Red Sox exercise option on Ortiz


Red Sox exercise option on Ortiz

By Sean McAdam

The best business deals, it's often said, are the ones in which both sides are each left somewhat unhappy. By that measure, whatever happens between the Red Sox and David Ortiz Thursday will be an unqualified success, since neither is likely to completely satisfied.

The Red Sox have until Thursday midnight to determine whether to pick up a 12.5 million option they have on Ortiz for 2011. Every indication is that the Sox, with some reservations, will exercise the option.


Ortiz remains a productive hitter, having hit 32 homers with 102 RBI in 2010. But there are two troubling aspects to Ortiz.

First, he's been a very slow starter for the past two seasons. In 2008, Ortiz produced next to nothing in the first two months of the season before finding his swing at the beginning of June and salvaging his season. Last season, he hit exactly one homer and knocked in four runs in April and was reportedly within days of being released before he caught fire in May and was named the American League Player of the Month.

The Red Sox' fear, of course, is that one of these seasons, the slow start will be permanent rather than temporary, leaving them with an expensive and unproductive player.

Then there's the matter of expense.

In 2010, when Ortiz also made 12.5 million, he was easily the highest-paid DH in the American League. Among A.L. regulars, Vladimir Guerrero was next highest-paid DH at just over half (6.5 million) of Ortiz's salary.

Increasingly, American League teams no longer view the DH position as the exclusive province of a single individual (usually an aging slugger), but rather, an opportunity to mix-and-match and provide some less stressful at-bats for veteran position players.

As an example, the Yankees expected to divide up their DH at-bats between Jorge Posada, Alex Rodriguez and, assuming he's re-signed, Derek Jeter. That should keep the three veterans fresh, while enduring that the Yanks don't overpay for a one-dimensional slugger to fill the role.

As the 2010 season wound down, Ortiz told anybody and everybody that he would not be satisfied with the Sox merely picking up his 2010 option and that he thought he deserved a multiyear extension.

Ortiz has repeatedly said that he doesn't want to go through a repeat of the last two seasons, when every early-season at-bat turned into a referendum on his career and future with the team.

Ortiz labeled that experience a "roller-coaster'' for him and said a multiyear deal would help take the focus off the day-to-day results and allow him to concentrate on hitting.

In a perfect world, the Sox would love to re-do Ortiz's deal, paying him around 7.5-8 million in 2011 with a vesting option for 2012. But that deal carries with it its own risks for the Red Sox.

If Ortiz had a poor start to 2011, he would undoubtedly see his playing time sharply reduced. (As it is, depending on how the remainder of the roster fills out, he should expect to get fewer at-bats against lefties next year, having hit just .222 with two homers in 185 at-bats against them last year.)

And if Ortiz is benched for an extended period of time, he surely will see this as the Red Sox attempting to ensure that he doesn't get the necessary playing time or plate appearances to vest his option for 2011.

Ortiz is already making his displeasure with the option publicly known. If he feels the Sox reduced his base pay for 2011 and then further reduced his playing time, putting his 2012 salary at risk, he could become a public relations nightmare.

Should the Sox pass on the option Thursday, they would have until Saturday midnight to reach an agreement on a new deal. After that, Ortiz would be free to speak with other clubs and while the market isn't great for aging sluggers, he might find interest from the likes of Tampa Bay, Baltimore or Oakland.

As ambivalent as the Sox might be about handing out 12.5 million, they can't necessarily afford the risk of losing yet another run producer from a lineup that already stands to be without free agents Adrian Beltre and Victor Martinez.

Sean McAdam can be reached at Follow Sean on Twitter at http:twitter.comsean_mcadam.

Rick Porcello starts, Drew Pomeranz relieves in Red Sox' 5-3 loss to Twins


Rick Porcello starts, Drew Pomeranz relieves in Red Sox' 5-3 loss to Twins

Rick Porcello and Drew Pomeranz combined to allow all five of the Red Sox' runs in Boston's 5-3 loss to the Minnesota Twins.

