Gary Sheffield Shades Red Sox For Betts Rumors ... But Trade Would Put Dodgers Over The Top!!!

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Gary Sheffield says it's a downright stupid move for the Red Sox to trade Mookie Betts ... but the MLB legend says if the Dodgers get the OF, it could lock up a World Series title!!

"Mookie is that guy that can be a difference maker," Sheffield tells us.

Of course, Boston is considering moving Betts -- the 2018 AL MVP -- for prospects because of his high salary demands ... and the Dodgers are reportedly more than willing to tango.

Young L.A. stars like Alex Verdugo, Dustin May and even Gavin Lux have been rumored to be in play for the trade ... and Sheffield sure seems to think it'd be worth the price to get Mookie.

"A lot of teams have good offenses," Sheffield says, "But, if you got a certain player in your lineup, he can take you over the top and [Betts] is that guy."

We also talked with Sheffield about the Astros hiring Dusty Baker to be their next manager ... and Gary LOVES the move, saying the 70-year-old will be able to clean up the clubhouse after it was rocked by the cheating scandal.

"He'll get it done," Gary says. "He'll have his wristbands on and his batting gloves on and he'll make it happen."

L.A. Politicians Officially Demand WS Trophies ... Dodgers Deserve Them!!!

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L.A. was cheated out of the 2017 and 2018 World Series titles ... so says some of the city's most powerful politicians, who are now OFFICIALLY demanding the MLB give the trophies to the Dodgers!

The L.A. City Council approved a resolution by a unanimous vote Tuesday that called for MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred to hand over the rings.

Of course, the resolution has no actual legal authority behind it ... but it shows L.A. is REALLY pissed off after the MLB said the Houston Astros cheated in 2017 -- the same year they beat the Dodgers in 7 games to win the World Series.

"It's significant because we have a culture of cheating in this country," Councilman Paul Koretz said during the session ... "It's time to say, 'No, this not the new norm.'"

Councilman Gil Cedillo added ... "This could send an important message to little boys and girls that you need to play hard by the rules, or you can learn that cheating is the new normal. We want it to be clear that this city spoke up for its team."

As we previously reported, Manfred says manager A.J. Hinch, GM Jeff Luhnow, bench coach Alex Cora (who moved on to become Red Sox manager) and stud outfielder Carlos Beltran (who was named Mets manager in November) were complicit in the Astros' illegal sign-stealing scandal ... and all have since lost their respective jobs.

The MLB fined Houston $5 MILLION after its findings ... and further investigation into the Red Sox is underway after it's alleged Cora brought a similar scheme to the team in 2018 -- the same year they beat the Dodgers in 5 games to win the championship.

But, Manfred announced he was NOT stripping either the Astros or the Red Sox of their titles ... and now, L.A. politicians are demanding he changes that ASAP.

We've reached out to both the MLB -- so far, no word back yet.

Red Sox '18 World Series Won Fair & Square Despite Alex Cora Scandal

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11:48 AM PT -- 1/15 -- The Red Sox just held a press conference to discuss Cora's departure ... saying the manager understood he made a mistake and what he did was wrong.

The Sox honchos present at the presser -- including John Henry, Tom Werner and more -- say they did not know of Cora's involvement until the investigation report was made public on Monday.

The Sox did not comment on the current investigation into the team ... but team president Sam Kennedy said Boston's 2018 World Series was won fair and square.

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Alex Cora is OUT as the Boston Red Sox manager ... after both sides "mutually agreed to part ways" in light of the MLB's cheating probe.

The league's investigation findings determined Cora was the mastermind behind the Houston Astros' sign-stealing system when he was the bench coach in 2017.

Cora was with the 'Stros when they won the World Series in 2017 ... and the manager of the Red Sox when they won the Fall Classic in 2018.

The 44-year-old manager had yet to receive his punishment from the league for the scandal ... but given the fact Astros manager, A.J. Hinch, was suspended 1 year just for knowing about it, it was assumed Cora would get much worse.

The Sox didn't wait to find out Cora's fate ... releasing a statement Tuesday explaining their decision to move on.

"Today we met to discuss the Commissioner's report related to the Houston Astros investigation," the statement reads.

