Tag:David Ortiz
Posted on: May 24, 2011 10:14 am
Edited on: May 24, 2011 11:02 am
 

Pepper: Brian Fuentes criticizes manager Geren



By Evan Brunell

FUENTES BLOWS UP: Brian Fuentes, the Athletics closer, had some strong words for manager Bob Geren after losing his seventh game of the year. He's now blown five of seven tie games and Fuentes isn't happy about the skipper's communication skills, saying Geren has handled his communication with the reliever poorly.

"There’s just no communication," Fuentes says. "Two games, on the road, bring the closer in a tied game, with no previous discussions of doing so. And then, tonight, in the seventh inning, I get up. I haven’t stretched, I haven’t prepared myself. If there was some communication beforehand I would be ready to come into the game  -- which I was, when I came into the game, I was ready. Just lack of communication. I don’t think anybody really knows which direction he’s headed."

Fuentes really shouldn't be complaining about being brought in during a tie game on the road. The general rule of thumb is that you deploy your closer with a tie at home or lead on the road, but that doesn't mean everyone has to follow that tenet -- not to mention that rule of thumb is a pretty weak one. You bring in your best reliever for the situation that demands it most, end of story.

That aside, it appears as if Geren doesn't have the right pulse on Fuentes -- or maybe even the bullpen as a whole. Fuentes says it's difficult to adhere to what appears to be a random schedule, instead of being afforded time to stretch and prepare for coming into the game in the eighth or ninth. Again, we're seeing "established" rules for closers with no reason for being established causing problems. In Fuentes' defense, however, he didn't trailblaze these established rules -- he's just following them and it's easy to see how he thinks they're a valuable part of his preparation. From the manager's perspective, though, Fuentes may have very well been the best choice to come into the seventh inning. The problem is when you don't communicate effectively.

"I thought he misspoke," Fuentes said of when he first learned Geren wanted him in the game in the seventh. "I thought it was some sort of miscommunication, but he said, ‘No, you’re up,’ so I got up and cranked it up. You can’t try to guess along with them. Very unpredictable."

Fuentes adds that this hasn't been a situation that's been slowly getting worse; rather, it's fairly recent and Fuentes first became displeased when Oakland traveled to San Francisco this past weekend. Or maybe it's because Fuentes has a 6.48 ERA in 8 1/3 May innings.

"I think the games in San Francisco were some unorthodox managing," he noted. "I thought it was maybe the National league thing, that maybe that had something to do with it, but [Monday] was pretty unbelievable."

Just don't expect Fuentes to be the one to initiate communication. He's going to leave that up to Geren.

"I can’t predict the future. If he decides to take that step, then there will be communication. If not, I’ll make sure I’m ready from the first." (MLB.com)

LOSING CONFIDENCE: Wins and losses don't matter from an evaluation perspective, that much is clear. But for a pitcher, it can be pretty demoralizing to see an 0-7 mark next to his name, like John Danks is dealing with despite a 4.34 ERA that is plenty good enough to keep him in the rotation, as manager Ozzie Guillen said. "It’s getting harder and harder," Danks said. "That's the blunt truth. But like I said, it doesn’t do me any good to sit and dwell on it or feel sorry for myself. I got to come in ready to work and have myself ready for my next strart. That’s how I’ll go about it." (Chicago Tribune)

RANDY POFFO, BASEBALL PLAYER: Before "Macho Man" Randy Savage became a sensation in the wrestling world, he was an aspiring baseball player with a tremendous work ethic who just didn't have the talent to go beyond Class A. But that didn't stop Savage, whose real name was Randy Poffo, from trying. (Sports Illustrated)

SAVAGE HOMER: When Brewers GM Doug Melvin heard that Savage had died, it took him a while to figure out that Savage was the same Poffo who played in the minor leagues. "I think he hit a homer off me," Melvin said, hearkening back to 1972 when the two would have been on opposing rookie-ball teams. Unfortunately, Melvin was unable to verify this, as he could not find boxscores. (MLB.com)

MOVING ON: It's hard to, but Francisco Rodriguez is trying to move on from the much-publicized altercation with his ex-girlfriend's father last season. Rodriguez is off to a fantastic start as closer and appears to have made major strides mentally. (New York Daily News)

MANAGING FOR THE FANS: In case it's not clear for you just yet, Jim Leyland manages for the fans, not with fans. Leyland didn't take too kindly to being second-guessed for taking Rick Porcello out of a game in which he was one-hitting the Pirates after eight innings with 84 pitches. Closer Jose Valverde finished off the win, and Leyland went on a rant Monday about being second-guessed. (Detroit Free-Press)

