THE TALE OF “WAGS”
Mark Wagner is one of the newest members of the Pawtucket Red Sox. The 25 year old catcher was promoted from Portland on June 28. At that time, Wagner was hitting .301 with 3 homers and 23 rbi. Perhaps his most impressive number is 62. Wagner had gunned down 62% of attempted base stealers (18-29). An extremely gregarious guy Wagner grew up in California, but insists he wasn’t a fan of any team or any particular player. He just loves the game. “I was a guy who’d rather play baseball than watch it. I played a bunch of sports growing up. If there was a good game on, I’d watch it, not if it was a blowout. If it is a fun or competitive game in any sport, those are the ones I love to watch.” Wagner says that he never planned to be a catcher, it more or less chose him- “It was one of those things where no one else wanted to do it and it kind of fell into my lap.” Wagner is glad about his career choice now. With George Kottaras in the Majors and Dusty Brown knocking on the door, Wagner is ready to prove to Boston that he could be the heir apparent to Jason Varitek. “I just work hard every day and try to improve in every aspect of the game. I compete every day, stay strong and healthy and I really want to help the team win.” As I mentioned, Wagner is an outstanding defensive catcher and takes pride in his gaudy defensive statistics. “You can’t be a catcher if you can’t play defense. It’s what we work on, day in and day out. It worked for me in Portland, I’ll continue to work really hard here and maybe I’ll get the chance to show what I can do at the Big League level.” Wagner realizes that he is very fortunate to be able to handle such a talented stable of young pitchers- “It’s been a blast.” Wagner goes way back with some of his battery mates. “I remember walking into the clubhouse in Lowell and Clay Buchholz and I hit it off right away. We met up again on down the line and with him and guys like (Michael) Bowden, it’s just a real pleasure. They are just a couple of the special young arms in the baseball world.” Despite his experience, Wags got a little wide-eyed when he got to Spring Training and caught some of the “Big Boys” in Fort Myers. “In the beginning, it happened really early for me, it was a little bit nerve-wracking. These are the guys- some of the best in the game. I’ve caught (Josh) Beckett and Dice (Daisuke Matsuzaka) so now it’s just a matter of getting more comfortable and knowing them so if I ever do get a call-up, I’ll be ready.” Wagner actually made his debut at McCoy Stadium this winter at the annual “hot stove” gathering. He turned a few heads and made a few people laugh (especially RJ) when he spoke about himself in the third person. “Wags is not afraid to talk in the third person. Him and RJ get along pretty well. It’s a game within a game and you have to come to the park and have fun every day It’s a joke. I like to lighten up the mood. Every day at the park is a brand new day.” Seems to me Mark Wagners’ day is coming soon to a ballpark near you.
From the “hard to believe” department. After getting postponed two straight days because of wet grounds and unplayable field conditions in Scranton, the grounds crew actually was watering the field after the Yankees doubleheader sweep on Monday night. BRILLIANT!!!