Friday, February 23, 2018
Sports

Boston's Ortiz ready to kick off farewell tour

CLEVELAND — Big Papi's about to take one more trip around.

David Ortiz has always had a knack for drama. And as he prepares for his 20th season, he feels it's time to take his last cuts.

"I'm ready to pass the torch," he said.

Today, he begins his long goodbye.

A New England sports icon, Ortiz, the man with the massive swing, smile and larger-than-life personality, will play the first game of his final season as the Red Sox visit the Indians. Boston's DH announced his retirement in November on his 40th birthday, and he'll spend 2016 on a farewell tour, taking a bow for a career filled with memories.

"Nothing is forever," he said. "It's just time to do different things."

While Ortiz's sendoff in Cleveland doesn't have a major sentimental tie, there is a significant connection.

Ortiz helped Boston end its 86-year World Series drought while playing under Indians manager Terry Francona, the Red Sox skipper from 2004-11.

Francona considers Ortiz the consummate player and teammate — on the field and in the clubhouse.

"I went through the gamut with David," Francona said. "From watching him win games in the World Series to when he was on his back to struggling and having to pinch hit for him. We kinda came full circle. Regardless, the thing I'm probably most appreciative of when we had problems and had to fight through them — we did. He's a really proud guy. He's somebody I care about a lot and I'm glad he's going out on his own terms."

KIM MAKES O'S: South Korean OF Hyun Soo Kim made the Orioles' 25-man opening day roster after resisting the team's effort to send him to the minor leagues. Kim, 28, struggled during spring training, and Orioles executive vice president Dan Duquette hoped to option him to Triple A for more seasoning. But Kim's $7 million, two-year contract included a provision that prevented the club from sending him to the minors without his consent.

PIRATES SIGN POLANCO: Pittsburgh extended LF Gregory Polanco, 25, for the next five seasons with two option years. The deal is expected to be worth about $30 million range and will be announced next week. Also, LHP Cory Luebke made the 25-man roster in his comeback from multiple arm surgeries. Luebke, 31, last pitched in the majors in 2012. Two former Rays, OF Matt Joyce and INF Cole Figueroa, also made it through the final round of cuts.

SALARIES: Baseball's average salary rose 4.4 percent to $4.38 million on opening day, according to a study of contract terms by the Associated Press, and the Dodgers topped spending for the third straight season.

DODGERS: The team opened the season with 10 players on the disabled list, likely a record, after C Yasmani Grandal and INF Howie Kendrick got hurt. Grandal (right forearm soreness) and Kendrick (strained left calf) went on the 15-day DL retroactive to March 25.

RANGERS: 3B Adrian Beltre has been waiting to hear back from the team on a proposed contract extension submitted by his agent Scott Boras two weeks ago. "We never heard back," Beltre said. "I'm not negotiating. I told them that. It's not fair for my teammates."

WHITE SOX: RHP Miguel Gonzalez agreed to a minor-league contract after being released by the Orioles.

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