START 'ER UP: The Cardinals will put Mitchell Boggs into the rotation at Triple-A after the reliever was demoted in a bit of a surprising move on Monday. The transition to the rotation isn't permanent, but it will afford St. Louis some security in rotation depth as well as allow Boggs to fine-tune his secondary offerings. (FoxSportsMidwest.com)

GOING OPPOSITE: David Ortiz seems to be taking a page out of Adrian Gonzalez's book, as Big Papi is going to the opposite field more than he ever has before, banging balls off the Green Monster. Of Ortiz's 27 hits at home so far, 14 have gone the opposite way. Compare that to a full-season total of 16 in 2008. (WEEI)

MOVE THE WALLS: Padres manager Bud Black might be getting sick of the decrepit Padres offense. Black has avoided all comment about possibly moving the walls of Petco Park in, but admitted Monday he thought there was "room for discussion." (MLB.com)

GLOVE MAN: What can't Eric Hosmer do? All the focus has been on Hosmer's offense, but he sports a pretty good glove too. Alcides Escobar thinks so, smiling enthusiastically when asked about Hosmer's defense. (Kansas City Star)

SLOW AND STEADY: Adam Lind still hasn't played in a game since May 7 thanks to a sore back, but that could finally be coming Wednesday. Once Lind returns from his minor-league rehab assignment, he'll return to first base but will see starts at DH mixed in to ease him back physically. (MLB.com)

DAT DUDE: Brandon Phillips' Twitter account is among the best in sports and has turned him into a marketing machine who fans adore. That's quite a ways from the kind of person he was in Cleveland. This is a nice profile of Phillips and how Twitter has impacted him. (MLB.com)

SELLING OUT: The Double-A Dayton Dragons are at 799 consecutive sellouts and if all goes according to plan, July 9 is when the Dragons will take out the Portland Trail Blazers for most consecutive sellouts in sports history. However, 40-60 tickets a game for the 7,230-seat stadium remain, although the team does not appear concerned about that posing an issue. (Dayton Daily News)

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @cbssportsmlb on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.

Posted on: May 20, 2011 3:43 pm
 

Ortiz avoids slump, enjoys revitalized career

Ortiz

By Evan Brunell


It's good to be David Ortiz these days.

Big Papi's hoed a tough road these days and while his jaw-dropping totals from 2003-07 are a thing of the past, he's proving he can still hang on as an important part of a postseason-contending team.

Back in 2008, Ortiz was only able to muster 23 home runs in 491 plate appearances, missing a few weeks with a wrist injury as his batting average skidded all the way to .264, the lowest it had ever been in a Red Sox uniform. Questions immediately abounded on whether or not the slugger was finished as a productive hitter, although he still registered a .877 OPS. The next season, Ortiz would prove to have a pathetic April and May, and a benching -- if not outright release -- seemed inevitable. Manager Terry Francona was patient with him, and Ortiz exploded with a scorching hot June that carried through the rest of the year, allowing him to tally 99 RBI and 28 hits, although his overall .794 OPS was the worst mark he had ever produced in his career outside of a 25 at-bat stint in 1999. His April struggles continued last season, and the whispers surrounding his departure only strengthened, and Francona wasn't as patient anymore, but Ortiz righted the ship far earlier and finished the year with 32 round-trippers and 102 RBI in 606 plate appearances, putting together his strongest season since his struggles began.

This year, Ortiz had no interest in more April struggles and came out performing enough to avoid being termed in a slump, carrying it over to May where he's exploded for a .328/.377/.656 line, reminiscent of his glory days. So far, he's banged eight home runs, putting him on a path to 30 for the year, and has lifted his batting average to .293 on the backing of a 3-for-4 night against the Tigers on Friday, which would be the fourth-highest batting average of his nine-season Red Sox career should he finish at that mark.

That's led to some optimism that Big Papi could be gearing up for a barrage, as he's found his groove in the summer months each of the last three seasons. Even if that doesn't happen and Papi finishes with the same numbers that would actually bring him in under last season's .899 OPS, the lack of distraction surrounding Ortiz's struggles has been a welcome relief to the team -- and to Ortiz as well, who had become mentally beaten down by his trials in the glaring lights of the Boston media machine, withdrawing into himself and no longer acting like the gregarious slugger Red Sox fans had come to love.

