THE EX-FACTOR BITES THE PAWSOX TWICE
It was a brief two game series against Buffalo, but man, was it discouraging. The last place Bisons swept the PawSox 3-1 and 1-0 at McCoy on Thursday and Friday. Prior to Thursdays’ loss, manager Ron Johnson warned the media about the “Ex-Player Syndrome.” In his mind, former players of his come back to McCoy and wreak havoc against his current club. RJ cited the case of Dustan Mohr, a pretty useless outfielder when with the PawSox, who seemingly hit a home run for Toledo every time he came up against Pawucket. Thursday, Chip Ambres who was traded by the Red Sox to the Mets on June 10 and assigned to Buffalo hit a two run homer and a solo shot to account for all the Buffalo runs. “I love Chip.” said Johnson who managed the outfielder in 2005 and again this year. “But save that stuff for when you get outta here. Everybody in our clubhouse loves him, but Geez.” RJ said his former teammates began to razz Chip during his first at bat at McCoy. Johnson, a superstitious baseball guy, quickly had them stop. “I’m always paranoid when we go against our former guys. You have to watch out for the “baseball gods”. Don’t get ’em mad.” In game two of the series the PawSox held Ambres in check, but couldn’t manage any offense. Tobi Stoner gave up one hit over 7 shutout innings of work. Former Pawtucket righty Kyle Snyder came on to get the final 6 outs and preserve the win. Snyder, the owner of a 2007 Red Sox World Series ring and I visited before the game Friday. He knew how happy Ambres was with his success against the Sox. “What a night he had. He carried us all the way. We’ve talked quite a bit since his trade over here and he told me how much he enjoyed his time with the Red Sox and PawSox organization, as well.” Snyder said as time passes, he relishes his role with Boston and the ring he earned. “As time goes by, I appreciate it even more. What it means to me personally, to have been a part of that team, that organization. How well they treated me! I knew it was going to take some time for it to sink in, it really hadn’t. As each day goes by and I’m further removed from my time with this team, it’s left its’ mark on my life. There’s no question about it.” Snyder is a former number one pick of the Royals who has been dogged by major injuries throughout his career. Kyle says he doesn’t ever stop to feel sorry for himself. “I try not to focus on those things. For me, there’s been a lot of fulfillment having dealt with the adversity I have on the field. To persevere and come back and enjoy the game I love, is really something I take to heart. Coming back from four arm surgeries…a lot of guys might not have come back from one. I try not to focus on the past. I focus on what’s going on now and what the future’s going to look like.” Snyder has maintained friendships with players from both his former teams, the Red Sox and Kansas City, but he is especially proud of his alma mater, the University of North Carolina and the job Mike Fox has done as head coach. “Mike Fox has done a tremendous job with that program. He took over in 1999, my junior year and what they’ve accomplished over the last ten years is really a tribute to him. He just continues to produce big league talent year in and year out.” One young man stands out in his mind, former PawSox and current Boston reliever, Daniel Bard. “He’s exceptional. I’m happy for him to see the success he’s having this year with the Red Sox.” Snyder, a proud “Tar Heel” through and through, was excited about a fellow UNC alum who is moving to Boston. “Rasheed Wallace will be great. He’s persevered through quite a bit himself. He’ll help the Celtics in all facets. I think leadership as much as anything else. He’s been on winners in the past. He’ll help on the defensive end, the offensive end…he’s going to bring a lot of experience to that club. I think he’s going to help a tremendous amount.” Snyder, Tobi Stoner, Nelson Figueroa and the rest of the Buffalo staff looked like anything but a last place team beating Pawtucket twice. The PawSox haven’t scored a single run in 17 innings and just one run in their last 31 frames. Before sending 6 men to the plate in the ninth on Friday, the PawSox had been retired in order 11 times in 17 innings. They hadn’t had an inning with more than 4 hitters for two nights. Maybe RJ has something with this “Ex-Player Syndrome.”
Pitchers are always looking to add something to their repertoire. Michael Bowden is no exception. It’s not another pitch, however. Inspired by fellow hurler Marcus McBeth, “Bo” wants to learn the piano. He’s purchased a Casio keyboard and has enlisted McBeth to teach him. Bowden is a big admirer of his “professor”. “I was completely mesmerized by his playing. I’ve always wanted to learn and Marcus seems to be a willing teacher.” McBeth, who’s been playing since the age of 4, says the 22 year old Bowden should pick it up easily. “All you need is the willingness to learn and he certainly seems to have that.”
A true legend was present at McCoy on Friday. NHL Hall of Famer, Milt Schmidt of the Boston Bruins threw out the first pitch prior to the game. Schmidt, who also laced them up for the Providence Reds enjoyed the game from Ben Mondors’ box.