August 2009

WHY I LIKE MIKE

Pawtucket righthander Michael Bowden turned in another gem on Sunday,working 6 and 2 thirds innings, scattering 5 hits and allowing just 2 runs.  Unfortunately for Michael, the slumbering PawSox offense scored ust one run in the 2-1 loss.  Despite his “quality start”, Bowden fell to 4-6 for the year.  In his 6 losses, the mighty Pawtucket offense has managed a total of just 6 runs.  Through it all, the 22 year old has maintained a positive and professional attitude.  Manager Ron Johnson has been impressed with Bowden, on and off the mound.  “Mike understands.  He does a nice job.  He threw the ball well enough yesterday to win.  Even though he’s a young guy, he’s been around.  They understand that’s a quallity start for Michael and that’s what it’s all about.  We won 86 games last year and when I went up to Fenway in September, nobody asked what my record was.  It’s the same type of thing.  They’re looking to see who can help the ballclub win.  Michael has got to be frustrated.  It would be really nice to have a good won-loss record, but he’s doing exactly what he needs to do.”   Even in defeat, Bowden dropped his ERA from 3.23 to 3.20 for the season, sixth best in the International League.  With the season virtually over (Bowden figures to get 4 more starts) the young man from Illinois has clearly not packed it in.  My guess is that he will be one of the few PawSox players to get a September callup.  Monday morning provided a clear picture as to why it’s so well-deserved.  As I was getting my morning coffee in the lobby of our hotel, I bumped into strength and conditioning coach Mike Jones.  It was about 9:20 a.m.  The game time Monday is 2:05 p.m.  If it were a night game, the guys head to the gym at 10:30 for a workout.  I asked Jones what he was up to. His reply surprised me, but I guess it shouldn’t have.  “I just got back from the gym with Bowden.  You know him.  He insisted we go early so he could get his work in.”  There is no “woe is me” attitude with Bowden.  While some of his teammates may feel sorry for themselves, Bowden takes charge and makes himself the best he can possibly be.  My guess is that RJ would love to have a few more “Bowdens” on his roster.

 

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Red Sox manager Terry Francona took some playful shots at RJ after outfielder Brian Anderson misplayed a ball in the outfield for the Sox.  Tito told the press that RJ had nothing but glowing comments for Anderson’s defense. He played a couple of weeks for the PawSox after he was acquired in the Mark Kotsay trade.  Tito, paraphrasing, basically told RJ to watch SportsCenter highlights and jokingly referred to him as a “prophet.”  RJ took it all in stride-  “I can’t repeat what he said on the radio because he’s never sugarcoated it and never will.  I told him again, he’s one of the best outfielders I’ve eve seen.  I’m sure they’ll see it at the Major League level.  Things like that happen.  I back him.  I’m with him through thick and thin.”   

WAKEFIELD’S BACK

Tim Wakefield has proclaimed himself ready to rejoin the Red Sox rotation.  The longest tenured member of the Red Sox was in Gwinnett, Georgia on Saturday night and worked three and two thirds innings in a 10-1 loss to the Braves.  Wakefield, on the disabled list since mid-July, gave up 2 runs and 3 hits.  He walked one and struck out 3 hitters.  After the game I spoke with the 43 year old American League All Star.

 

How did you feel tonight?

Oh, I felt good.  I was able to throw a lot of strikes.  I felt good enough.

 

Anything ailing you after your outing?

Nothing’s gotten worse, nothing’s gotten really better.  For me this is a huge step to getting back to action in the Big Leagues.

 

How did it feel to be back on the mound after a month or so?

It felt good.  A little awkward at first.  I did throw a simulated game at home last week.  I was able to get the rust off a little bit.  It was nice to be able to come down here and face live hitters in a live game situation.

 

How anxious are you to get back in the (Red Sox) rotation?

Very anxious.  It’s hard to sit on the bench and watch what was going on there for a while.  The guys have started to swing the bats again and I am looking forward to getting back there and contributing again.

 

When will you back with the Sox?

I think they’re aiming for Friday against the Yankees.  Based on their schedule with a day off Monday, I think that’s when I’ll slide in there.  It’s a huge series and we’re trying to catch them right now.  After what they did to us in New York, I’d like some payback.

 

What are your recollections of the PawSox and McCoy Stadium from your stint in 1995?

