LOS ANGELES — David Ortiz said Friday his comments regarding Ryan Dempster hitting Alex Rodriguez with a pitch last Sunday were not meant as criticism of his teammate.
Ortiz said his disapproval was more about the timing of the incident and that it led to the Yankees coming back to beat the Red Sox.
“I didn’t like it. I don’t think it was the right thing to do,’’ Ortiz told USA Today on Wednesday. “But we don’t all think alike.”
When his comments became national news, Ortiz was surprised.
“I don’t know why they’re making a big deal out of it. I guess they don’t have anything else to talk about,” he said before the Red Sox played the Dodgers.
According to manager John Farrell, Ortiz and Dempster spoke after Sunday’s game about the now-infamous fastball that hit Rodriguez in the elbow.
“I don’t think the comments David mentioned will have any lingering effect on our clubhouse,” Farrell said.
“I do know this, that Ryan and David spoke Sunday night and more than anything, David’s comments were coming from the standpoint of not trying to give added incentive to the opponent regardless of who the opponent is at the time and just maintain our approach of going out trying to win a ballgame on a given day.”
Dempster was suspended for five games because of the incident. On Friday, Dempster reported to Dodger Stadium early in the day for a workout and had left before reporters were allowed in the clubhouse.
Ortiz, in a discourse that was at times angry, denied having any issue with Dempster.
“All I said was that I don’t think hitting A-Rod was right at the time and that was because it kind of woke them up and we ended up losing the game,” Ortiz said. “Did I lie about that? I think that is what everybody saw.
“I didn’t say I was mad at my teammate for hitting A-Rod. No, no, no. I said it because I think you’ve got to make sure to win every game possible. You’ve got Tampa breathing on our necks and they already won earlier in that day. That’s all I mean. I didn’t mean anything else.”
Ortiz said he and Dempster have nothing to discuss and the issue was settled at the time.
“We already talked. He understands. He knows it’s nothing against him or anyone else. I respect my team; I respect everybody. When I talked about this subject, I said very clear why I didn’t like A-Rod getting hit at the time.
“If people want to make a big deal about it, I don’t [care]. That’s me. I say what I feel and I tried to say it right. I’m here to win games, I’m not here to be mad at nobody.”
The Red Sox have seven games remaining with the Yankees, the next on Sept. 5 in New York. Is Ortiz worried about retaliation?
“That’s up to them. I’ve got no control over that. At least they have a reason,” he said.
Eckersley stays on
NESN announced that Dennis Eckersley will remain in the broadcast booth for the Red Sox’ three-game series against the Baltimore Orioles that starts Tuesday at Fenway Park.
Eckersley has been filling in for Jerry Remy since Aug. 16. Remy’s son, Jared W. Remy, has been charged with murdering his girlfriend, Jennifer Martel.
NESN spokesman Gary Roy said he had no information about whether Remy will return to the booth this season.
Buchholz on move
Righthander Clay Buchholz threw in the bullpen before the game and will travel back to the East Coast on Saturday. Buchholz is scheduled to throw 45-50 pitches for Single A Lowell on Sunday at Wappingers Falls, N.Y. He has been on the disabled list since June 9 with a shoulder injury . . . Lefthander Matt Thornton, on the DL with an oblique strain, faced teammates in a simulated game and threw the ball well. The team will decide on Saturday whether to activate Thornton on Sunday or send him on a rehabilitation assignment. The Sox are already carrying three lefthanders in the bullpen, so activating Thornton would require an adjustment. Rookie Drake Britton is the only one of the group with minor league options remaining . . . Dempster, who isn’t scheduled to start until next Friday, had been scheduled to throw in that simulated game. But those plans were scrapped and he will throw in the bullpen on Saturday.
Xander Bogaerts has been in the starting lineup once in the four games since he was called up from Triple A Pawtucket. With Stephen Drew and Will Middlebrooks swinging the bat well, Bogaerts is a bench player for now.
It’s unusual for a highly touted prospect to be promoted and not play. Farrell acknowledged the situation is tricky.
“It is. Stephen has been on a good run for quite a while here and Xander understands the situation,” he said. “We’re all well aware of Xander’s presence here. But at the same time we can’t look past what the production is on the left side of the infield and right now it’s been pretty darn good.”
A return to first
Ortiz, who came out of Wednesday’s game in the fifth inning because of a sore lower back, was back in the lineup and playing first base. He said he felt fine and would be able to play first base in as many games as needed. Farrell said Ortiz would be evaluated daily . . . Mike Napoli (left foot plantar fasciitis) is ready to play and be “unrestricted,” according to Farrell. But Napoli, who has been slumping for weeks, has not started since Aug. 16.
Encore for Scully
The great broadcaster Vin Scully will return in 2014 for his 65th season with the Dodgers. Scully, 85, said he has been invigorated by the bounce-back season of the Dodgers. “I really still enjoy it immensely. My health is good, thank God. So why not,” he said . . . Former Red Sox center fielder Reggie Smith threw out the first pitch.Peter Abraham can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @PeteAbe.