Martinez returns to Red Sox as assistant to GM

Martinez returns to Red Sox as assistant to GM

BOSTON (AP) Former Boston manager Terry Francona gave Pedro Martinez a big hug along with some advice to help him in his new job as a special assistant to the Red Sox general manager.

``Now he's going to have to be on time,'' Francona needled his former pitcher on Thursday when the two were reunited at the annual dinner of the Boston chapter of the Baseball Writers Association of America.

A three-time Cy Young Award winner and eight-time All-Star who spent seven seasons in Boston, Martinez returned to the city where he had his best years. His role is still undefined - he has the same title as former Red Sox catcher Jason Varitek - but Martinez said he would be willing to help with the pitchers, work in the minor leagues and generally be a friend to GM Ben Cherington.

``Varitek, Pedro - they are the Red Sox,'' said Francona, the current Cleveland Indians manager who received the prestigious Judge Emil Fuchs Award, named after the former Boston Braves owner, for long and meritorious service to baseball.

Other award winners included:

-Miguel Cabrera, the Ted Williams Award as baseball's best hitter.

-Buck Showalter of the Baltimore Orioles, major league manager of the year.

-Mike Rizzo of the Washington Nationals, major league executive of the year.

-R.A. Dickey, the Tony Conigliaro Award for fighting through adversity.

-Dustin Pedroia, the Thomas A. Yawkey Award for Red Sox most valuable player.

-Clay Buchholz, the Red Sox pitcher of the year.

-Will Middlebrooks, Red Sox rookie of the year.

-Cody Ross, the Tommy McCarthy Good Guy Award.

-Mike Aviles, the Jackie Jensen Award for spirit and desire.

Martinez spent his first day back on the Boston masthead at a lunch with Cherington, new Red Sox manager John Farrell, CEO Larry Lucchino and Boston Mayor Tom Menino and some civic leaders. Martinez said Menino had been welcoming to him when he first arrived in Boston in 1998 and once again was forthcoming with advice about where to live and what to do in the city.

``Menino was a friend to me,'' Martinez said.

Martinez was acquired from the salary-dumping Montreal Expos after the 1997 season, a few months before he would be awarded his first Cy Young. He instantly became the ace of the Red Sox staff, the biggest character in a colorful clubhouse and a key part of the team that won the 2004 World Series to end the franchise's 86-year title drought.

Martinez said his experience with the team during that era can help players who are trying to recover from last season's last-place finish.

``There was something missing, in the clubhouse, the players, around Fenway. This offseason, they realized that they lost something,'' Martinez said, noting that the addition of Farrell as manager and players such as Shane Victorino and Mike Napoli. ``We have the right group of people. These guys coming in have great, great character.''

Martinez, who's now 41, went 117-37 with a 2.52 ERA in Boston. His .760 winning percentage is the best in franchise history, and he ranks third with 1,683 in strikeouts and sixth with 117 wins in a Red Sox uniform. He is also the franchise's all-time leader with 80 postseason strikeouts; in the 1999 All-Star game at Fenway Park, he struck out the first four batters he faced.

In an 18-year major league career with the Dodgers, Expos, Red Sox, Mets and Phillies, Martinez went 219-100 with a 2.93 ERA and 3,154 strikeouts. He has a career .687 winning percentage, and he led the majors in ERA five times, including 1997 when he had a 1.90 ERA with Montreal.

``I am thrilled to be returning to this organization and to the city I love,'' Martinez said. ``It is an honor to be back with the Red Sox and help in any way I can. I am grateful to our leaders; I believe in them, and I thank them for allowing me to return to the field and help us win again.

``My heart will always live in Boston.''

Also Thursday, the Red Sox signed left-hander Craig Breslow to a two-year contract with a club option for 2015. Breslow had been eligible for salary arbitration. Breslow went 3-0 with a 2.70 ERA in 63 appearances for the Diamondbacks and Red Sox. Twenty of the 23 appearances the Yale graduate made in Boston were scoreless.

Hardy leaves early, Jimenez doesn't get out of fifth in 7-1 loss

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Hardy leaves early, Jimenez doesn't get out of fifth in 7-1 loss

BALTIMORE— In the past two days, the Orioles may have suffered disabling injuries to two key players. On Saturday, Zach Britton left the game with a sprained left ankle, and Sunday, J.J. Hardy was forced out when he fouled a ball on his left foot, bruising it. 

Britton was optimistic that he would be able to avoid the disabled list, but Hardy who left the ballpark during game, could be a different story. 

Both are scheduled for MRIs on Monday. 

The injuries worsened a depressing day for the Orioles, who left 12 men on base in a 7-1 loss to the Chicago White Sox before 28,803 at Oriole Park. 

Ubaldo Jimenez allowed six runs, five of them in the fifth inning as the Orioles fell behind 6-0. Jimenez walked four, hit two batters and threw a wild pitch, but after the game, it was Hardy everyone wanted to talk about. 

“It’s going to be hard. It’s going to be hard, because he’s one of those guys that’s going to do everything possible in his hands to get an out. He never gives up. It doesn’t matter where the ball is, he’s going to go after it and try to get you out of the inning. It’s hard, but we have a team. That’s what a team is for. You have to find a way for one for the guys to step up and keep doing what he was doing and hopefully he’s not out for a long time,” Jimenez said. 

Hardy was injured during a fourth inning at-bat when he drew a walk. In the top of the fourth, he amazed his teammates by catching a ball that had ricocheted off Manny Machado’s glove at third base and firing it to first to catch Todd Frazier. 

