Maddon on Ramirez: 'We were counting on him'

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Maddon on Ramirez: 'We were counting on him'

By SeanMcAdam
CSNNE.com

BOSTON -- Joe Maddon was looking forward to seeing what he and the Tampa Bay Rays could get out of Manny Ramirez.

Of course, after Ramirez tested positive for a banned substance this spring and elected to abruptly retire last Friday rather than face the consequences, Maddon will never know.

"I mean this very sincerely -- I really enjoyed him,'' said Maddon before Monday night's game with the Red Sox. "We had a lot of good conversations in spring training. I really thought he was going to help us this year a lot. Obviously, it's not going to turn out that way. But from me to him personally, it was very good. Organizationally, it's not so good because we counted om him to become the No. 4 hitter.

"We're making all kinds of adjustments right now. But on a one-to-one basis, he was very good.''

Maddon was under the impression that Ramirez, after taking care of a family issue, was working out at a facility in Chicago, where the Rays were playing the White Sox. He had Ramirez's name in the cleanup spot that night when he got a call from general manager Andrew Freidman informing him of Ramirez's positive test results and subsequent decision to quit.

"It's a letdown, obviously'' acknowledged Maddon. "We were counting on him. Like I said, I really felt good about him. I thought he was moving very well, I thought he was interacting with us well, I thought he was happy from all the indicators I had. I really thought it was going to benefit all of us, but we never had that chance.''

Ramirez has had trouble with all five of the clubs for which he played in his career, but Maddon -- like others before him -- thought it would be different.

"You always do,'' said Maddon. "You have to approach it like it's going to be different. You can't approach it waiting for the other shoe to fall. You know that it may, but I wasn't anticipating it. I really thought we had gotten off to a good start with Ramirez.

"You always feel that you can be the one who can make somewhat of a difference. But in this situation, we could not.''

Maddon spoke with Ramirez last Friday after the veteran slugger's decision to retire.

"Briefly, we spoke,'' said Maddon. "I didn't expect that to happen because he and I had only been together for a brief period of time. He was very kind in his comments. He expressed disappointment in himself to me, but also had really high praise about us as an organization.''

Maddon added that Ramirez didn't offer an apology, but "just said he was disappointed. I wasn't looking for an apology, actually. He spoke to me man-to-man, player-to-manager, so I didn't think he owed me an apology.''

Meanwhile, drama aside, the poor start -- the Jays were 1-8 before Monday with a .150 batting average with runners in scoring position -- had the Rays in last place in A.L. East, but Maddon wasn't about to panic.

"The consolation prize is that the Sox have been struggling, too,'' he said. "You have the ascension of the Blue Jays and Orioles, but you don't know how that's going to turn out over the long haul. If the Sox and Yankees were running away with everything right now, it might be a little bit disconcerting. The fact that we're a little stacked in the division is more promising.''

Maddon noted that when the Rays went to the World Series in 2008, they weathered two seven-game losing streaks. But because the poor stretch of play has taken place in the first two weeks of the season, more attention is paid to it.

"It's exaggerated -- I get it,'' he said. "Do we want to be in this place? No. I didn't anticipate it. But we've got to keep working through it and believe that we're going to come out on the other side. And I do.''

Sean McAdam can be reached at smcadam@comcastsportsnet.com.Follow Sean on Twitter at http:twitter.comsean_mcadam

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.