Fanene finds his bliss

Fanene finds his bliss

By Tom E. Curran

FOXBORO - After his first training camp practice with the Patriots, I asked Jonathan Fanene how it went.

He got this faraway look in his eyes and said slowly, "I love the people around here, the staff, the teammates, the surroundings. It feels so good. It feels important. It feels so special to be somewhere that you know something special is going to happen."

No lie. You might think I'm lying, but I'm not.

The guy looked like he was in mid-swoon.

Maybe spending a few seasons with the Bengals will do that to you. Fanene's NFL camp experience prior to here was with the Bengals out on the Ohio-Kentucky line. After eight seasons there, he signed with the Patriots early in free agency hoping to get with a consistent winner that would create a niche for his interior pass rush skills.

Bill Belichick wasn't quite ready to say Fanene was his pass-rushing salvation on Friday.

"It's been one day," said the head coach. "I don't think we want to get into how did he do on this play, how did he do on that play. We have a little while here, we have a lot of plays, a lot of days strung together. A couple hundred plays or so. There was a handful on the first day. It's a little early to get too high or too low."

Alright then. Relative to what was expected, how does Fanene look?

"He's got good playing strength. He's quick. He's definitely going to be a guy who's very competitive in that group," said Belichick. The head coach then added, "It looks like a real good group. A lot of competition in there."

No question. But the advantage Fanene has is he is a unique build (6-4, 285) and skill set among the defensive endtackle group. He's smaller than the Myron Pryor, Ron Brace, Bradon Deaderick, Kyle Love contingent. But he's also quicker.

Who will be most effective?

Hey. It's been one day. Keep your shirt on.

Roasted: Ortiz apparently thought Pedroia's real first name was Pee Wee

Roasted: Ortiz apparently thought Pedroia's real first name was Pee Wee

BOSTON — It took until 2015, apparently, but David Ortiz now knows Dustin Pedroia’s full name.

The couple days leading up to the jersey retirement ceremony tonight for Ortiz have been packed. Around lunch time Thursday, Ortiz had a street near Fenway Park named after him — a bridge wasn’t enough — the street formerly known as Yawkey Way Extension. (It’s between Brookline Avenue and Yawkey Station.) On Friday morning, he was at Logan Airport where JetBlue Gate C34 was designed with a new theme to honor Ortiz.

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Tonight's the big night, so to speak. But Thursday night will probably go down as the most entertaining.

Ortiz was roasted at House of Blues on Thursday, joined on stage by Pedroia, Rob Gronkowski and a handful of actual comedians. Bill Burr was the biggest name among the professional joke-tellers. It was a charity event to benefit the David Ortiz Children’s Fund, which helps to provide lifesaving surgeries for children.

All the comedians — Lenny Clarke, Sarah Tiana, Anthony Mackie, Josh Wolf, Adam Ray (a young man dressed up as an old Yankees fan) — ripped on everyone on stage, including Pedroia. Naturally, Pedroia was mocked for being short over and over and over.

When he took the podium, Pedroia said it was a good thing the height of the microphone was adjustable. If he had to stand on his wallet, he said, he’d be up to the roof.

Most jokes were not suitable for print or broadcast. But the story Pedroia told about being in the on-deck circle when a catcher needed a ball once was a highlight. It's from just two years ago.

“So I had already played with David for, I don’t know, nine years?” Pedroia said. “And I hit right in front of him for nine years.”

The Red Sox were playing the Indians at home. The umpire had to use the bathroom and the ball rolled near Pedroia. So the catcher said hello to Pedroia, using the second baseman’s first name.

“David walks over and goes, what the [expletive] did he call you?” Pedroia said.

“I said, ‘Dustin,’” Pedroia said. 

Ortiz was confused. “’Why’d he call you that?’” he said.

“I go, that’s my [expletive] name,” Pedroia said. “He goes, 'Oh, is that right?’

"I’m like, ‘Yeah, bro. I’ve had 1,600 games with you. They’ve actually said it 5,000 [expletive] times: now batting, No. 15, Dustin Pedroia.’”

“I thought it was Pee Wee," Ortiz went.

“This is dead serious,” Pedroia said. “Now the umpire comes back — I’m standing there, I got to hit...and I’m looking at him, ‘You thought my parents would name me [expletive] Pee Wee?’ 

“And he’s just looking at me, and we’re having a conversation. The umpire’s yelling at me, the catcher’s laughing at me because he can hear kind of what he’s saying.”

No jersey retirement speech will be that funny.