Ortiz has found a new home batting No. 5 in the Red Sox order, a switch that began before Adrian Gonzalez's arrival when Victor Martinez joined the club. That No. 5 spot has been rather friendly, as it's left Ortiz in a run-producing spot while removing him from the expectations of the No. 3 spot even as Ortiz's numbers suggest he could still hit No. 3.

The Red Sox picked up his $11.5 million club option for 2011, which Ortiz quickly realized was a sign of respect from the Red Sox. Once the market for DHs that had begun developing in 2010 took firm hold, Papi realized that the Red Sox had actually gone above and beyond what he would have fetched on the market. Now that he's got a good season going, Ortiz can probably snag a two-year deal in free agency for a salary in the $8 million to $12 million annual range. The 35-year-old has indicated a desire to finish his career with the Red Sox and while Boston wouldn't mind freeing up the DH spot to be used as a rotating day off for positional players, they also can't deny the production Ortiz is giving them out of the spot. Provided Ortiz doesn't enter into a horrible slump at any point the rest of the year, this is one aging star/team relationship that may actually work out nicely.

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @cbssportsmlb on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.
Category: MLB
Posted on: May 1, 2011 1:43 am
Edited on: May 1, 2011 1:51 am
 

3 up, 3 down: Shields, Halladay baffle batters

Shields

By Evan Brunell

3 UP

James Shields, Rays -- Shields delivered a dominating performance and may be on the way back towards being an ace. However, Shields is an inconsistent player, so we'll have to see how he performs more. Still, he twirled a beautiful start against the Angels, going eight strong with an eyebrow-raising 12 strikeouts against one walk, six hits and an earned run. He combined to strike out the first three batters of the game six times, holding them to 1 for 13 with a walk. This game pushes Shields' ERA down to 2.14.

Roy Halladay, Phillies -- What else do you expect? Halladay rivaled Shields for best pitching performance as he pitched a complete game seven-hitter, allowing a walk and punching eight out. The Mets -- especially Jason Bay in an 0-for-4 night with three whiffs -- were helpless as Philly squeaked out a 2-1 victory. That offense is starting to run a little cold in Philadelphia, who were lifted by reserve outfielder John Mayberry Jr.'s first home run of the year plus a sac fly by Placido Polanco. Carlos Beltran did have two hits, continuing a nice return from knee problems.

Michael Brantley, Indians -- The league's best hitting performance that also directly won the game for Cleveland by Brantley, who sparked the team to victory by first tying the game at two-all in the sixth by ripping a solo home run and then scoring the winning run on an Orlando Cabrera single. All in all, the leadoff man who was playing center as Grady Sizemore took a breather, stepped up to the plate with a 3-for-6 night (so did Cabrera), scoring those two runs and driving in himself on the homer to edge the Tigers 3-2. Top Indians pitching prospect Alex White got throw his start by throwing six innings and allowing just two runs despite coughing up four walks and six hits -- two home runs -- and whiffing four.

3 DOWN

Matt Thornton, White Sox -- Ozzie Guillen must be furious. In his house, that is, as he was suspended two games for his comments about the umpiring earlier in the week and then tweeting about it. Matt Thornton was called in by bench coach Joey Cora to keep the ChiSox in the game as they trailed 2-1 in the eighth. Phil Humber had a two-run, seven-inning start, calling into question whether he should be demoted when Jake Peavy returns. Against the Orioles, Thornton went as such: single, stolen base, strikeout plus Pierzynski error allowing a run to score and batter to reach, single, wild pitch, walk, infield RBI single, sacrifice fly, and -- that was it for Thornton as Jerry Gray sandwiched two outs around a hit by pitch. Not a good day at the park for Chicago's closer at the beginning of the season who has already lost his job.

Red Sox offense -- What can the Red Sox offense do for you? Well, it can mount a seven-hit attack on Doug Fister, walk six times, and ... leave 11 men on base in a 2-0 defeat. Awesome. David Ortiz want 0-for-4 with two whiffs, coming up in a key situation that could have changed the complexion of the game. The Red Sox left the bases loaded in the first (yes, really) and fourth, with Jacoby Ellsbury ending the threat in the fourth by getting doubled off second in a mistake. Oh, and no Mariners game is complete without a Milton Bradley ejection. The mercurial outfielder delivered a RBI double in the second to send Seattle up 1-0 then argued with the second base umpire about a play in which Miguel Olivo grounded to first and got the heave-ho. Skipper Eric Wedge was in the process of leaving the field after mounting his own complaint, but he didn't get tossed.

