For my money, the “feel-good” callup of the 2011 season, so far, has to be Tommy Hottovy. The lefthander earned his first Big League promotion on June 3 and was just optioned back to the PawSox on June 28. Tommy, one of the most likeable and nicest guys on the planet, and I spoke upon his return.
Hottovy was still tyring to catch his breath after his whirlwind journey. “It was a blur. It was amazing. You can’t describe the feeling you get when you get that call. It’s something you work for your whole life. My family and friends came up, 17 people…you blink and it was over. What a great experience. I got to pitch in all three games (of his first series) my first weekend in the Big Leagues. It was awesome. I tried to savor it as much as I could. I think it’s finally starting to settle in a little bit.”
“Hotty” tried to mentally prepare himself for the events, taking “mental photographs” and soaking it all in. “I tried to tell myself not to get overwhelmed with things. The game, where you’re at, take it in, take a deep breath and soak it all in. Making your debut at Fenway Park is an amazing opportunity. To be on a team with the guys you’re playing with. There are “no-brainer” first ballot Hall of Famers on that team. Being a part of that and just being one of the guys, is something I’ll cherish for a long time.”
Tommy admits to buterflies in his first outing. He says at least he had them flying in formation after that. “Beyond my first appearance, every other game I was in, there were guys on base, so I came in ready to go. In Toronto, I came in and the game did speed up on me a little bit. I got out of it fine. I walked a couple of guys and I wasn’t as sharp as I wanted to be. After that I felt like I settled down pretty well and took advantage of the situation. I got a lot of work. I appeared in 8 games (0-0. 6.75 4 IP, 4H, 3R, 3ER, 3BB, 2K) and I was up warming in 8 others. When you get that much work, the butterflies go away pretty quick.”
It’s been an amazing road that Hottovy has taken. Drafted by the Red Sox in 2004, Tommy underwent Tommy John surgery in 2008 and has worked very hard to get where he is. He has endured parts of 6 seasons at Double A Portland, including the start of 2011. Tommy has changed his delivery to a side arm style, similar to fellow lefty Rich Hill (on D.L. for Tommy John surgery currently). Hottovy says while he was in Boston, working with Red Sox pitching coach Curt Young, they really didn’t tweak anything. “It’s still the same thing. I didn’t have time to really change anything. One thing I told myself was to be confident. My stuff”s good. My stuff ‘plays’ or else I wouldn’t be here. I just kept on doing what I’d done all year.”
It’s always interesting to find out what type of impression a young man feels he made on manager Tery Francona. Tommy says he thinks it was a positive one. “I think they liked having me there. Tito said he enjoyed having me around. They said they had to make room for Franklin Morales, but they loved what I did. They liked that I didn’t back down from any situation. I was available and ready every single day. That’s something I know they appreciated. He said they liked my fresh attitude, experiencing things for the first time.”
Considering the strides that Tommy Hottovy has made, it’s not surprising to hear how he feels. “I don’t take anything for granted. I really enjoyed being there. I wasn’t afraid to show that I was excited and I think the veteran guys liked that.”
These are heady times for the 29 year old Hottovy. He and his wife are expecting their first child sometime during July. “They’re saying the due date is sometime during the All Star Break (July 11-13). We’re very excited, trying to get everything lined up and ready to go. You talk about the most exciting time of my life. Within a month, getting to make my Big League debut and having my first child. It’s pretty awesome!!”