"Given the findings and the Commissioner's ruling, we collectively decided that it would not be possible for Alex to effectively lead the club going forward and we mutually agreed to part ways."

Pete Rose Poo Poos MLB's Sign Stealing Scandal ... It's No Big Deal!!!

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The Astros' and Red Sox's cheating scandals are much ado about nothing ... so says Pete Rose, who tells TMZ Sports sign stealing ain't that big of a deal at all.

The MLB legend says back when he was playing ... he NEVER got an advantage by stealing signs -- saying he was always worried the guy reading the catcher would be wrong.

"He might not have the signs -- he might tell you wrong," Rose says. "Now, if you're looking for a low-and-away breaking ball, and the guy throws an up-and-in fastball, you just got one off the kisser."

Of course, the Astros' and the Red Sox's alleged schemes were reportedly much more accurate than a dude standing on 2nd base relaying catchers' signals ... but Rose still says he doesn't care.

In fact, Pete tells us if players were that concerned about it all ... they should just take matters into their own hands and start beaming guys they think are cheating!!!

MLB's Rich Hill Responds to His & Wife's Pats Arrest Says Fanny Pack is to Blame

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3:18 PM PT -- Rich Hill just responded to the news about his arrest ... and he says while he still respects law enforcement, he just couldn't stand by and watch his wife get cuffed for trying to bring a fanny pack into the stadium.

Rich goes on to say, "This was all overblown and we are glad to have it behind us." His attorney, Francis T. O'Brien of O'Brien Law Boston, backs his client up by saying things never should've escalated to the point they did, but also gives props to the D.A. for essentially backing off. He calls it a "fair and proper resolution," saying the matter is closed.

Former Dodgers pitcher Rich Hill and his wife got busted by cops this weekend at a Patriots game ... TMZ Sports has confirmed.

Law enforcement sources tell us Hill and his spouse, Caitlin McClellan, were arrested Saturday outside of Gillette Stadium in Foxborough, MA before kickoff ... because they were trying to enter the facility with an oversized bag and then refusing to leave the grounds.

We're told Foxboro PD instructed Hill and McClellan they couldn't come in with the bag they were trying to bring along. Cops are saying the missus tried sneaking in through other gates after repeatedly being told "no."

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After allegedly refusing to leave the grounds, cops arrested her for disorderly conduct and trespassing -- and as they were putting her into a car ... Hill himself allegedly got involved and attempted to intervene. He got arrested too ... they were both taken to a station for booking.

Carl Yastrzemski Throws 1st Pitch To Mike Yastrzemski ... Incredible Moment!!!

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Surreal scene at Fenway Park on Wednesday ... Red Sox legend Carl Yastrzemski threw out the first pitch of the night to his grandson -- Giants outfielder Mike Yastrzemksi!!!

The odds of seeing this moment are wild ... to have Mike be called up from the minors this year AND to have S.F.'s schedule put the team in Boston this season are incredible coincidences.

But, the two squads took advantage of the opportunity -- allowing 80-year-old Carl to hurl the first pitch to 29-year-old Mike before the Giants played the Sox in the 2nd game of their 3-game series.

The video of the interaction is spine-tingling ... Mike has a huge smile on his face the whole time, and Carl -- one of Boston's all-time greatest athletes -- is clearly loving the moment too.

The Yastzemski's shared an embrace in the middle of the diamond after throw ... and when the game ended, Mike called it all "special."

"Honestly, I was thinking about the last time we had played catch," Mike said. "I remembered a time probably during Thanksgiving when I must have been 7 or 8 at his house."

"Being able to relive that and to go through that again on this type of scale and to have such a warm welcome from everyone was really awesome."

Mike killed it in his debut in the same batter's box Carl used to play in ... so far in the series, he's 3-for-11 with a home run, 4 runs scored and 2 RBIs. His team's gotten both wins too!

#Amazing

David Ortiz on Shooting Breaks Media Silence ... I Almost Died in D.R.

David Ortiz broke his silence with the media since being shot in the Dominican Republic, and he gave an emotional interview ... acknowledging he almost died there.

The former Boston Red Sox slugger spoke with Univision in a sit-down that aired in Spanish on Saturday, answering a number of questions related to the scary incident in his home country this past June -- when he was ambushed and shot in the back at a club.