Kyle Drabek, Blue Jays -- Drabek got a little lesson in humility Saturday night, lasting just 2 1/3 innings. Drabek has been a bit up and down in his first full major-league season, but was still doing decently enough. Now his ERA rests at 4.45 after giving up five runs on seven hits, four walks and four strikeouts against the Yankees. He was dinked to death, but those runs count and can be even more deflating than a single big blow. You can attribute giving up a grand slam to one misplaced pitch, but you can't justify any of your stuff when everything is being rifled. Oddly enough, no Yank had more than one hit, but everyone did sans Derek Jeter (all together: when will he be demoted to No. 8 in the lineup? -- hey, look a reunion of the top two in the order from last season... at the bottom).

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @cbssportsmlb on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed. 
Posted on: April 12, 2011 10:13 am
Edited on: April 18, 2011 12:14 pm
 

Pepper: Baseball returns to Japan


By C. Trent Rosecrans

Sendai, Japan, had something to cheer about on Tuesday -- baseball.

The northern Japanese city that was ravished by last month's earthquake is home to the Rakuten Eagles, who opened the Japanese baseball season with a  6-4 victory over the defending champion Chiba Lotte Marines.

The game was played a bit south in Chiba and the Eagles' stadium won't be ready until April 29, but TV showed people in shelters watching the game and each fan in the Chiba cheering section held up signs that said, "Stay Strong Japan."

"Despite the difficult conditions, we are able to open the season because everybody helped us to do it," former big leaguer and current Eagle Kaz Matsui told the Associated Press. "I want to carry this feeling of appreciation for the whole year by playing baseball."

Former National and Yankee, and current Eagle Darrell Rasner said he thought fans were happy to see games played, the Central League also started with the Yokohama BayStars beating the Chunichi Dragons 5-4.

"It is a sense of normalcy for them," Rasner told the AP. "It's something that's ingrained in them and, you know, I think this is going to be a healing process. This is going to be a great thing for them."

Not everyone aggress. 

"Watching baseball is not the first thing on anyone's mind in Tokyo either," reporter Kozo Abe told author Robert Whiting, writing for SI.com. "The Japanese feeling at the moment is that they are not ready to root for the revival of Japanese baseball from the bottom of their heart."

One estimate says there are 30,000 people dead or missing and as many as 400,000 are homeless from the earthquake and tsunami. Half of the 12 NPB teams play in areas affected by the disaster. With many still without power, there's a debate whether using power on baseball games is the best way to use resources. Even though teams are playing more day games, enough power is used one day game at the Tokyo Dome to power 6,000 homes.

The Yomiuri Shimbun, Japan's largest newspaper, has had many call in and cancel their subscriptions to the newspaper that also owns the country's most popular team, the Yomiuri Giants, who publicly were against pushing back the season's starting date to today. The Giants will not play at home until next month in hopes of conserving energy.

It will be interesting to see how many people show up to games. Going to baseball games requires discretionary income, right now that's not exactly in abundance, and if it is, there's better use of that money in Japan.

Baseball did have to return to Japan, a country that loves the game as much (or more) than we do, but the start seems awkward, even though there was no easy way to avoid it. 

TALKING PITCHING -- I join Lauren Shehadi to talk about some of the game's best pitchers. I don't like to overreact to one or two starts at the start of the season, so you know. But hey, you get the picture of me with my beard at its fullest.


NICE TOUCH -- Really nice scene last night when the Giants and Dodgers got together in a  presume ceremony for Bryan Stow, who was beaten in the Dodger Stadium parking lot earlier this month. [Los Angeles Times]

ROAD DOGS -- The first nine games of yesterday were won by the road team and the Blue Jays took an early 7-0 lead on the Mariners before coughing up the lead and giving the home team its first victory of the day. Only once before -- on July 30, 1890, had all the road teams win on a day with 10 or more games.

WRIGLEY'S FOR THE BIRDS -- Flocks of ring-billed gulls have made Wrigley Field one of their favorite feeding spots. At times you'll see more birds than fans in the stands. [Chicago Sun-Times]

NO-HITTER -- Trey Haley, Francisco Jimenez and Clayton Ehlert combined for a no-hitter for the Class A Lake County Captains in a 3-1 victory over the Dayton Dragons on Monday. The Captains are the low-A affiliate of the Cleveland Indians. [MiLB.com]

EVEN PUJOLS SLUMPS -- St. Louis really is America's best baseball towns, and its newspaper, the Post-Dispatch understands that. The P-D has one of the best baseball teams in the business, including Derrick Goold. I say this just to point out the work Goold did on his blog for Monday. Goold took a look at Pujols' slumps in his career and what followed. The moral of the story? You don't want to be a Diamondbacks or Dodgers pitcher this week.

