Wade Boggs has been welcomed back to the Red Sox thanks to the retirement of his No. 26. (Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)

Wade Boggs has been welcomed back to the Red Sox thanks to the retirement of his No. 26. (Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)

MASHANTUCKET, Conn. — Remember Wade Boggs?

In case you forgot, he is the Hall of Fame third baseman who is going to have his No. 26 retired by the Red Sox this season. He last played for the Sox in 1992, and retired from big league baseball after the ’99 season.

But now, he is formally being re-introduced the organization that brought him into the world of professional baseball.

“Right now I sort of feel like Tom Hanks, that I’€™ve been on an island for 20 years and they found me,” said Boggs from the Red Sox’ Winter Weekend event at Foxwoods. “So now I get to come home and enjoy the lobster and I’€™m back in the Red Sox family where I should have been in 1992 when Mrs. Yawkey offered me a seven-year deal to finish out my career with the Red Sox and I wouldn’€™t have had to have gone anywhere else to play. This is, I’€™m back. It’€™s great to be back. It’€™s been nothing but huge, positive feedback all along.”

The obvious question, considering the time span in between his last big league game and the year his number was finally retired by the Red Sox, was why it took so long to put his digits up in right field.

Boggs was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2005, carrying the second-best career batting average (.338) at Fenway Park, trailing only Ted Williams.

But, as Boggs’ pointed out, the combination of new ownership and forgiving spending five years with the Yankees as key elements.

‘€œI don’€™t know. You’€™d have to ask the individuals that came on board with the Red Sox after I left,” Boggs said when asked why the honor took so long. “I’€™m sure that going to New York, and riding the horse had something to do with it. Spending five and a half years in the minor leagues and spending 11 years in the big leagues with the Red Sox, going in as a Hall of Famer with the Red Sox, having a ‘B’ on my cap and having arguably my finest years in Boston.

“But when I got drafted at 17, my dad said, ‘You got drafted by Boston in the seventh round. Fenway Park was built for you.’ Truer words were never spoken because I played the wall like a fiddle. I just needed to get a little bigger and stronger because I did PEDs every day, poultry every day. I give Peter Gammons a little plug on that one. Just a little bigger and stronger and to where I could hit a long enough flyball to left-center so I could utilize the wall and my opinion, the greatest place to hit on the face of the earth.”

Boggs also mentioned he was open to talking with the organization about possibly filling some sort of instructional spot within the Red Sox.

“We’€™re going to talk, absolutely,” he said. “I’€™m back. Whatever role they want me to play, I’€™m back in the fold. As an advisory, I don’€™t know what my agent Alan Nero has in mind. We’€™re going to sit down and talk. Special advisor to something, for the dietitians how to cook chicken. I think there’€™s a certain role I could fill.”

Blog Author: 
Rob Bradford

So far, so good.

So far, so good.

At least that was the message coming from the Red Sox brass when asked about the conditioning of both Hanley Ramirez and Pablo Sandoval during media availability prior to the Boston Baseball Writers’ Dinner.

“Physically they look great,” said Red Sox manager John Farrell, who recently visited with both players in South Florida. “There were clear markers set out for them right at the end of the season, to what offseason goals were going to be and playing weight was one of them. Both guys looked to be at that target. Hanley right now is I think at 234 (pounds), which is quite a bit down where he finished season at. I think Panda probably dropped 20-22 pounds since last game he played for us. They’re doing what’s in their control to start spring training and put themselves in a position to have a solid year.”

Farrell went on to say that Sandoval “speaks very candidly on his desire to make amends. He’€™s eager to get back and prove to people that he’€™s worthy of his deal and looking forward to getting back on the field.”

Ramirez has returned to his Miami-area home after spending some time this offseason in the Dominican Republic. He has just recently started taking ground balls, with an eye on reporting a few weeks early to Fort Myers.

