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Wednesday, August 21, 2013
Sox eager for Dodgers get-together

By Alex Espinoza, Special to ESPNBoston.com

SAN FRANCISCO -- As they buttoned up their suits and zipped up their bags following Wednesday’s 12-1 win against the Giants, the Red Sox got ready to jet set to Los Angeles to see some familiar faces.

On Friday, the Sox and Dodgers will meet for the first time since their megadeal reshaped both franchises, with Sunday’s series finale coming exactly a year after the blockbuster was announced.

“It went fast, I can tell you that,” David Ortiz said. “Seems like yesterday, right?”

With Bobby Valentine at the helm and a clubhouse disintegrating, Boston general manager Ben Cherington boldly agreed to the biggest trade in MLB history -- both in terms of star power and salaries moved. To Los Angeles went Josh Beckett, Adrian Gonzalez, Carl Crawford, Nick Punto and more than a quarter-billion dollars of contracts. To Boston went pitching prospects Rubby De La Rosa and Allen Webster along with James Loney and minor-league hitters Ivan DeJesus and Jerry Sands.

The Red Sox have an off day on Thursday, but Big Papi is looking forward reuniting with his old teammates, or as he calls them -- JB, AG and CC. Don’t forget about NP, either.

“NP, who’s that? Oh yeah, my boy Nick,” Ortiz said with a laugh. “He’s so small you kind of forget about him.”

Looking at the standings, the trade has proved fruitful for both clubs.

The Red Sox finished 2012 in the AL East cellar with a 69-93 record, but have vaulted back atop the division in 2013. The Dodgers, meanwhile, are the hottest team in baseball with a 73-52 record and a hefty lead in the NL West.

“Things got better over there and things got better over here,” Ortiz said. “We are making our [general manager] look like a genius.”

Red Sox manager John Farrell was leading the Toronto Blue Jays when the blockbuster went down last year and admits it caught him by surprise. But since he’s joined Boston, he’s been part of one of the more remarkable turnarounds in baseball.

“What it says was that Ben was very specific and clear on what he thought needed to be done,” Farrell said. “If that trade was pushing the reset button, well, he pushed it with both hands.”

By shedding all that salary, Boston was able to reshape its team through free agency, adding key 2013 contributors Shane Victorino, Mike Napoli, Jonny Gomes and Stephen Drew.

A year ago at this time, Victorino was just getting settled in Los Angeles after being traded from the Phillies, so he, too, is looking forward to the matchup with his former teammates.

“I’m excited to go back and see how talented that team is,” Victorino said. “But I plan on going in there to kick their ass.”

Once the big trade went through, Victorino figured he was headed elsewhere, and he’s happy to be in Boston.

The series also will mark the first time for the Sox to get a firsthand look at MLB’s latest sensation, rookie outfielder Yasiel Puig. While Farrell said the impact Puig has had on the Dodgers has been amazing, Victorino doesn’t sound as enamored as his skipper.

“Am I eager (to see Puig)? I don’t care. Doesn’t matter to me,” Victorino said. “I agree with some of the things he does and I disagree with some of the things he does.”

While Victorino said he heard about Puig’s recent late arrival to the clubhouse, Puig's “reckless abandon” on the field has caught his eye more.

“I don’t want to see a great player who can be a great player for a long time [injure himself],” Victorino said. “Like, ease up, pull back a little bit sometimes, you know?”

While the veteran certainly respects the young phenom’s game -- which includes a powerful bat and a powerful arm -- Victorino said he looks forward to the challenge.

“I’m going to take every chance I can to run on him,” Victorino said. “I ain’t scared.”