David Ortiz rips Mike Fiers, defends Rob Manfred

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David Ortiz appeared at Boston Red Sox camp today and spoke to the media. Usually when a beloved retired player does that it’s all sunshine and rainbows. An effort for some easy goodwill and some soft press coverage.

Ortiz, however, was not briefed on that, because he said some things that are likely going to get people talking:

Three things to note here.

First, as the Red Sox’ greatest living ambassador, any comments he makes diminishing the present conference should probably be taken with copious amounts of salt given that the Red Sox are tied up in all of this too. Indeed, they have yet to have the report of their misdeeds released. One can and should read any comments from a Red Sox-associated person who seeks to cast this as smaller potatoes than it is — something we should “chillax” about — as an exercise in damage control. Here, preemptive damage control.

Second, it’s probably worth noting that, while Ortiz has been dogged for years about PED rumors, Manfred came to his aid when he retired, making an unusually specific defense of Ortiz’s record on that score. That defense will, I am 100% certain, will be cited by Hall of Fame voters in a few years, giving them a justification to vote for Ortiz despite the fact that they have used the same sketchy PED evidence Manfred dismissed in Ortiz’s case to not vote for others. Is this a case of you wash my back, I wash yours? Is it a case of Ortiz working the ref — in this case, killing the ref with kindness — before he releases the Red Sox report? I don’t know, dear readers, but it could certainly be construed that way.

Finally, as for the Fiers stuff, it’s probably worth noting that the man Ortiz is mad about snitching — Fiers — was lauded in a press conference the other day by the man he’s defending, Manfred. It’s also worth noting, as we noted when Jessica Mendoza went after him, that Fiers is a whistleblower and that whistleblowers are ultimately a collective good. Fiers didn’t drop the dime anonymously, lending credibility to his claims at potentially great personal expense. We’re better off for having learned what Fiers shared with The Athletic about the Astros.

Anyway, glad to see you up and around and healthy, Big Papi.That’s something.

 

 

 

Cards’ Pujols hits 700th career home run, 4th to reach mark

Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports
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LOS ANGELES – St. Louis Cardinals slugger Albert Pujols hit his 700th career home run on Friday night, connecting for his second drive of the game against the Los Angeles Dodgers and becoming the fourth player to reach the milestone in major league history.

The 42-year-old Pujols hit No. 699 in the third inning, then launched No. 700 in the fourth at Dodger Stadium.

With the drive in the final days of his last big league season, Pujols joined Barry Bonds (762 homers), Hank Aaron (755) and Babe Ruth (714) in one of baseball’s most exclusive clubs.

It’s been a remarkable run for Pujols. This was his 14th home run since the start of August for the NL Central-leading Cardinals, and his 21st of the season.

Pujols’ historic homer was a three-run shot against Dodgers reliever Phil Bickford. The ball landed in the first few rows of the left-field pavilion, the same location his two-run shot touched down the previous inning off left-hander Andrew Heaney.

Pujols received a prolonged standing ovation from the crowd – he finished out last season while playing for the Dodgers. He took a curtain call, raising his cap in acknowledgment.

The fans chanted “Pujols! Pujols!” They finally sat down after being on their feet in anticipation of seeing history.

Pujols snapped a tie with Alex Rodriguez for fourth on the list when he hit career homer No. 697 against Pittsburgh on Sept. 11.

Reaching 700 homers seemed like a long shot for Pujols when he was batting .189 on July 4. But the three-time NL MVP started to find his stroke in August, swatting seven homers in one 10-game stretch that helped St. Louis pull away in the division race.

“I know that early in the year … I obviously wanted better results,” Pujols said after he homered in a 1-0 victory over the Chicago Cubs on Aug. 22. “But I felt like I was hitting the ball hard. Sometimes this game is going to take more away from you than the game (is) giving you back.

“So I think at the end of the day you have to be positive and just stay focused and trust your work. That’s something that I’ve done all the time.”

Pujols has enjoyed a resurgent season after returning to St. Louis in March for a $2.5 million, one-year contract. It’s his highest total since he hit 23 homers for the Angels in 2019.

He plans to retire when the season ends.

Pujols also began his career in St. Louis. He was selected by the Cardinals in the 13th round of the 1999 amateur draft and won the 2001 NL Rookie of the Year award.

The Dominican Republic native hit at least .300 with at least 30 homers and 100 RBIs in each of his first 10 seasons. He helped the Cardinals to World Series titles in 2006 and 2011.

He set a career high with 49 homers in 2006 – one of seven seasons with at least 40 homers. He led the majors with 47 homers in 2009 and topped the NL with 42 in 2010.

Pujols left St. Louis in free agency in December 2011, signing a $240 million, 10-year contract with the Angels. He was waived by the Angels in May 2021, and then joined the Dodgers and hit 12 homers and drove in 38 runs in 85 games.