Reyes still competing, battle could go to the wire

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Reyes still competing, battle could go to the wire

By Sean McAdam
CSNNE.com

FORT MYERS, Fla. -- His status in limbo for much of the spring, lefty reliever Dennys Reyes had his contract purchased by the Red Sox, bringing him a step closer to making the Opening Day 25-man roster, but still, without any firm guarantees.

Reyes had an opt-out clause in his original minor league deal, allowing him to pursue other opportunities if he wasn't added to the 40-man roster by Friday. At the Red Sox' behest, Reyes agreed to push back that "out'' another 24 hours, and by mid-afternoon Saturday, the move paid off when he was added to the team's roster.

However, the Red Sox emphasized, that merely meant that Reyes would remain in competition -- with fellow lefty Hideki Okajima and righthanders Matt Albers and Alfredo Aceves -- for the final two spots in the seven-man bullpen.

"They haven't said to anybody (that they've won) the two spots they need to fill in,'' said Reyes. "I'm still competing.''

"I know a lot of people think we're playing games here and the bullpen is decided,'' said one Red Sox official. "Trust me -- we're not. We're still trying to decide (who's going to make it).''

Francona said weeks ago that the club could go down to the final day of camp -- or theoretically, beyond -- before finalizing its final roster.

By forgoing his own opt-out clause and deciding, for now, to remain with the Red Sox, Reyes didn't forfeit much, said a person with knowledge of the situation. If the Red Sox designate him for assignment, he is out of options and if claimed, must be placed on a major league roster. On the other hand, if he should clear waivers, he would still receive his full major league salary (900,000) while at Pawtucket.

"The season hasn't started yet," cautioned Terry Francona. "We still have some guys in camp and he's one of them. We still have decisions to make. We like his movement, his track record and his ability to compete.''

The Sox, Francona said, are sifting through a number of factors, including "depth in the organization, how we set up our team, not being redundant...just have ourselves set up as good as we can.''

Albers is out of options; Okajima and Aceves have options. But although Aceves has pitched well, the Sox might be better off optioning him to Pawtucket, where he could stretch out as a starter and be ready to step in if the Sox lose someone in the rotation to injury or ineffectiveness.

Then there is the matter of whether the Sox need to have two lefties. Francona won't use either in the late innings for matchup purposes because Daniel Bard is tough on both lefties and righties.

Being out of options may work to Albers' advantage. If the Sox can't find a suitable deal for him, they may opt to keep him and worry about roster consequences down the road.

By now, Reyes is accustomed to late-spring indecision, having played for 10 different teams over his 14 major league seasons. Waiting until the final few days to learn of his fate is hardly anything new.

"A lot of times...a lot of times,'' said Reyes. "The last time was in 2004 with Kansas City. It went to the last day, after the game, they decided to keep me. It's tough. The last four or five days gets tougher. You get used to being around the guys and getting to know everybody. It is hard.

"But at the same time, this is a business. And as a business, you have to take it and see what comes out of it. You think about (the uncertainty) a few times during the day. If you start thinking like that, you're done. You put that in your head, then when you come out to pitch, instead of thinking about the (hitter) you have in front of you...that's the one who's going to hurt you, not (the process), because you don't have control over that.''

Reyes allowed a three-run homer to Toronto catcher J.P. Arencibia Friday night and knows that, this late in camp, every at-bat is scrutinzed.

"You think about that,'' he admitted. "Everything that goes wrong, you know that it's going to hurt. But you realize it was a good pitch. It was a low pitch. You have to give him credit. He put up a hell of an at-bat against me. He got me. That's the way it is. You need to show them consistency. And if that means I have to come in tomorrow and go 1-2-3, I will try to do that.

"But you try not to think the bad stuff. As a reliever, you need to have a short memory with the bad outings that you have.''

Even though he is guaranteed nothing, Reyes has made it quite -- in words and action -- that he wishes to remain with the Sox.

"They have unbelievable talent,'' said Reyes. "It seems like everybody gets along together. Tito, the pitching coach, the whole coaching staff -- they've been great to me and everybody else. I think this is a great organization to be part of. I'm really proud of it and I'm going to try to do my best to win a spot.''

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 - David Ortiz became one of the most celebrated players in Red Sox history during his storied 14-year run in Boston.

On the night he returned to Fenway to have his No. 34 take its place among the franchise's other legends, his former teammates did their part to make sure it was a memorable one.

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 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.

Ramirez said he played with Ortiz on his mind.

"He's my mentor, my big brother. He's everything," Ramirez said. "Today when I saw him on the field crying, it made me cry."

He said his home run was in Big Papi's honor.

"Definitely, definitely, definitely," he said. "I was going to do his thing (pointing his hands in the air) but I forgot."

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.

"It was vintage Porcello," Red Sox manager John Farrell said. "A couple of pitches that cut his night short, but he was crisp throughout."

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.

Porcello said he isn't sure if he has completely turned a corner yet after his slow start, but he has felt better in his recent starts.

"Today was a step in the right direction," he said.

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.

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.