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Sports

September 22, 2013

The big turnaround

Red Sox wipe out memories of last season with dramatic wins, team leaders

(Continued)

PAPI’S BACK

Remember when Ortiz batted .185 with just one homer during the first two months of the 2009 season? Pretty much everyone thought his career was finished.

Some also thought the designated hitter was nearing the end when he had such trouble overcoming his Achilles injury. It appeared foolish for Cherington to sign Ortiz to a two-year deal this offseason.

But Ortiz has stayed healthy and extremely productive since returning from the DL on April 20. He’s the rock in the middle of the order with an OPS (combination of on-base percentage and slugging percentage) over .950.

With so many other leaders, Ortiz doesn’t have to be the main voice in the clubhouse. But he has remained the face of this franchise — and the stats he has posted are irreplaceable right now. He is a big reason the Red Sox lead baseball in runs scored.

“He’s just one of the greatest personalities in our game — great ambassador for our game,” New York Yankees third baseman Alex Rodriguez said about Ortiz, who he played with in Seattle’s organization at the beginning of their professional careers. “And to me, he’s sneaking up on the Hall of Fame. One of the all-time great clutch players. And I’m happy with how well respected and how revered he is in Boston.”

KING KOJI

While the Red Sox bullpen has suffered through injuries and inconsistencies throughout this summer, Uehara is putting together a Mariano Rivera-like season. He arguably is the team’s MVP.

Boston entered Thursday with a 76-3 record when leading after eight innings and Uehara, who recently had a 30.1 scoreless innings streak, is a big reason for that.

Most incredible about Uehara’s dominance is that he does it with a fastball that has averaged just 89.3 mph this year, according to fangraphs.com.

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