Did Ortiz, Papelbon play final game at Fenway?

540351.jpg

Did Ortiz, Papelbon play final game at Fenway?

By Sean McAdam
CSNNE.com Red Sox Insider Follow @sean_mcadam
If the Red Sox don't win enough games over the next seven days to qualify for the postseason -- and that's hardly a guarantee -- it's possible that both closer Jontahan Papelbon and DH David Ortiz played their final home games as members of
the Red Sox Wednesday night.

Papelbon and Ortiz are free agents after the season. Papelbon has been anticipating his chance to make the most of free agency for several years while Ortiz is intent on getting a multi-year deal following this, his best season since 2006.

Given the Red Sox' reluctance to commit long-term to closers who already have high mileage and some concerns they might have about extending a DH in his mid-30s, it's not impossible to think that they both could be playing elsewhere when the 2012 season begins.

And unless the Sox successfully hold off both the Tampa Bay Rays and Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim in the next week, the Red Sox careers of both Papelbon and Ortiz might have ended in a hail of boos and catcalls as the Sox trudged off the field Wednesday, having lost three of the last four and seven of the last 10 at Fenway.

Ortiz said he hadn't given that much consideration after the Red Sox' 6-4 setback to Baltimore.

"Not really,'' he said. "I'm not thinking about that right now. I'm focused in on winning games and trying to get to the playoffs. I'm not thinking about any other crap right now.''

Papelbon had a slightly different viewpoint.

"I thought about it,'' admitted Papelbon. "It's a thought. But I just carried on with the rest of my day -- leave it behind and go. You're human, you have to think about those things. If someone tells you they're not, they're lying to you.

"But the thing is with me, I think about it for five or 10 minutes while we're shagging or whatever. And then on to the next thought.''

Papelbon said whatever thoughts he had about the future and where he'll be next season came before the game, and not when he was going out to the bullpen in the middle of the game, or, after, when the Sox were walking off the field.

''Once you cross the white lines,'' he said, "it's all about competition. That's it.''

Ortiz was originally signed by the Seattle Mariners and later traded to the Minnesota Twins before being non-tendered and joining the Red Sox prior to the 2003 season.

But for Papelbon -- drafted and developed by Boston -- the Red Sox are the only organization he's ever known.

"Yeah, it would be disappointing (if this was the end),'' he said. "There's a part of my heart that belongs here. So, that little bit of my heart would be like, 'Oh man . . . ' you know. But it goes back to (what I said about maintaining focus): it kind of comes and goes.''

Papelbon was part of the 2007 World Series team and has been at his best in the postseason, where, until the final game of the Sox' sweep at the hands of the Angels in 2009, he had never allowed an earned run.

Toward that end, despite the team's nosedive, he's enjoying the fact that the games are important and there's a must-win atmosphere.

"I enjoy this,'' he said of the playoff atmosphere. "I'm an adrenaline junkie. This is what gets me off, man.''

Sean McAdam can be reached at smcadam@comcastsportsnet.com. Follow Sean on Twitter at http:twitter.comsean_mcadam

Offseason just like any other for Bogaerts

Offseason just like any other for Bogaerts

BOSTON -- At first, 2016 seemed like the “Year of Xander.” It turned out to be the “Year of Mookie,” with Bogaerts dropping off a little as the season progressed.

The Red Sox shortstop saw his average peak at .359 on June 12. At that point he’d played in 61 games, hit eight home runs, 20 doubles and knocked in 44 runs. Although Mookie Betts had six more home runs and three more RBI in that same span, Bogaerts had six more doubles and was hitting 69 points higher.

The two were already locks for the All-Star Game and Bogaerts still had the edge in early MVP talk.

Then things took a turn after the very day Bogaerts saw his average peak.

Over the next 61 games, Bogaerts still managed seven homers, but only had six doubles and 27 RBI, watching his average drop to .307 by the end of that stretch. At first glance, .307 doesn’t seem like an issue, but he dropped 52 points after hitting .253 in that span.

And in his remaining 35 games, Bogaerts only hit .248 -- although he did have six homers.

But throughout it all, Bogaerts never seemed fazed by it. With pitchers and catchers reporting in less than a month, Bogaerts still isn’t worried about the peaks and valleys.

“You go through it as a player, the only one’s who don’t go through that are the ones not playing,” Bogaerts told CSNNE.com before the Boston baseball writers' dinner Thursday. “I just gotta know you’re going to be playing good for sometime, you’re going to be playing bad for sometime.

“Just try to a lot more better times than bad times. It’s just a matter of trusting yourself, trusting your abilities and never doubting yourself. Obviously, you get a lot of doubts when you’re playing bad, but you just be even keeled with whatever situation is presented.”

Bogaerts level head is something often noted by coaches and his teammates, carrying through the days he finds himself lunging left and right for pitches. That’s also carried him through the offseason while maintaining the same preparation from past seasons -- along with putting on some weight.

“I don’t know how much I put on, but I feel strong,” Bogaerts said to CSNNE.com “I mean, I look strong in the mirror.

“Hopefully, I’m in a good position when the season comes because I know I’ll lose [the weight].”

Sandoval’s offseason transformation doesn't guarantee he's Sox starting third baseman

Sandoval’s offseason transformation doesn't guarantee he's Sox starting third baseman

BOSTON - The weight room, as much as Instagram, has been Pablo Sandoval’s home in the offseason leading up to the 2017 season.

His change in diet and routine have clearly led to visible results, at least in terms of appearance. His play is yet to be determined. But his manager and teammates have taken notice.

“Compliments to Pablo,” John Farrell told reporters before Thursday’s BBWAA dinner. “He’s done a great job with the work that he’s put in, the commitment he’s made. He’s reshaped himself, that’s apparent. He knows there’s work to be done to regain an everyday job at third base. So, we’ll see how that unfolds. We’re not looking for him to be someone he’s not been in the past. Return to that level of performance.”

Farrell noted that Brock Holt and Josh Rutledge are the other two players in contention for time at third base and while others, such as prospect Rafael Devers, may get time there in the spring, those are the only three expected to compete for the job.

“The beauty of last spring is that there’s a note of competition in camp,” Farrell said. “And that was born out of third base last year [when Travis Shaw beat out Sandoval at the third base]. That won’t change.”

Sandoval's 2016 season ended after shoulder surgery in April. 

While the manager has to be cautiously optimistic, Sandoval’s teammates can afford to get their hopes up.

“Pablo is definitely going to bounce back,” Xander Bogaerts told CSNNE.com “Especially with the weight he’s lost and the motivation he has to prove a lot of people wrong, to prove the fans wrong.

“He’s been a great player for his whole career. He’s not a bad player based on one year. Playing in Boston the first year is tough, so, hopefully this year he’ll be better.”

Prior to Sandoval’s abysmal 2015, his first season in Boston, when he hit .245 with 47 RBI in 126 games, the 2012 World Series MVP was a career .294 hitter who averaged 15 home runs and 66 RBI a year.

If Bogaerts is right and Sandoval can be that player again, that will be a huge lift in filling in the gap David Ortiz left in Boston’s offense.