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Boston stronger: Sox pay tribute to victims

BOSTON -- The Fenway Park video screen had just finished playing the tribute video for the Boston Marathon bombing victims, the crowd had just finished singing the national anthem, and everyone involved with the pregame ceremonies on Saturday began to exit the field.

Except David Ortiz.

On the day he was making his triumphant return from the 15-day disabled list, Ortiz grabbed the microphone.

"All right," he said. "All right, Boston."

The crowd erupted, but Ortiz had more.

"This jersey that we wear today," he said, "it doesn't say Red Sox. It says Boston. We want to thank you Mayor [Tom] Menino, Gov. [Deval] Patrick, the whole police department for the great job they did this past week.

"This is our f------ city and nobody is going to dictate our freedom. Stay strong."

The fans laughed and roared as Ortiz walked toward the dugout and smacked the hands of a club employee with the microphone.

"It just came out," Ortiz explained after the Red Sox beat the Royals, 4-3. "It just came out, man. It just came out. If I offended anybody, I apologize, but I feel like this town needs to be pumped."

A little after 1 p.m. ET, a tribute to the Boston Marathon victims was displayed on the video scoreboard at Fenway. With the song "Hallelujah" by Jeff Buckley playing over the loudspeaker, the tribute scrolled through photos of happy Marathon runners at first. Cheers erupted.

Then came the photos everyone has seen all too much of over the last week, with the image of the first explosion coming first, then the instantly famous shot, featured on the front of Sports Illustrated this week, of three Boston Police officers standing in front of the chaos as a runner lay on the ground.

After a display of the Watertown sign caused another eruption in cheer, photos from Friday's manhunt and eventual capture of the second bombing suspect wrapped up the video tribute.

"That video was pretty moving," said Red Sox manager John Farrell. "When you consider all that has transpired, from a celebration of someone finishing a marathon to the devastation that followed that, to all the video if you watched TV the last 36 hours, it was all captured in that five-minute video."

Saturday starter Clay Buchholz, who was warming up in the bullpen during the video, kept stopping his motion and looking up, but that didn't stop him from throwing eight innings of two-run ball and improving to 4-0.

"It was different in the bullpen because of how the ceremony was going," Buchholz said. "I don't think it would be right for me to keep throwing through the ceremony, so I had to stop a couple of times."

Victims of Monday's bombing were brought on the field to throw ceremonial first pitches alongside members of the Boston Police and Watertown Police departments, Patrick and police commissioner Ed Davis.

"It was a very emotional day here," Ortiz said. "Just looking at those guys that were injured by this bomb going off and watching the news pretty much every day about the whole situation, it's painful. It's painful."

A Green Monster-sized American flag was draped over the left-field wall and the national anthem was sung by the crowd.

Finally, it was time for baseball.

"It was tough," Dustin Pedroia said of trying to play a game immediately after such a powerful ceremony. "I think around like the fifth or sixth, I was beat. I mean, we were tired. You're drained, you know? Yeah, it was different. Different day."

Andrew Bailey pulled out another surprise before the ninth inning, when he entered to the song, "I'm Shipping Up To Boston," by the Dropkick Murphys. It was the theme song played when former Boston closer Jonathan Papelbon entered to shut the door in the ninth.

"That was something [catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia] and I discussed this morning," Bailey said. "I said, 'Let's do it.' That ninth inning was a part of the game the fans really enjoyed for a long time. It was just something we decided to do and the way they erupted was unbelievable. It was just a good day."

Ortiz shared the sentiment.

"Today I could see people just opening their chests and just letting it go," he said. "We all know that it's going to take some time to heal up, but it's step by step, and this is one of the steps we take as a positive and we can move forward."

Jason Mastrodonato is a reporter for Follow him on Twitter @jmastrodonato.
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