Cherington heads to Dallas with to-do list

570248.jpg

Cherington heads to Dallas with to-do list

BOSTON -- Red Sox general manager Ben Cherington has plenty of items on his to-do list at the winter meetings, which begin Monday in Dallas.

Im sure well accomplish something, Cherington said. I dont know what its going to be. I can't guarantee when player moves will happen, but weve got a pretty good idea of the landscape and idea of our needs.

"I mentioned this earlier, and it sounds like a little bit of a clich at this point, but I really do believe that the biggest work we have to do, the biggest job we have to do is really internally. Hiring a manager is a huge part of that. There are other parts of the operation weve been restructuring. Were going to make player moves, but weve got a lot of good players and weve made some big moves last offseason. I think the work we do this offseason is going to be a little bit different in nature, but certainly therell be player moves and we have been working on that. Theyll start happening soon.

Weve been working on both the trade and free agent fronts. Theres been things we could have done and chose not to. Its like any other offseason. You're trying to find the right opportunity, the ones that make sense for us.

So, Bobby Valentines trip to the Dominican Republic the day after the new manager was introduced at Fenway Park -- certainly cant hurt the teams efforts to keep free agent designated hitter David Ortiz in a Sox uniform. Whether Valentines lobbying actually helps, though, remains to be seen.

Ortiz is hosting his charitable golf tournament in the Dominican this weekend.

"I've been involved with this activity," Ortiz told Comcast SportsNet on Friday. "My agent knows I've been so busy with putting this together here, I told him, 'Only let me know if we are getting close to what we want. Other than that, you talk to them. You deal with everything, and at one point we catch up'. "

Ortiz will be one of the top priorities. The Sox offered arbitration to the free agent DH, who has until Wednesday to accept.

"I haven't thought about it," Ortiz said. "I haven't been in this situation before. So it's something you talk to your agents about, and then decide what's better for you and the team."

Cherington plans to meet with Ortiz agent, Fern Cuza, in Dallas.

We offered arbitration and thats significant because he has a decision to make on Wednesday, if we dont reach an agreement before then, Cherington said. Weve had continued good dialogue. And well get together with Fern and his other agents in Dallas.

The Sox also need to address:

Starting pitching
Josh Beckett, Jon Lester, and Clay Buchholz will return to the rotation. Beyond those three, it is uncertain. Cherington is reported to have a meeting in Dallas arranged with Bob Garber, the agent for left-hander C.J. Wilson and righty Roy Oswalt, both free agents. The Sox have internal options in Alfredo Aceves and Daniel Bard, both of whom Cherington has said could start. Aceves appeared in 55 games in 2011, making four starts. Bard has not started since 2007, his first professional season, making a combined 22 starts for Single-A Greenville and High-A Lancaster.

Bullpen
The loss of Jonathan Papelbon, to the Phillies in free agency, has created a major void and questions in the bullpen. If Bard is not the closer, who is? If Bard is the closer, who takes the set-up role? Will Bobby Jenks be able to perform in either role? Along with Papelbon, Joe Nathan and Heath Bell are already out of the free-agent pool. Any potential replacement is likely to be a poor substitute for Papelbon. Right-hander Dan Wheeler is the only other player the Sox offered arbitration. A potential move into the rotation of Aceves, who played a vital role in the bullpen, would also leave a void.

Right field
J. D. Drews five-year, 70 million contract is off the payroll and into the history books. A right-handed hitting right fielder to complement the left-handed hitting Car Crawford in left field and Jacoby Ellsbury in center would be ideal. Michael Cuddyer is a possibility, as is the switch-hitting Carlos Beltran, both free agents. If the Sox are not able to bring in someone by free agency or trade, the spring training competition for the spot would likely be between Josh Reddick and Ryan Kalish, both left-handed hitters. Kalish lost all but 24 games, all in the minors, because of injury, while Reddick had surgery on his left wrist last month.

Coaches
After the departure of Terry Francona, the coaching staff was given permission to seek other opportunities. Pitching coach Curt Young returned to the As. It could be difficult to lure pitchers to Boston until they know who their pitching coach will be. The contracts of first-base coach Ron Johnson and staff assistant Rob Leary were up and were not renewed.

"As I've said all along, we've got four coaches under contract, and we think highly of all of them," Cherington said. "It needs to be the right fit for them. It needs to be the right fit for Valentine. Bobby will get a chance to talk to all of them very soon, I would think."

Hitting coach Dave Magadan was contacted by Valentine Friday, the day after the new managers introductory press conference, and asked to return. The Yankees were reportedly denied permission to speak with bullpen coach Gary Tuck, who also will likely return. Leaving the status of bench coach DeMarlo Hale, who is also a candidate for the Orioles third base coach job, and third base coach Tim Bogar uncertain.

Valentine was asked if he would consider bringing in Bill Buckner, with whom he has a long friendship.

"Bill Buckner was my college roommate," Valentine said. "He's been a friend for years, we played together with the Dodgers. We played together in the Dominican Republic. I've watched his kids grow up and I respect his every opinion in baseball and in worldly matters. Whether or not Bill Buckner would be on this staff is a decision that Ben and I will talk about. Or if anyone else is going to be on this staff, Ben and I will talk about it to find out the right composition of a staff."

"It's not about friendship and it's not about who is here in the past. It's about who it is that can do the specific jobs that need to be done, who it is that will communicate the information that I need communicated to me, and who it is that can communicate to the players and their respective fields best."

