Thursday is the seventy first annual Boston Baseball Writers Dinner. It is being held at the Westin in Boston and I came up early for the afternoon news conference that featured the likes of Terry Francona, John Lackey, Jeremy Hermida and Colorado skipper Jim Tracy. I’m sitting in the work room, banging on my lap top, sitting between my good friend, Joe McDonald of the Providence Journal and one of the all time greats, Bob Ryan of the Boston Globe. First guy we ran into at the hotel this afternoon was former PawSox manager Ron Johnson. Not surprising, he was scarfing down a huge burger drenched in his own special dressing of mayo and ketchup. Sitting with his wife Daphne, we had a nice chat. RJ is obviously excited about his appointment to the Red Sox staff as first base coach for Tito. Francona said it was a promotion that was long overdue and well-deserved. RJ said he was touched by the people who reached out to him when he got the Boston job. Former Red Sox and PawSox manager Joe Morgan sent him a hand-written note that RJ said he framed and hung in his office. Former players like Dustin Pedroia also called or texted. “We were sitting there eating pizza one night, and the “Fonz”, Mark Kotsay, a first baseman, called.” Johnson told me. “He got after me good, saying that after he got one of our guys picked off, he’d put his glove right in my face.” RJ laughed at the thought. Bigger than life in a Stetson cowboy hat, plaid shirt, jeans and boots, RJ looked like he just got in from the cattle drive. RJ and I were both given autographed copies of the Dustin Pedroia biography, “Born to Play”. Both of us were featured in the book. You’ll have to read the book to find out how Pedey inscribed my copy. Used the same words he greeted me with every morning. I will treasure it always, but can’t show it to too many people.
At he behest of my pal Dan Barbarisi, another in the fine stable of Projo writers, I will try to use paragraphs in this space. Can’t promise it will always look or sound professional, but I’m willing to try. Anyway, I also spoke to John Farrell and Tracy about their respective charges. Farrell spoke about new Pawtucket skipper Torey Lovullo. The two men are well-acquainted from their days together in the Cleveland Indians organization. Along with director of player development, Mike Hazen, they put Lovullos’ name up for “nomination” and it didn’t take much convincing. “Mike and I weren’t the only ones who knew Torey. He is a “players’ manager”. He fosters good relationships with his guys and they respect him. Tito knew him, he played for Tito. When a guy like Lovullo becomes available, it’s a no-brainer.” Francona was honest. “I’d like to say it was part of a master plan, but truthfully, he was available and we’d have been stupid not to get him. He’s a great addition to our organization.”
Rockies manager, Jim Tracy is in Boston to accept the National League Manager of the Year honors. One of his players is Rhode Island native Chris Ianetta. Tracy was effusive in his praise. “When Yorvit Torrealba was catching for us in the playoffs, it wasn’t because we didn’t want or like Chris. We have proven that this offseason. We hope Chris will be an integral part of who we are for a long time to come.” Tracy engineered an improbable turnaround for the Rockies, going 30 games over .500 after he was hired in early June.
The dinner is still a couple of hours away. I’m taking notes. I’ll let you know who was here, who was interesting and who laid a egg.