL and meniscus, leaving the career of the future Hall of Famer in jeopardy, brought only sadness to the Sox clubhouse.

It was sad, man, said David Ortiz. Last night when I saw it on TV it was pretty emotional. And going out the way he did it was unbelievable I dont want to see anybody getting injured, especially a guy like Mariano.

I always say that hes the best pitcher in the game that I ever seen. You know what hes coming with and you still wont hit it. Period. Its simple. Only one pitch.

I can only be redundant in anything I say because hes one of the greatest guys Ive ever met, said manager Bobby Valentine. Obviously one of the greatest athletes who was doing an athletic event when he got hurt. Goes without saying. The kind of pitcher he was I dont think Ill ever see it in my lifetime again. Hes special. Hopefully hell come back even though hes with the bad guys.

Obviously as a baseball player, I grew up a fan and Ive always been a big fan of Mariano, said Cody Ross. Im not a big fan of facing him, obviously, or when he plays against us. But, Im a true fan and you hate to see players like that get hurt the way he did. Its a sad day for baseball and for the Yankees, obviously, a tough loss. I just hope that he doesnt have to go out like that.

It stinks said Marlon Byrd. When I was with the Phillies, I got drafted in 99, one thing I always respected about the Yankees was the whole way Mariano, for some reason, he always knew all the young guys, all the minor leaguers, everything. Hed see me and say hello. Theres just a respect. I dont think anyone has anything negative to say about him. So I wanted him to keep building on that save record, not against the Red Sox but keep building on it because hes the greatest closer of all time. I wish him well. Hopefully he recovers fast. Hes a hard worker. Everybody knows hes going to recover fast and hopefully comes back.

For Ross, Rivera defined playoff baseball.

When you see him and you see him come set from the back view, every time I see it I picture playoff October baseball when the games on the line and him coming in and getting the job done, and just the incredible run hes had in the playoffs, obviously, throughout the years, too. Hes just been a great professional and a great ambassador for the game.

While Rivera is known for his devastating cutter, it is his cunning instinct that Byrd remembers.

The one thing I remember is Mariano always throwing me cutters, cutters, cutters when I went to Texas, Byrd said. We got a couple hits off him and I came up and the first pitch he threw me was a sinker and broke my bat. And I was so dumbfounded, I didnt know what to think. You know, since when did he throw a sinker? Its just me. It wasnt like I was one of their big thumpers. I wasnt Michael Young or Josh Hamilton. But thats just the type of pitcher he is. Hes very smart.

How might Riveras loss affect the American League East?

No way of telling, Valentine said. They have a couple of guys who have been very good at the end of a game and it is during the season so they have been battle-tested. I think it'll depend on their starting pitching. If they're going to the sixth and seventh a lot I think they're going to miss him. If theyre starting pitching stretches out into the eighth inning I think they might be OK. Its still not going to be as comfortable a feeling for sure.

The feeling that permeated the Sox clubhouse today was that for someone who built his reputation on and off the field as one of the most respected players to ever pick up a baseball to have to end his career in this fashion would be entirely unfair.

It is, said Ross. I dont know if his career is over, if hes going to shut it down or not after this. But you hate to see it if it is. But what hes done, you cant take away from him. Hes been an incredible player and Hall of Famer. I guess Im blessed to be able to say I played against him and tell my grandkids about him down the road.

Hopefully it doesnt, Byrd said. I dont even want to think about that. Thats negative. I try to stay positive. Im sure the Yankees are thinking the same thing. Im sure Mariano's thinking the same thing. So I dont think he wants to go out like this. I have the feeling hell be back and come back as strong as ever.

Well me and Mariano, we are really good friends, Ortiz said. Hes the kind of person that he believes in, hes a major believer in God have something always in plan for us. And Im pretty sure if thats the way God wants him to finish his career, he will understand that, he will agree with it. You know what Im saying? But like I say, hes just the kind of player that you want to see at the end of his career competing like he got everybody used to. And finish it like that, if thats the way its supposed to be, thats the way its supposed to be, you know what Im saying. But he will understand.

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.”