It was a lot of fun while I was there.  I know they’ve redone the stadium.  I was telling roving instructor Victor Rodriguez that he was playing third base for the PawSox  when I was there.  It’s the first time I’ve worn the PawSox uniform since 1995 and it’s kind of special to be able to put it back on again.

 

You’ve continued the tradition of buying the postgame “spread” for your minor league teammates.  Tell me about the menu.

Chris Scott of the Capitol Grill in Boston made arrangements for the Capitol Grill in Atlanta to come up here…I’ll treat the guys to a nice spread- Filet Mignon and some lobster mac and cheese.  Hopefully, we’ll have some good eats tonight.

 

You received a standing ovation and tipped your cap to the crowd as you left the field.  How did that feel?

It was a great feeling.  I think there were a lot of Red Sox fans in the stands.  I appreciate RJ taking me out in the middle of the inning.  To look up and see the fans standing was special.

 

Did you fight RJ about coming out after reaching your pitch count?

I wanted to, but I knew (Red Sox pitching coach) John Farrell wouldn’t be happy if I went over my pitch count.

 

Given that the Braves faced Charlie Zink (another knuckleballer) the night before, were you concerned at all?

No.  I think Charlie and I, we throw the same pitch, but it’s different.  Mine’s not any better than Charlies’ but I think mine has a little more depth.  Charlie’s had a successful career at Triple A the last couple of years.  The fact that he pitched last night (Friday) didn’t bother me facing them again.

 

Did you ever envision your current status in Red Sox Nation when you were a young guy struggling to make it?

No.  Not at all.  It’s been a huge blessing for me.  This is my fifteenth season with the Sox and it’s special.  Being mentioned with guys like Roger Clemens and Cy Young- trying to catch their records for wins and starts.  It’s pretty special.  It says a lot about longevity and dealing with adversity.  I’ve dealt with a lot of stuff throughout the course of my career and I’ve never quit.

 

What did it mean to you to make your first All Star team at age 42?

That was probably the best thing that’s ever happened to me in my career besides winning the two World Series.  I waited for such a long period of time and finally got recognized, got the nod…I told (A.L. manager) Joe Maddon I didn’t really care if I pitched.  I would have loved to, but he had to present a 16 inning plan to the commissioner and I was the only guy with enough rest that could give him multiple innings late in the game.  I told him I was just happy to be there and I honestly mean that.  It didn’t bother me a bit that I didn’t pitch.  To make my first All Star team at 42 years old is pretty special.

 

The PawSox had a jersey made with your #49 on it but you were wearing a #29 jersey.  What happened?

The “49″ jersey was a size 52 or 54.  It was too big.

 

How important was it to have George Kottaras here as your catcher?

It was big.  Not to take anything away from Dusty Brown or Mark Wagner because they both have experience catching Charlie (Zink).  

 

