Red Sox troubles all too familiar to Papelbon with Phillies

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Red Sox troubles all too familiar to Papelbon with Phillies

KANSAS CITY -- After reaching free agency, closer Jonathan Papelbon doubted he would return to the Red Sox last fall. Papelbon knew that he was looking for a multi-year deal and the Red Sox were philosophically opposed to giving a 30-something reliever that kind of deal.

But the team's decision, two days after the season ended, to not retain manager Terry Francona and general manager Theo Epstein's choice to leave weeks later, essentially sealed the deal and cleared the way for him to sign a four-year, 50 million deal with the Philadelphia Phillies.

"To go from having his manager in 2005 to 2011, (returning to Boston without Francona) wouldn't have been easy for me," said Papelbon. "I'd say (Francona leaving) pretty much closed the door. Not 100-percent, but I wasn't going to go there not knowing who I was going to be playing for. I think a manager has a lot to do with how a player can tick.

"Then, Theo bounces . . . Ding, ding, ding, a lightbulb goes off in my head. I said to myself, 'If Theo bounces . . . he created all of this. He wouldn't just leave this behind (if everything looked good). So the wheels started turning. It would have been a new experience and I don't think it would have been one I could handle too well."

Papelbon viewed Francona as a scapegoat and took issue with the theory that some veterans on the 2011 Red Sox took advantage of Francona last September.

"A manager's job is not to babysit," he said. "You're dealing with grown men and grown men should be able to prepare for baseball games in the way they know how to prepare. How they prepare is their own discretion."

In his new setting, Papelbon finds some remarkable similarities between Francona and Phillies manager Charlie Manuel.

"They're actually pretty similar," said Papelbon. "One is a little bit more laid back than the other. Charlie's a little bit more laid back and he lets the game come to him a little bit more. But they both let their players go out and do what the players know how to do.

"That says a lot because a lot of managers want to control so much. And when you try to do that, you don't let the player go out and be himself and that player isn't as successful. There really isn't much difference (between them)."

Papelbon believed he was going to a winner since the Phils had won the last five National League East titles and won two pennants in that span.

But like his former team, his present team has been decimated by injuries. The Phils lost second baseman Chase Utley and first baseman Ryan Howard for almost the entire first half of the season and have been without ace Roy Halladay for the past seven weeks.

The parallel has not been lost on Papelbon.

"I'm sitting here looking at what they're going through (in Boston)," said Papelbon, "and what I could have gone through if I stayed, and it's like we're kind of going through that now in Philadelphia . . . We've kind of weathered the storm half-way decent. I think it's still too close to start dealing players. Now, if we lose 10 in a row after the break, that's a different story. If we come back and win 10-of-12 . . ."

He keeps close tabs on his former team and was asked if he felt the Sox could make a successful run at the post-season in the second half.

"I would hope they think that," said Papelbon. "You're a year removed from the situation Tampa Bay was in (to stage a second-half comeback). Do they need a little bit of luck and some teams beating each other up in the division? Yeah. We need the same thing over in Philadelphia. But it's definitely possible to make a run.

"Whether those guys think that in the clubhouse or not, I don't know."

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.

Red Sox claim RHP Doug Fister off waivers, sign INF Jhonny Peralta

Red Sox claim RHP Doug Fister off waivers, sign INF Jhonny Peralta

 

BOSTON — They have the right idea, if not yet the right personnel.

Red Sox president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski has brought on a pair of former Tigers in an effort to help the Red Sox’ depth.

It’s hard to expect much from righty Doug Fister — who mostly throws in the 80s these days and is to start Sunday — or from Jhonny Peralta, who’s going to play some third base at Triple-A Pawtucket. Fister was claimed off waivers from the Angels, who coincidentally started a three-game series with the Red Sox on Friday at Fenway Park. Peralta, meanwhile, was signed as a free agent to a minor league deal.

Neither may prove much help. Fister could move to the bullpen when Eduardo Rodriguez is ready to return, Sox president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski said. The Sox hope E-Rod is back in time for the All-Star break.

That’s assuming Fister is pitching well enough that the Sox want to keep him.

But at least the Sox are being proactive looking for help, and it’s not like either Peralta or Fister is high-risk.

Fister, 33, threw 180 1/3 innings last year with the Astros, posting a 4.64 ERA. He hasn’t been in the big leagues yet this season.

Said one American League talent evaluator earlier this year about Fister’s 2016: “Had a nice first half. Then struggled vs. left-handed hitters and with finishing hitters. No real putaway pitch. Has ability to pitch around the zone, reliable dude.”