Drew working on shoulder, happy for Reddick

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Drew working on shoulder, happy for Reddick

By Maureen Mullen
CSNNE.com Follow @maureenamullen
BOSTON -- J.D. Drew, on the DL since July 20 with a left shoulder impingement, said before Thursdays game his shoulder has been bothering him for quite a while, as far back as spring training, and that he has had several injections to deal with the problem in his left rotator cuff. His priority now is to get some strength back in the area.

Shoulders been nagging for quite a while," he said. Everythings coming along. Just trying to get some strength to get back in there. Impingement, irritation, tendinitis, whatever you want to call it, over a period of time its just gotten weaker and weaker, creating some bad habits. Just trying to battle through it, get some strength in there and see where we go from there.

Ive had a couple of injections this year but were trying to let this last one I had about a week ago take effect. In the meantime, Im doing some strengthening work.

In the final year of a five-year, 70 million contract with the Red Sox, Drew is batting .219 with four home runs and 21 RBI. He has never gotten onto a hot streak this season as he had in past years, bothered by the shoulder since the start of the season.

I think I had some of the effects in spring training, first month of the season, he said. Ive felt it for a while but its one of those things thats slowly, gradually taking some strength out of that shoulder, which is causing some bad habits and it got to a point where the discussion with the training staff trying to figure out what direction we need to go to get some strength back in my shoulder without continually tearing it down at the same time.

We made the decision to not really continue to swing for a while. The DL was the obvious option.

Drew is confident, however, that he will play again this season.

Yeah, I think so, he said. I want to get to the point strengthwise where I can go out and start swinging the bat and I can kind of control that (without) too much of an impact. I created some bad habits at the plate. I want to kind of get away from by making the strength gains to kind of regain where I want to be at the plate.

I dont really have a timetable. I just think as soon as I find the strength gains and get back to hitting again and am pain free Ill be fine.

He is working on strengthening the shoulder first, breaking the bad habits that he has developed this season.

When you get weakness what Ive found, the weaker my shoulder has become the more I jump at balls, try to create bat speed, power and everything from my lower half vs. letting my hands work, he said. Its been a frustrating battle because Ive found myself having a couple of nice rounds of batting practice and when I get in the game I want to create that bat speed and when your top hands kind of lagging behind you find another place to try to create that bat speed and its been my lower half kind of jumping out in front.

For whatever reason, a lot of swings throughout my whole career Ive kind of hung onto the bat, followed through with both hands and Ive found myself kind of casting with my bottom hand and releasing with my top hand. Things that I watch the tapes and Im trying not to do that. Its just involuntary motions trying to take a little pressure off my shoulder."

Despite the injuries and being in the last year of his contract, Drew, who in the past has mentioned the possibility of retiring, is not thinking about that at this point.

No, not at all, said. This has been a frustrating year from the standpoints of this and trying to get things figured out at the plate. So thats been the main focus, trying to get everything back to normal, keep rolling and help this team in any way I can. Its been one of them battles where ultimately just from a daily basis, talking to the training staff, I dont feel like I can do what I want to do because of this weakness in there. Well take some time here and get some strength built back up and start taking swings again and see where we go.

Josh Reddick has filled in during Drews absence. He is playing right field, batting sixth in the series finale against the Royals today. Reddick is batting .358 with four home runs and 21 RBI in35 games. He is among the American League rookie leaders in several offensive categories.

Josh has played great, man, Drew said. Hes probably one of the most improved young players Ive seen. He went from one extreme to another. So its been fun to watch.

Maureen Mullen is on Twitter at http:twitter.commaureenamullen

Bean: There's no way to spin a potential Ortiz return as a bad idea

Bean: There's no way to spin a potential Ortiz return as a bad idea

As if there weren’t enough storylines with the 2017 Red Sox, there figures to be the lingering possibility that, at any point, one of the franchise’s greatest hitters will return to make a push for his fourth World Series title.

As Pedro Martinez keeps saying, he won’t believe David Ortiz is retired until season’s end.

And with that possibility comes a good ol’ fashioned sports debate: You’re maybe the biggest lunatic in the whole wide world if you’re hoping for the latter.

There are exactly two potential downsides to Ortiz coming back. One is that the team would be worse defensively if it puts Hanley Ramirez in the field, a tradeoff that seemingly anyone would take if it meant adding Ortiz’ offense to the middle of the order. The other is that we would probably have to see Kenan Thompson’s Ortiz impression again . . . which, come to think of it, would be the worst. Actually, I might kill myself if that happens.  

All the other drawbacks are varying degrees of noise. It basically boils down to the “what if he isn’t good?” fear. Which may be valid, but it shouldn’t be reason enough to not want him to attempt a comeback.

Ortiz is coming off a 38-homer, 127-RBI 2016 in which he hit .315 with a league-best 1.021 OPS. It's probably the best final season of any hitter over the last 50 years.

We also know Ortiz is 41 and dealt with ankle and heel injuries so vast in recent years that he was “playing on stumps,” according to Red Sox coordinator of sports medicine services Dan Dyrek. There is the possibility that he was almost literally on his last legs in 2016 and that he doesn’t have another great season in him.

Unless Ortiz is medically incapable and/or not interested in returning, what would the harm be in rolling the dice? Is it a money thing? It really depends on just how intent the Sox are on staying under the luxury-tax threshold, but it’s hard to imagine that holding them up given that they’ve bobbed over and under the line throughout the years.

