THE REUNION TOUR CONTINUES

     I guess when you’ve been in the Intenational League as long as I have (12 years), you know a lot of people.  The other day I told you about my encounters with former Pawtucket players like Bobby Scales and Fernando Cabrera.  Here in Rochester, ex-Red Sox first baseman and PawSox standout, Aaron Bates is playing for the Red Wings.  Bates was released by the Sox on March 31, 2011 and was subsequently scooped up by the Twins.  He was pleased.  “It’s a great organization.  It’s been a pleasure.  I’ve been fortunate to be with two first class organizations, Boston and the Minnesota Twins.  Spring Training went well and I’m just looking to get the season underway.”

     Bates took his release from Boston in stride.  He’s a smart guy and he understands how things work.  “It was just one of those things.  I’m still close with everyone over there.  I had had my best Spring Training ever that year, but I didn’t have that good of a year in 2010.  I knew coming in that the odds were stacked against me a little bit.  I’m still close with (assistant General Manager) Mike Hazen.  I got a lot of opportunities with Boston.  They gave me my Big League debut.  The biggest thing is that I have so many friends over there.  As far as the business end of it, I know how baseball goes and I appreciated the opportunity I had.”

     It may be a little strange for Bates to be sitting in the Rochester dugout, with a former mentor of his across the field.  “Arnie Beyeler is, if not THE, definitely one of the best managers i ever played for.  I played for him a long time.  I remember when I got called up to Double A (Portland) in 2007, I really didn’t know what to expect from Arnie.  You get your work done with him.  He gets you going.  He makes you earn your stripes a little bit.  As a younger guy, you don’t know what to expect from him, but once you show him that you play hard every day and go about your business the right way, he’ll do anything for you.  He’ll break his back for you.  I was so fortunate to have him coming up in the system.  He taught me so much about baseball.  How to play and how to prepare.”

     Aaron is certain that his time in the Red Sox chain hasd helped him with the Twins.  “Both teams are really big on preparation.  The Sox helped me develop from a very young age and when you come over to this organization, you’re ready to play.  I’m just fortunate that Boston does such a good job developing players.  When I got here, I wasn’t like a fish out of water.  I know how to play the game.”

     After a long Spring in Fort Myers, facing the PawSox at least once a week, Bates is re-acquainted with his former teammates, but it’s still fun to see the guys in this setting.  “It’s a lot of fun.  I remember last year the first time we played the PawSox at McCoy, it was great. Lars (Anderson) and I were drafted the same year.  (Ryan) Kalish is rehabbing.  I know he’ll be back soon.  I’m real close with him.  It’s like seeing old friends.  It’s like a reunion.  You see all your buddies and it’s just fun to compete agsinst them.”

      Bates took on as new “teammate” this offseason, the former Miss Massachusetts, Lacy Wilson.  “I got married December 17th.  It was a lot of fun.  We’ve been together for a really long time and she’s been great.  It was a fun offseason.”  Bates is a player with some power in his bat, but he knows that this may be the biggest home run he’s evr hit.  “We met right before I transferred to N.C. State and she’s been there all along, supporting me.  It’s a good team, we’re a good team.  She makes it really easy on me.  It was a no- brainer.  I’m just really fortunate to have her in my life.”

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