We were greatly disappointed when the Red Sox released Jeff Natale at the end of Spring Training. He is a good friend, a good hitter and he hosted a weekly segment on our broadcast, called “At Bat With Nat’. It was a pre-game interview with a teammate, and the results were usually “gold”. A couple of years prior to that, Bobby Scales had done the same thing. Very different, but both were interesting. We decided we wouldn’t force the issue in 2010, but after a month with this club, I think we may have found a successor. Chad Paronto. The big righthander is a natural entertainer. Very quick, and “over the top”, Chad has agreed to host the segment starting some time this week. There isn’t a day that goes by that he doesn’t have us in stitches, whether he’s dancing to some song, doing his “Jamal the Bear” impersonation or just carving up someone else with his rapier-like wit.
As we did last year, we solicited ideas from listeners for a name for the segment. The very first idea came from Chris, who suggests “Hanging with Chad”. That’s going to be tough to beat. Some others include “Talkin’ Tonto” (Tonto is his nickname among his teammates), “Pow Wow with Paronto” and “The Chad Paronto Feature Featuring Chad Paronto”. A little wordy, but amusing, nonetheless. After Tuesdays’ 5-1 win, Paronto said he had heard some of the suggestions, and he had one of his own. “How about The Greatest Radio Show- EVER?” I think it’s a little early for that. We will continue to take submissions until the end of the game Friday. Email them to firstname.lastname@example.org and if we choose your title, we’ll send you a $25 dollar gift card to Gregg’s Restaurant.
As I passed through the clubhouse last night after my on-field postgame interview with Adam Mills, I lingered for a moment at the buffet table set up in the kitchen area. The sight and smell of the postgame spread provided by Mike Cameron was almost too much to bear. Enormous trays, laden with the most beautiful baked stuffed lobsters you’ve ever seen, a gorgeous looking chicken dish and all the trimmings were waiting for Camerons’ minor league teammates. The Red Sox centerfielder observed the tradition of buying a meal for his team while on a rehab assignment by hiring “Russell Morins’ Fine Catering”. I almost opted to miss the rest of the radio broadcast, just to take in the heavenly aroma.
Great to see two very nice men get fresh starts. Alan Embree, who began the season in Pawtucket, signed with the White Sox and will pitch a few days in Charlotte before he joins Ozzie Guillens’ club. Embree is Red Sox royalty in my mind. The lefty was on the mound when Boston won the ALCS in 2004, defeating the Yankees in the Greatest comeback in the history of sports. Aside from that, he entertained us, and enlightened us in his brief stint in a Pawtucket uniform. Chris Carter, former PawSox MVP who was traded to the Mets for Billy Wagner has been promoted to New York after beginning the season in Buffalo. CC was hitting a robust .336 with 6 home runs at the time of his call-up. He is such a good guy. I hope he gets a shot to play. My daughter Carly is excited. She and her eighth grade class are going to Washington D.C. next week and part of their trip is an excursion to the Mets/Nationals game on Wednesday. Carly is a huge Chris Carter fan. So am I. All the best to Embree and Carter.
The season series with Gwinnett is winding down, and I finally got my first look at first baseman Freddie Freeman. He sounds like a childrens’ TV show character, but believe me, he’s anything but harmless or fun to opposing pitchers. Freeman and his much more famous roommate, Jason Heyward of Atlanta should provide the Braves with firepower for a long time to come. Both are just 20 years old. Heyward is already making space in his trophy case for the National League Rookie of the Year award. The phenom is batting an even .300 with 8 home runs and 27 rbi. Already a legend at age 20, it made me kind of nostalgic and almost sad, thinking back to a Red Sox legend of my youth that was as bright a star as Heyward but never got to live up to his potential. Tony Conigliaro, the kid from Revere, Mass that had his career halted on the night of August 18, 1967 when he was hit in the eye by a fastball from the Angels’ Jack Hamilton. He had several comeback attempts, but was never the same. Hard to believe “Tony C” has been dead for 20 years now. He broke into the Big Leagues at the age of 19 and still holds the record for the most ML homers by a teenager (25). At age 20, he lead the American League with 32 home runs. By his 22d birthday, Conigliaro had amassed 100 of the 166 home runs he would eventually hit. Only Hall of Famer Mel Ott got to 100 dingers at a younger age. It is rare when someone so young can play the game so well. It will be interesting to see if these two Atlanta prospects can live up to the expectations.