AND JETER -- Derek Jeter's .206 average through his first nine games is the second-worst start of his career. The only time he started worse was 1998, and he had one of his better seasons following that start. However, he was 23. [New York Times]

JIMENEZ CLOSER -- Ubaldo Jimenez threw a bullpen session on Sunday and is on track to re-join the rotation on Monday. Jimenez will throw in an extended spring training. [MLB.com]

DAVIS TO DL -- Blue Jays center fielder Rajai Davis is expected to go on the disabled list today with soreness in his right ankle. He had been playing with the injury, but the team decided he needed rest to fully recover. [MLB.com]

FRIDAY DUNN'S DAY? -- Adam Dunn took batting practice on Monday, less than a week after his emergency appendectomy, but don't expect him back in a game until Friday. [Chicago Sun-Times]

GOOD GENES -- Reds second baseman Brandon Phillips was a proud big brother on Tuesday as his sister, Prosha, was taken by the San Antonio Silver Stars in the third round of the WNBA's draft that was held on Tuesday. The younger Phillips played at the University of Georgia. Her big brother had signed to play baseball at UGA before being drafted. [Twitter]

YOU'D NEVER GUESS IT -- If you had to guess which American League player has a triple in every season this century, how long would it take for you to guess David Ortiz? [Providence Journal]

SUPER SLO-MO -- This video of Tim Lincecum is just killer.

Hat tip to Big League Stew.

YOUTH MOVEMENT -- We all know the Cubs' Starlin Castro is young, but did you know that's he's nearly four months younger than the next-youngest player in MLB, Florida's Mike Stanton. Royals lefty Tim Collins is the youngest -- and shortest -- player in the American League. How about the minors? Braves phenom Julio Teheran is the youngest player in Triple-A, while the Rangers' Jurickson Profar is the youngest player in a full-season league in the minors. He was born Feb. 20, 1993. [Baseball America]

DEFENDING THE INDEFENSIBLE -- Sam Mellinger defends Royals owner David Glass. [Kansas City Star]

SPEAKING OF BAD OWNERS -- Frank McCourt's former attorneys are suing him. [Los Angeles Times]

RETIREMENT INCREASING -- No, not Manny Ramirez, but maybe 99 or 24. Anyway, here's a cool article from Chris Jaffe at the Hardball Times about retired numbers and it has a list of the players with the highest WAR for each franchise without their number retired. Looking at the list, my guess for next to have his number retired is probably Ken Griffey Jr. ANother Cincinnati kid, Barry Larkin isn't on the list, but his number is likely going to be retired soon, too. 

$2 MILLION TACTIC -- Is Buck Showalter's tactic of teaching his players to try to break up a double play when a ball is hit right at the second baseman worth $2 million a season? [Sabermetric Research]

HERO WORSHIP -- Nearly 12 years after the last game he pitched in the big leagues, Jim Abbott is still inspiring others. [Orange County Register]

REDDICK MAKING ENEMIES -- Buffalo Bisons general manager Mike Buczkowski can't be much of a fan of Red Sox prospect Josh Reddick. It's not just that Reddick hit .327 with four homers and 10 RBI in 12 games against the Bisons in 2010, or that he homered in his first game against Buffalo in 2011. No, Reddick added to the misery he's caused Buczkowski on Saturday when on the pitch before his homer, Reddick hit a foul ball that shattered the windshield of Buczkowski's car. Pawtucket play-by-play man Dan Hoard has the details and photos on his blog. [Heard it from Hoard]

PRESIDENTIAL VISIT -- The Nationals' Abe Lincoln mascot made a visit to Lincoln's Cottage in Washington last week. [Lincoln Cottage Blog]

LUCKY CATCH -- A former minor leaguer won a $1 million jackpot in a scratch-off lottery. Joel Torres was released by the Indians this spring and wants to continue his career. [New York Post]

BAY AREA BASEBALL FEVER -- The Giants' run to the World Series title has made an impact on the participation of Bay Area Little Leagues. There are now waiting lists in some leagues. [New York Times]

