TORONTO — The day the Red Sox visited the White House — April 1, 2014 — to celebrate their world championship from the previous year, Jarrod Saltalmacchia wasn’t available, getting ready for his second game as a Miami Marlin.

Jarrod Saltalamacchia (Kim Klement/USA Today Sports)

Jarrod Saltalamacchia (Kim Klement/USA Today Sports)

TORONTO — The day the Red Sox visited the White House — April 1, 2014 — to celebrate their world championship from the previous year, Jarrod Saltalmacchia wasn’t available, getting ready for his second game as a Miami Marlin.

“I wasn’t going to miss a game for it, that’s for sure,” Saltalamacchia told WEEI.com prior to his Blue Jays’ game against the Red Sox Wednesday night at Rogers Centre.

As it turns out, the former Red Sox’ catcher’s unwillingness to prioritize the trip wasn’t just due to his professional commitments. Much like many of the New England Patriots when it came to choosing not to visit with President Donald Trump Wednesday afternoon, Saltalamacchia was in no rush to participate in the Red Sox’ meet-and-greet with then-President, Barack Obama.

Even talking about it three years later, Saltalamacchia wrestles with what might have happened if the opportunity was presented.

When first discussing the Patriots’ boycott, Saltalamacchia said, “Everyone has got their own opinion. I’ll be honest with you, I probably wouldn’t have went because Obama was in. I didn’t agree with a lot of his political beliefs and the way he ran the country. I honestly probably wouldn’t have went.”

But, as he talked through the scenario, the 31 year old admitted the decision to attend would be a tough one. Even now, within the short conversation, it’s clear he remains conflicted.

“Talking to it beforehand, talking about it now, I feel the same way. I still respect my country. I probably would have went just because of that reason alone. I respect my country and it’s an honor to go to our country’s capital,” Saltalamacchia said.

“It would have been tough just because of my thoughts on Obama and his belief system. I feel like he did a lot of things completely opposite of what this country believes in. Taking prayer [in schools] away. Taking the the pledge of allegiance in the morning. I just think he didn’t do a lot for our veterans. That’s my beliefs. I’m sure those those Patriots players aren’t doing what their beliefs are. I understand it and that’s what is so great about our country, the freedom to make that choice.”

Saltalamacchia had already visited the White House in 2008 with his previous club, the Rangers, when Texas’ former owner, and then-President, George Bush, invited the team to the residence, which included a visit to the Oval Office.

But, as the catcher pointed out, that was a different time, and a different President. And for Saltalmacchia, it all made for a choice he really didn’t want to make.

“Honestly, I didn’t want to [go to the White House in 2014], but just because of how close I was with those guys, still am with those guys, I would have went because my boys, my guys were going,” he said. “So I would have gone with them. Despite beliefs and all of that stuff, because of my respect for my country I probably would have went. Regardless of what you think of what you think of the President, he’s the President, so you have to honor that even if you feel he didn’t honor America. It’s tough. I think there’s a lot of military buddies I have in the Seals who don’t believe in a lot of what Obama did, but they still have to do their job and their duty in protecting our country.”

There has obviously been precedence in players and executives choosing not to attend the traditional championship celebration at the the White House, with Theo Epstein’s absence in 2015 and the 2012 decision by Bruins goalie Tim Thomas serving as two notable examples.

And the reasons for the absences, whether made public or not, remain consistent, with the Patriots offering the latest example. It’s a dynamic Saltalamacchia fully understands, and obviously feels strong about.

Taking a stand is clearly something the catcher was, and is, prepared to do.

“Nothing surprises me anymore the way things are going,” he said. “We all have a choice.

“What happened last year, [with 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick] kneeling down, to me that upset me more than anything because it’s like, you know what, our brothers and sisters are across seas fighting for our freedom to be able to do something like that and you can’t even respect them enough to stand for our National Anthem. People who die before us and fought for us. Just like in the baseball world, there’s people who fought before us to have the union we have and have the rights we have in this game. Same thing with our country. I think a lot of people lose sight of that. It’s not fair. Yeah, you don’t like what’s going on but you can’t venture one way because of what’s going on now. You have to remember how this country …. It’s not their fault their country is the way it is right now. It’s our own fault. You want to talk about kids, the milleneals, there’s a reason why they are the way they are. Because of the parents. Same thing down the line. We got to do our job as parents to teach our kids the right way.”

Blog Author: 
Rob Bradford
Joe and Tim talk with Red Sox starting pitcher Brian Johnson after he earned his first career MLB win.
Joe and Tim talk with Red Sox starting pitcher Brian Johnson after he earned his first career MLB win.

