Ortiz not pressing over season's first month

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Ortiz not pressing over season's first month

By SeanMcAdam
CSNNE.com

FORT MYERS, Fla. -- Surrounded by new superstar teammates and playing for a team with enormous expectations, David Ortiz foresees a happy ending for the 2011 Red Sox.

What's less certain is how the season begins, especially for him.

Ortiz hit just .143 in April last year and was frequently miffed that manager Terry Francona chose to sit him at times in the first month, often against tough left-handed pitchers.

"It was a very difficult month,'' acknowledged Francona. "But we fought our way through and we came out feeling better, which I think was important.''

In one memorable exchange, Ortiz reacted with anger when he was asked about his "slow start'' exactly two games into the season. He uncharacteristically snapped at reporters and withdrew.

Ortiz believes the best way to get off to a better start is to stop obsessing about it, as he did too often the last two years.

"I think all I need to do is not think about it,'' he said. "Going into the season, sometimes you hear everybody talking about your start and you put more pressure than normal on the beginning of the season.

"A good start guarantees you a good end and I understand why people worried about me the way the season started because everybody is kind of used to seeing you do your thing. But I'm not planning to put pressure on myself at the start. I plan on playing more in the preseason than I normally do.

"My emphasis is not focusing on what people have to say about the beginning of the season. My focus is getting prepared and going to play the game, the way it's supposed to be.''

The last two seasons, Ortiz found himself pressing when he stumbled early. Determined to break out of his April slumps, he began beating himself up, trying to shake his hitting woes.

Not now.

"I'm not going to let that get into my head like last year,'' said Ortiz. "I know that just like I can go 0-for-20, I can go 15-for-20 just as quickly. It's just a game. I think last year what happened was, I snapped, when the second game, people were having their doubts.''

If Ortiz struggles -- particuarly against lefties -- Francona may have more options in 2011. Last year, a hobbled Mike Lowell was his best choice to play when Ortiz nosedived. This year, Francona can choose from among Mike Cameron and Jed Lowrie as DH fill-ins.

It may also help that Ortiz will be part of a deeper lineup, featuring newcomers Adrian Gonzalez and Carl Crawford. That should ensure more baserunners and, in turn, better protection in the lineup for Ortiz himself.

"I think right now we have more thunder than we've had the past few years,'' said Ortiz. "It will be crazy for the opposing pitchers to focus on a lineup like that. You have a lot of good hitters, one behind another. I don't think I'm going to be the guy people are going to have worry about now.''

Still unclear is Ortiz's future after 2011. He publicly campaigned for the Red Sox to give him a multiyear extension after he topped the 30-homer, 100-RBI plateaus, but in the end, had to be satisfied with the team exercising a one-year, 12.5 million option.

"That's something I can't really control,'' said Ortiz of the team's contractual offer. "I want to stick around, but that's what they had on the table for me at the time. We just move on. I'm just going to focus on playing baseball right now and whatever happens later on, happens. I haven't thought about what might happen if he is off to a good start and deserving of a longer commitment yet. I'm glad to be here and I'm excited what's coming up.''

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

Tanguay: Boggs deserved to have his number retired by Red Sox

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Tanguay: Boggs deserved to have his number retired by Red Sox

Wade Boggs gets a bad rap around here.

Yes, he rode the horse at Yankee Stadium. Yes, he wore his Yankee World Series ring as he and his 1986 Red Sox teammates were honored at Fenway Park last night. And there is the whole Margo Adams affair that landed said mistress in Penthouse and Wade on 20/20 with Barbara Walters. My God, he even cried for Barbara. Plus, he was labelled selfish for wanting to hit for a higher average as opposed to hitting home runs.

He was a walking controversy.

But he was also a hell of a player who deserves to have his number 26 (sorry, Lou Merloni) on the right-field facade.

Over his eleven seasons with the Sox he hit .338 with an .890 OPS and averaged 190 hits each season. He was the East Coast Tony Gwynn. Unlike Wade, Gwynn was a media favorite playing in laid-back San Diego who always had a smile on his face. Boggs sported a perpetual scowl, unless he was on the road with Ms. Adams.

While we can reminisce about strange and crazy time Boggs had in Boston off the field, it should be noted that he was a great player. He is, after all, a Hall of Famer – you know, the Cooperstown kind and not just the Red Sox Hall of Fame.

He was stuck in the Sox farm system until he was 24 years old. The book on him said great hitter but so-so fielder. Boggs worked his butt off at becoming a very good third baseman. Eventually, he won back-to-back Gold Gloves with the Yankees in 1994 and' 95.

At the plate his number were staggering. In 1987 he had a OPS of 1.049 and had over 200 hits in each season for seven straight years. In 1985, he had 240 hits! He won five batting titles for Boston. 

It's too bad that Margo Adams and riding the horse at Yankee Stadium has overshadowed his Red Sox career. On the field it was awesome, and to this day is greatly unappreciated by Red Sox fans.

Great guy? Nah. Great player? Yeah.

Thursday's Red Sox-Rockies lineup: Bradley moved to the leadoff spot

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Thursday's Red Sox-Rockies lineup: Bradley moved to the leadoff spot

BOSTON -- Jackie Bradley Jr. has been inching his way up the lineup recently, but tonight he makes a quantum leap all the way to the top.

With Mookie Betts getting the night off, Bradley -- riding a 29-game hitting streak -- has been moved to the leadoff spot by John Farrell as the Red Sox attempt to complete a three-game sweep of the Rockies.

Dustin Pedroia (hamstring) and Xander Bogaerts (thumb) both had to leave Wednesday night's game, but both are back in the lineup tonight.

The lineups:

ROCKIES:
Charlie Blackmon CF
DJ LeMahieu 2B
Nolan Arenado 3B
Carlos Gonzalez RF
Mark Reynolds 1B
Gerardo Parra LF
Trevor Story SS
Daniel Descalso DH
Dustin Garneau C
---
Jon Gray P

RED SOX:
Jackie Bradley Jr. CF
Dustin Pedroia 2B
Xander Bogaerts SS
David Ortiz DH
Hanley Ramirez 1B
Travis Shaw 3B
Chris Young RF
Blake Swihart LF
Christian Vazquez C
---
Clay Buchholz P