It’s that time of year when All Star Games are going to be played and that includes the Triple A extravaganza in Buffalo, New York. The PawSox will be well represented. Along with Charlotte, the Sox are the only team to have 4 players elected to the game. Ryan Lavarnway, Mauro Gomez, Pedro Ciriaco and Justin Germano, along with manager Arnie Beyeler, will not get the three days of rest that the rest of us are looking forward to. Former PawSox pitchers Fernando Cabrera of the Bisons and Tommy Hottovy of Omaha of the Pacific Coast League will be there along with ex-Pawtucket infielder Kevin Frandsen of Lehigh Valley.
I had the chance to chat with Lavarnway, shortly after he found out about the honor. “It’s kind of a pat on the back for a job well done so far this year. It’s a benchmark in the middle of the season, that I’ve been as good or better than the other catchers in the league. I appreciate the vote of confidence.” This isn’t the first nod for Ryan. “I was a Carolina League All Star with Salem and I played in the “Rising Stars” game in the Arizona Fall League.” Lavarnway is grateful, but he wouldn’t have minded the R and R over the break. “Since I’m catching more than ever this year, I could have used the time off to let my body catch up, but I’m honored and excited to go. It’s going to be a great experience. I’m really looking forward to watching the home run derby.”
Last year, Lavarnway hit 34 home runs combined in Portland, Pawtucket and Boston and would have been a shoo-in to be a home run derby contestant. So far in 2012, he’s hit 7, but is currently in second place in the batting race with a .320 average. “I try not to give it too much thought. I’m hitting the ball really well and I’m happy with it. I try to be a complete hitter all the time and right now I’m driving the ball to all fields. It’s not going over the fence, but I’m getting my doubles, driving guys in and getting on base.” Lavarnway clarified about his status regarding the home run contest. “I haven’t been asked. In my Salem year, I was leading the league in homers at the break and the Red Sox urged me not to participate in the derby. I hope Gomez can take part. I watch his batting practice every day and it’s pretty impressive.”
Lavarnway is excited to go with his three teammates and his manager, Arnie Beyeler, who will be on the staff of manager Mike Sarbaugh of Columbus. The other coach is Hall of Famer Ryne Sandberg of the Iron Pigs. “It adds to the fun to have Arnie there. The level of familiarity is higher. We’ll have a good time. Arnie’s a great coach. I’ve had him for a few years now.”
The knock on Ryan had been that he was a defensive liability. Watching him every day, I can tell you that is false. He has worked very hard to become a very good catcher and dispel the rumors. “First impressions are pretty hard to shake. It’s been a couiple of years, but I’m really happy with the way I’ve performed back there on a nightly basis. I think my pitchers have confidence in me. Arnie says that I go out there and catch the ball and bklock the ball and thhrow the ball every day, and that’s good enough for me.”
Ask me. I think Ryan Lavarnway is an All Star in every way.