Big Papi described the initial feeling of the bullet going in, saying he felt a stinging sensation ... adding that in the first five seconds, he felt like he was in a living nightmare. He said the shooting made him disheartened, as he has no problems with anybody.

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Ortiz went on to explain that he never lost consciousness en route to the hospital, but said he experienced something he'd never quite felt before ... trying to survive for his life.

He says he's never had his life threatened before, and that him sitting with his back to the street and no security around should be an implication ... he's not someone who'd ever think he was in danger. Then came the question about who did it ... and why.

Ortiz says he has no idea why anyone might've wanted to kill him, again reiterating that he has no enemies ... and no issues with anybody (especially criminals) that would make him worry.

Big Papi also touches on a rumor that Dominican drug lord Cesar Emilio Peralta might've been the one who ordered the hit, but he again came back with uncertainty ... saying he couldn't think of any reason why that would be the case -- if, in fact, it is.

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As we reported ... authorities in the Dominican Republic have made several arrests in connection to the shooting, including the alleged shooter himself. Cops say that Ortiz was not the actual target, and that the hit was a case of mistaken identity.

Ortiz is unclear on that himself, but one thing that clearly hurt him as he was in the hospital ... people apparently suggesting that he deserved what he'd gotten. He tears up as he recounts the recovery process, saying that at one point he was in a coma ... and almost died.

Luckily, Big Papi is getting better each day. He threw out the first pitch at a recent Sox game -- and seems to be doing well following multiple life-saving surgeries.

Still, it's pretty gut-wrenching to hear it all again from the man himself.

David Ortiz Visits Fenway For 1st Time Since Shooting ... Throwing Out First Pitch!!!

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4:13 PM PT -- Naturally, Fenway Park went absolutely bonkers when Ortiz threw the first pitch to his old teammate, Jason Varitek.

Ortiz also briefly addressed the crowd before the game ... thanking everyone for his support during his recovery.

BIG PAPI'S BACK!!!!!!

David Ortiz is making his first appearance at Fenway Park since he was nearly killed in the Dominican Republic last June ... and Sox officials say he's going to throw out the first pitch!!!

Ortiz almost lost his life after a gunman fired a bullet into his lower back outside of a DR club on June 9 ... but after several surgeries -- Ortiz says he's been feeling MUCH better.

So much so, the guy decided to hit up the Red Sox game Monday night to give his former squad a little bit of a boost heading into a rivalry game with the Yankees -- and fans are fired up!!!

Unclear if Papi will take the mound for the first pitch or just throw the heat from the infield grass ... but either way, it'll be a welcome sight for EVERYBODY in the baseball world!!!

By the way, the Yankees have paid their own tribute to the Sox legend recently ... superstars Edwin Encarnacion and Gary Sanchez went to visit him before they started the series last week.

Props for the cool move!!!

Originally Published -- 4:00 PM PT

Mookie Betts Rockin' Big Papi-Themed Cleats ... With Gold Chains!!!

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MLB superstar Mookie Betts is paying homage to his old teammate when he hits the diamond for Players Weekend ... rockin' Big Papi cleats that have their own gold chains!!

The Red Sox MVP decided to do a sick tribute to David Ortiz on his cleats for the special weekend (when players can wear custom kicks and fun nicknames on their jerseys).

The finished personalized Jordan 13s are DOPE -- with images of Papi, his signature, the classic Fenway Park Green Monster and his trademark gold chains!!

Mookie designed the cleats himself ... and it's obviously a sick tribute to the Red Sox legend who was nearly killed in a shooting the Dominican Republic back in June.

David has been recovering in Boston ever since ... and is doing well, recently saying, "Big Papi will be back soon."

Ortiz is a 3-time World Series champ, 10-time All-Star and has his #34 retired ... so yeah, the tribute is warranted.

Yasiel Puig Becomes U.S. Citizen ... Hours Before Game

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Yasiel Puig just had the best pre-game warm up of his life ... 'cause just a few hours before the Indians game against the Red Sox -- he got sworn in as a U.S. citizen!!!

The MLB superstar had the ceremony Wednesday ... and it didn't take long for him to pridefully post about it on social media.

"Thank you God for this great opportunity to be an American citizen," Puig said ... adding, "ususus."