MURPHYS’ LAW

One of the nicest people I have ever met is Texas Rangers outfielder David Murphy.  Not just in baseball, but anywhere.  Murf was traded with Kason Gabbard for Eric Gagne in 2007.  He was born in Houston and starred collegiately at Baylor, so returning to the Lone Star State has been a boon for David.  His Rangers are in pursuit of Boston for a wild card spot in the American League.  Murf joined us on PawSox Insider Saturday and we talked about Fridays’ Red Sox comeback and the odd sight of pitcher Clay Buchholz pinch-running for Boston late in the game.  Dustin Pedroia hit one deep to left and Murf went after it, causing Buchholz to have some second thoughts on the path.  Clay was ultimately thrown out at the plate,diving in headfirst, causing more than one loyal citizen of the Nation to cringe. “Jumping for the ball worked out well for us, Dustin hit it well.  If I tried to get it on a carom, Buchholz would hae scored easily.  Especially after a play like that it didn’t seem like it was a game you could lose in a million years.”  Even after two years, David still gets a kick out of facing his former team and a lot of old friends.  “It’s like when you were a kid playing against your friends, you’re playing for bragging rights.  I came up with Pedroia, Lester, Papelbon and Delcarmen.  We spent so much time together, I know them so well…You’re like a little kid again, trying to beat your friends.”  With the Rangers in contention in the West, David says there’s a much different feeling at the ballpark in Arlington this summer. “The crowds are electric.  The game last night (Friday) was the loudest I’ve ever heard it there.  Usually, by this time of year fans are just looking forward to the Dallas Cowboys.  This is fun.”  Murf is hitting .272 with 11 homers and 33 rbi.  He has done well, after getting off to a very slow start. “I put too much pressure on myself.  I had the starting job- I overthought things.  I’ve had a great opportnity with this organization, but I was putting too much emphasis on the numbers.  I felt like I had to live up to the expectations of myself and the fans after the success I had in 2008.  It can be such a mental game.  Once I got to 0-15, I thought “This is ridiculous.”  You have to be able to laugh at yourself.  After that slump, I realize I can handle things like that.”  David, the father of two young daughters still gets a charge out of playing in his own backyard.  “It’s definitely still a thrill playing in Texas.  A lot of Baylor fans come out to the game every night.  I always hear “Sic ‘em, Bears.” from the stands.  It’s pretty special.  The sense of pride- the situation, it couldn’t have worked out any better.  It really has been a blessing.”  One of the keys to success fot the Rangers has been the emergence of Josh Hamilton.  Hamilton was the overall number one pick a few years ago and nearly blew it.  He has battled addiction and got a second chance with Texas and has blossomed.  Recently, Hamilton admitted he had had some drinks in a bar after photos surfaced of him with some scantily-clad women.  Murphy says the Rangers are behind Hamilton 100%.  “We’ve been extremely supportive.  He’s a great guy.  Everyone has some type of temptation or something they struggle with.  He has to deal with it in the spotlight.  He carried us on his back in 2008.  You feel for his family.  You hate to see that.  It happens to the best of us.”  David Murphy is the best of us.    

GEORGIA ON MY MIND

First-ever trip into Gwinnett and they have made a good first impression.  Staying at a beautiful, brand new Courtyard Marriott.  Just opened a couple of months ago.  Very modern and very clean looking.  There are several eating options within walking distance from the hotel.  Being a creature of habit, I indulged in the tuna sub from Subway for about the millionth time this season.  (Jared and Michael Phelps know what they’re talking about)   A short van ride courtesy of the hotel and we got our first glimpse of Gwinnett Stadium.  Despite the fact it was built in about 9 months, it looks to be a very nice park.  Our radio booth is comfortable with nice adjustable height stools. (Greatly under-rated for broadcasters)  There does seem to be such a thing as Southern hospitality.  The folks down here have been very accomodating.  This place and the new yard in Columbus are clearly upgrades from old Cooper Stadium and the Diamond.  We rolled into the parking lot at about 3:30 a.m. after driving down from Charlotte.  Lots of tired looking personnel.  We stopped once at a convenience store, about halfway.  It never ceases to amaze me.  The same type of store that you’d drive by a hundred times a day without blinking an eye, has this magic hold over the travelling entourage.  Guys walk thoughtfully, up and down the aisles, deciding on their late-night snack.  Some guys go healthy, some obviously don’t care.  The guy that makes me laugh the most is our beloved manager.  Ron Johnson shops a mini-mart as though it were Christmas Eve and he had forgotten to do his holiday shopping.  I can imagine what a caveman might do if he were plopped right into the middle of Macys’.  RJ likes to stock up his room with goodies.  Incidentally, I went with some Teriyaki Beef Jerky and a bag of Planters Cajun Snack Mix.  Not 100% healthy, but sometimes ya gotta eat.

 

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Transactions today included the release of righthander Rocky Cherry.  Rocky had been a mainstay in the PawSox bullpen, going 3-1 with a 2.57 ERA.  Sometimes it’s just a numbers game.  The gentlemanly Texan is certain to catch on with another organization.  Also the Red Sox optioned Jeff Bailey to Pawtucket.  To make room for the I.L. 2008 MVP, Jeff Natale was placed on the disabled list.

 

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Charlie Zink is pitching for the PawSox on Friday.  Zink is no stranger to the state of Georgia.  He played his college ball at the Savannah College of Arts and Design (SCAD).  At SCAD, he pitched for head coach Luis Tiant.  According to Zink, the team would take a half hour flight rather than a three hour bus ride to the Atlanta area for games.  He said “El Tiante” liked the shorter trip.  Tiant also saw to it that the team stayed at the areas’ best hotels.  Zink recalled a night at the Marriott Marquis when the Phillies were in town to play the Braves.  Philly was then managed by Terry Francona.  Tiant introduced the young pitcher to Tito.  Small world!  Several years later, the Red Sox brought Zink to Georgia to pitch in an exhibition game against the Atlanta Braves. 