LINEUP SHOW -- This is an interesting bit of marketing from Japan, a TV program invited all six Pacific League managers to present their opening day lineups and talk about them. I could see that working on MLB Network -- teams know who they're facing and what they're going to do, it only helps build excitement for the hard core fans (and for silly complaints about lineup construction, if you're into that kind of thing.) [YakyuBaka.com]

PUT ME IN COACH -- The Omaha World writes about the best baseball songs. As a huge fan of the Hold Steady, I appreciate any list that includes not only that band, but also its singer. That said, I prefer "Pasttime" from the Baseball Project's first album to "Don't Call Them Twinkies." But my favorite baseball song is still probably "A Dying Cubs Fan's Last Request" by Steve Goodman. All in all, a pretty darn good list -- especially with the inclusion of "Talkin' Softball."

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @cbssportsmlb on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed. 
Posted on: April 9, 2011 1:36 am
Edited on: April 9, 2011 2:08 am
 

3 up, 3 down for 4/8: Rays, Red Sox finally win

By C. Trent Rosecrans

Dan Johnson

3UP

Dan Johnson, Rays -- Johnson's three-run homer topped off a five-run ninth, giving the Rays their first victory of the season, 9-7 over the White Sox. Not only was it the Rays' first win of the season, Johnson gave the team its first lead of the season.

Antonio Bastardo, Phillies -- The 25-year-old lefty gave up Chipper Jones' 2,500th career hit on Friday, but after that he struck out the next six batters he faced -- Brian McCann, Dan Uggla, Jason Heyward, Alex Gonzalez, Freddie Freeman and Tim Hudson.

Jordan Zimmermann, Nationals -- Not only did Zimmermann pick up his first victory since undergoing Tommy John surgery, he also threw 91 pitches, while allowing six hits and two runs in 5 1/3 innings. Oh yeah, he also singled in two runs in the second inning.

3DOWN

Brian Wilson, Giants -- After staring in the Giants' pregame ceremonies to commemorate their World Series title, Wilson came into the game in the ninth inning to lock down another save. Instead, he gave up two runs on two hits and two walks. It was his second appearance since coming off the disabled list, allowing three runs Wednesday against the Dodgers. Manager Bruce Bochy has taken him out without finishing the inning in both outings. But hey, at least his ERA dropped from 40.50 to 33.75.

Albert Pujols, Cardinals -- You're not going to see this name in this part of 3 up, 3 down too often, but the two-time Gold Glover (including 2010) dropped a simple throw from pitcher Brian Tallet on Andres Torres' two-out grounder in the 12th inning on Saturday. That set up an RBI single by Aaron Rowand to give the Giants a 5-4 victory.

Boone Logan, Yankees -- In six plate appearances against lefties this season, Yankee the left-handed reliever has allowed three hits and two walks. Logan gave up hits to David Ortiz and J.D. Drew, with Drew's single in the seventh scoring two and locking up the first win of the season for the Red Sox. He did get Jacoby Ellsbury to ground out to end the inning, but the damage had been done by that point. With Pedro Feliciano and Damaso Marte on the DL, he's the team's only lefty in the bullpen.

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @cbssportsmlb on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.

Posted on: April 8, 2011 6:29 pm
Edited on: April 8, 2011 10:52 pm
 

Reaction to Manny Ramirez's retirement

By Evan Brunell

RamirezSo, what's the reaction to Manny Ramirez's surprise retirement?

"I am surprised," teammate Johnny Damon -- both currently with the Rays and for years in Boston -- told the Associated Press. "This spring he played well. ... I don't know everything that's been brought up. All I know is he's a great teammate and a great player."

Close friend and former Red Sox teammate David Ortiz concurred after seeing the Red Sox beat the Yankees for the first win of Boston's season. Big Papi indicated that he had heard the news in between innings as he told MLB Network after the game.

"It shocked me," he said. "I talked to him during spring training while we were playing against Tampa. He looked really good. I know that he was going to be able to put good numbers [up]. I don't know what happened. I don't know the details."

Manager Joe Maddon tweeted out a reaction, saying "A great player retired, but I believe it is a galvanizing moment for us."

Jason Giambi of the Rockies also weighed in as someone who acknowledged taking steroids in his career and battled Ramirez's Red Sox while with the Yankees.

