Pumping up and winding down with the Sox

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Pumping up and winding down with the Sox

By Jessica Camerato
CSNNE.com Follow @JCameratoNBA
The Major League Baseball season is 162 games long -- throw in Spring Training and the playoffs, and the Red Sox could potentially play ball for nearly an entire year. So with all the games, sometimes played consecutively for more than a week at a time, how do players get amped up for every contest? And when the final out is made, how do they wind down from the adrenaline rush they've experienced during the game?

Adrian Gonzalez, David Ortiz, Jonathan Papelbon, Marco Scutaro, and Tim Wakefield told CSNNE.com how they get amped up for and wind down from each game.

Adrian Gonzalez

Adrian Gonzalez heads to the batting cages when he wants to get ready for a game. When its all over, he likes to wind down with his favorite lineup of TV shows or books.

Amped up: I like getting loose in the cage. I really don't like to be too hyped up or too amped up just because I want to be calm and under control when I'm playing. I'm not a guy who wants to run through a wall. So for me, it's just going down to the cage, getting my swings in, and getting my swing right. I'm working on the swing that I want to have that game and just focusing on having a good body balance.

Unwind: For my most part, my wife and I just lay on the couch for a little bit until the adrenaline kicks down a little bit. We love to watch King of Queens, we love Friends, Better With You, and Modern Family. Then I'll go and maybe read a little bit. I'll read Christian books or the Bible.

David Ortiz
Music plays an important role in David Ortiz's approach to a game. Take the Home Run Derby as an example, when he asked for the song to be changed during his at bat.

Amped up: "Im always ready for a game. Ill listen to music. It depends what Im in the mood for -- hip-hop, merengue, some salsa, reggaeton. Music always has those lyrics that get you going."

Unwind: "Once the game is over, its over. I guess Ive been doing it for a long time that Im used to it (laughs)."

Jonathan Papelbon

As the Red Sox closer, Jonathan Papelbon spends an entire game preparing himself for just a few batters. Now in his seventh season, he is still searching for ways to wind down from the rush of recording the final out.

Amped up: I really try to get as amped up as I possibly can, but sometimes too amped is not good, so I try to get as amped up as I can and still be able to focus. Sometimes I just close my eyes and try to focus on myself out there being successful. Ill do that in the bullpen.

Unwind: To be totally honest, Ive tried 100 different things and thats the hardest part of my job -- when I get home trying to wind down and actually go to sleep. Most nights Im looking at three or four in the morning before I really actually calm down.

Marco Scutaro
One of the ways Marco Scutaro gets hyped for his next game is by looking back at his previous successes. And while Adrian Gonzalez prefers watching some lighter television to wind down, Scutaro tunes in to a different genre.

Amped Up: Ill probably listen to music, whatever Papi plays (laughs). I like to listen to music and watch some videos before the game. Sometimes Ill put on a video of all my hits from a series when I was swinging the bat well.

Unwind: I go back home and watch some stuff on my iPad. Ill watch a Colombian series, El Capo. Its about the cartel in Colombia, the drug dealers. I watch it to kill time and make my mind tired to go to sleep.

Tim Wakefield

Tim Wakefield has been pitching in the Big Leagues since 1992. After all these years, he finds the best way to get ready for a game is by sticking with a tried and true routine.

Amped up: I dont try to get any more amped than I already am. I do the same thing I do every day. Just because Im pitching doesnt make it any different. I do the same thing every day, even on the days I pitch. I go out and stretch with the pitchers and play catch and kind of burn off some nervous energy outside.

Unwind: I dont unwind, it takes me a while. I have a 30-minute drive home so that helps a little bit. Its quiet time. But other than that, I just try to go to sleep as quick as possible.

Jessica Camerato is on Twitter at http:twitter.com!JCameratoNBA.

First impressions: Ortiz moves past pregame ceremonies, hits game winner for Sox

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First impressions: Ortiz moves past pregame ceremonies, hits game winner for Sox

BOSTON -- First impressions from the Red Sox' 5-3 win over Toronto:

* What's left to say about David Ortiz?

Ortiz acknowledged before Friday's game that the pre-game ceremonies and the attendant fuss over his pending retirement have created a challenge for him. Sometimes, it's hard to go from being feted to trying to win a game.

Not that you would know it by Friday night.

In his first at-bat, he singled home the first run of the game. Two at-bats later, he lined a bullet that was right at Jose Bautista.