“Hanley is going to report to spring training with pitchers and catchers, so he’€™ll be on the field so he’€™ll get a full 45 days of work or 45 available days to work on the transition to first base,” Farrell said. “It’€™s probably going to be more the nuances of the position. Cutoffs and relays, some positioning that we ask the first baseman to do, that Butter [infield coach Brian Butterfield] asks to do in anchoring back to the bag. As far as the mechanics of fielding a groun dball, he’€™s been an infielder his whole career. It will require work and repetition but we’€™re confident he’€™ll be fine at the position.”

Blog Author: 
Rob Bradford
Former Red Sox television broadcaster Don Orsillo joined Rob Bradford to talk about how he found himself out of a job at NESN, what it was like once he discovered he wouldn't be back, and what led him to his current position broadcasting games for the San Diego Padres

Five months later, Don Orsillo still doesn’t know why he’s no longer broadcasting Red Sox games.

Don Orsillo still doesn't know why he's no longer broadcasting Red Sox games. (Photo by Rich Gagnon/Getty Images)

Don Orsillo still doesn’t know why he’s no longer broadcasting Red Sox games. (Rich Gagnon/Getty Images)

Five months later, Don Orsillo still doesn’t know why he’s no longer broadcasting Red Sox games.

Speaking to WEEI.com’s Rob Bradford on the Bradfo Show podcast Thursday, Orsillo opened up for the first time about his departure from Boston and his new job in San Diego, where he’ll eventually replace broadcasting legend Dick Enberg as voice of the Padres.

First order of business: why does he think the Red Sox and NESN made the change?

“I really don’t know, still,” Orsillo said. “I’ve read things in articles and things that have been said. I’ve heard terms like ‘upgrade’ and ‘re-energize’ and both really kind of upset me, because obviously we had a lot of energy and I felt like we were quite good. Over the last 15 years and over the last five years, especially, with the way that we did have so many fill-ins, NESN’s No. 1 product is Red Sox baseball, and I felt like it was done very well over that period. Unfortunately, they didn’t agree. And so that was a big surprise.”

Orsillo was particularly surprised when he first got wind of the news that he’d be replaced, which he learned in July, after the All-Star break, from an unlikely source — WEEI broadcaster Dave O’Brien, who ended up taking Orsillo’s place.

“I actually heard it from Dave O’Brien,” Orsillo said. “My replacement actually mentioned to me that I would not be returning next year. He had heard that, and I said, ‘I hadn’t heard that.’ That was the first that I had heard of it. I tried to make some phone calls after he had mentioned it to me that I may not be returning, and I didn’t have much success in the early going getting some of those phone calls returned. As it turned out, he was quite right.”

The news didn’t become public until August, when Gerry Callahan mentioned it on D&C with Minihane. Orsillo, however, had already received confirmation a week earlier that the season would be his last.

“I don’t know which was harder — the seven or eight days when I knew myself, or the next six weeks, when everyone knew,” he said. “Because, when I knew it myself, I was doing the games and it occurred to me while I was doing the games that I was not going to be returning, which was very hard. But then when you go to do a game and you know everyone knows you’re not returning, you kind of change your mindset as well.

“It broke on the morning show, as you mentioned, John [Dennis] and Gerry. As it turns out, we were in Chicago, there’s a time difference there. When I woke up, my phone had absolutely exploded, people saying they had heard it had gotten out.”

Orsillo came to view that disclosure as a blessing, because it put him on the market, and the Padres pounced. With Enberg planning to retire after this season, they knew they’d be in the market for a broadcaster in 2017, and Orsillo represented a marquee name.

“Actually in hindsight, it was kind of a good thing in some ways that it did break, because that then gave the Padres the opportunity to come get me,” Orsillo said. “They joined me in Baltimore on the next trip. They flew out their owner, Ron Fowler, along with their president and CEO, former Red Sox executive Mike Dee. They flew out there to visit with me and basically make an offer at that point.”

Orsillo admits sweating out the job market.

“When it happens, you have 29 other places that you can work. I am a one-trick pony, as it were,” he said with trademark self-deprecation. “You have a limited amount of choices, and very thankfully, the Padres were very aggressive and came to me in September and starting talking to me about becoming their voice. Dick Enberg was in the process of retiring, a legend out there, and they wanted me to come to Southern California with open arms and a six-year deal in tow. So I took the opportunity and the offer to go, and that’s why I am now the voice of the San Diego Padres.”