"I'm shocked," said Colorado's Jason Giambi, who has acknowledged taking steroids during his own career. "He was phenomenal, one of the best right-handed hitters I've ever seen. He always kind of portrayed that he was out there but he knew how to hit, man. He was unbelievable when it came to hitting. He knew what he wanted to hit and what pitch he wanted to hit and what your were going to throw him, and watching him take an at-bat was pretty impressive. ... He always played that he was aloof, but he really knew how to play the game. You could talk hitting with him and his work ethic was pretty unbelievable. He would be in the cage, hitting off breaking-ball machines and I think that's a part of him that people didn't see, that he put his time and effort into hitting."

Phillies manager Charlie Manuel was short and succint in his appraisal. Manuel oversaw Ramirez in 2000, his first year managing the Indians. After Ramirez left following the season, Manuel would manage two more years in town before being fired.

"Might have been running out of bullets. Father Time was catching up to him."

UPDATE: The St. Petersburg Times' Marc Topkin posts this video of reaction from Johnny Damon and manager Joe Maddon:




UPDATE: Ramirez's former Dodger teammate Rafael Furcal tells CBSSports.com senior writer Scott Miller he was surprised by the announecement.
"I promise you, he does not want to retire," Furcal said. "I don't know what happened."
UPDATE: Here's two more from former teammates, both Red Sox now, via the Boston Herald:
Bobby Jenks: "Once you get caught once, you're already banged 50 games. Why try again? It's a little stupid, but I guess he made his own choices and now he's got to live with them."

Kevin Youkilis: "I don't know why he retired, but the guy had one of the best careers and Hall of Fame numbers and all that. He's a guy who will go down as one of the greatest right-handed hitters of all-time. He had a great stretch. There's so much stuff on the drug thing, from stuff you can get at the drug store. You never know what it is. … I always said, guys that get caught for stuff, this game’s hard. To hit a baseball, there's a lot of guys that look great in the weight room. Some of the stuff, if you look back on Barry Bonds and all the stuff he's going through and supposedly what he did, if you saw the guy hit, it was like no other. The guy would see 15 pitches, and the catcher would hold his hand out and he'd get one pitch and it would be a home run. Manny was the same way. To me, personally, what they did was pretty remarkable. I'll always give them credit for that."

And then his former manager in Chicago, Ozzie Guillen from the Chicago Tribune: "Manny, as a friend, as his former manager, he was great for the game, he's done a lot of great things for baseball. He was one of the best hitters to play the game. He played good for us last year. I wish he could have played better. He was great in the clubhouse. I don't have any complaints or regrets to have him with the ballclub."

Guillen also said it sends a message to current players about MLB's drug testing program: "It shows people that Major League Baseball is after [drug users]. They're not playing around. They're letting the players know how tough they're going to be. They say they'll be checking and monitoring those guys, and jeez, they're showing how much they want to make this game clean and clear.

"That's the first thing I told the players in the meetings -- they're not playing around. If you get cut you should be punished because now we know for last five or six years they're after this, and any players that [take banned drugs] they're taking a risk."
UPDATE: Former teammate Orlando Cabrera tells this great Manny story to the Cleveland Plain Dealer:

"Curt Schilling is on the mound," said Cabrera. "He comes to the dugout frustrated and says, "What the hell is going on?' Manny comes to the dugout laughing. He saw my glove and grabbed it and says 'Gold Glove.' He raises his glove and says "Bronze Glove.'

"Then he looks at Schilling and says, "I got a bronze glove.' Schilling is so mad that he starts laughing. Then Manny goes up later in the game and hits a grand slam. Schilling said, "That's why I can't say anything. I know he's got a way to fix things and that's the way he does it."

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @cbssportsmlb on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.

Posted on: March 30, 2011 12:21 am
Edited on: March 30, 2011 1:58 pm
 

Jeter's 3,000th hit among milestones for 2011

Derek Jeter

By C. Trent Rosecrans

It's hard to believe that in the long, storied history of the New York Yankees, no player has reached 3,000 hits while wearing the pinstripes. Well, until this year.

With 2,926 hits, Derek Jeter is 74 hits from becoming the 28th player in baseball with 3,000 hits, passing such greats as Rogers Hornsby (2,930), Barry Bonds (2,935) and Frank Robinson (2,943) along the way.

Dave Winfield, Rickey Henderson and Wade Boggs all wore the uniform on their way to 3,000, but no Yankee has ever reached the mark. Jeter already holds the record for most hits in a Yankee career, passing Lou Gehrig (2,721) in 2009.