But he saved his best for the seventh when, after the Red Sox tied the game at 3-3, Ortiz promptly untied it with a laser down the line, landing in the right field seats.

One more clutch hit from Ortiz in a career full of them.

* Brock Holt's defense at third has stood out.

John Farrell is looking for someone to step up with the third base job, given that Travis Shaw is hitting under .200 since the All-Star break and Aaron Hill has had difficulty hitting righties.

Holt, meanwhile, has seized the job somewhat by default, with a .319 average in the last 24 games.

But since starting the last four games at third, Holt has also contributed with his glove.

On Friday night, Holt made a fine stop with his backhand, on the third base line, and fired to nail Devon Travis on a close play at first.

Later, he came on a slow roller to gun down Josh Donaldson out at first.

* The Red Sox have done a better job of late capitalizing on opponents' mistakes.

Last week in Baltimore, the Red Sox were handed a gift by the Orioles when a throwing error by Chris Davis resulted in five runs being scored -- all of them unearned. It took exactly two pitches for the Red Sox to pounce on the opportunity.

On Friday night, it happened again.

Trailing 3-1, the Red Sox used a throwing error by Russell Martin to score one run and put another runner in scoring position. A groundout and single by Mookie Betts tied things, and Ortiz's homer broke the tie and gave the Red Sox a lead they wouldn't relinquish.

Good teams take advantage of mistakes. Two of the last six Red Sox wins are prime examples of that maxim.

Sox may have finally found their everyday third baseman for the postseason

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Sox may have finally found their everyday third baseman for the postseason

BOSTON — As has been well-documented, the Red Sox have tried any number of solutions at third base this season, with eight different players getting starts at the position.

Travis Shaw has the most starts of anyone, with 99. But with three games left in the season, it's become apparent that Brock Holt is being viewed as the likely starter in the post-season.

Holt started all three games in the recent series in New York and was the starter Friday night against Toronto, too.

"You look at the consistent quality to the at-bats," said John Farrell, "and they've been there for him. That's not to say the other guys aren't important to us. But this is the time of year where you're looking to put the best, current lineup on the field and his versatility has shown up a number of ways. He's a confident defender at third base and his skill set is a little bit different from the other guys.

"So against righthanded pitching, that could be the guy we're going with."

Holt came into Friday hitting .319 (22-for-69) in the last 24 games.

Shaw, meanwhile, has been streaky to a fault. In the second half of the season, Shaw has posted a slash line of .195/.260/.362.

"We've seen (the streakiness both ways) in short spurts," Farrell said. "He does have the ability to carry us. But we're trying to get there and we're at a point in the year where every game is meaningful. That's not to say you turn your back on what he did earlier in the season. But we're looking for sparks somewhere."

What's more, Farrell had Holt hitting second in the lineup, in an effort to produce more offense. The Sox were limited to just eight runs in the three-game series at Yankee Stadium, and over the last 11 games, scored more than five runs just once.

Holt hit second, with Xander Bogaerts dropped to sixth.

"This is to create a little bit of a spark for us offensively," explained Farrell. "We've been grinding a little bit. And also, (we want) to create a little more (left-right) balance up and down the lineup."

TIME TO PLAY

As the final few regular season games of his career wind down, David Ortiz acknowledged that it's becoming increasing difficult to focus on the games with all the tributes and ceremonies going on.

In the final 11 days of the season, Ortiz will have had five pre-game ceremonies held in his honor -- and it would have been six had not Ortiz asked the Tampa Bay Rays to cancel the ceremony they had planned in the aftermath of the death that morning of pitcher Jose Fernandez.

On Thursday night, Ortiz has his family on the field for a pre-game celebration hosted by the New York Yankees.

Minutes later, he had to step in to the batter's box against CC Sabathia. Sometimes, it's hard to flip that switch and be emotionally ready to compete.

"I'm not going to lie to you -- it has (gotten harder)," said Ortiz. "We're already in the playoffs, so for the next three days, I don't really have to worry about it. But the best thing about it is that once we get into the playoffs, there's not going to be all these distractions.

"I like to mentally focus when we play, especially when I'm playing for a reason. We work extremely hard during the regular season to get into the playoffs and once we get there, I don't want to blow that off. It's not easy to (do all the ceremonies) and play baseball at the same time. It can be a distraction."