ANAHEIM -- Torii Hunter said he predicted it … sort of.
The Angels outfielder -- and best friend of David Ortiz -- insisted after watching the Red Sox designated hitter win the Home Run Derby Monday night that he had told Ortiz back in April the then-struggling slugger would at least be in the All-Star Game.
And then Hunter went out to explain how, because of the park's dimensions and friendliness toward lefty hitters in the evening hours, he was tabbing Ortiz as his "pick to click" in the Derby prior to the event. After Ortiz went out and beat Hanley Ramirez in the finals -- becoming the first Red Sox Home Run Derby champion -- Hunter was looking pretty good.
"I'm Nostradamus," said Hunter, beaming with excitement after witnessing the performance by Ortiz.
But when it came to identifying that Ortiz -- the same hitter who trudged into April with talk of potentially getting released -- would be sitting on the podium, crowned the game's most potent home run hitter of them all, even Hunter wasn't about go down that road.
The reality of the situation was that the Angels' outfielder, and virtually everybody else who has rode the Ortiz wave this season, suddenly found themselves with was a story nobody could have predicted.
"Throughout the night I told him he was doing a great job but he needed to step it up a little bit. He couldn't get tired. Go eat a pizza or something. He needed to stay strong. Through the whole process we gave him Gatorade, we gave him hamburgers, we gave him pizza. Whatever it took to keep his strength up and it did," Hunter said.
"To see him get his swing back is great. You look at the Home Run Derby today, he hit the ball for power, he hit the ball far, and that was his home run swing. In April he was struggling. David Ortiz has a lot of character and just to see David down like that, when you talked to him it wasn't the same guy. I just called him, told him what I saw, he looked at it, and came back swinging the bat and now he's one of the hottest hitters in baseball."
There was perhaps no better -- and formerly unfathomable -- punctuation to Ortiz' last 2 1/2 months than the Home Run Derby. It was one thing to notch the third-best slugging percentage in baseball since May 1, during which time the DH totaled 17 homers. And another to actually make the All-Star team after finishing the season's first month hitting .143 with a single home run.
But winning the Home Run Derby?
There was a time when Yankees' bench coach Tony Pena, who was serving as Ortiz' pitcher, could have grooved the ball into the lower-inside portion of the strike zone, just like the slugger preferred, and the ball would never find the stands. Not now.
It might have been nothing more than an exhibition, but it also was Ortiz' ultimate message-sender: The doubts are gone.
"Pun is back," said Red Sox second baseman Dustin Pedroia, referring to Ortiz by then nickname derived from a deceased rapper. "He's Pun. He put on a Laser Show. It's nothing we haven't all seen. It's exciting. I remember a few months back when everybody was all over him and thinking he was done. Pun is Pun. Like the original Big Pun said, 'Big Pun forever!'"
- Clay Buchholz talked to Red Sox pitching coach John Farrell earlier in the day Monday and was told he is on target to pitch Friday. It is just unknown at this time where that appearance will be, with a rehab start with Triple A a possibility.
Buchholz also told WEEI.com's Alex Speier that his representatives (SFX) have not had conversations with the Red Sox regarding a potential contract extension. Buchholz doesn't become arbitration eligible until after the 2011 season.
"I think time will take care of all that stuff," said Buchholz. "I’m going to focus on playing, helping the team win, getting healthy and going from there."
The Red Sox pitcher also admitted that the thoughts of potentially getting an All-Star start had entered his mind a few weeks ago, thanks to the mention of the possibility by his wife. Evidently, judging by Giardi's reaction when asked about Jon Lester's candidacy Buchholz had a real chance.
"It was close," Giardi said of Lester vs. the eventual American League starter, David Price. "And if Buchholz was healthy that would have been close too."
- Jon Lester, who broke out a video camera he hadn't used since the 2007 World Series, predictably said he wasn't worried about getting the start ("As long as I get a chance to pitch," he said). He did offer something of interest: He would like to sign with the Red Sox after his current contract expires.
