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David Ortiz was at Fenway Park Tuesday, getting a workout in, when he ran into new manager John Farrell.
There is every expectation that Ortiz, who can become a free agent after the World Series, will remain with the Red Sox and be Farrell’s designated hitter.
Unlike last season, when negotiations were often acrimonious before Ortiz accepted arbitration and eventually a one-year, $14.575 million deal, the Red Sox are making progress.
“We want to have David back,” said general manager Ben Cherington. “We’ve had good, amicable dialogue since the end of the season. I talked to [agent Fernando Cuza] yesterday and we’ll continue talking. Our hope is to get something done. I’m sure we’ll talk again this week sometime.”
There are indications that a new deal could come before end of the World Series.
Ortiz is seeking a two-year deal. He turns 37 next month, but is coming off a season in which he hit .318 with a 1.026 OPS over 90 games. Ortiz hit 23 home runs and drove in 60 runs.
Ortiz strained his right Achilles’ tendon July 16 and played only one other game, on Aug. 24, before the season ended.
In an interview with Bob Costas of NBC Sports that aired Tuesday night, former manager Bobby Valentine suggested that Ortiz could have played.
“David Ortiz came back after spending about six weeks on the disabled list and we thought it was only going to be a week,” Valentine said.
“He got two hits the first two times up, drove in a couple runs; we were off to the races. Then he realized that [the trade with the Dodgers Aug. 25] meant that we’re not going to run this race and we’re not even going to finish the race properly and he decided not to play anymore. I think at that time it was all downhill from there.”
Ortiz reinjured his foot in that game Aug. 24. He also had an injection designed to speed his healing in September. By then, with the Red Sox hopelessly out of contention, he did not pursue the idea of playing again.
Ortiz was one of the few veteran players who supported Valentine last season.
Lovullo on deck?
The Red Sox are close to naming Torey Lovullo bench coach. The manager of Triple A Pawtucket in 2010, Lovullo followed Farrell to Toronto and was the first base coach there for two years.
The Red Sox have allowed Valentine’s remaining coaches — Tim Bogar, Alex Ochoa, Randy Niemann, Jerry Royster, and Gary Tuck — to speak to other teams.
Bogar, Ochoa, and Tuck are candidates to remain in the organization in some capacity.
“We’re not closing the door to someone who was here before,” said Cherington.
Two other Toronto coaches — Brian Butterfield and Luis Rivera — could be considered.
The key hire may be the pitching coach. Since Farrell left in 2010, the Red Sox have had three pitching coaches.
“With any position, stability is critical,” Farrell said. “I think it’s important for the pitching coach coming in that this isn’t going to be a situation, because so much has been brought out about my return here, that it’s not going to be micromanaged.
“Certainly there’s going to be involvement, but that person needs the freedom to do his job and do it to the best of his ability and that’s why, to me, it’s important to get the most qualified pitching coach available and bring him in here.”
Farrell said he is in the “third or fourth inning” of assembling a staff.
Three reporters from Toronto were at Farrell’s press conference, asking him pointed questions about leaving the Blue Jays with one year left on his contract.
In Canada, Farrell has been labeled by some as disloyal.
“The reaction to the anger or the feelings that might emanate from this happening, I appreciate that. That means there’s passion,” Farrell said. “I would take exception to the thought that there was no intent to fulfill a contract.
“The two years that were spent there was invaluable experience. Things might not have always worked out the way we intended. But there were a lot of firsts that I was able to experience there and I’ll forever be indebted to the Toronto Blue Jays.”
Cherington insisted there was no tampering on the part of the Red Sox.
“That just didn’t happen,” he said.
Iglesias not a given
The trade of Mike Aviles to Toronto as compensation for Farrell does not necessarily mean 22-year-old Jose Iglesias will start at shortstop right away next season, Cherington said. The team wants to see if Iglesias can earn his way in spring training . . . Farrell has exchanged text messages and voice mails with righthander Daniel Bard, whose career spiraled sharply downward last season because of control problems. “Before getting a chance to talk with him in depth, I couldn’t begin to say what the steps to adjustments might be,” Farrell said. “I think we all recognize it wasn’t too long ago this might have been the best eighth-inning reliever in all of baseball. He’s not injured.” . . . Farrell will wear No. 52, which he had as pitching coach with the Sox . . . Team president Larry Lucchino hosted a dinner of Chinese takeout at his home in Brookline Saturday. Farrell and team owners John Henry and Tom Werner attended. After Farrell agreed to a contract, the party broke up and Lucchino opened a fortune cookie. “You will solve a major problem that’s important to you,” it said. Lucchino said he saved the prophetic slip of paper.