“That’s unbelievable. Just to be here to watch that play. I don’t know if there will be a better play made the whole year,” manager Buck Showalter said. 

Showalter much preferred talking about the play than the possibility his team would have to do without Hardy, who played the first 22 games at shortstop without an error. 

“I’ve got an idea. Right now it’s a contusion. He fouled a ball off his foot and it got real stiff and sore quickly. And so he’s going to get some more detail. I think it’s a scan tomorrow to see the extent of it,” Showalter said. 

The Orioles hope to know Monday afternoon what Hardy’s prognosis will be. If Hardy goes to the DL, it’s likely Ryan Flaherty, who was sent to Norfolk last Monday because the team temporarily wanted to keep 13 pitchers, will return.

Currently, the Orioles have Yovani Gallardo and Jimmy Paredes on the disabled list. They don’t want that number to double.

“We knew it wasn't a matter of if, it was when. You hope it's if. Some teams get real lucky in a year. But it's nothing we can't overcome, and nothing guys won't be back from at some point,” Showalter said. 

Adam Jones, who missed time last month with a rib cage injury, thinks the Orioles won’t be terribly hurt. 

“Everybody’s going through the same thing. It’s unfortunate, but everybody has to go through it and it’s a true test of what a team is all about,” Jones said. 

“It’s part of the game. It’s part of the grind. Things happen.”

In the fourth, The White Sox (18-8) took a 1-0 lead on Brett Lawrie’s fourth home run, three of them hit in the past three games.

Jimenez (1-3) pitched out of trouble in the second inning when he loaded the bases on a single and two walks with none out. He struck out Dioner Navarro and got Austin Jackson to hit into a double play. 

In the fifth, Chicago took a 6-0 lead on five hits, a walk and two hit batsmen. Jerry Sands’ two-run single was the biggest hit and Jimenez’s final batter. 

Chris Sale (6-0) continued his dominance, but for the first time he didn’t make it through seven innings. He didn’t even get through six. 

Sale allowed five hits and walked four in 5 1/3, but only one runner scored.

Chris Davis singled to lead off the sixth, and after Pedro Alvarez bounced out, Jake Petricka gave up a single to Nolan Reimold to score Davis. 

Alvarez came into the game to play third base when Hardy left after five innings. Machado moved to shortstop. 

Monday is a day off, and the New York Yankees arrive Tuesday for a three-game series. The Orioles (14-10) had a good first four weeks of the season.

“It’s been cold a lot of places. We’ve had a lot of fun. I just think when it heats up, we’re going to have a lot more fun,” Jones said.

MORE ORIOLES: BRACH SEEMS ALWAYS TO BE IN RIGHT PLACE FOR THE WIN

Hyun Soo Kim's improved play is winning over Buck Showalter

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Hyun Soo Kim's improved play is winning over Buck Showalter

BALTIMORE— A month ago, the Orioles were angry with Hyun Soo Kim because he didn’t want to go to the minor leagues. Now, he’s batting .600. 

Kim had three more hits in Saturday night’s game. He’s 9-for-15 in four starts, and he’s 2-for-2 in pinch hitting appearances. 

Manager Buck Showalter likes to say about players who campaign for more playing time: “You want to play more? Play better.” 

Showalter says it’s true in Kim’s case.

“That’s why I’ve played him,” Showalter said. “That’s how it works. Whose place should he take?” 

Both Kim and Pedro Alvarez, who has three multi-hit games this week, have hit recently, creating a happy dilemma for Showalter. 

“I like that challenge,” Showalter said. “I haven’t quite figured out how it works mathematically. It’s kind of hard.” 

The left-handed Kim has had all his at-bats against right-handers.

“You get an idea about guys, kind of who they might match up against well initially,” Showalter said. “You don’t know. I still don’t for sure. I know he’s had some good at-bats off certain guys. We’ll see if he can go to the next level against some other guys.” 

Showalter feels that Kim has made the most out of not playing most of the first month. He’s had quite an adjustment to U.S. baseball from South Korea. 

“I think Kim’s benefitted a little bit by being able to step back and watch something unfold that he didn’t know what was going to happen, the stadiums, the fields, the pitchers, all the things we do differently here,” Showalter said. 

 

Buck Showalter refuses to designate closer in Zach Britton's absence

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Buck Showalter refuses to designate closer in Zach Britton's absence

BALTIMORE -- Buck Showalter won’t designate a closer to fill in while Zach Britton recuperates from a sprained left ankle. 

“I’ll never tell till we get there,” Showalter said. “We have some options.” 

Darren O’Day filled in for Britton last September when he had a lat injury. In 2015, O’Day had six saves, and Brad Brach had one. 

O’Day threw 21 pitches in allowing three runs in the eighth inning on Saturday night, the second straight game he appeared in, so he might not be available.

“We’ve got certain guys, and I’m not going to broadcast it before the game…that aren’t available. I’m not going to pitch them today,” Showalter said. 

Brad Brach, who picked up his first major league save and didn’t pitch Saturday, would likely be the next choice.

Mychal Givens, who saved 15 games for Bowie last year, could be another option. Showalter refused to rule out Dylan Bundy.

“I’d think about anybody that gives us the best chance to win a game. All eight guys down there [are] in play. Not one more than another,” Showalter said. 

“They’re all relevant. There’s just a certain finality about that inning.”