Jeter also has a chance not only to become the first Yankee with 3,000 hits, but also to do it at home. Last year Jeter rapped his 74th hit on June 6. The year before, it was June 12, and in 2008 it came on June 19. This season the Yankees have a homestead against the Red Sox, Indians and Rangers from June 7-16.

While Jeter's run to 3,000 hits will get the most attention of any milestone in 2011, it's not the only one.

Jim Thome Jim Thome enters the season with 589 home runs and is just 11 from becoming the eighth player in history to reach 600. From there, he can move up the all-time list as Sammy Sosa is seventh with 609.

At 613 home runs, Alex Rodriguez needs 18 homers to pass his one-time teammate Ken Griffey Jr. (630) and 48 to pass Willie Mays (660).

Manny Ramirez has 555 home runs, but after a nine-homer 2010 and 19 in 2009, 45 homers this season doesn't seem likely. His career-high is 45, hitting that many in 1998 and 2005.

The 400 home run list isn't quite the feat it once was, but three players -- Paul Konerko (365), Adam Dunn (354) and David Ortiz (349) -- are knocking on the door.

Speaking of 400, Johnny Damon is 15 stolen bases from reach 400 for his career. He had 11 last season. Ichiro Suzuki is 17 stolen bases shy of 400 -- he had 42 last season.

Jimmy Rollins needs two triples for 100 in his career. 

While it won't get much attention, Hideki Matsui has 493 career homers combined between Japan and the United States, putting 500 within reach.

Rounding the Bases

How unlikely is it we see another 300-game winner anytime soon? The career leader in wins among active pitchers (besides the inured Jamie Moyer and his 267 victories) is Tim Wakefield, who has 193. Not only does he need seven wins to get to 200, he only needs to yield 11 hits to have surrendered 3,000 in his career (interestingly, 124 pitchers in baseball history have allowed 3,000 hits).

Javier Vazquez has 2,374 career strikeouts, leaving him 126 strikeouts short of becoming the 30th pitcher to strike out 2,500. Vazquez had 121 last season with the Yankees, so if he's healthy for the Marlins this season he should be close.

And, of course, there's the other great Yankee, Mariano Rivera, who is 41 saves from becoming just the second pitcher in history to record 600 saves.  He's 43 saves away from taking over the all-time lead from Trevor Hoffman, who retired after last season with 601. 

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @cbssportsmlb  on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.

Posted on: March 3, 2011 4:40 pm
 

Big Papi clears mind of off-field issues

OrtizBy Evan Brunell

David Ortiz believes that clearing his mind will go a long way towards helping him produce at the plate.

"I haven't felt like this for a while," Ortiz told WEEI.com of how well he has been feeling, which he believes is a major part of his fast start in spring training with a 5 for 8 beginning. "There were a lot of things that I had to correct, and I did in the offseason."

Ortiz said what he had to correct was not related to baseball, but was important in the sense that "when you're playing baseball you can't be thinking about some other things. Baseball is a very complicated business so you have to make sure your mind is clear so you can think about what you're doing."

Ortiz wouldn't clarify what he needed to fix, but said he feels people don't realize players have lives outside of baseball. "That life needs to be taken care of. You have family, you have kids, you have friends. A lot of stuff. In a situation like ours sometimes you don't pay attention to little things and they accumulate slowly. ... You've been accumulating things for years and then next thing you know you've got all that on top of you. Then people look at you and it seems you have a big old monkey on your back. Not anymore."

This is certainly true of Ortiz's recent years in Boston, where the usually gregarious slugger has seemed to withdraw in his shell over the last two years. Certainly, a big part of it has to do with how Ortiz struggled with criticism after getting off to slow starts each of the past two years. But perhaps a big amount had to do with off-the-field stuff, and Big Papi can already notice a difference.

"I can enjoy baseball now. What a difference," he said. "I don't even have my cell phone with me. That's your No. 1 enemy, your cell phone."

For all the improvement Ortiz seems to have made in this area, his personal life isn't entirely cleared of conflicts. He is headed to court after locking horns with hip-hop singer Jay-Z on a naming issue as the New York Post reports. Ortiz has a nightclub in the Dominican Republic named Forty Forty, and Jay-Z has taken umbrage to that, believing it a ripoff of his own 40/40 Club

The two sides met for three hours Monday but could not come to an agreement as Ortiz's business manager, Mark Walker, said Jay-Z wants "way too much" compensation. Ortiz had previously indicated a willingness to change the name or settle the dispute.

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @cbssportsmlb on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.

More MLB coverage
Category: MLB
 
 
 
 
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com