Saltalamacchia belongs among AL All-Stars

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Saltalamacchia belongs among AL All-Stars

Count me among the millions who wanted to see Jarrod Saltalamacchia in the All Star Game.

And why not? On a team full of superstars who can't keep it together, Saltalamacchia's one of the few guys to actually exceed expectations this year. He doesn't have an ego or an attitude, or carry himself like a martyr for getting paid millions to play baseball. Instead, he's just a plain, old likable athlete. He works hard. He's easy to root for. He just so happens to have hit more home runs (15) than any catcher in baseball.

And for all those reasons, we wanted Salty to get the call.

Of course, he didn't.

Whether or not he eventually finds his way to Kansas City remains to be seen. These days, you know at least a handful of All-Stars will drop out of the game, and this year, Salty will be on the short list of replacements. But even if he gets the late invite, it's not the same. It's like getting a call from a couple three weeks before they get married: "Hey, I know this is last second, but do you want to come to our wedding?" You appreciate the offer, and you probably end up going, but you know that you were on the B-List; that they only invited you after a bunch of other people turned them down first.

Anyway, despite the desire to see Saltalamacchia in the All-Star game, and the disappointment in the fact that he didn't make it, it's hard to get too riled up about the snubbage.

First of all, because Salty's hitting .254 with a .302 OBP this season. I don't care where the competition is, or what kind of feel good story you might be, if those are your numbers, there's a serious argument to be made against your All Star status.

Second, because even though he's done an admirable job taking over for Jason Varitek, the Sox rotation as a whole hasn't been that good. I'm not saying that's the catcher's fault, I'm just saying that his presence behind the plate doesn't really support the case.

Third . . . no, I'm going to stop there. I don't want to sit here and pick apart all the reasons Jarrod Saltalamacchia isn't an All-Star.

Because the real story is that we're even having the conversation to begin with.

That whether or not he ultimately spends July 10 sweating his brains off in Kansas City, for the first three months of the season, Jarrod Saltalamacchia has been one of the best catchers in the American League, and one of the biggest surprises in Boston.

Count me among the millions who never saw that coming.

Rich can be reached at rlevine@comcastsportsnet.com.

Big Papi's Papi was taken by surprise at retirement announcement

Big Papi's Papi was taken by surprise at retirement announcement

BOSTON - David Ortiz may be masterful in the clutch and one of the more charitable athletes in the city, but much like anyone else, Big Papi doesn’t always inform his own Papi of news right away -- even if he plans to announce it to the general public.

“He actually didn’t tell me [that he planned to announce his retirement],” Enrique Ortiz, David’s father, said through a Red Sox’ translator on Saturday before the next-to-last regular-season game. “I was in the Dominican Republic when he announced it in the states.

While Enrique would explain -- humbly -- how proud he was of his son, he’s not so sure announcing his retirement before the season was the correct move.

“If I was [in America], I would have told him not to announce his retirement,” the elder Ortiz explained, “just because there’s so many things that can happen in a season. Or you might have a change of heart after the season.

“If I were here I would have told him to stay neutral so his options were more open. So I wouldn’t have told him to retire.”

Although dad wasn’t on board with his son’s announcement, he’s done what any good parent does -- bite their tongue and let things play out.

“I haven’t told him anything about why he's retiring because I know it’s coming from him and it’s his decision,” Enrique said. “But when I look back to 2013, I remember coming here and I see him with what looks like two cats on his feet. And I’m like ‘What happened to my boy? Did he get into an accident or something?’ And what he told me was, ‘This is how you son is making this money, doing all of this stuff before a game.’ So [him retiring] is not a surprise to me.”

Saturday's Red Sox-Blue Jays lineups: E-Rod on mound, Bogaerts back to 2-hole

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Saturday's Red Sox-Blue Jays lineups: E-Rod on mound, Bogaerts back to 2-hole

The Red Sox (93-67) look to close in on the No. 2 seed in the A.L. playoffs and home-field advantage in the Division Series with the Cleveland Indians (92-67) with a victory over the Toronto Blue Jays tonight at Fenway Park.

The Red Sox send left-hander Eduardo Rodriguez (3-7, 4.68 ERA) to the mound against left-hander J.A. Happ (20-4, 3.20). Rodriguez is expected to pitch either Game 3 or 4 of the Division Series against the Indians next week.

If both teams finish with 94 wins, the Red Sox hold the tiebreaker over the Indians, based on Boston winning the season series, 4-2. The Indians may have to play a makeup game Monday with the Detroit Tigers.

The Jays are a game behind the Baltimore Orioles for the top A.L. wild-card spot and hold a half-game lead over the Detroit Tigers for the second wild-card spot. 

Red Sox shortstop Xander Bogaerts moves back to his customary No. 2 spot in the batting order after hitting sixth Friday night. Right-handed hitting Aaron Hill is at third base and Christian Vazquez catches for Boston.

There will be the second of three ceremonies this weekend to honor retiring Red Sox DH David Ortiz before the game.  

The lineups:

RED SOX
Dustin Pedroia 2B
Xander Bogaerts SS
David Ortiz DH
Mookie Betts RF
Hanley Ramirez 1B
Chris Young LF
Jackie Bradley Jr. CF
Aaron Hill 3B
Christian Vazquez C
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Eduardo Rodriguez LHP

BLUE JAYS
Devon Travis 2B
Josh Donaldson 3B
Edwin Encarnacion 1B
Jose Bautista DH
Russell Martin C
Troy Tulowitzki SS
Melvin Upton LF
Kevin Pillar CF
Ezequiel Carrera RF
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J.A. Happ LHP