As we sit in Coca Cola Park for the second straight night, waiting for the weather to cooperate, I pondered the job done by first year Pawtucket manager, Arnie Beyeler. Arnie gided the PawSox to the second best regular season record in the I.L. (81-61). He did it without a lot of players he was “supposed” to have, who were absent due to either promotion or callup. J.C. Linares, Ryan Kalish, Josh Reddick, Yamaico Navarro. The list goes on and on. He skippered the PawSox to their first division title since 2003 and their first playoff beth since 2008.
We sat in his office this afternoon and looked to the playoffs. As always, he was modest about his contribution. “The guys have done a great job all year and we have seen the rewards of that.” The team has been in Allentown for about 48 hours (49 at 7:05 p.m. Thursday). Some complain of boredom, but Beyeler sees a silver lining. “You just go through your normal routine. This time of year, it’s always good to have days off. Let the guys re-charge a little bit. We had our day off coming down here on Tuesday. They were ready to go yesterday (Wednesday). They did their work. You have to relax. You can’t fight it. We’ll go out there today and wind it back up again and hopefully get a chance to play.”
All season long, the “mantra” for the PawSox is “develoopment.” We are told it takes precedence over winning. Arnie doesn’t foresee any change this month. “No, that’s how we got here. Guys will just go out and play hard. Everyone is well rested so we can use everybody, however we want. A game’s a game. These guys will go out and play the way they have the last 5 months. We’ll swing the bat and try to drive in some runs and also try to get some guys out.”
Even though the roster is missing mainstays like Ryan Lavarnway and Nate Spears (both in Boston), Beyeler, again, is optimistic. “Other guys will have to step up. They get the chance to show what they can do. We’ve been in that situation all year. Guys have consistently picked up the slack and we expect the same thing now.”
The PawSox were 10-6 against the Pigs this year, including 4-4 in Allentown. While Arnie has a great deal of respect for them, he knows they are beatable. “They are a good team. They’re here for a reason. We just need to tend to our business and see how it winds up.”
Arnie offered his thoughts to the keys to victory in this best of 5, first round playoff series. “It depends on the situation. We haven’t seen these guys in a month or so, Domonic Brown is down here. They’ve added Freddy Galvis. He’s a little guy we saw at Double A last year. He can really throw the leather around. Domonic is a dangerous guy. Brandon Moss is a dangerous guy. We haven’t seen (Scott) Podsednik, but he’s a Major Leaguer. I have to assume he knows how to play. Kevin Frandsen has been hot lately and Rich Thompson is dangerous. When he gets on base, he scores. (Thompson lead the I.L. with 48 stolen bases). The games we’ve been successful here, we’ve kept Rich off the bases. That’s what we need to do. Keep the speed guy at the top of the order off the bases.”
Hopefully, the weather isn’t a factor any more. Arnie also had another idea as to what could help the PawSox be successful. “Maybe the big guy, Ben (Mondor) is up there and looking out for us.”