Hale, Pena added to Sox list of managerial candidates


Hale, Pena added to Sox list of managerial candidates

Add two more names to the list of candidates set to interview this week for the Red Sox managerial opening. And no, neither is named John Farrell.

The Red Sox interviewed New York Yankees bench coach Tony Pena for the position Monday. Pena didn't travel with the rest of the Yankees to Detroit -- where the ALCS will resume with Game 3 Tuesday night -- and instead came to Boston to be interviewed.

Pena played for the Red Sox from 1990 through 1993, as part of an 18-year playing career. He managed the Kansas City Royals for parts of four seasons from 2002 through 2005.

In 2003, his first full year on the job, he led the Royals to an 83-79 record and won American League Manager of the Year honors. That season represents the only winning record the Royals have had in the last 18 seasons.

Pena also managed at Triple-A for the Houston organization for two seasons. Since 2006, Pena has been part of the Yankees coaching staff, with three years as the first base coachcatching instructor and the last four years as the team's bench coach.

Pena's inclusion on the list of candidate was first reported by WEEI.com.

Also, the team scheduled an interview with Baltimore Orioles third base coach DeMarlo Hale.

Brad Ausmus is scheduled to speak with the Red Sox Wednesday. Last Friday, the Sox began the interview process by meeting with Los Angeles Dodgers third base coach Tim Wallach.

Hale left the Red Sox staff last fall in the wake of Terry Francona's firing and joined Buck Showalter's staff. He was not interviewed to be Francona's repalcement, with the organization apparently feeling it needed a clean break from Francona, though he was offered the chance to remain on the coaching staff.

He declined and instead went to Baltimore.

In all, Hale coached six seasons with the Red Sox -- the first four as third base coach and the last two as Francona's bench coach when Brad Mills left to manage Houston.

Hale also managed in the minors for both the Red Sox and Texas Rangers.

He was, ironically, a co-finalist with John Farrell for the Toronto Blue Jays' managerial position that eventually went to Farrell.

Farrell's role in this year's managerial picture is still unclear. Numerous Red Sox officials refused to comment on Farrell, refusing to say whether the Sox have been denied permission to speak with him, or even whether he is still under consideration.

Farrell has a year remaining on his three-year deal in Toronto. The Blue Jays demanded the Sox compensate them with pitcher Clay Buchholz last fall, ending the Sox' interest.

This time, with only a year remaining on his contract, it's believed the asking price would be less, though still significant.

One baseball executive not associated with either the Red Sox or Blue Jays, asked recently, what the Jays might demand in compensation, offered pitching prospect Matt Barnes as a guess, noting that while the former UConn pitching star wasn't one of the top two or three prospects in the Red Sox organization, he is thought to be part of the next tier of prospects.

MLB players' union agrees to pitchless intentional walks

MLB players' union agrees to pitchless intentional walks

NEW YORK - There won't be any wild pitches on intentional walks this season.

The players' association has agreed to Major League Baseball's proposal to have intentional walks without pitches this year.

"It doesn't seem like that big of a deal. I know they're trying to cut out some of the fat. I'm OK with that," Cleveland manager Terry Francona said.

While the union has resisted many of MLB's proposed innovations, such as raising the bottom of the strike zone, installing pitch clocks and limiting trips to the mound, players are willing to accept the intentional walk change.

"As part of a broader discussion with other moving pieces, the answer is yes," union head Tony Clark wrote Wednesday in an email to The Associated Press. "There are details, as part of that discussion, that are still being worked through, however."

The union's decision was first reported by ESPN .

"I'm OK with it. You signal. I don't think that's a big deal," Yankees manager Joe Girardi said. "For the most part, it's not changing the strategy, it's just kind of speeding things up. I'm good with it."

There were 932 intentional walks last year, including 600 in the National League, where batters are walked to bring the pitcher's slot to the plate.

"You don't want to get your pitcher out of a rhythm, and when you do the intentional walk, I think you can take a pitcher out of his rhythm," Girardi said. "I've often wondered why you don't bring in your shortstop and the pitcher stand at short. Let the shortstop walk him. They're used to playing catch more like that than a pitcher is."

Agreement with the union is required for playing rules changes unless MLB gives one year advance notice, in which case it can unilaterally make alterations. Baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred expressed hope Tuesday that ongoing talks would lead to an agreement on other changes but also said clubs would reserve the right to act unilaterally, consistent with the rule-change provision of the sport's labor contract.

Some changes with video review can be made unilaterally, such as shortening the time to make a challenge.

"I know they were thinking about putting in a 30-second (limit) for managers to make a decision," Francona said. "I actually wish they would. I think it would hustle it up and if we can't tell in 30 seconds, maybe we shouldn't be doing it anyway."

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.