After the first scheduled day off of the season, the PawSox met at McCoy on Friday morning for an 8:00 a.m. departure for Lehigh Valley. Two Dattco buses were loaded up and with Jerry, our driver, or “bussy” in baseball parlance, behind the wheel, we hit the road. Allentown Pa., made famous by Billy Joel is the destination. About 5 hours from Pawtucket, it’s a short ride as far as baseball trips go. It’s comfortable, with a movie playing on the monitors of the bus. Early in the morning, a lot of guys aren’t paying attention- many are dozing, listening to their music or reading. RJ likes to stretch his legs a couple of times a trip, so we will probably stop soon. The guys will stumble off the bus and get something to eat at a convenience store or a burger joint. The radio guy gets the third row seat. It’s just a given. On our bus, we have RJ, a sleeping Russ Morman, strength coach Mike Jones who has taken a lot of good natured ribbing early this season for his resemblance to the Buigess Meredith character, Mickey, from the Rocky movies. Dan Hoard sits behind me, and behind him, the future of the Red Sox. On the other bus Greg Barajas the trainer and pitching coach Rich Sauveur preside over the other half of the team. Bus rides are a fact of life in the minor leagues. The PawSox fly to most of our destinations. When we go to Scranton, Allentown, Rochester and Syracuse we become road warriors. The movie selection this morning included the very forgettable “Forgetting Sarah Marshall” and “Iron Man”.
I was watching the Red Sox game on Wednesday night and was thrilled to see Jeff Bailey hit a three run homer off Francisco Liriano. Bailey is a consumate professional who has worked hard to turn himself into a very good player. I’ve known “Bails” for about 5 years so it was exciting to see him get off to a good start. What really got me “juiced”, though was the next morning, watching ESPN and seeing his name come across the “crawl” on the bottom of the TV screen. That’s when you know you’ve made it.
Much of the conversation this morning centered around a couple of transactions made by Boston. The Sox re-acquired lefthander Kason Gabbard from Texas. “Gabby” was dealt to the Rangers with David Murphy in 2007 for the biggest bust ever- Eric Gagne. Presumably, after a stint at extended spring training, Gabbard will join the PawSox. The other move was Chris Carter being optioned to Pawtucket. Carter made the Red Sox out of spring training, but had just 5 at bats with 1 rbi for Boston. He will get some at bats and certainly help this ballclub. Jonathan Van Every is not on the bus, leading me to believe that he will take Carter’s spot with Boston. “JV” hit a game-tying grand slam in the bottom of the ninth on Wednesday to lead the PawSox to a great, come from behind win over Rochester. It was his only game action so far after spraining his ankle in Fort Myers last month. The wheels on the bus go ’round and ’round.