TIME MARCHES ON

Most of us have the luxury of growing old in relative anonymity.  If we slip in our job performance, very few can tell, let alone know about it.  Baseball players are an enormous exception.  Very few go out on top.  Babe Ruth was a shadow of his greatness when he finished his career with the Boston Braves.  Jim Rices’ production fell off the map at the end of his Hall of Fame career.  We just witnessed the John Smoltz “train wreck” in Boston.  Despite being awful for the Red Sox, millions of Braves fans will cheer wildly when he is inducted into the Hall.  It has to be incredibly difficult to be on top, an “alpha” male, a star since you were a little kid and then suddenly, the very thing that has defined your entire life is gone.  The great comedic genius, Steve Martin used to sing a bit about getting up in the morning to be a doctor or lawyer, or going to work at the drugstore to sell flair pens.  He finished the ditty with these words-  “The most amazing thing to me, is I get paid for doing this.”  I hope that thought crosses the minds of these athletes while they’re in their prime.  They are getting paid to play a little kids’ game.  What any of us wouldn’t give to do the same, even if for only one day.  Today I was taking the elevator at Knights’ Stadium up to the press box and the lady who runs it lamented about the impending end to the season.  “I can’t believe it’s almost over” she sighed.  That’s a thought that crosses my mind on a daily basis as the 2009, or any of my previous 8 seasons in the International League draws to a close.  There is no doubt that many of the guys will take their final swing or throw their final pitch this September.  It’s baseballs’ “Circle of Life”.  Some have made good money.  Others will try to capitalize on their fame in their hometowns, and others still, will get into coaching or other baseball related jobs.  I was getting a soda in the press box dining area and a team photo of the 1996 Charlotte Knights caught my eye.  In the center of the back row was a strapping young man named Russ Morman.  Morman, now the PawSox hitting instructor had yet to win his first World Series ring at the time the picture was taken. (He won one as a player with the Marlins in 1997 and 2 more as a Red Sox coach).  In some respects, 13 years ago isn’t a long time.  In others, it’s a lifetime.  Morman was a prodigious hitter in the minor leagues, with a .297 career batting average and 207 home runs, including 33 in 1997 in Charlotte.  Today after the team took batting practice, Russ, goaded by Sean Danileson, toyed with the idea of stepping in the cage for a few swings.  The man spent most of his adult life (17 years) as a professional ballplayer and today, RJ discouraged him “Aw man, you don’t want to get hurt.”  Time can be rough.  Time marches on, whether we want it to or not. 

MEETING JAKE PEAVY

Jake Peavy won the National League Cy Young Award while he was with the Padres in 2007.  At the trade deadline he was dealt to the Chicago White Sox and is currently dealing with a partially torn ankle ligament (right).  Peavy will make a rehab start against the PawSox on Thursday in Fort Mill, South Carolina.  Dan and I had the opportunity to sit down with Peavy and go one on one.  He is a thoughtful and articulate young guy.  He’ll probably make a very good broadcaster when his playing days are over.  Here is a portion of our conversation.

 

Jake, how’s the ankle feeling and how close are you to 100%?

I’m getting there.  It’s certainly not 100%, whether it’s my ankle or my arm.  I spent 6 weeks in a cast and a boot and I was not able to do any sort of leg workout.  I’ve been out of the boot for about 2 weeks now.  I’ve played some long toss.  It’s a matter of getting out there and trying to help my new team.  Get in the playoff chase, make a push, and maybe face your Boston Red Sox in October and have some good times.

 

Are you prepared for the contrast of “laid-back” San Diego compared to the intensity of Chicago and the great microscope you’ll be under?

I’m very excited about the passion of Chicago.  I think anybody who’s watched me play knows I put more pressure on myself than anyone else could.  I’m excited to be in a town that cares about its’ teams and takes its’ losses hard, because I take my losses hard.  I’ll ride the “highs”  with them.  I am really excited about the opportunity.  Yes, I am.”

