Morning sports update: Theo Epstein says David Ortiz requested a trade from Red Sox in 2003

David Ortiz
Former Boston Red Sox player David Ortiz reacts during his jersey retirement ceremony before a game against the Los Angeles Angels at Fenway Park. –Photo by Adam Glanzman/Getty Images

Al Horford had 22 points and 14 rebounds as the Celtics beat the Bucks 92-87 at the TD Garden to take a 3-2 series lead. Curtis Granderson hit a walk-off home run in the 10th inning for the Blue Jays, who handed the Red Sox their third straight defeat in a 4-3 game in Toronto. On Wednesday night, the Bruins face the Maple Leafs at 7:30 p.m in a winner-take-all Game 7.

Theo Epstein says David Ortiz requested a trade from Red Sox in 2003

The David Ortiz era in Boston almost ended before it ever truly began. In 2003, Ortiz was locked in a battle for playing time with Shea Hillenbrand. According to Epstein, the former Red Sox general manager and current Chicago Cubs president of baseball operations, the Sox slugger requested a trade to a team where he could play more regularly.

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Here’s what Epstein recalled on the Executive Access podcast, per MLB.com:

David Ortiz hit all of two home runs in the first [two months] of the 2003 season and in mid-May had his agent come and ask me for a trade to somewhere he could play more regularly. Fernando Cuza came to talk to me and I told Cuza at the time that David was someone we wanted to get everyday at-bats, but we just needed to pare down the roster a little bit. We ended up trading Hillenbrand instead of David Ortiz, so I guess that was a good decision in hindsight. David got regular playing time and ended up hitting close to 30 homers in the second half of the season and was off and running as Big Papi.

The decision does indeed appear prescient with the benefit of hindsight. While Hillenbrand was an All-Star in 2002 and again in 2005, Ortiz earned 10 All-Star nods, hit 541 home runs, and led the Red Sox to three World Series titles. (MLB.com)

What Marcus Smart had to say about his long-awaited return: Moments after checking into the game against Milwaukee, Smart was diving on the floor after a loose ball. He had nine points and five rebounds off the bench for the Celtics in his first game in over a month, but the full extent of his impact wasn’t measured by the stat sheet.

“The confidence for us right now is high,” Smart said. “This was a big game for us, especially after they pounded us at their place two games in a row.” (Boston.com)

Former NFL cheerleaders say they will settle their gender discrimination cases for $1 under one condition: The lawyer representing two former NFL cheerleaders said that they will settle their claims for $1 each if they can have a four-hour, “good faith” meeting with commissioner Roger Goodell. The proposal asks that the league meet with cheerleaders to prepare a set of binding rules that apply to all teams. (Boston.com)

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Rob Gronkowski announces he is playing in 2018: On Saturday, Gronkowski said that his retirement plans depended on how his racing skills went at a Supercross event. He must have discovered football still suits him better than dirt biking, because the tight end confirmed Tuesday that he will be returning to the Patriots next season.

“I met with coach today and informed him I will be back for the 2018 season with the Pats,” he wrote on Instagram. “I have been working out, staying in shape and feel great. Looking forward to another championship run.” (Boston.com)

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