The one unacceptable argument is the legacy stuff, which expresses concern that Ortiz would tarnish his overall body of work if he came back for one last season and was relatively ineffective.  

If you think that five years after Ortiz is done playing, a single person will say, “Yeah, he’s a Hall of Famer; it’s just a shame he came back that for one last season,” you’re absolutely crazy. The fact that one could dwell that much on a legacy shows how much they romanticize the player, meaning that in however many years it's the 40-homer seasons, and not the potentially underwhelming few months in 2017, that will stand the test of time.

But he’ll have thrown away having one of the best final seasons ever for a hitter.

Oh man. That’s a life-ruiner right there. A 10-time All-Star and three-time World Series champion totally becomes just another guy if you take that away.

Plus, the fact that he’s a DH limits how bad it could really be. You won’t get the sight of an over-the-hill Willie Mays misplaying fly balls in the 1973 World Series after hitting .211 in the regular season. Ortiz will either be able to hit or he won’t, and if it’s the latter they’ll chalk it up to age and injuries and sit him down. Any potential decision to put him on the field in a World Series would likely mean his bat was worth it enough to get them to that point.

The Red Sox, on paper at least, have a real shot at another title. Teams in such a position should always go for broke. Ortiz has absolutely nothing left to prove, but if he thinks he has anything left to give, nobody but the fans who dropped 30-something bucks on T-shirts commemorating his retirement should have a problem with that.

MLB may make rule changes for '18 season

MLB may make rule changes for '18 season

PHOENIX - Major League Baseball intends to push forward with the process that could lead to possible rule changes involving the strike zone, installation of pitch clocks and limits on trips to the pitcher's mound. While baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred expressed hope the ongoing process would lead to an agreement, he said clubs would reserve the right to act unilaterally, consistent with the rule-change provision of the sport's labor contract.

Union head Tony Clark said last weekend he did not foresee players agreeing to proposed changes for 2017. Under baseball's collective bargaining agreement, management can alter playing rules only with agreement from the union - unless it gives one year notice. With the one year of notice, management can make changes on its own.

"Unfortunately it now appears that there really won't be any meaningful change for the 2017 season due to a lack of cooperation from the MLBPA," Manfred said Tuesday during a news conference. "I've tried to be clear that our game is fundamentally sound, that it does not need to be fixed as some people have suggested, and I think last season was the kind of demonstration of the potential of our league to captivate the nation and of the game's unique place in American culture."

Yet, he also added: "I believe it's a mistake to stick our head in the sand and ignore the fact that our game has changed and continues to change."

Manfred said while he prefers an agreement, "I'm also not willing to walk away." He said he will send a letter to the union in the coming days and plans to continue dialogue with Clark and others in hopes of reaching agreement.

Clark met with Cactus League teams last week, five at a time over Thursday, Friday and Saturday, before departing Monday for Florida to visit each Grapefruit League club - and proposed rules changes were a topic.

"I have great respect for the labor relations process, and I have a pretty good track record for getting things done with the MLBPA," Manfred said. "I have to admit, however, that I am disappointed that we could not even get the MLBPA to agree to modest rule changes like limits on trips to the mound that have little effect on the competitive character of the game."

Clark saw talks differently.

"Unless your definition of `cooperation' is blanket approval, I don't agree that we've failed to cooperate with the commissioner's office on these issues," he wrote in an email to The Associated Press. "Two years ago we negotiated pace of play protocols that had an immediate and positive impact. Last year we took a step backward in some ways, and this offseason we've been in regular contact with MLB and with our members to get a better handle on why that happened. I would be surprised if those discussions with MLB don't continue, notwithstanding today's comments about implementation. As I've said, fundamental changes to the game are going to be an uphill battle, but the lines of communication should remain open."

Clark added "my understanding is that MLB wants to continue with the replay changes (2-minute limit) and the no-pitch intentional walks and the pace of game warning/fine adjustments."

Manfred said he didn't want to share specifics of his priorities for alterations.

"There's a variety of changes that can be undertaken," Manfred said. "I'm committed to the idea that we have a set of proposals out there and we continue to discuss those proposals in private."

MLB has studied whether to restore the lower edge of the strike zone from just beneath the kneecap to its pre-1996 level - at the top of the kneecap. Management would like to install 20-second pitch clocks in an attempt to speed the pace of play - they have been used at Triple-A and Double-A for the past two seasons.

Players also have been against limiting mound meetings. The least controversial change appears to be allowing a team to call for an intentional walk without the pitcher having to throw pitches. In addition, MLB likely can alter some video review rules without the union's agreement- such as shortening the time a manager has to call for a review.

"Most of this stuff that they were talking about I don't think it would have been a major adjustment for us," Royals manager Ned Yost said.

Manfred said starting runners on second base in extra innings sounds unlikely to be implemented in the majors. The change will be experimented with during the World Baseball Classic and perhaps at some short-season Class A leagues. Manfred said it was a special-purpose rule "beneficial in developmental leagues."

Manfred also said Tuesday that a renovated Wrigley Field would be a great choice to host an All-Star Game and Las Vegas could be a "viable market for us."

"I don't think that the presence of legalized gambling in Las Vegas should necessarily disqualify that market as a potential major league city," Manfred said.