 

In 2007, you were the Cy Young winner.  You took the pitchers’ Triple Crown, leading the league in wins, strikeouts and ERA. (19-6, 2.54, 240 K’s) What does it mean to you to be forever known as a Cy Young winner?

It’s a huge honor to be among the handful of people that have won the award.  When you say that, it’s a great feeling.  I know the first time I made an All Star team, Mark Loretta told me “They can never take this away from you.  You are a Major League All Star and you’ll always be referred to as that.”  To receive calls from former winners like Roger Clemens and Greg Maddux, multiple time winners, it’s a huge honor.  I don’t take it lightly.  Some day I’m sure I’ll look back on it.  If that one is the only one sitting up there on the mantel,  I know that it’s the same one that other greats have won.  I feel blessed.

 

President Obama is obviously a big sports fan.  He fills out the NCAA basketball tournament brackets, he plays golf whenever he can and he is the nations’ number one Chicago White Sox fan.  Is there any added pressure knowing that the leader of the free world might get upset with you if you don’t get through the fifth inning?

He is our forty-fourth president and I wear number 44, so that takes it a step further.  I understand that President Obama is a big White Sox fan and I am glad to have the leader of the country on board.  He certainly did us well at the All Star game, going out there in his White Sox jacket, supporting the boys.  I am certainly going to try to make the President of the United States proud.

 

Peavy has a very nice way about him and you can’t help but root for his success.  After the microphone was turned off, he spoke a little bit further about his rehab.  If he hadn’t been traded, the Padres were willing to let him recuperate for the rest of the season.  The ChiSox, however, are in a pennant chase.  Peavy is supposed to make 3 minor league starts.  Thursday, he expects to throw about 50 pitches.  He didn’t sound overly confident about his chances.  Peavy noted that he was coming in cold and had lost about 2 inches from the circumference of his legs, due to inactivity.  He seems more than willing to give it a try and that’s all the White Sox can really ask.  Their hope is that Peavy wll be ready in time to face the Yankees on August 28.  Peavy was candid saying that Chicago might be better off using young Carlos Torres instead, but he realizes that he carries the name value as a perennial All Star and former Cy Young recipient.

BILLY’S A BIG LEAGUER (EVEN BACK WITH PAWSOX)

Lefty Billy Traber has cleared waivers and has returned to the PawSox.  The 29 year old was summoned by the parent club and appeared in one of the 4 losses suffered over the weekend in the Bronx.  When he was promoted the PawSox were home in R.I. and manager Ron Johnson spent a couple of hours in the middle of the night trying to hunt down Traber.  “The one thing you should do when you’re hoping to get the call to the big leagues is keep your phone “on” and within earshot.  I failed at that.  There were a sizeable number of phone calls and messages.  After about 2 hours, he reached me.   He congratulated me, but he wasn’t the happiest.  RJ was not in the greatest of moods, and I don’t blame him.”  Although Traber had already appeared in 95 Major League games, he was excited, nonetheless.  “It was great.  I told Tito (Terry Francona) and John (pitching coach John Farrell) thank you up and down!  Obviously, you want to pitch well.  I didn’t expect the call- we have a wealth of arms down here.  Even if it was just for 2 days, it was great.  It didn’t go down like I’d hoped, but I was there.  I had a great time.”  After toiling in anonymity, Traber relished being thrust back into the spotlight- right into the middle of a Yankees Red Sox series.  “You have to enjoy it.  It’s ok to be nervous or excited, but you have to enjoy it.  This one was awesome.  I don’t care if I was facing the Yankees…they’re ALL Major League teams.  You have to revel in it.  It may be the last time you ever get the call.  It was tons of fun.  I went out there and did my best.  If you don’t enjoy it, you’re doing yourself a disservice.”  Pitching coach John Farrell was with the Cleveland organization when Traber first came up.  He says Farrell is one of the big reasons he joined the Boston organization. “That was the deciding factor.  As a minor league free agent, you look for the best deal or the best situation.  John’s always been honest with me.  He’s seen me grow from a kid to the man I am now.  After I was done (outing against the Yankees) he hugged me.  It was great. Immediately after his lone appearance, Traber was designated for assignment and eventually returned to the PawSox.  The three day waiting period was the hardest part.  “You hate to have your job taken away from you, even for a short time.  I couldn’t go the park, so I just looked around New York with my girlfriend (Gina).  It’s the business part, you never know what will happen.  It’s as good or as bad as you want it to be.  I’m always going to try to stay positive.  I wash it off and get ready to go wherever I go next.”    

