Somehow, the Mighty PawSox just keep rolling along. Halfway through May, they’re ensconced in first place in the North Division. They’ve done it with a revolving cast of characters. Due to injuries, and promotions, the PawSox of today look very different than the opening day team. All Star Kevin Youkilis is scheduled to arrive here in Durham sometime in the next 24 hours and begin a rehab assignment, presumably as DH. Youk has worked so hard over the years, and has made himself, when healthy, one of the best all-around players in the game. The emergence of Will Middlebrooks in Boston, may make for an interesting decision for the Sox. Along with Youk, I expect a flood of scouts and the like to converge on Durham Bulls Athletic Park to check Kevins’ progress themselves.
Incredibly proud of, not only Middlebrooks, but Daniel Nava, as well. Really, an afterthought this year, Nava has re-emerged from the pack. His home run into the Monster seats on Monday night, made me stand up and cheer, very much the same way his 2010 Grand Slam against Philadelphia did. Nava is an incredible young man. If you had a son, you’d want him to be Nava. If you had a daughter, you’d want her to marry Nava. He continues to defy the odds. A person close to the situation recently told me that he thought Nava might be the best hitter in the Sox minor league system. Not bad for a kid who wasn’t even invited to Major League Spring Training.
Replacing Nava on the PawSox roster is former American League All Star, Scott Podsednik. A career .279 hitter in ten Major League seasons, Scott was purchased from the Phillies. He’d been playing at Lehigh Valley. Podsednik paid immediate dividends for Pawtucket. In his first game at McCoy, he had a single, a sacrifice fly and two RBI. The veteran seemed to take it all in stride. “It was a pretty fair day one, I guess.”
Podsednik didn’t seem at all surprised with the transaction that landed him in Rhode Island. “I’ve been around for a while, been doing this for a long time. I’m not surprised. If you play the game long enough, you see all sorts of movements, trades, and decisions that take place during the season. You’ve got to take it in stride, focus on what you’ve got to do and try to come over here and help the club.”
Podsednik says the fire stil burns inside of him and he is eager to get back to the Big Leagues. “I still feel that I can compete at that level. My body’s in good shape. I’m still running well enough to steal a base. There’s still some gas left in the tank. I keep hearing from guys who played the game, to play as long as I can. Until they rip the jersey off my back. With that said- I’m still having fun, and I’ve got that fire burning deep inside. I enjoy the competition.”
One thing that has to be exciting to a guy like Scott, is the willingness of the Red Sox to make room on their 40 man roster for men who produce. Given time to prove himself, he’s just a phone call away. “They’ve made a lot of moves. They’ve had a lot of unfortunate injuries. A lot of transactions have taken place. I’ve been around long enough to undestand that there are just certain things you can control as a player. You can waste a lot of time and energy getting caught up in moves and transactions. I try to focus my energy and attention on getting my body ready to go out and compete. If you do that on a day in and day out basis, the rest will take care of itself.” Spoken like a true veteran.