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Ax falls on conditioning coach Page

By Peter Abraham
Globe Staff / November 4, 2011

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Red Sox strength and conditioning coach Dave Page expected there would be changes when the team collapsed in September and fell out of the playoffs.

But when a month passed and he was still employed, Page hoped that he had been spared. That changed yesterday when the team fired him.

“I was surprised,’’ Page said last night. “It caught me off-guard that it happened now and not right after the season.’’

Page had been with the Red Sox for six years and said his methods hadn’t changed much because they were successful. He was named Major League Baseball’s Strength and Conditioning Coach of the Year in 2007 when the team won the World Series.

“We had a great program, in my opinion, and we added to it a little every year,’’ he said. “But sometimes perception goes a long way whether it’s right or wrong.’’

The perception was that the Red Sox - particularly the pitchers - were out of shape and packed on weight over the course of the season.

“We track a lot of numbers,’’ said Page. “There’s data collection on all the players once a month, more than people realize. There were some red flags but no more than usual.

“But when things happen like what happened to the team, people feel like they need to make changes.’’

Page said Daniel Bard, Rich Hill, David Ortiz, Jonathan Papelbon, Jason Varitek, and Kevin Youkilis were among the players who called him after he got the news.

“Papelbon and Youkilis were less than pleased, I can tell you that,’’ he said.

The Red Sox also fired assistant athletic trainer Greg Barajas, a member of the staff for two years. He and Page were told the team was restructuring the medical department and their skills weren’t required.

“I’m very disappointed,’’ said Page, a Massachusetts native who worked for the Marlins and Diamondbacks before joining the Red Sox. “This is where my family is from and it’s home. I don’t know what their plans are or if anybody else is going.’’

Page said that outside of the annual meeting at the end of the season, he never got a chance to explain his position to the owners or general manager Ben Cherington.

“If there’s a concern, come to me,’’ he said. “Don’t talk to the media about it.

“I never got that chance. That’s just the way it is.’’

Orioles interested in Baird

The Baltimore Orioles have asked permission to speak to Red Sox vice president of player personnel and pro scouting Allard Baird about their general manager vacancy. The Orioles have restarted their search after being turned down by Toronto assistant GM Tony LaCava. Baird has been with the Red Sox since 2006. The New Hampshire native was GM of the Royals from 2000-06. Baltimore also will interview former Red Sox GM Dan Duquette . . . Jacoby Ellsbury won the MLB Players Choice Award as American League Comeback Player of the Year . . . Greenville outfielder Brandon Jacobs was named the South Atlantic League Player of the Year by Topps . . . Red Sox great Luis Tiant is one of 10 candidates on the Veterans Committee ballot for the Hall of Fame, the vote to be taken next month.

Peter Abraham can be reached at Follow him on Twitter @PeteAbe.

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