"You can’t pass up that first one. It’s guaranteed. Stuff can always happen. People can look at it as a bad contract, but I don’t really care what people think about it. Me and my family are secure and we’re happy. That’s all I care about," Lester told WEEI.com.
"The next one, hopefully, I stay in Boston. I would love to stay here for a long time. You don’t see people do that anymore. I’d love to stay here. Hopefully I’ll stay here, and hopefully we’ll be able to do it. That’s a couple years away, but it’s something I’ve always thought about, and hopefully it’s something we can get done at some point."
- Speaking during the American League All-Stars media session, agetn Scott Boras said that both he and the Red Sox were on the same page when it came to Jacoby Ellsbury’s rehabilitation process in the outfielder’s return from broken ribs.
“I don’t think Jacoby had comments. I think Jacoby described exactly what occurred,” said Boras, referencing Ellsbury’s description of the timeline, from when he was first injured until his return to the team. “There’s a lot of people, certain journalists, who just don’t have the right facts. The cooperation has been great with the organization. I spoke with Terry [Francona] four or five times and Theo [Epstein] many times. We’ve been on the same page throughout. These are decisions of Jacoby’s medical care and his physical therapy. All these things were made mutually. It’s been a very cooperative environment. Good communication with everybody and we knew what was going on and why and it was all by agreement.
“I think Jacoby described the set of circumstances he was operating under and the information he was operating under. I think that accurately portrays what occurred and the key thing is that I’m just tell you, responsibility between Theo and myself and Jacoby, Terry, it’s all been very fluid. It’s all been very understood. There’s been no question about what he should or shouldn’t do. The team in fact chose where Jacoby would train in Arizona. That was not anything we suggested. That was a group they’re comfortable with and Jacoby was comfortable with. It was a very cooperative effort.”
- Boras was also at the forefront of getting the situation involving Adrian Beltre squared away.
Despite an announcement from American League All-Star manager Joe Girardi that Beltre would not play in Tuesday night’s All-Star Game, the Red Sox third baseman said he is indeed planning to appear. “For now I’m going to play,” said Beltre, who has an MRI scheduled for Thursday on his sore hamstring.
Beltre would put his hamstring through some light jogging drills, along with batting practice, Monday afternoon at the American League team's workout. After which he proclaimed himself fine, and said, "It's now up to Joe."
Girardi had told the media Monday morning in Anaheim that Texas’ Michael Young would replace Beltre on the roster. Young is currently not on the American League roster, although he would be Beltre isn’t ready to go. Young lives in the Los Angeles area.
“I don’t know about the communication, I just know that obviously this is Adrian’s decision and right now he feels he’s going to play,” said Boras. “If he gets out there and there is something complicating it any further he would let them know. Obviously he’s going to manage this conservatively, but as he feels today he feels he can play.”
- Pedroia said he will be getting a CT scan Friday to determine how well the broken bone in his left foot is healing. If it is determined that the bone is healing properly than Pedroia will be able to shed his protective boot and be cleared to walk and participate in other weight-bearing activities.
"The biggest thing is if the bone are healing back together than I can do a lot more stuff and that will prevent it from breaking off," Pedroia said. "That's the biggest fear for me, if the bone is going to break off I'm out for year and that's a problem. But if it's not going to break off and it's going to be painful than we go play.
"That's what we're looking for. I don't know what they're looking for. I'm trying to get back in there. Guys that are hurt, we care so much it's not fun watching this, watching every game knowing some way we want to help. As long as the bone is not going to break off they're not going to tell me anything. That's the only fear we have. If it gets displaced than they have to put a pin in it and I'm out for the year. If there's no chance of that happening the Laser Show is back on."
Pedroia said there was a possibility that he could be back participating in baseball activities by the time the Red Sox begin their 10-game road trip, which starts on July 19.
"I hope," he said. "I've got a lot of goals. I set them when I broke my foot. I really do hope so. I can't say for sure if I am. Friday, if I get out of this boot and off crutches and I can walk good, yeah, I'll be playing on the trip if I can run and do all the things. As long as our training staff and our medical staff gives me the OK I'm getting after it."