Puig reportedly unsuccessfully tried to defect to America many times ... and when he did make it in summer 2012, the journey was long and treacherous.

He was taken by small boat to Mexico where he was held hostage by smugglers looking for a big money payout from the future MLB star.

Yasiel was ultimately taken to America ... and now 7 years later, he's a US citizen.

The Indians -- who are set for first pitch against Boston in Cleveland at 10 AM PT -- even shouted out the outfielder after the special moment, writing, "Puig our citizen"

"Congratulations to Yasiel Puig becoming a United States citizen!"

Of course, Indians players have done this often over the past year ... relief pitcher Oliver Perez was sworn in earlier this month, while infielders Carlos Santana and Hanley Ramirez had their ceremonies in April.

Congrats!!!

Johnny Damon Warns Yanks & Astros ... Red Sox Will Be Scary In Playoffs!!!

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Johnny Damon is sending a huge warning signal to the AL's top dogs ... telling TMZ Sports if the Yankees and Astros let Boston climb into the postseason -- the Sox might just win it all!!!

We got Johnny out in NYC this week and had to ask some baseball questions ... and that's when the 2-time All-Star told us teams NEED to be afraid of the Red Sox's potential.

"If they can somehow get above Tampa and make the playoffs, they're going to be scary," Damon says.

And, if you think Johnny is just blowin' smoke because he's a Sox legend ... he ain't -- he tells us he's still got some bitterness toward the way he left the team after the 2005 season.

"Boston and I, it was a little like a divorce," he says.

Johnny tells us the Red Sox are legit this year ... and if they had actually signed a closer in the offseason, he thinks they'd be much closer to the Yankees in the AL East standings right now.

Still, Damon says he thinks the Astros are the favorite for now ... saying when he watched Justin Verlander pitch earlier this week -- he didn't seem hittable!!!

By the way, Damon also tells us he hasn't spoken to his good friend and former teammate David Ortiz since he left the hospital ... but he made sure to send his well wishes to Big Papi.

David Ortiz Released from Boston Hospital Weeks After D.R. Shooting

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David Ortiz has been released from the hospital where he's been recuperating from a nearly fatal gunshot wound he suffered in the Dominican Republic.

Big Papi was reportedly discharged Friday from Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston and was sent home with his family. According to ESPN, the former Red Sox slugger will continue his rehabilitation at his house, where he'll be monitored by full-time nurses.

He'll also have his personal doctor regularly check in on him as he continues to heal.

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This is great news for Ortiz, who was shot in the lower back at point-blank range. He went into emergency surgery there on the island nation, and was eventually transported to the Boston area hospital where he remained in the critical condition for a while.

He was taken out of the ICU late last month and was listed as being in good condition. Looks like that trend has continued ... now, he's out of the hospital and seemingly on his way to a full recovery.

As we reported ... doctors found the bullet that struck Ortiz had pierced his liver, his small and large intestines -- he even had to have his gall bladder removed during surgery.

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D.R. officials have said that Ortiz was not the intended target of the attack -- and was simply a victim of mistaken identity. A man named Rolfi Ferreira Cruz was named as the suspected shooter, and he's been arrested and booked -- with lots of other people brought in as well.

David Ortiz Suffers Setback ... Required Third Surgery

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David Ortiz suffered a setback in his recovery from gunshot wounds -- and required a third surgery to fix complications earlier this week ... the Red Sox announced Thursday.

Big Papi was shot in the back in the Dominican Republic last month ... but after two surgeries shortly after, his wife and the Red Sox said he was recovering well.

But, the Sox just announced Ortiz suffered complications from the injuries recently ... and needed a third procedure to fix the issues this week.

Good news for Big Papi, the team says he is now "recovering well and is in good spirits."

As we previously reported, Ortiz was shot in the back at point-blank range while he was sitting outside of a nightclub on June 9 ... with the bullet striking his liver and his small and large intestines. 

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Ortiz underwent emergency surgery immediately after in the D.R. -- and doctors said they were forced to remove his gall bladder at the time.

Ortiz was flown to Boston just hours later to have a second surgery at Massachusetts General Hospital.

David's wife, Tiffany Ortiz, has previously said David was able to sit up and take steps ... and added, "he remains in good condition and continues to recover under the care of Drs. David King and Larry Ronan."