CATCHING UP

Thoughts running through this size 8 plus noggin of mine.

 

The trip to Charlotte is a homecoming of sorts for a couple of guys.  Marcus McBeth is expecting several friends and family members to make the trip from nearby Spartanburg, South Carolina at some point over the next four days.  Adam MIlls, just promoted from AA Portland, is a former Forty-Niner from the University of North Carolina, Charlotte.  He is expected to start for Pawtucket on Wednesday.  Mills made a cameo start for the PawSox during the 2008 playoffs against Scranton.  Brian Anderson was a member of the Knights just before his trade from the White Sox in exchange for Mark Kotsay.  Before he was sent to Boston, Javier Lopez pitched for Charlotte.  Hitting instructor Russ Morman is a former Knight, as well.

 

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Rhode Islands’ Mark McKinnon is the facilities manager at Knights Stadium.  Mark is the younger brother of Matt McKinnon, head groundskeeper at McCoy Stadium.

 

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Justin Cassel (rhp), is on the Charlotte roster.  Notable for a couple of reasons, he was a teammate of PawSox catcher Mark Wagner at the University of California, Irvine.  Justin is also the brother of former New England and current Kansas City quarterback Matt Cassel.  The Cassels have a third brother we have seen this season.  Jack pitched against Pawtucket this May in Columbus.

 

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Jake Peavy will begin a Major League rehab assignment against the PawSox.  He is slated to be the starting pitcher Thursday.  The 2007 National League Cy Young winner was acquired by the White Sox on July 31 for 4 prospects.  With the Padres in 2009, Peavy was 6-6, 3.97 in 13 starts.  Peavy is rehabbing a partially torn ankle tendon.

 

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Former PawSox infielder Keith Ginter is on the Charlotte roster.  Ginter is hitting .266, 5, 25 primarily as a second baseman.  In 2008 Ginter played mostly at third base for the PawSox, hitting .250, 7, 54.  Word is, he has impressed farm director Buddy Bell enough, to earn an invitation back for 2010. 

 

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Former Knight Carlos Torres pitched a five inning, perfect game against the PawSox at McCoy on June 15.  Rain washed out the remainder of the ballgame.  In fact, three of the 4 gmes in Pawtucket were less than nine innings.  A double header on June 16 featured a pair of 7 inning games and the weather-shortened Torres perfecto.

 

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As if I’m not down enough after the weekend debacle at Yankee Stadium, I have to sit and watch former Yankee Chris Chambliss manage for the next four days.  While I really hate the current crop of Bronx Bombers, I have a special loathing for the Chambliss generation.  Players like Munson, Nettles, Rivers, Piniella, Dent and Randolph were the bane of my existence as a child.  If anything, my Yankee hatred has intensified over the years.  Again, I realize it isn’t normal- but I honestly can’t help it.

 

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Got a sweet e-mail from Samantha, David Pauleys’ fiance.  She wrote to tell us that the PawSox front office sent them PawSox gear for new baby daughter, Emme.  A generous gesture on the part of the Pawtucket brass.  The “caveat” was that Sam was to dress Emme in the Pawtucket clothing for a Tides game at Harbor Park.  She promises pictures if she does. 

GROWING UP IN A HURRY

Junichi Tazawa was supposed to start on Saturday for the PawSox at Fenway Park.  Instead, he was thrust into the spotlight of the greatest rivalry in all of sports.  Tazawa made his Major League debut in Yankee Stadium, and all things considered, it didn’t go that well.  Tazawa surrendered a 2 run home run to Alex Rodriguez in the bottom of the fifteenth inning that gave the Yankees a 2-0 win.  It wasn’t really fair to Tazawa, but what in life is  fair?  Taz was scheduled to go for Pawtucket in the Futures at Fenway game against Norfolk.  There probably would have been butterflies then.  Imagine what the 23 year old righthander must have felt as he pitched the fourteenth and fifteenth against the Evil Empire.  Tazawa is a very nice, unassuming young man.  It has to be incredibly difficult to be a stranger in a strange land, pitching in front of a 48,000 enemies in the Bronx, and countless millions watching on TV.  Tazawa was not afforded the luxury of being eased into the situatiion.  With John Smoltz designated for assignment, the Red Sox were forced into calling up Tazawa to bolster their sagging fortunes.  You hope that it won’t permanently scar him.  It has happened before.  The Red Sox have rushed guys like Cla Meredith and Craig Hansen.  They took a long time to get over their early failure.  I’m not sure Hansen ever overcame the disappointment.  The bigger problem is the Red Sox now trail by 4 and a half games in the East.  Clay Buchholz pitches Saturday against C.C. Sabathia.  Suddenly, Buch has to “man up” and become a Major Leaguer.  No more kid gloves- pitch the way he pitchesd at Pawtucket and help Boston get back on track.  He is gifted.  Tazawa is gifted as well.  These guys haul in a pretty good paycheck to produce, and now’s the time.