[0:03:16] ... great to see you get your first wit averages like you. So Ryan Johnson they left hander University of Florida product getting the win here five innings in the he get out of some tough Jazz know they did allow four runs in the Red Sox after some anxious moments in the ninth inning hang on to beat the Toronto Blue Jays a descent. ...



TORONTO — Mookie Betts hit a home run in the seventh inning. He didn’t have to.

Hanley Ramirez and Mookie Betts celebrate Betts' seventh inning home run. (John E. Sokolowski/USA Today Sports)

Hanley Ramirez and Mookie Betts celebrate Betts’ seventh inning home run. (John E. Sokolowski/USA Today Sports)

TORONTO — Mookie Betts hit a home run in the seventh inning. He didn’t have to.

Such is life with these Red Sox, with Tuesday night’s 8-7 win over the Blue Jays serving as the latest example. Against Marcus Stroman, who had been Toronto’s best starting pitcher, John Farrell’s team managed to kick the Jays’ ace to the curb after just 4 2/3 innings on the way to a 15-hit night. (For a complete recap of the Red Sox’ win, click here.)

“The home runs are coming,” said Hanley Ramirez while walking through the visitors clubhouse prior to the game. To repeat, they should be in no rush.

With Betts’ solo shot, the Red Sox now have a total of seven homers, the fewest in the majors. Yet here they sit at 9-5, having scored four or more runs in nine of their 14 games.

“I don’t know if it’s more cold-weather related or not. You look at the number of hits that we’ve compiled has been I think pretty high,” said Farrell before the game. “I will say this: We don’t as an organization preach home runs. We preach quality at-bats as best as possible. Put your best swing on pitches in areas you’re typically going to handle. In terms of trying to hit home runs, they’re going to come. If you look back to the way we hit last year, through the middle of April or middle of May even, we were probably in the bottom third of home runs hit and still scored runs. That’s a compliment to the type of hitters we have and the depth of our lineup overall.”

He’s right.

Through April last season, the Red Sox owned the most runs in the American League while having hit the third-fewest home runs in Major League Baseball (19).

And this time around, the Red Sox are sitting with the most hits in baseball. And coming into Tuesday, they had the second-best batting average with runners in scoring position (.328).

The win against the struggling Blue Jays might have offered the best definition of what the Red Sox’ offense has become. In the third inning, the Sox used four singles to score three runs and tie the game. Then, in the fifth, back-to-back doubles from Hanley Ramirez and Mitch Moreland after a Betts single drove Stroman from the game, ultimately tagging the starter with six runs on 11 hits.

Maybe the most subtle, yet meaningful, hit of them all came from Pablo Sandoval after Toronto manager John Gibbons replaced Stroman with lefty Aaron Loup.

Sandoval, who had been 0-for-10 against southpaws coming into the at-bat, rifled a single back up the middle to score Moreland to cap the three-run sixth.

Can the Red Sox keep living life without the long ball? That remains to be seen. The championship teams of 2004, ’07 and ’13 all had greater punch, hitting 25, 27 and 26 home runs, respectively, in April.

For now, even in the homer-friendly Rogers Centre, it’s working out just fine.

Shattering Perceptions Game Note Image

Brian Johnson picked up his first major league win, finding a way to navigate through five innings while throwing 97 pitches. The lefty allowed four runs on seven hits.

Blog Author: 
Rob Bradford

Hanley Ramirez and Mookie Betts celebrate Betts' seventh inning home run. (John E. Sokolowski/USA Today Sports)

Hanley Ramirez and Mookie Betts celebrate Betts’ seventh inning home run. (John E. Sokolowski/USA Today Sports)

TORONTO — Mookie Betts hit a home run in the seventh inning. He didn’t have to.

Such is life with these Red Sox, with Tuesday night’s 8-7 win over the Blue Jays serving as the latest example. Against Marcus Stroman, who had been Toronto’s best starting pitcher, John Farrell’s team managed to kick the Jays’ ace to the curb after just 4 2/3 innings on the way to a 15-hit night. (For a complete recap of the Red Sox’ win, click here.)

“The home runs are coming,” said Hanley Ramirez while walking through the visitors clubhouse prior to the game. To repeat, they should be in no rush.

With Betts’ solo shot, the Red Sox now have a total of seven homers, the fewest in the majors. Yet here they sit at 9-5, having scored four or more runs in nine of their 14 games.

