MAKING THE MOST OF HIS OPPORTUNITY
Players come and go all the time. That’s a fact of baseball. Some are prospects. others are regarded as suspects. It makes no difference to me. When they wear the colors of the Pawtucket Red Sox, they are PawSox.
Matt Sheely is 24 years old. He’s a Floridian who has spent most of this season on the “phantom disabled list.” That means that he’s been with our club, almost stashed away, as an insurance policy. With the injuries recently to Ryan Kalish (shoulder) and J.C. Linares (ankle), Sheely has been activated. He contributed right away. Sheely was thrilled to see action. “I’m really excited. It’s been a long road, but I’m excited.” Sheely would take batting practice and shag flys in the outfield, but had to deal with the boredom that comes with sitting on the bench evey night. “I just had to keep my routine, and not hope that someone gets hurt, but be ready in case someone does. It’s inevitable. Someone will get hurt eventually and I just have to be ready.”
Sheely made his first start in right on Mothers’ Day in Scranton. He was bouncing off the walls, in anticipation of the action. He felt like he was getting a gift. “Yeah, it was exciting. The first day I had “fresh” legs, so I was flying all over the place.”
Sheely was a long shot to make it even this far. He was taken in the 2005 draft in the 48th round by Boston. The 1446th player selected. Sheely feels that he’s defied the odds, avoiding the “grim reaper” of baseball. ” To still be around, yes I have. there were a lot of first, second and third round guys that aren’t still here. I’m not going to say that I was more talented than them, but I’ve been able to stick around and still be here.” Sheely thinks he knows why he’s still around. “Because of my speed and great defense. I think once I figure out how to hit, I’ll be able to make that next step.”
On Sunday, Matt was hit by a pitch late in the game against the Yankees. He stole second and scored the game winning run when Daniel Nava singled him in. Although it was satisfying to Sheely, he didn’t even realize what he’d done. “I really hadn’t noticed until I called my mom later in the day and she said ‘you scored the winning .run’. I said ‘Really? I didn’t even notice’.”
Since Sunday, Matt Sheely has been a fixture in the Pawtucket lineup. He’s had a 3 hit game. How long that lasts, no one knows. He’s not hung up on labels or trying to out play highly touted guys like Kalish and Josh Reddick. Sheely seems to be a realist. “I’m not a top prospect and I’m fine with that. I just come to the park every day and do what I can. There are a lot of teams out there. I’m with Boston now. We’ll see what happens. Ya know?”