 

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Fenway Park is the star today as the PawSox face the Tides in the Futures at Fenway.  Last night was a good win.  Brian Anderson and Jeff Natale homered and Matrk Wagner belted a 2 run double in the 6-2 victory.  Kris Johnson didn’t figure in the decision, but turned in his best performance of the year, giving up one run in six innings.

PAULEY MAKES TRIUMPHANT RETURN TO MCCOY

Obviously, I want the PawSox to win every night.  However, losing on Thursday didn’t hurt as badly (me, anyway) because the winning pitcher was a good old friend.  David Pauley pitched the Norfolk Tides to a 5-3 win in Pawtucket.  “DP” worked 6 and a third innings, allowing just three runs against his former team.  In 2008 Pauley went 14-4 with a 3.55 ERA for the PawSox.  Unfortunately, he was out of options and was traded to the Orioles for Randor Bierd.   Ironically, Bierd squared off with Pauley in the ballgame Thursday.  David, who had made a couple of starts for Boston got the opportunity to atone for a loss earlier this season at Harbor Park in Norfolk, Va.  David is a new father.  His daughter Emme, is just a little over 2 months old.  His parents, David and Carol, still keep in touch and listen to our internet broadcast when they can.  It is much appreciated especially since I think the Tides radio broadcaster Bob Socci, does such a good job.  For the second night in a row and the third time in the last two homestands, my postgame guest (in this case, Pauley) fell victim to the “Pie in the face” prank while speaking to me.  I’m no instigator (well, maybe I am) but I know who was responsible for Pauley getting “pied”. As the Tides were shaking hands coming off the field Thursday, pitching coach Mike Griffin, not so subtly, told several Norfolk players- “Shaving cream Pauley, Shaving cream Pauley.”  They obliged.  Unlike the night before, when Brandon Pinckney was unable to continue the interview, Pauley wiped off and finished our conversation.  Griffin, who was the Pawtucket for 5 years overall and 4 years during the so-called “Hyder Era” is missed.  Not that Rich Sauveur doesn’t do a good job or isn’t a good guy-  he does and he is, but Griff is just an old friend, like Pauley.  Known for his getting to the ballpark early, RJ would tease him and say it was because he wanted as much free food as possible.  The old saying went- “Crime doesn’t pay, and neither does Griff”.  As I’ve said so many times before, if you don’t have a thick skin, you’re in trouble.  A side bonus, was seeing Griff’s son, Brad.  Brad basically grew up in the PawSox clubhouse.  Constantly playing catch or bouncing a ball off the wall, all while dressed in an oversized uniform.  Brad, about to enter seventh grade, has grown into the uniform and had a great summer playing youth baseball.  Tall and thin, like his dad, he’s an extremely nice and polite young man.  If you get one thing out of this blog this season, it’s relationships.  The friendships and relationships you develop with these people are the most valuable thing you take with you. 

 

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I respect John Smoltz.  His career numbers speak for themselves.  As a Red Sox fan, I implore the Sox to end the Smoltz disaster.  Pull the plug.  Hide him in the bullpen.  Give him the gold watch and send him on his way.  You simply cannot afford to give away a game every five days.  Bob Feller was a great pitcher in his day.  One of the best ever.  But I don’t want to see him on the mound now.  Same for Smoltz.  Here are your parting gifts, thanks for playing.

 

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We had the pleasure of meeting the parents of Bubba Bell.  The Bells stopped up to the radio booth to say hello.  They are visiting from Oklahoma.  Nicest people, ever.

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