Red Sox, David Ortiz agree to $26 million deal

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CSN Boston’s Sean McAdam reports that the Red Sox and David Ortiz have come to terms on a two-year deal worth a guaranteed $26 million.

Incentives included in the contract could make it worth $30 million.

WEEI’s Rob Bradford first reported that a deal was close. Speculation had long centered on the two sides doing a two-year deal with an annual salary similar to the $14.575 million that Ortiz made last season. That $14.575 million salary, which arose after Ortiz accepted arbitration as a free agent last winter, was the highest of Ortiz’s career.

Ortiz turns 37 this month, but he hardly seemed deserving of a paycut after hitting .318/.415/.611 in 324 at-bats last season. He had 23 homers and 60 RBI before missing all but one game in the final 2 1/2 months because of an Achilles’ tendon injury.

The Rangers had also expressed some interest in Ortiz, FOXSports.com’s Ken Rosenthal reported, but Ortiz made it clear his heart was in Boston. He’s spent 10 seasons with the team and hit 343 of his 401 career homers in a Red Sox uniform.

Matt Shepard to be the Tigers new full-time play-by-play guy

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Fox Sports Detroit has named Matt Shepard their new full-time play-by-play guy for Tigers games. Shepard will work with analysts Jack Morris and Kirk Gibson, who will split time.

This is the move in response to former longtime announcers Mario Impemba and Rod Allen getting suspended and later fired following an in-booth altercation in Chicago last September. The two of them, who weren’t exactly friends, reportedly fought over a chair, with conflicting reports of how serious the fight was. An anonymous witness said Allen put Impemba in a choke hold. Allen recently gave an interview in which he denied that and said it was only some pushing and shoving. Either way, it ended their 16-year team-up for Tigers games.

Shepard has worked for Fox Sports Detroit for nearly 20 years, doing fill-in play-by-play for the Tigers — he replaced Impemba for the last few weeks of last season — and for Detroit Pistons games. Gibson has been a part time analyst for the network for the past couple of seasons, splitting time with Allen. Morris has done Tigers, Blue Jays and Twins games over the years, sometimes even splitting time between the Twins and Tigers, which is rather unusual.

Shepard is pretty good at his job. While Tigers fans liked and were familiar with Impemba, there won’t be a falloff in quality. Gibson makes some good analytical points and has a surprisingly sharp and biting sense of humor about him, but his gruff and monotone delivery is not everyone’s cup of tea. You get used to it. Morris is not my cup of tea — he tends to do a lot of the “back in my day” stuff former players often do — but I’m pretty sure he could recite the dictionary on TV in Detroit and a lot of Tigers fans would tune in. Such is life.