RP: When you’re doing well, it’s fun. Like golf, same thing. When you’re playing well, you know, “This is great! It’s a fun game.” When you’re struggling, it’s your livelihood. It’s not as much fun. But his attitude is just great and it’s the highlight of this year so far.
BB: My youngest brother, Billy, is 9 years old and just won his Little League championship with my dad as his coach. It was special for him because he was thinking about quitting this season, but has now really found a love for the game. Earlier this year I took him to a Sox game and they won with a walk-off in 12 innings. He refused to leave the ballpark until the game was over. After that, he told my father it was the greatest day of his life. What is one of your earliest memories playing baseball as a kid and having fun?
BB: If you could give any advice to any of the young guys who have been called up this season or any young players trying to make it to the big leagues, what advice would you give them?
RP: Work hard. Keep bangin’ away. Persevere. Don’t give up. You’ve got believe that you can play and be aggressive. Not arrogant, but aggressive. Keep at it. You’re going to struggle sometimes, but you’ve got be able to handle it. Overall, the Sox have some good-looking kids.
BB: Coming up closer to the All-Star break and trade deadline, what do you think this team needs to do to stay competitive?
RP: I’m shocked they aren’t hitting. They need some veterans to help pick these young kids up. My opinion is that the Sox need to get another guy who can hit some home runs and knock in some runs.
A guy I love in the National League is David Wright. He’s got a great attitude and can hit the ball in the air. We’d have to give up some prospects for him, but if he stays healthy, you could get a few good years out of him. There’s no doubt in my mind he would perform well here.
BB: How do you think he’d fit into the equation in Boston?
RP: He’d be perfect at third. Move Xander Bogaerts back to shortstop. Let him play shortstop until Wright’s contract is up. Maybe move Bogaerts to third when the times comes, if there’s a shortstop prospect who is ready. But then Bogaerts will have years of experience.
If we’re going to keep Will Middlebrooks, I would put a first baseman’s glove on him. If Napoli is out, then we got our first baseman. In the outfield, you’ve got make some moves. Getting a decent outfielder who is also a fairly good hitter is definitely attainable. There’s a lot of good outfielders out there. Getting a guy to come to Fenway and hit well here, like Jason Bay in 2008, would really help this team. If you can get an impact guy who can hit some home runs and drive in some more runs, that would be ideal. You’d just have to give up some of those mid-level prospects.
BB: You’ve spoken with Boston Baseball before about the legacy of David Ortiz and what he’s done for this franchise. How much do you think he has left in the tank?
RP: Well, he’s 38 years old and he’s got another year on his contract. If he has another good year and wants to extend his contact, I would do it because he’s a DH. He’s not going to hurt you in the field! Some day it’s going to be over, however, and you do have to start thinking about the future and groom another impact player. You always have to be working on your pitching, and the Sox need to continue working on their outfield.
BB: Where do you think Holt should play, considering this need for productive outfielders?
RP: I think left field would be the best spot for him. He’s smart enough to learn the wall. His arm is good enough; he’d be the best of the three. Mookie Betts is having a good year in the minor leagues. He was recently promoted to Pawtucket, and they’ve been giving him a long look in the outfield. He’s like a Jackie Bradley type, but he’s looking like a better hitter. I guess we’ll have to wait and see what happens.
BB: Do you think the Red Sox can still make the playoffs this year?
RP: They still can. The wild card is certainly a possibility. They need to start winning games, though. If they’re serious about it and start winning some games and get close to .500 before the trading deadline and make a major move, then they have a shot. They have enough pitching and a good bullpen overall. Lackey is looking great as well as Lester. Buchholz is coming back, again, who knows what he’ll be able to do. The main thing is, they need to start producing more runs. I feel like they have to go out and get somebody, get some fresh blood into this team. A new face would be good for this team.
Rico and broadcast partner Ed Randall can be heard on Sirius XM each Saturday morning from 8-10. Rico's interview was conducted by Joe Barron.