Addressing the outfield not a priority for Cherington


Addressing the outfield not a priority for Cherington

DALLAS -- Right field, apparently, can wait.

That was the message Red Sox general manager Ben Cherington had Tuesday evening, as he addressed a number of his team's needs for 2012.

Clearly, most of Cherington's focus for now is on pitching -- both the starting rotation and the bullpen, and specifically, finding a closer to replace Jonathan Papelbon.

The team has shown some preliminary interest in free agents Michael Cuddyer and Carlos Beltran, but Cherington hinted that filling that positional need was not a top priority for now.

"There are free agent options and trade options," said Cherington. "Some of the things we're looking at might happen a little bit later in the off-season."

Cuddyer reportedly has an offer to return to Minnesota for three years, 25 million. Beltran, a switch-hitter, has yet to receive much in the way of formal offers, but is unlikely to be available in a few weeks when the Sox turn their attention to the position.

The Sox could also use a right-handed hitting outfielder, given that nearly every other outfielder on their current 40-man roster is lefthanded: Carl Crawford, Jacoby Ellsbury, Ryan Kalish and Josh Reddick.

"Right now, if Opening Day was tomorrow, (Reddick) is probably in right field," said Cherington. "We'll see what happens the rest of the winter."

Of Reddick, Cherington added: "He took another step in his career (in 2011). We think he's going to be a very good major league outfielder."

Reddick played in 87 games last season, hitting .280 with seven homers and 28 RBI. He played 56 games in right, many of those in the second half when J.D. Drew was sidelined with injuries.

Reddick underwent a surgical procedure after the season to repair a wrist injury, but is expected to be 100-percent by spring training.

Reddick is ahead of Kalish on the depth chart because Kalish missed most of 2011 with injuries -- first to his shoulder, then to his neck.

"Kalish has a little bit more to overcome physically," said Cherington. "We think he's going to be a really major league player, too. He's still recovering physically and should be playing in spring training, but he's probably got a little bit more work to do.

"He'll be rehabbing, but by the time he gets to January, he'll be able to do a lot of stuff. It shouldn't inhibit him in a significant way as far as preparation for the season. He'll be a little behind from a playing standpoint."

MLB ump saves woman attempting to jump from Pittsburgh bridge


MLB ump saves woman attempting to jump from Pittsburgh bridge

PITTSBURGH -- John Tumpane can't explain why he approached the woman as she hopped over the railing of the Roberto Clemente Bridge on Wednesday afternoon.

The woman told Tumpane she just wanted to get a better view of the Allegheny River below. The look on her face and the tone of her voice suggested otherwise to Tumpane, a major league baseball umpire in town to work the series between the Pittsburgh Pirates and the Tampa Bay Rays.

So the 34-year-old Tumpane reached for the woman even as she urged him to let her go.

"It was just pure instinct," Tumpane said . "You hear kind of stories of this all the time, different scenarios, people aiding and situation where I was lucky enough to be there to help and try to think of everything I could do, hanging on to her. At times she wanted to go the other way. I was like, 'not on my watch, please.' We were just hanging on."

And saving a life.

Tumpane secured one of her arms. A bystander walked up and grabbed the other while another -- Mike Weinman, an employee for the Rays -- clutched her legs and pinned them to the railing while Tumpane mouthed to someone in the crowd to call 911.

What followed were chaotic moments of panic, fear and ultimately, grace.

"I couldn't tell you how long we were waiting for everyone else to get in place," Tumpane said. 'Obviously another power comes into be when you're hanging on and you know what the alternative is of you letting go and not having other people to help you."

Tumpane, Weinman and the third volunteer clung to the unidentified woman until emergency responders arrived. A police boat raced up the river to the iconic yellow bridge named for the Pirates Hall of Famer who died on Dec. 31, 1972, when a plane making humanitarian deliveries to earthquake victims in Nicaragua crashed. Now, 45 years later a crowd thrust together by fate brought a complete stranger back from the brink. Together.

"Once they were able to secure her, we were able to talk her back to help us out and we got her back on this side," Tumpane said. "After that I went up to her, she said, 'You'll just forget me after this' and I said, 'No, I'll never forget you.' This was an unbelievable day and I'm glad to say she can have another day with us and I'm glad I was in the right place at the right time."

Tumpane, who grew up in the Chicago suburbs, got into umpiring as a teenager, made his major-league debut in 2012 and received his full-time MLB commission in 2016, stressed he's no hero.

"I just happened to be there," he said. "I think I've been a caring person in my life. I saw somebody in need, and it looked like a situation to obviously insert myself and help out."

The aftermath was a bit surreal. After the woman was taken away, Tumpane called his wife, his arms still shaking.

"Not too many times you call your wife and say you helped save somebody's life," he said. "A really special moment."

One that stayed with him even as he prepared to call balls and strikes behind home plate Wednesday night. During breaks in the action his eyes would drift to the bridge just a few hundred feet behind the center field wall at PNC Park.

"It's also hard when you stand back behind home plate and look and you see the bridge in the distance, In between innings and whatnot, just thinking of how things could have maybe been," he said. "Glad it was this way."

Tumpane has no experience in crisis management or suicide prevention. He's spent 16 years living the nomadic life of an umpire. Asked what was going through his head while he tried to coax the woman back to safety, Tumpane just shrugged his shoulders. How do you explain the unexplainable?

"I happened to be in the right spot at the right time," he said. "Tried to be as comforting as I could and talk her through it. Thankfully that was the outcome."