The PawSox are sorely in need of leadership. Not from the coaching staff. Manager Ron Johnson and coaches Russ Morman and Rich Sauveur more than fill the bill in that department. What I’m talking about is the type of leadership that comes from within the clubhouse. A player who is not content to just play out the string. Someone who will grab a younger teammate by the front of the jersey and not be afraid to tell them to hustle, try harder, or just to smarten up. The PawSox miss Jeff Bailey. Not that “Bails” is a rah-rah type, he really isn’t. But he leads by example and does not tolerate fools well. Bailey, the reigning MVP in the I.L. is currently on Bostons’ disabled list with a high ankle sprain. The PawSox are not his responsibility, but I mention Bailey to show what the PawSox seem to be missing. If you’ve head me on the air over the last 5 years or read this blog this season, you know how I feel about RJ. There’s not a better man for the job- anywhere. However, from what I’ve been told, nothing makes more of an impression than a teammate calling you out. Last season, Joe Thurston was that kind of guy in the clubhouse. Thurston didn’t care if he ruffled feathers, winning was priority number one. He may not have been the best player on te team, but he cared, a lot. The PawSox have turned in a crummy month of July, so far. They’ve dropped 12 of their last 14 games, all but falling out of any possible postseason conversation. Monday night, the PawSox hit “rock bottom”. That was the term used by shortstop Gil Velazquez in the Rochester newspaper after Pawtucket committed 5 errors in their most recent defeat. RJ closed the door to the visitors’ clubhouse at Frontier Field and read his team the riot act. It takes a lot to get him upset, but apparently it’s happened. RJ feels that if he allows mental mistakes, laziness and lack of concentration to be tolerated for one night, the wrong message is sent with the rest of the season in the balance. He made his point and made it very clear. If you can’t hit, fine. If you can’t pitch, ok. If you can’t catch the ball, so be it. You better be on time. You better play hard and you had better be trying. Younger players like Aaron Bates, Bubba Bell and Mark Wagner are impressionable and will follow an example set by a veteran player, if they don’t take the bull by the horns, themselves. It is tough enough to make the transition to Triple A without having to be the “team captain” as well. I’m not pointing fingers at any one specifically, but I’d love to see a roster that has this much talent on it, live up to somewhere close to its’ potential.
Welcome Adam LaRoche to the Red Sox. The first baseman was traded from the Pirates to Boston for shortstop Argenis Diaz (Portland) and pitcher Hunter Strickland (Greenville). LaRoche, 29 was hitting .247 with 12 home runs and 47 rbi. LaRoche is a free agent at the end of the 2009 season.
I love Frontier Field in Rochester. It is very well-maintained and seemingly well run. The park features organist Fred Costello. It just sounds so great to hear Fred work his magic on the organ. Costello has turned down offers from Major League teams to remain in Rochester. His son Thurm, is another fixture in the League. Thurm runs the visitors’ clubhouse at the ballpark. Freds’ other son, Chris, works in the PR department for the Tampa Bay Rays. He gave his A.L. Championship ring to his dad. Freds’ mom is 98 years old and lives in Syracuse. She used to listen to me back when I did the Syracuse University broadcasts and the Chiefs baseball games. Fred says she’s up and about all the time, socializing and playing cards with her friends. “She’s no decrepit old lady, that’s for sure.” says Fred.