Continued Orsillo: “It was a very long six weeks, really mid-August when everything kind of broke, and getting through the end of the year, doing games on a nightly basis was very difficult, I mean having been here for 15 years, in what obviously was my dream job, that was very disappointing, and something that took me a long time to get over and to move on to a new location. I really thought, honestly, when it happened, that I’d be unemployed for maybe a year or better, just because these positions really don’t open that often. I mean, guys stay forever. Look at Joe Castig [WEEI’s Joe Castiglione], he’s been there forever. It’s like that in a lot of towns, so I was very fortunate, very thankful to the Padres for being as aggressive as they were.”

When news of Orsillo’s impending departure broke, the tributes poured in. Red Sox fans gave him an extended standing ovation after a video montage of his greatest calls aired on the scoreboard during the team’s final home game. After the season finale in Cleveland, which marked Orsillo’s final broadcast, Red Sox players and coaches saluted him from the field.

Both acts moved him.

“First of all, the last home game, which I mentioned with the fans, and the great video tribute that the Red Sox did do, followed by the fans’ reaction and then chanting my name in Fenway is something I’ll never forget,” Orsillo said. “I missed two batters afterwards. Jerry [Remy] picked it up, because I couldn’t speak, I was so emotional. And then in Cleveland, to have the entire team come out and salute me at the end was something I never expected. You don’t see that very often now in Major League Baseball. The guys that had been here were tremendous. Torey Lovullo and his staff and everybody else that was involved in that, it really got me.”

Orsillo also received a call that stood out.

“I had a lot of people reach out to me through major league baseball and former Red Sox players, and one that sticks out in particular was Dwight Evans,” he said. “He reached out to me afterwards and he said, ‘You know, you got something a lot of us did not get over the years.’ He’s talking about from a player’s standpoint. ‘You got a salute and a goodbye from the Fenway Faithful. You had a final chapter there. A lot of us never did.’ That meant a lot to me. This was my boyhood idol who was reaching out to tell me this and it occurred to me how special it really was, and I will never forget it.”

Orsillo has repeatedly referred to broadcasting the Red Sox as “my dream job,” and it clearly stings that it’s over, especially since he remains blindsided by the decision.

“Continuing to do the job on an every-night basis while that’s going on was probably the toughest,” he said. “Trying to concentrate on balls and strikes, the score and everything else on a nightly basis, doing the games was very, very hard. To me, that might’ve been toughest part of it. I think the realization that the job I loved so dearly and did for 15 years was coming to an end, and really trying to figure out why it happened. To this day, I really don’t know. So that part was really hard.”

Blog Author: 
John Tomase

Still waiting for those contract extensions for Xander Bogaerts and/or Mookie Betts? You’re going to keep waiting.

Xander Bogaerts, Mookie Betts and Eduard Rodriguez figure to represent the foundation of the Red Sox for years to come. (WEEI.com)

Xander Bogaerts, Mookie Betts and Eduard Rodriguez figure to represent the foundation of the Red Sox for years to come. (WEEI.com)

Still waiting for those contract extensions for Xander Bogaerts and/or Mookie Betts? You’re going to keep waiting.

Talking prior to the Boston Baseball Writers’ Dinner at the Copley Marriott, both Bogaerts and Betts confirmed that they haven’t opened discussions regarding contract extensions with the Red Sox. And, according to general manager Mike Hazen, the message is the same coming from the organization.

“I think we’€™re open to anything, but that hasn’€™t’€™ been something we’€™re focused on right now. We’€™re just getting through arbitration season,” Hazen said. “At some point I’€™m sure we’€™ll talk about it as a group, internally. But we haven’€™t done that yet. So I don’€™t have an answer on a strategy on how we view those types of things. Certainly we want to keep these guys around as long as we can, but we haven’€™t sat down and specifically discussed it.”

It is about that time in both players’ careers where the conversation regarding reworking their contracts should heat up.

