When the Scranton Wilkes Barre Yankees came to McCoy this week, I was very excited about one thing. Seeing Manny Delcarmen, the kid from West Roxbury, who realized a dream. Manny grew up a Red Sox fan and always wanted to wear the Boston uniform. He was drafted by the Sox and worked his way through the system, of course pitching for the PawSox, before earning the promotion to Boston. Manny eventually won a World Series ring in 2007. Now he’s pitching for the “enemy”, trying to get a spot in the bullpen in the Bronx.
I was on the field, talking to strength coach Lee Tressel of the Yankees. Lee is the nephew of former Ohio State football coach, Jim Tressel. I asked him where Manny was and he told me he was running in the outfield. A short while later, Tressel told me “Here he comes.” I turned around to greet my old friend and extended my hand in friendship. By then, it was too late. Manny said hi. “I’m Manny Banuelos.” He shook my hand. I quickly apologized and got more specific. “Oh, I’m sorry, I meant Delcarmen.” I found out that Banuielos is the Manny in the Yankees minor league system. Delcarmen finds it ironic that again, he’s the other Manny. With the Sox, he played in the shadow of Ramirez, now he toils as the second most popular Manny on his team , again. “Tell the PawSox fans that I’m really the original Manny.” he joked.
Manny looked different sitting in the visitors’ clubhouse with the Yankees t-shirt on and the pinstripe uniform hanging in his locker. He seemed to be happy to be back in somewhat familiar surroundings. “This is great. I’m really happy to be here.” Delcaarmen spoke about the adjuwstments he had to make after leaving the Sox. “When I first got traded it was a little shock to me. I had to go through this transition after being with Boston so long. Plus they traded me to the Rockies, on the other side of the country. It was a tough adjustment. A couple of years went by and now I’m back on the east coast with the Yankees. Being born and raised in Boston, I always said I wanted to start and end my career in Boston. I never saw myself playing with the Yankees but, here I am now trying to get back to the big leagues. It’s a privilege and I’m excited to be here.”
Even though he is now on the “dark side”, Manny fondly recalls the early days of his career. “I think it’s every kids dream to play with the team he grew up rooting for. I made that happen, and not too many guys can say that. We won the World Series and I got a ring. It was pretty much, the best time of my life.”
Manny has watched with interest as the Sox have gotten off to a poor start again in 2012. He keeps in touch with a lot of the guys. “I talk to Papelbon from time to time. I stay in touch with Bard and Buchholz. Watching the way they ended up last year was tough to watch. Again, they’re going through a lot of stuff right now. New management, players banged up. They’re the Red Sox and they can spark it up at any second, win ten in a row and then you’re looking at the whole team completely differently.”
Manny didn’t pitch in the series. He is currently on the disabled list with an injured quad muscle. He feels he’s about ready to get back at it soon. “I’ve been doing everything to get healthy. Ice, heat etc. I’m going to start playing catch in a couple of days and hopefully, I won’t miss too much more time.”
Manny joked about coming into the ballpark, one that he once called home. “I almost went in the home clubhouse. It’s great to be back here. I wish I was playing just to see how the fans would react and to see if they still remember who I am.”
I suspect they’d remember.