Red Sox react to Rivera's injury, career

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Red Sox react to Rivera's injury, career

BOSTON -- Mariano Rivera may have single-handedly caused more anxiety for the Red Sox in recent seasons than any other player.

But seeing him crumpled in a heap on the warning track in Kauffman Stadium in Kansas City yesterday, clutching is right knee, and hearing the news of his torn ACL and meniscus, leaving the career of the future Hall of Famer in jeopardy, brought only sadness to the Sox clubhouse.

It was sad, man, said David Ortiz. Last night when I saw it on TV it was pretty emotional. And going out the way he did it was unbelievable I dont want to see anybody getting injured, especially a guy like Mariano.

I always say that hes the best pitcher in the game that I ever seen. You know what hes coming with and you still wont hit it. Period. Its simple. Only one pitch.

I can only be redundant in anything I say because hes one of the greatest guys Ive ever met, said manager Bobby Valentine. Obviously one of the greatest athletes who was doing an athletic event when he got hurt. Goes without saying. The kind of pitcher he was I dont think Ill ever see it in my lifetime again. Hes special. Hopefully hell come back even though hes with the bad guys.

Obviously as a baseball player, I grew up a fan and Ive always been a big fan of Mariano, said Cody Ross. Im not a big fan of facing him, obviously, or when he plays against us. But, Im a true fan and you hate to see players like that get hurt the way he did. Its a sad day for baseball and for the Yankees, obviously, a tough loss. I just hope that he doesnt have to go out like that.

It stinks said Marlon Byrd. When I was with the Phillies, I got drafted in 99, one thing I always respected about the Yankees was the whole way Mariano, for some reason, he always knew all the young guys, all the minor leaguers, everything. Hed see me and say hello. Theres just a respect. I dont think anyone has anything negative to say about him. So I wanted him to keep building on that save record, not against the Red Sox but keep building on it because hes the greatest closer of all time. I wish him well. Hopefully he recovers fast. Hes a hard worker. Everybody knows hes going to recover fast and hopefully comes back.

For Ross, Rivera defined playoff baseball.

When you see him and you see him come set from the back view, every time I see it I picture playoff October baseball when the games on the line and him coming in and getting the job done, and just the incredible run hes had in the playoffs, obviously, throughout the years, too. Hes just been a great professional and a great ambassador for the game.

While Rivera is known for his devastating cutter, it is his cunning instinct that Byrd remembers.

The one thing I remember is Mariano always throwing me cutters, cutters, cutters when I went to Texas, Byrd said. We got a couple hits off him and I came up and the first pitch he threw me was a sinker and broke my bat. And I was so dumbfounded, I didnt know what to think. You know, since when did he throw a sinker? Its just me. It wasnt like I was one of their big thumpers. I wasnt Michael Young or Josh Hamilton. But thats just the type of pitcher he is. Hes very smart.

How might Riveras loss affect the American League East?

No way of telling, Valentine said. They have a couple of guys who have been very good at the end of a game and it is during the season so they have been battle-tested. I think it'll depend on their starting pitching. If they're going to the sixth and seventh a lot I think they're going to miss him. If theyre starting pitching stretches out into the eighth inning I think they might be OK. Its still not going to be as comfortable a feeling for sure.

The feeling that permeated the Sox clubhouse today was that for someone who built his reputation on and off the field as one of the most respected players to ever pick up a baseball to have to end his career in this fashion would be entirely unfair.

It is, said Ross. I dont know if his career is over, if hes going to shut it down or not after this. But you hate to see it if it is. But what hes done, you cant take away from him. Hes been an incredible player and Hall of Famer. I guess Im blessed to be able to say I played against him and tell my grandkids about him down the road.

Hopefully it doesnt, Byrd said. I dont even want to think about that. Thats negative. I try to stay positive. Im sure the Yankees are thinking the same thing. Im sure Mariano's thinking the same thing. So I dont think he wants to go out like this. I have the feeling hell be back and come back as strong as ever.

Well me and Mariano, we are really good friends, Ortiz said. Hes the kind of person that he believes in, hes a major believer in God have something always in plan for us. And Im pretty sure if thats the way God wants him to finish his career, he will understand that, he will agree with it. You know what Im saying? But like I say, hes just the kind of player that you want to see at the end of his career competing like he got everybody used to. And finish it like that, if thats the way its supposed to be, thats the way its supposed to be, you know what Im saying. But he will understand.

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.