Bogaerts is eligible for arbitration following the 2017 season, with the chance to hit free agency in ’20, with Betts a year behind. He is, of course, represented by agent Scott Boras.

“I don’€™t know of anything right now. But if anything pops up we’€™ll talk about it and see what we’€™re going to do,” Bogaerts said. “It all depends on what the person wants. Sometimes a team won’€™t approach them. It just has to come from both sides, I would imagine, for something like that to happen. Everyone knows I love it here. That’€™s all I can say.

“Anything can happen in between that time (when he becomes a free agent). We’€™ll see what happens. But I enjoy it here and hopefully we can win a few more championships.”

The 23-year-old Betts, who finds himself at the same career point Miami’s Christian Yelich did a year ago just before the outfielder inked a seven-year, $49.570 million deal, is exhibiting a similar approach to his slightly older (by a week) teammate.

Even last offseason, however, the Red Sox at least had internal discussions as to the idea of locking Betts up.

“Right now, I’€™m not even thinking about it. I can’€™t say I’€™m fully interested in it right now,” said Betts, who is represented by Stephen Veltman of Relativity Baseball. “I’€™m just going to keep playing, go year by year and keep trying to win World Series, keep my focus there. As things pop up I’€™ll let my guys take care that type of stuff.

“There’s nothing right now. If they have something I’€™ll go to my agents and talk about it then. But for right now, I’€™m just going to focus on playing.”

Even within the Red Sox’ recent history, there are plenty examples of the team buying out arbitration and free agent years with long-term extensions.

Dustin Pedroia signed a six-year, $40.5 million extension after just two years of service time, while Jon Lester‘s five-year, $30 million deal also came after just two seasons in the big leagues.

When asked about his experiences with new Red Sox president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski in such matters, Boras said, “Dave is rather patient about that. Dave has always worked for organizations that can sign their players, at any time, whether it be in the fourth year, fifth year, sixth year and free agency. He’€™€™s always done that. Because of that I don’€™€™t think there’€™€™s any sense of urgency on his part to do things as he goes forward. Obviously if he thinks it’€™€™s time to do something, he will. But he’€™€™s the kind of guy if he values players, he usually retains them, truthfully.”

Now would seem to be the time when such evaluations will surely be made, both by the Red Sox and a couple of their core players.

“I have a little bit of time in the big leagues, so you kind of know what’€™s the deal or what’€™s up,” Bogaerts said. “One thing you can’€™t do is come to the park and think about that. All you have to do is try and do your best, and the rest will take care of itself.

“Everyone knows I love the Red Sox. This is all I know as of now. I signed with them. I’€™ve been with them my whole career so far. Everyone knows I love it here.
It’€™s always a possibility to talk about it. But that would have to go through my agent. If anything pops up we’€™ll see how that goes.”

“It’€™s still pretty weird.,” said Betts concerning even talking about an extension. “I feel I haven’€™t established myself to get that point. It’€™s still a work in progress.”

Blog Author: 
Rob Bradford

The Red Sox gave Derek Jeter a Hall of Fame sendoff in 2014, and

The Red Sox gave Derek Jeter a Hall of Fame sendoff in 2014, and the Yankees plan to return the favor for David Ortiz in September.

Speaking to reporters in Florida, Yankees owner Hal Steinbrenner said the club will do something to honor Ortiz during the Red Sox’ last visit to New York, from Sept. 27-29. Ortiz has already announced that the 2016 season will be his last.

Per the New York Post:

“I am sure we’re going to do something,’€ Steinbrenner said. “We have not formally, minute by minute, figured out exactly what we’re going to do yet. He’s a great player, great part of that franchise. Everything you like to see in a player.”

Elsewhere in the story, Steinbrenner also said the Yankees are treating new closer Aroldis Chapman as “completely innocent until proven otherwise,” in relation to MLB’s investigation into an October domestic dispute that could lead to a suspension.

“I think we should keep that in mind right now,” Steinbrenner said. “A lot of thought was put into it, but the benefits for the organization as a player, if you just look at the baseball side of it, tremendous upside, needless to say.”

Blog Author: 
John Tomase