Lavarnway back up with the Red Sox

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Lavarnway back up with the Red Sox

BOSTON -- It was probably a bit longer than anybody might have expected, but 24-year-old Ryan Lavarnway is back in a Boston big league clubhouse.
The young catcher impressed Sox officials last season when he hit .231 with a pair of home runs and 8 RBIs in 17 games in Boston at the tail end of last season.
But Lavarnway had spent the entirety of this year at Triple-A Pawtucket paying his dues while waiting for another chance.
That all changed on Wednesday as the Sox sent outfielder Daniel Nava to the 15-day disabled list with a pair of sore wrists, and brought up Lavarnway to add a little more right-handed pop to the bench.
Lavarnway also gives the Sox another able-bodied catcher as Kelly Shoppach deals with a nagging shin injury caused by a couple of poorly placed foul balls off his in-step.
Both of his wrists have been bothering Nava a little, so were going to make sure he gets fully healed on the disabled list, said Bobby Valentine. Since Mike Aviles is still dealing with that turf toe and Kelly has the shin issue, Lavarnway is here for right-handed protection well need later in the game.
One thing Lavarnway wont be: the smartest guy in his clubhouse for the first time in his pro baseball career. Thats because the Red Sox also traded for fellow Yale graduate and molecular biophysicist enthusiast Craig Breslow during the July 31 trade deadline. Breslow was yet to arrive 90 minutes before game time due to inclement weather in Boston, and there was some question whether hed be ready for game time.
Ive never claimed to be the smartest guy in any room, but this might be the first time people dont give me credit for it, quipped Lavarnway.
Lavarnway slugged .295.376.439 in 367 at bats with the PawSox this season while serving as their every day catcher, and continued to add to his resume as one of Bostons best young prospects.
Strapping on the catching gear every day was something a little different for a player that had routinely switched off between designated hitter and catcher during his career.
But Lavarnway said he was enjoying the challenge, and his defense has vastly improved over the last couple of years.
Its great to be back. It doesnt matter what the situation is, said Lavarnway. Its been my first opportunity to catch on an everyday basis and Ive got to tell you its a lot different than DH-ing all the time.
Its more of a physical grind. I think Ive already caught 20 more games than I did all of last year, but Ive got a great postgame routine and my conditioning is as good as its ever been.
He knew he was headed for Boston after finishing a rain-delayed game around midnight on Tuesday night, and was clearly happy to be back. But Lavarnway also hadnt allowed frustration to creep into his mind while lodged behind Jarrod Saltalamacchia and Shoppach on the organization depth chart this season.
If you focus on the day-to-day routine then its easier, but if you get away from that then its a little tougher, said Lavarnway.
Did Lavarnway ever get ahead of himself in Pawtucket?
You try to focus as best you can, said a smiling Lavarnway.
Good answer, smart kid.

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

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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.