Compensation for Theo Epstein
The Sox and Cubs have yet to work out compensation for allowing Epstein out of the final year on his contract to become president of baseball operations in Chicago.

We haven't made any further progress on that, Cherington said. Im sure well get together in Dallas.

Cherington is hopeful or working out an agreement by the end of the meetings on Thursday, but . . .

I said that before.

And in the meantime, he will have plenty to keep him busy.

Ramirez, Leon homer, Red Sox beat Angels 9-4 on Papi's night

red_sox_hanley_ramirez_062317.jpg

Ramirez, Leon homer, Red Sox beat Angels 9-4 on Papi's night

BOSTON - Hanley Ramirez and Sandy Leon hit two-run homers and the Boston Red Sox beat the Los Angeles Angels 9-4 on Friday to cap a night in which David Ortiz's number became the latest retired at Fenway Park.

It was the 250th career home run for Ramirez, a good friend of Ortiz who was also born in the Dominican Republic. Leon finished with three hits and four RBIs.

The homers helped provide a nice cushion for Rick Porcello (4-9), who gave up four runs and struck out eight in 6 1/3 innings to earn the victory. It was the 13th straight start Porcello has gone at least six innings.

Alex Meyer (3-4) allowed five runs and five hits in 3 1/3 innings.

Los Angeles scored three runs in the seventh, but cooled off after Porcello left.

Boston got out to a 3-0 lead in the first inning, scoring on an RBI double by Xander Bogaerts and then getting two more runs off wild pitches by Meyer.

Ramirez gave Porcello a 5-1 lead in the fourth with his two-run shot to right field.

This could serve as a needed confidence boost for Porcello, who had been 0-4 with a 7.92 ERA in his previous five starts, allowing 47 hits and 27 earned runs.

He had command of his pitches early, holding the Angels scoreless until the fourth, when a catching error by Leon at home allowed Albert Pujols to cross the plate.

Ortiz: 'A super honor' to have number retired by Red Sox

Ortiz: 'A super honor' to have number retired by Red Sox

BOSTON —  The Red Sox have become well known for their ceremonies, for their pull-out-all-the-stops approach to pomp. The retirement of David Ortiz’s No. 34 on Friday evening was in one way, then, typical.

A red banner covered up Ortiz’s No. 34 in right field, on the facade of the grandstand, until it was dropped down as Ortiz, his family, Red Sox ownership and others who have been immortalized in Fenway lore looked on. Carl Yazstremski and Jim Rice, Wade Boggs and Pedro Martinez. 

The half-hour long tribute further guaranteed permanence to a baseball icon whose permanence in the city and the sport was never in doubt. But the moments that made Friday actually feel special, rather than expected, were stripped down and quick. 

Dustin Pedroia’s not one to belabor many points, never been the most effusive guy around. (He’d probably do well on a newspaper deadline.) The second baseman spoke right before Ortiz took to the podium behind the mound.

“We want to thank you for not the clutch hits, the 500 home runs, we want to thank you for how you made us feel and it’s love,” Pedroia said, with No. 34 painted into both on-deck circles and cut into the grass in center field. “And you’re not our teammate, you’re not our friend, you’re our family. … Thank you, we love you.”

Those words were enough for Ortiz to have tears in his eyes.

“Little guy made me cry,” Ortiz said, wiping his hands across his face. “I feel so grateful. I thank God every day for giving me the opportunity to have the career that I have. But I thank God even more for giving me the family and what I came from, who teach me how to try to do everything the right way. Nothing — not money — nothing is better than socializing with the people that are around you, get familiar with, show them love, every single day. It’s honor to get to see my number …. I remember hitting batting practice on this field, I always was trying to hit those numbers.”

Now that’s a poignant image for a left-handed slugger at Fenway Park.

He did it once, he said — hit the numbers. He wasn’t sure when. Somewhere in 2011-13, he estimated — but he said he hit Bobby Doerr’s No. 1.

“It was a good day to hit during batting practice,” Ortiz remembered afterward in a press conference. “But to be honest with you, I never thought I’d have a chance to hit the ball out there. It’s pretty far. My comment based on those numbers was, like, I started just getting behind the history of this organization. Those guys, those numbers have a lot of good baseball in them. It takes special people to do special things and at the end of the day have their number retired up there, so that happening to me today, it’s a super honor to be up there, hanging with those guys.”

The day was all about his number, ultimately, and his number took inspiration from the late Kirby Puckett. Ortiz’s major league career began with the Twins in 1997. Puckett passed away in 2006, but the Red Sox brought his children to Fenway Park. They did not speak at the podium or throw a ceremonial first pitch, but their presence likely meant more than, say, Jason Varitek’s or Tim Wakefield’s.

“Oh man, that was very emotional,” Ortiz said. “I’m not going to lie to you, like, when I saw them coming toward me, I thought about Kirby. A lot. That was my man, you know. It was super nice to see his kids. Because I remember, when they were little guys, little kids. Once I got to join the Minnesota Twins, Kirby was already working in the front office. So they were, they used to come in and out. I used to get to see them. But their dad was a very special person for me and that’s why you saw me carry the No. 34 when I got here. It was very special to get to see them, to get kind of connected with Kirby somehow someway.”

Ortiz’s place in the row of 11 retired numbers comes in between Boggs’ No. 26 and Jackie Robinson’s No. 42.