BOSTON — If Yoenis Cespedes didn’t know much about the Boston Red Sox while growing up in Cuba, he found the perfect person to teach him all about the history of the franchise and its ballpark.
The ex-Oakland outfielder, who was traded to Boston for Jon Lester and Jonny Gomes on Thursday, spoke with fellow Cuban and former Red Sox pitcher Luis Tiant in the Fenway Park clubhouse before Friday night’s game against the New York Yankees.
“I’m very happy to share part of my career with the Red Sox, with such a legendary team,” Cespedes said through an interpreter in a pregame meeting with reporters. “The legend of Fenway Park precedes itself.”
Mired in last place in the American League East after losing eight of their previous nine games, the 2013 World Series champions gave up on their title defense by trading away four-fifths of the starting rotation they opened the season with.
Having sent Jake Peavy to San Francisco last week, the Red Sox traded Lester and Gomes to the A’s, right-hander John Lackey to the Cardinals for outfielder Allen Craig and Felix Doubront to the Cubs for a player to be named.
Also shipped out were shortstop Stephen Drew, and lefty reliever Andrew Miller. But Red Sox manager John Farrell said all the moves should not signal a surrender – even though Friday night’s lineup against their archrivals featured four rookies plus starting pitcher Anthony Ranaudo, who was making his major league debut.
“We’re not in a developmental phase. This is not a prospect-laden situation,” Farrell said, noting that the Red Sox obtained major leaguers in return. “Our intent every night is to go out and win.”
Craig was in the lineup against the Yankees, lacing a double down the left-field line in Boston’s two-run third inning in his first appearance at Fenway Park since the Red Sox beat the Cardinals in the World Series. Craig was part of one of the most memorable endings in Series history when he was awarded the winning run without touching home plate after he was tripped by Boston third baseman Will Middlebrooks in Game 3.
Middlebrooks and Craig now have lockers next to each other in the Red Sox clubhouse.
They weren’t the only players introducing themselves.
The Red Sox recalled Ranaudo, outfielder Mookie Betts, left-hander Tommy Layne and right-hander Alex Wilson from Triple-A Pawtucket. Middlebrooks was activated from the 15-day disabled list.
Saying goodbye were outfielder Shane Victorino, who was placed on the 15-day disabled list with a lower back strain; and first baseman-outfielder Mike Carp, who had complained about his diminishing role, was designated for assignment.
Drew made his Yankees debut at Fenway, receiving a warm ovation after a highlight video. His manager, Joe Girardi, said he thought all the activity on Thursday was good for baseball because it kept fans talking about the sport.
And the fact that two top pitchers had left the division?
“Nothing wrong with that,” Girardi said.