Porcello finished his start by fanning four, allowing four hits and earning two runs over four innings. Pomeranz followed in the next four innings with four strikeouts, five hits allowed and three earned runs. Pomeranz allowed ByungHo Park's eighth-inning, two-run homer, which ended up being the game-winner.

Porcello, however, was optimistic after the loss.

"The buildup was good," Porcello told reporters, via "Today I felt as good as I've felt all spring. At this point, I'm ready to go. I'm looking forward to the start of the season."

While the Sox offense was able to get three runs off Ervin Santana in his 4 2/3 innings, they struggled against the Twins' next five pitchers. Xander Bogaerts (2 of 3) and Pablo Sandoval (1 of 3) managed homers. Hanley (3 of 3) Ramirez had a double, and Dustin Pedroia (2 of 3) had two singles.

Kyle Kendrick will start Thursday in the Sox' final Spring Training series against the Washington Nationals. First pitch is at 1:05 p.m. ET.

Who's on first for Red Sox? It may be not someone you'd expect

Who's on first for Red Sox? It may be not someone you'd expect

Who’s on first? A middle infielder, maybe.

Hanley Ramirez, Josh Rutledge and Mitch Moreland aren't fully healthy. So the 25th man on the Red Sox has become a matter of corner-infield triage.

Rutledge was gearing up to play some first base with Ramirez restricted to DH because of his throwing shoulder. But Rutledge is hurt now too, likely headed to the disabled list with a left hamstring strain, Sox manager John Farrell said Wednesday morning in Florida.

Here’s the easiest way to think about who takes Rutledge's place: Who would the Red Sox like to see less against left handed pitching, third baseman Pablo Sandoval or first baseman Mitch Moreland? 

If it’s Sandoval, then you carry Marco Hernandez, who can play third base.

“He’s a very strong candidate,” manager John Farrell told reporters in Florida on Wednesday. “He’s one of a few that are being considered strongly right now.” 

If it’s Moreland, than you carry Steve Selsky, who has a history playing first base.

“He’s a guy we’re having discussions on,” Farrell said. “Any guy in our camp that we feel is going to make us a more complete or balanced roster, Deven Marrero, they’re all in consideration.”

The additional wrench here is that Moreland has the flu. If he's not available at all for a few days to begin the season, then the Sox probably have to carry Hernandez.

Why? Because Brock Holt can play some first base if Moreland is out. But then, you’d need another back-up middle infielder, and Hernandez gives you that. 

Hernandez is also hitting .379 in 58 at-bats this spring entering Wednesday.

Moreland isn’t the only one who has the flu.

"It’s running through our clubhouse," Sox manager John Farrell told reporters in Florida on Wednesday, including the Providence Journal’s Tim Britton. "Probably be held out for three days for a quarantine.” (LINK:

That means the Red Sox won't have Moreland for their exhibitions against the Nationals on Friday and Saturday in Washington D.C. and Annapolis, Md. Moreland could still be ready for the regular season, but would likely be at less than full strength.

Having Ramirez available would sure make things a lot simpler for the Sox.

Both Sandoval at third base and Moreland could use right-handed bats to complement them. Or more specifically, they could use people who can hit left-handed pitching to complement them.

Hernandez is a left-handed hitter who might actually be able to hit lefties. But the Sox haven't used him at first base, and there's no indication they will.

“As we look at the upcoming games, there is the potential for two left-handed starters in Detroit,” Farrell said. “So there’s a number of things being factored right now.”

Early in spring training, Farrell was asked what player had started to catch his eye.

The guy he mentioned was Selsky, an outfielder and first baseman the Red Sox feel fortunate to have picked up off waivers because he still has minor league options remaining.

Now Selsky, who has already technically been cut from major league spring training, has a chance at making the opening day roster. He's 27 and hit .356 in 45 Grapefruit League at-bats.

Chris Young isn't going to have an easy time finding at-bats as it stands now, but the Sox aren't considering moving him to first base.