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Baseball notebook: Red Sox slugger Ortiz records wake-up calls for Boston kids

Boston Red Sox David Ortiz slugger has recorded wake up calls for Boston school children. (Jae C. Hong / Associated Press)
Boston Red Sox David Ortiz slugger has recorded wake up calls for Boston school children. (Jae C. Hong / Associated Press)
Associated Press

Nothing like a pre-dawn phone call from Red Sox slugger David Ortiz to get you out of bed in the morning.

At least that’s the idea behind a Boston Public Schools initiative that starts next month, when middle- and high-school students will be able to sign up for wake-up calls from Big Papi.

“Wake up! It’s David Ortiz of the Boston Red Sox. Get out of bed and get ready for school. Your future is yours,” he says on the calls.

The 40-year-old All-Star designated hitter has said he’ll retire after this season. He leads the majors in slugging percentage, on-base average and extra-base hits this year.

Boston schools superintendent Tommy Chang said Monday the goal of the Ortiz calls is to help kids get to school on time and fight absenteeism.

Boston Mayor Marty Walsh called it a “fun, outside-the-box” approach to a chronic problem. Nationwide, the U.S. Department of Education says more than 6 million students – 13 percent of all school-age Americans – missed at least three weeks of school in the 2013-14 academic year, the most recent for which figures are available.

Red Sox president Sam Kennedy said he hopes the calls, which are being offered free of charge, will help “inspire, motivate and encourage” children to attend school. The calls will be available in English and several foreign languages, though Ortiz won’t be speaking all of them.

Boston’s school system ran a pilot of the wakeup calls last year, trying them out on two dozen students at the Edward M. Kennedy Academy for Health Careers, a charter high school in the shadow of Fenway Park.

Xaquiel Martinez, a 9th-grade student there, acknowledges he was tardy to school nearly every day before getting the wake-up calls, which helped him get out the door on time.

With Ortiz wrapping up his final season with the Sox, Chang’s office says it may tap the New England Patriots for a future call.

No word on whether Tom Brady or Rob Gronkowski could be rousing students next.

Yasiel Puig expects to be sent to minors by Dodgers

Yasiel Puig expects to be sent to the minors on Tuesday after the Los Angeles Dodgers were unable to trade him at the deadline, according to his agent.

Adam Katz said he was told Puig didn’t show up to Dodger Stadium before the club departed on its road trip to Colorado. Katz said the Cuban slugger wasn’t there because the Dodgers didn’t expect him to be on their big-league roster for Tuesday’s game.

“The club informed me and the player understood clearly that they were making every effort to trade him,” Katz told The Associated Press, “and that if they were unable to come to terms with another club on a trade – and successful in acquiring another outfielder – that he likely would be demoted.”

Dodgers spokesman Joe Jareck declined to comment on Puig’s whereabouts or status with the club.

Fox Sports first reported that Puig was not traveling with the Dodgers.

Los Angeles acquired Josh Reddick from Oakland on Monday, possibly squeezing the oft-injured, struggling Puig out of a job in right field.

Puig went 3 for 5 with two RBIs against Arizona on Sunday, making his first start since July 20 after his latest bout of persistent hamstring injuries.

Puig was an All-Star in 2014 after a meteoric rise with the Dodgers, who signed the refugee prospect to a seven-year, $42 million deal in June 2012. He hit 35 homers and drove in 111 runs while batting .305 in his first two big-league seasons, but slipped to .255 last season while playing in just 79 games due to hamstring troubles.

Puig has been physically limited and largely inconsistent even when healthy this season, batting .260 with seven homers in 81 games. His on-base-plus-slugging percentage is down to a career-worst .706.

Even some Dodgers fans who once adored his effusive personality and considerable talent have begun to sour on Puig, who missed 17 games in June and five in July with hamstring woes.

The Dodgers (59-46) couldn’t trade Puig, but they were busy at the deadline as they prepare to chase San Francisco (61-44) over the final two months of the N.L. West race.

Along with Reddick, who should be an immediate offensive contributor, Los Angeles picked up left-hander Rich Hill from Oakland, right-handed reliever Jesse Chavez from Toronto and right-handed reliever Josh Fields from Houston.

Kemp vows Braves fans will see ‘Matt Kemp of old’

Matt Kemp says his trade to the Atlanta Braves gives him a fresh start with the team he cheered for as a child.

In a letter on The Players’ Tribune website , Kemp wrote that he was “a huge Atlanta Braves fan” while growing up in Oklahoma because he followed the team on TV.

“Our little old TV picked up TBS, which meant I got to watch my Braves, so I was happy,” Kemp wrote in the letter entitled “Hello Atlanta.”

“That was my team! I used to rush home from school to finish my homework so I could turn on the TV and watch Chipper Jones, Ron Gant, David Justice, Fred McGriff, Greg Maddux and Jon Smoltz play their hearts out for the Braves.

“As a young boy, I dreamed of one day suiting up and playing in front of the home crowd in Atlanta. Now, all these years later, I’m going to be able to live out that dream.”

Kemp included a family photo of himself as a boy wearing a new Braves jacket while standing in front of a Christmas tree.

The Braves acquired Kemp, a two-time All-Star outfielder, and $10.5 million from San Diego for troubled outfielder Hector Olivera on Saturday night.

Kemp wrote that after reflecting on his career with the Dodgers and Padres, “I would be lying if I didn’t admit that I had begun to lose some of my love for the game.”

“In so many ways, I got sidetracked from what I loved most about playing the game of baseball – having fun,” he wrote. “I let a big contract, the Hollywood lifestyle, injuries and bad relationships tarnish the reputation I had worked so hard to establish. Sadly, I gained a reputation for being selfish, lazy and a bad teammate. While I may not agree with all the criticism I received in the past few years – and while I believe that a lot of it was unmerited – I take full responsibility for my shortcomings. And I promise you, Atlanta: Those days are gone.”

Kemp is expected to make his Braves debut in Tuesday night’s home game against Pittsburgh..

He promised Braves fans he will be the “Matt Kemp of old – the kid who was the first at the park and the last to leave, the kid who would take cuts in the cage till has hands bled, the kid who would literally run through a wall for his teammates, the kid who was playing to win . not for a contract – that’s the kid who’s on his way to Atlanta.”

Added Kemp: “And the Braves of old will soon be the Braves of now. This is going to be so much fun, Atlanta.”

The Braves (37-68) have the majors’ worst record.

Boston closer Kimbrel back quickly from knee surgery

Closer Craig Kimbrel returned to the Boston Red Sox , three weeks after surgery to repair a medial meniscus tear in his left knee.

The All-Star was 0-1 with a 1.45 ERA and 17 saves in 19 opportunities before his surgery July 11. Opponents were hitting just .143 in his 19 save chances this season.

Kimbrel made his only rehab assignment for Triple-A Pawtucket on Saturday. He threw 17 pitches over one inning, allowing one hit and hitting a batter.

Farrell said he would like to give Kimbrel a `soft’ outing, but if he was needed in a save situation against the Mariners on Monday, Kimbrel was available.

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