CATCHING UP WITH AARON BATES
The PawSox faced Rochester again on the Fourth of July and again, they thumped the Red Wings 6-3. Lars Anderson and James Kang each bashed three run homers to lead the way. The Red Wings were decked out in “flag” jerseys. The red and white stripes, etc. I liked them, Dan didn’t. The Wings were auctioning off the uniform tops to benefit charity. Looking dashing, playing first base for Rochester, was our old friend, Aaron Bates. Bates was released by Boston, this spring and signed in May with the Twins. Bates was disappointed with his departure from the Sox. “It’s always tough when you leave a situation with so many friends. We’d been together a long time. Basically, I grew up with those guys. It was tough, but I think the change has been good. I’m grateful that the Red Sox gave me the opportunities they did. It was tough to say goodbye.”
Bates, who played in 122 games for Pawtucket last year sensed that the shoe might be about to drop late in March in Fort Myers. “I knew that unless there were some real injuries, it would be tough. They had a pretty full roster. It looked like it was going to be a tough situation. Going into the office, I had a good idea that something was about to happen. Arnie (Beyeler) came and got me. It was just one of those things. You’ve got to be professional about it. I thanked them for the opportunity and everything else.” Bates says it’s not ego or anything like that hurts when you’re cut free. He says it’s much more simple than that. “It’s the camaraderie you miss most. It’s your first organization, you grew up with these guys. It’s the only thing you know as far as professional baseball goes.”
Bates was fortunate. He was “on the beach” for a relatively short time after his release. “I was just working out in Boston with a former teammate, Jeff Natale. Working at his facility “Frozen Ropes”, working some camps. The Twins got in touch with me early in May. They had suffered injuries this year, like Boston sustained in 2010. Their front line had been depleted, so they made me an offer. It was an easy decision for me. I’m excited to be a part of the Twins organization.” Aaron says despite his release, doubt never crept into his mind. “No. I had a good Spring Training, probably the best one I ever had. I felt good all Spring. I was really swinging it well. I knew I wasn’t done. I knew I could play the game. It was just a matter of whether an opportunity arose. A matter of being patient.”
Bates and his fiance, Lacey Wilson maintain their residence in Boston. Wilson is the former Miss Massachusetts (2010) and the daughter of San Jose Sharks general manager, Ron Wilson. Bates was able to muster a little joy for the Stanley Cup Champion Boston Bruins. “I was very happy for the Bruins. I just wish the Bruins had to face the Roberto Luongo that the Sharks faced in the Western Finals. The way the Bruins played after their guy (Nathan Horton) got hurt was inspiring. Luongo against the Sharks was very similar to Tim Thomas against the Canucks. You just couldn’t score on him. This guy was Patrick Roy and Dominik Hasek all rolled into one.” For the record, I’m very content with the Luongo they faced.
Bates’ only Big League time came in 2009, when he debuted with the Red Sox and hit an impressive .364 in his brief time there. “It was something I’ll never forget. Making your Major League debut at Fenway Park. It was against the A’s. I grew up in the Bay area, and having my family there…my friends back home got to see it. There are so many great guys up there. First time on a road trip, Mike Lowell took me out to dinner. The whole thing was something I’ll never forget. Being a part of the Red Sox organization was a great experience. Unless you’re in it, you don’t realize how great the fans are. How smart they are. It’s packed every night and the fans make it more special.”