ANOTHER DAY IN PARADISE
Despite watching as couple of losses in Fort Myers, Tuesday was still a pretty good day. Early in the day, I ventured over to the soon to be defunct player development complex to check out the PawSox and Norfolk. The Tides dominated 8-0. There were some bright spots. Jason Rice pitched a scoreless eighth inning and Tommy Hottovy tossed a 1-2-3 ninth inning, Hottovy and Rice are definitely in the mix for the PawSox bullpen in 2011. Our friend Tommy is excited, as he and his wife are expecting their first child soon. Tommy says “It’s a boy.”
Former PawSox outfielder George Lombard is looking forward to his first turn as a professional manager. George will guide the Gulf Coast League Red Sox when the season begins in June. Until then, he and another ex- PawSox, Carlos Febles will run the extended Spring Training games in Fort Myers. One man that may pitch down there is lefty Kris Johnson. KJ had been hampered by the same tendinitis that he endured last season. He tells me that he’s fine now and is just a little bit behind. Adam Mills and T.J. Large are both healthy and by their own accounts, have had good springs. One other thing that George Lombard mentioned. His good friend and former Pawtucket pitcher, Joe Nelson had just left Fort Myers, after exploring job opportunities with the Sox and assistant General Maanager, Allard Baird. I will never forget Nelson and Chad Paronto dancing to the Miley Cyrus song “Party in the USA”.
Fresh from Big League camp, with a snile on his face is the unflappable Daniel Nava. Who’s a better guy than him? Absolutely no one. Nava is looking forward to working his way back to Boston in Pawtucket. I was also pleased to run into my man, Mike Roose. Mike, the veteran of the Iraqi War, and Pawtucket native will be back at McCoy for his second season as our strength and conditioning coach. Also on hand at the PDC was R.I. native, Senior Adviser for the Red Sox, Jeremy Kapstein. The proud uncle pointed out nephew Zack, who had gotten a hit in a game earlier in the day. Zack was drafted by the Red Sox in 2010.
A little bit later, I stopped by the Red Sox clubhouse at City of Palms Park. Not a good place to go if you have a thin skin or fragile ego. Luckily, I’m ok in that department. Former PawSox trainer Greg Barajas and his wife Heather, are the proud parents of a nine month old daughter. After his promotion to Boston, he moved the family east. Greg says that except for the winter weather, he loves it. Current PawSox trainer, John Jochim is ready to head north and set up shop at McCoy. This will be JJ’s second season as Pawtuckets’ trainer. Chatted with new PawSox skipper, Arnie Beyeler. Arnie is still with the Major League club, but he’s looks forward to guiding his PawSox in 2011. More immediately, the skipper was looking forward to a rare day off on Wednesday, one he was planning to spend with his son. The happiest guy in the clubhouse though, was Ron Johnson. RJ was excitedly anticipating the arrival of his wife Daphne and his daughters Cheyenne and Bridget.
Hard for the folks up north to imagine, but these guys are ready to get out of Florida and begin the season. They’re excited, just like we are.