Boston Red Sox

Ortiz: 'I like to be the underdog'

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Ortiz: 'I like to be the underdog'

We're used to hearing the Red Sox put spin on things.

"Run prevention" ring a bell?

What about anything ownership has ever said about the team?

Well, now they're pushing the underdog card, and it looks like David Ortiz is buying into it as well.

"I like it because, one, that's motivation," Ortiz said to Jessica Moran and Sean McAdam on CSNNE's The Baseball Show. "And No. 2, you're pretty much under the radar. You slowly start digging and digging, and the next thing you know you're in the playoffs. So I like to be the underdog."

But it won't be easy to make the playoffs with some teams getting a lot better over the offseason, including the Toronto Blue Jays, or as Ortiz called them, the "Dominican Blue Jays", after a number of offseason acquisitions including Jose Reyes and Melky Cabrera.

The Sox may be underdogs, but the Jays aren't, and Ortiz has a bit of advice for them now that the spotlight is on them.

Price going through ‘trial-and-error process’ physically

Price going through ‘trial-and-error process’ physically

BALTIMORE — David Price definitely preferred to start rather than pitch out of the bullpen, but in an interview with the Washington Post, the Red Sox’ temporarily converted reliever emphasized his overall desire to do something rather than nothing. 

“I’ll be able to help — maybe not as much as I would as a starter, I feel like, but that time of the season, I know how big that is, to have a guy who can [pitch in that role],” Price told the Post’s Dave Sheinin. “If we make it to October and I throw the ball extremely well coming out of the ‘pen, it doesn’t matter that I wasn’t a starter. I just want to help these guys win.”

Price looked excellent in a two-inning stint Sunday in Tampa Bay, using all four pitches and touching 96 mph on his fastball. But how Price feels physically still appears to be a touch-and-go matter.

He described his most recent injury to The Athletic as being mostly related to the triceps. Speaking to the Post, Price said he’s going through “a trial-and-error process.”

“I’ve always been a guy who hasn’t had [next-day] soreness,” he said. “I’ve never had problems with my arm. When I pitch, the next day, I feel like I can pitch that day. I’ve always told my managers that. When I see them the next day, I’m like, ‘I’m good.’ This is still a trial-and-error process, too. We don’t know how it’s going to respond, but when I woke up [Monday] morning I felt good.”

Price indicated he feels good about his ability to persevere.

“I’ve dealt with it. I’ve gotten through it,” Price said. “Most people would’ve been at the house months ago. I didn’t pack it in. Does it feel good? No. [But] I still pitched. If people don’t appreciate that, or can’t, so be it.”


 

Drellich: Dave Dombrowski, at last, built an excellent bullpen

Drellich: Dave Dombrowski, at last, built an excellent bullpen

BOSTON — Congratulations, Dave Dombrowski. It’s September, and you built a certified, top-notch bullpen. 

Credit goes all around. The pitchers themselves receive the most, with the front office, John Farrell and the rest of the staff taking their slices as well.

But the success is particularly notable for an executive who perennially had terrible bullpens in Detroit. Dombrowski knows the reputation he garnered, too.

Maybe now he’ll start to shed it.

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The trouble in his old job wasn’t for lack of trying. Joe Nathan didn’t work out. Many folks didn’t.

“I think that there’s a few factors there,” Dombrowski said in 2016 of his bullpens in Detroit. “At one time we had (Jose) Valverde (from 2010-13 who) was the best closer for a couple years. (Joaquin) Benoit pitched very well as a set-up guy. We had a very solid bullpen at that point.

“We were unlucky a little bit in, for example, a guy like Joel Zumaya — who was a dominant guy, young — hurts his arm. Somebody you’re counting on. . . . Really (Bruce) Rondon never lived up to the early expectations. I know he’s still young, he’s doing better. So we got a little unlucky on those things. He got hurt too.”

So it goes. Per FanGraphs’ measurement of WAR, the Tigers had the worst bullpen in the majors from 2003-15, Dombrowski’s tenure.

The Sox’ bullpen is fifth in WAR this year, and second in ERA. Last year’s group was good, but not this good. 

One of Dombrowski’s premier pick-ups in Boston, Addison Reed, has a common refrain when asked about his own pitching: he doesn’t change a thing. 

When Reed got rocked in one of his early outings with the Red Sox, against the Yankees, he said he didn’t change. When he got in and out of trouble in the eighth inning Monday night in another extra-inning win for the Red Sox, 10-8 over the Orioles in 11, he said he didn’t change.

Same for Dombrowski, it would seem. 

He continued to go after established relievers. There was the huge trade for Craig Kimbrel. Carson Smith took a while to contribute because of arm injuries, but he had the 11th-inning save Monday, and his velocity appeared to be creeping up. 

The Tyler Thornburg situation was troubling, so Dombrowski went out and got Reed from the Mets.

Could Dombrowski have had success sooner if he had changed his approach? Well, maybe, but that’s a different argument.

It’s worked. He didn’t change a thing. 

How cliche. But cliches, we should point out, have become a central theme in all these extra-inning wins for the Sox (they're 14-3). Grit, resiliency, determination — you run the risk of drowning on those words, even if they’re well deserved.

Those relievers, though. Both throughout the season and in these marathon games the Sox too often seek, the ‘pen has been unexpectedly excellent, with a rotating cast of characters.

“It’d be nice if we started winning those games in nine and not going extras,” Reed joked, with a presumed kernel of truth. “If it takes 19, 20 innings to get that win, we’ll take it.”

The roles for the postseason are still up in the air, which is strange for a ‘pen that’s been so successful. But at the same time, it suggest an equal distribution of success (and at times, challenges).

The bottom line: Dombo did it, with his relievers making him look smart.

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