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Mike Shalin's Working Press: Sox did what they had to do

February 22. 2018 10:00PM

IN THE END, the Red Sox wound up doing something after all.

By re-signing Eduardo Nunez and signing J.D. Martinez, Dave Dombrowski did exactly what he wanted to do, added exactly what the offense needed to at least keep pace with the Yankees. Did the Sox need another starter. Perhaps a lefty in the bullpen? Sure, but there’s still time for that.

The key here was the offense, which was decent last year but was missing that David Ortiz-like thumper in the middle. Now, Martinez, apparently recruited by David Price — who seems to be in the middle of a lot of Fenway stuff — will attempt to fill those very big shoes while making some very nice money.

Word came out this week that Martinez, never known for his defense, will also play the outfield for the Red Sox in certain situations. Makes sense. He’s the fourth outfielder on the roster and it’s easy to hide someone in left field at Fenway.

His addition to the lineup makes things potent — and is part of the Red Sox-Yankees picture that’s again becoming heated. The Yankees got Giancarlo Stanton. The Red Sox added Martinez. The Red Sox bring Nunez back and the Yankees added Brandon Drury, probably to play third base.

Chris Sale says he’s well aware of Martinez’s talent, telling WEEI this week: “I think it was 2016. It was when he was on the disabled list, he broke his arm running into the outfield wall. The guy was out for (a month and a half), comes back, takes a couple of swings in the on-deck circle. First pitch the guy sees, takes me deep in the furthest part of the park of Detroit — this was when he was with Detroit and I was with Chicago — into the visiting bullpen.”

Comerica in Detroit is not a haven for power hitters. Fenway Park IS. This signing made sense from the beginning.

It’s Montana for Manley

Former NFL great Dexter Manley doesn’t stand in Tom Brady’s GOAT corner and made his feelings clear this week.

“Joe Montana, he was absolutely the best,” Manley told NBC Sports Washington. “People talk about Tom Brady. He is not a Joe Montana. He’s not the greatest of all-time. Joe Montana is the greatest of all-time.

“People give Tom Brady too much credit. It is a team effort. No. 1, he gets the ball out of his hand quick. He has good mechanics, but he’s no Joe Montana. My daughter could out-run Tom Brady. Joe Montana is the best of all-time. He’s the best passer — him and Dan Marino. That guy don’t fit in those categories. I don’t care what they say.”

The great Malcolm Butler mystery continues, as various members of the defense chime in on who knew what and when concerning the cornerback’s Super Bowl LII benching.

“I didn’t know anything, honestly,” defensive lineman Alan Branch said on WEEI. “On our team, gossip doesn’t travel. Let’s just say that.”

Branch noticed Butler wasn’t playing, saying, “You never know the reason for what’s going on at a certain time in that organization, especially. It’s neither here nor there.”

Minor deal

After adding defensive depth in Nick Holden, the Bruins on Thursday shipped spare part Frank Vatrano to Florida for a 2018 third-round pick.

Is there more to come by Monday’s trade deadline?

“We’re going to continue to look at the marketplace and see where guys may fit in, who’s available, continue the calls that happen a lot more frequently this time of year and see where it goes,” Sweeney said Tuesday. “Our club has played well, but we’ve got a long way to go.”

The team also announced Thursday that Anders Bjork is out for the year after shoulder surgery.

In the middle of trade week, Jarome Iginla shows up at Providence Bruins practice, saying he’d like to play again after hip surgery. Could he help someone? The Bruins?

Pitino nailed

I’ve said this before and say it again here: Rick Pitino is the best college bench coach I’ve ever seen. But his legacy is now the first coach ever to have an NCAA championship vacated — even though we all know who won the games. The stripping of the title — over prostitutes and stripping (sorry about that) — came this week and you get the feeling there’s so much more. You also get the feeling this FBI investigation into the college hoop world could wind up knocking teams out of this year’s Big Dance.

Here and there

For what it’s worth, Baseball Prospectus projects Stanton, Aaron Judge, Gary Sanchez and Greg Bird to combine for 141 homers and 392 RBIs in 2018, Stanton the only one with more than 37 homers and 99 RBIs. The Red Sox hit 168 homers as a team in 2017. … Finally, here’s something to think about, courtesy of Chris Smith of MassLive: the Red Sox play their first nine games of the season against the two tanking Florida teams.

Mike Shalin covers Boston pro sports for the New Hampshire Union Leader and Sunday News. His email address is

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