“I don’t know if it’s more cold-weather related or not. You look at the number of hits that we’ve compiled has been I think pretty high,” said Farrell before the game. “I will say this: We don’t as an organization preach home runs. We preach quality at-bats as best as possible. Put your best swing on pitches in areas you’re typically going to handle. In terms of trying to hit home runs, they’re going to come. If you look back to the way we hit last year, through the middle of April or middle of May even, we were probably in the bottom third of home runs hit and still scored runs. That’s a compliment to the type of hitters we have and the depth of our lineup overall.”

He’s right.

Through April last season, the Red Sox owned the most runs in the American League while having hit the third-fewest home runs in Major League Baseball (19).

And this time around, the Red Sox are sitting with the most hits in baseball. And coming into Tuesday, they had the second-best batting average with runners in scoring position (.328).

The win against the struggling Blue Jays might have offered the best definition of what the Red Sox’ offense has become. In the third inning, the Sox used four singles to score three runs and tie the game. Then, in the fifth, back-to-back doubles from Hanley Ramirez and Mitch Moreland after a Betts single drove Stroman from the game, ultimately tagging the starter with six runs on 11 hits.

Maybe the most subtle, yet meaningful, hit of them all came from Pablo Sandoval after Toronto manager John Gibbons replaced Stroman with lefty Aaron Loup.

Sandoval, who had been 0-for-10 against southpaws coming into the at-bat, rifled a single back up the middle to score Moreland to cap the three-run sixth.

Can the Red Sox keep living life without the long ball? That remains to be seen. The championship teams of 2004, ’07 and ’13 all had greater punch, hitting 25, 27 and 26 home runs, respectively, in April.

For now, even in the homer-friendly Rogers Centre, it’s working out just fine.

Shattering Perceptions Game Note Image

Brian Johnson picked up his first major league win, finding a way to navigate through five innings while throwing 97 pitches. The lefty allowed four runs on seven hits.

Blog Author: 
Rob Bradford

Brock Holt

Brock Holt

TORONTO — It would seem that there would be plenty of opportunities.

For one, with the absence of Jackie Bradley Jr. in the outfield, and the Red Sox facing predominantly right-handed starters, Holt would normally be John Farrell’s go-to guy to put in left field during this last week. But during that span there has just been two starts, with Chris Young getting the majority of playing time.

There has also been the occasional opportunity to spell Pablo Sandoval at third base against lefties. Yet, still, Holt is sitting at two starts for the season, one at third and the other in left.

Then came the series opener at Rogers Centre.

With Farrell identifying Tuesday as a logical opportunity for Dustin Pedroia to get some rest, it was Marco Hernandez, not Holt, who the manager turned to. The explanation wasn’t complicated — Hernandez is swinging better than Holt, who entered the game 1-for-11 with five strikeouts.

“You try to keep everyone involved as best possible,” the Red Sox manager said. “The fact is, Marco’s at-bats have probably been a little bit more consistent whether that’s coming out of spring training a little bit more timely, he’s had more opportunities as the season has begun, Brock is still going to play a vital role on this team as we go forward but Marco is in there [Tuesday].”

Hernandez hasn’t exactly torn up the majors since his promotion, hitting .261 with a .565 OPS coming into the three-game set. But coming off his stellar Grapefruit League season, the lefty hitter has shown Farrell enough to want to see a bit more.

“There’s been a lot to like. His at-bats have been overall aggressive,” Farrell said. “I think, with the exception of maybe an occasional at-bat against a left-hander where there’s been a little bit of a tough matchup, I thought he has swung the bat well. He’s played with a lot of athleticism and energy. He’s a good fit to be able to play at multiple positions.”

Blog Author: 
Rob Bradford

TORONTO — Dustin Pedroia might not play every game this season, after all.

The Red Sox second baseman starts the Red Sox’ series opener on the bench, with Marco Hernandez getting the nod at second base against Toronto starter Marcus Stroman. Xander Bogaerts takes Pedroia’s spot at the top of the lineup.

Dustin Pedroia

Dustin Pedroia

TORONTO — Dustin Pedroia might not play every game this season, after all.

The Red Sox second baseman starts the Red Sox’ series opener on the bench, with Marco Hernandez getting the nod at second base against Toronto starter Marcus Stroman. Xander Bogaerts takes Pedroia’s spot at the top of the lineup.

Here is the entire Red Sox’ batting order, with Brian Johnson getting the nod for the visitors:

Xander Bogaerts SS
Andrew Benintendi CF
Mookie Betts RF
Hanley Ramirez DH
Mitch Moreland 1B
Chris Young LF
Pablo Sandoval 3B
Christian Vazquez C
Marco Hernandez 2B

For all the Red Sox news, go to the team page by clicking here.

Blog Author: 
Rob Bradford