As for the Sox, they say, "We continue to be incredibly appreciative of the kindness and compassion shown to David and to our entire family during this difficult time."

David Ortiz Shooting 'Mastermind' Arrested ... Cops Say

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The mastermind behind the David Ortiz shooting has been arrested in the Dominican Republic, officials say. 

Victor Hugo Gomez is the man who allegedly put the wheels in motion for a team of hitmen to roll up to a popular lounge with murderous intent on June 9.

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Of course, Dominican officials have now said they don't believe Ortiz was the intended target that night -- insisting the shooter mistook the MLB legend for a friend who was sitting nearby. 

Ortiz was hit in the back -- but the bullet caused serious damage to several organs including his intestines and liver. After the initial life-saving surgery, Ortiz was flown to Boston where he's been receiving treatment ever since. 

As for Gomez, officials say he put out the hit on Ortiz's friend while Gomez was inside the United States. Officials say Gomez has a criminal record and possible ties to a drug cartel. 

So far, at least 10 people have been arrested in the investigation -- including the shooter Rolfi Ferreira Cruz, who has said on the record that Ortiz was not his target

Story developing ... 

David Ortiz Out of ICU ... Still in Good Condition

David Ortiz's recovery from a shooting continues to go well -- the former Red Sox slugger is no longer in the intensive care unit of a hospital, according to his wife.

The health update came Sunday, courtesy of the team on behalf of Tiffany Ortiz, who says David is out of the ICU at Massachusetts General Hospital ... adding that he "remains in good condition and continues to recover under the care of Drs. David King and Larry Ronan."

That's great news, as David was still hospitalized in the ICU as of Tuesday -- 9 days after he was shot in the back at point-blank range earlier this month in the Dominican Republic.

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As we reported ... David health status was upgraded from serious to good after he'd been transported from a D.R. hospital to one in the Boston area after undergoing surgery -- where doctors found the bullet struck his liver, his small and large intestines. Ortiz also had his gall bladder removed so the medical staff could work on the affected organs.

According to D.R. officials, David was NOT the intended target -- but got shot after a case of mistaken identity. Police say a man named Sixto David Fernandez was the guy the shooter wanted, allegedly because he'd once ratted out a drug runner to cops.

The alleged shooter, Rolfi Ferreira Cruz, was arrested in booked in the D.R. ... at least ten people are believed to connected to the shooting, according to officials there.

David Ortiz Not Intended Target Of Shooting ... D.R. Officials Say

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4:29 PM PT -- Officials say Sixto David Fernandez was the target of the attack because Victor Hugo Gómez believed Sixto "ratted him out" to police years ago.

The gunman who shot David Ortiz in the Dominican Republic earlier this month DID NOT mean to target Big Papi ... so say D.R. officials, who say it was Ortiz's FRIEND they wanted to kill.

D.R. police and prosecutors just announced Sixto David Fernandez -- who was allegedly sitting near Ortiz at Dial Bar and Lounge in Santo Domingo on June 9 -- was supposed to be the target.

Unclear why Fernandez was the target. We're trying to gather information on who Fernandez is and what he does for a living. All we know so far is that cops say he's buddies with Ortiz.

Officials say the gunman who shot Big Papi from point-blank range in the back was confused by the clothing Ortiz was wearing and fired on him instead of Fernandez.

A cell phone image taken of Sixto by one of the alleged accomplices in the crime was allegedly used to identify Sixto for the hit.

But officials say the gunman mistook white items near Sixto as white pants (Ortiz was wearing white pants that night) ... and that's where the confusion all began.

Officials say they were able to confirm all this because they were able to obtain the picture that was circulated amongst the alleged criminals.

Officials also say a man named Victor Hugo Gómez -- a 43-year-old who's wanted in the United States after being caught in a major federal drug bust -- is the one who ordered the hit.

As we previously reported, officials say at least 10 people were paid around $8,000 to complete the hit.

25-year-old Rolfi Ferreira Cruz admitted to being the man behind the gun ... but said from his D.R. jail cell last week Ortiz was NOT his intended target.

Prosecutors say regardless of who the intended target was ... they still plan to pursue serious criminal charges against all of the alleged suspects.

Originally published -- 3:30 PM PT