April 2009

Heard of Hanson?

One of the great advertising slogans that’s been used in minor league baseball over the years is that fans get the opportunity to “see tomorrow’s stars today.”

Sometimes they’re on the other team.

Tonight the PawSox open an 8-game homestand with the start of a 4-game series against Gwinnett, and the Braves starting pitcher is scheduled to be uber-prospect Tommy Hanson.

The 6’6″ righty is considered the #1 prospect in the Braves organization, and Atlanta manager Bobby Cox (who’s had a few decent players over the years) said in spring training that Hanson “is one of the best prospects I’ve seen come through here.”

Hanson is still looking for his first Triple-A win, but his overall numbers are extremely impressive:  0-3, 2.18 ERA (20.2 IP, 16 H, 7 R, 5 ER, 7 BB, 29 K).

In his pro career, the 22-year-old has struck out 402 batters in 343.1 IP (10.5 per 9 innings).

The PawSox will counter with Charlie Zink, who took a no-hitter into the 7th inning in his last start. 

We hope to see you at McCoy at 6:15.  Who knows, maybe someday you’ll be able to brag that you saw Hanson before he was one of the best pitchers in baseball.

* * * * *

How ’bout Jonathan Van Every?  I know that some hardcore sabermetricians suggest that there really is no such thing as a clutch hitter, but Van Every’s ability to hit late inning home runs, might cause them to reconsider.

So far this year, JV has had 10 at-bats between Boston and Pawtucket and has hit a pair of home runs.

The first was a 2-out grand slam in the bottom of the 9th inning, tying a game that the PawSox eventually won in extra innings.

The second was last night’s 10th-inning blast in Cleveland to beat the Indians — Van Every’s first major league HR.

But it doesn’t end there.

Last year, Jonathan hit 3 10th-inning homers for Pawtucket, and 10 of his 26 home runs came in the PawSox final at-bat.

Over the course of his career, JV’s late-inning numbers will probably mirror his overall stats, but he’s been “Big Papi-like” in clutch situations so far.

* * * * *

After the trip back from Syracuse last night, I got to bed around 4:00am.

The handsome lad woke me up with an enthusiastic “Daddy!” at 5:40am.

I’m not complaining.  Not after seeing this smiling face.

 

Sam in Cincy sweatshirt (resized).JPG 

If you can’t make it to McCoy tonight, I’ll hope you’ll tune in to the radio call.  The pregame show starts at 6:00 on the PawSox radio network and PawSox.com.

Old Friends

I have double inspiration for today’s entry.

1,  I got a phone call out of the blue yesterday from my best friend in high school Matt Moretti.  Haven’t talked to him in ages.  Very cool.

2.  After Tuesday’s rain out in Syracuse, I turned on the TV in my hotel room and watched the White Sox beat the Mariners 2-1, thanks to a brilliant performance by former 2008 Pawtucket pitcher Bartolo Colon (7 IP, 4 H, 1 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, 6 K).  His catcher was Corky Miller, a member of the 2006 PawSox.

That motivated me to start searching through rosters to see where former PawSox during my years in the booth (2006-present) are currently playing.  I am skipping the obvious (David Ortiz, Dustin Pedroia, etc. . .).

David Aardsma – Seattle Mariners – 0-0, 3 saves, 2.08 ERA

Abe Alvarez – Palfinger (Italian Baseball League) – 1-1, 0.51 ERA

Craig Breslow – Minnesota Twins – 0-0, 5.06 ERA

Mike Burns – Nashville Sounds – 2-0, 3.91 ERA

Kevin Cash – Scranton/WB Yankees – .615 (8-for-15)

Hee-seop Choi – Kia Tigers (Korean Baseball League) – 7 HR, 25 RBI

Bryan Corey – Triple-A Oklahoma City Redhawks – Appeared in 1 game so far

Keoni DeRenne – York Revolution (Atlantic League)

Keith Foulke – Newark Bears (Atlantic League) – 0-0, 0.00 ERA

Keith Ginter – Charlotte Knights – .111 (3-for-27)

Matt Ginter – Triple-A Nashville Sounds (perfect for his banjo playing) – 1-1, 2.45 ERA

Craig Hansen – Pittsburgh Pirates – 0-0, 5.68 ERA

Willie Harris – Syracuse Chiefs – .222 in 5 games

Lincoln Holdzkom – Double-A Altoona Curve – 0-1, 0.00 ERA

Eric Hull – Triple-A Tacoma Rainiers – 3-1, 1 save, 3.14 ERA

Chuck Jeroloman - Southern Maryland Blue Crabs (Atlantic League) – Last Pawtucket player to hit an inside-the-park HR on the final day of the 2006 season.

Jason Johnson – Scranton/WB Yankees - 1-1, 5.14 ERA

Bobby Kielty – Buffalo Bisons - .231, 1 HR, 3 RBI

Jason Lane – Triple-A Las Vegas – .237, 0 HR, 8 RBI

Alejandro Machado – Rochester Red Wings - .238, 0 HR, 5 RBI

Edgar Martinez – Newark Bears (Atlantic League) – 0-0, 1.80 ERA  El Guapo Lives!

“Super” Joe McEwing – Manager of Class-A Winston-Salem Dash – Currently 10-10 in Carolina League

Cla Meredith – San Diego Padres – 3-0, 2.84 ERA

Brandon Moss -  Pittsburgh Pirates – .218, 0 HR, 1 RBI

David Murphy – Texas Rangers – .097, 1 HR, 4 RBI

Jeremy Owens – Southern Maryland Blue Crabs (Atlantic League) – Was actually with Pawtucket in 2004 before I was doing the games, but his name caught my eye.

David Pauley – Norfolk Tides – 1-2, 3.00 ERA

Wily Mo Pena – Buffalo Bisons – Recently joined team, but hasn’t played.

Joel Pineiro – St. Louis Cardinals – 4-0, 3.76 ERA in 4 starts

Alex Prieto – Long Island Ducks (Atlantic League)

David Riske – Milwaukee Brewers – 0-0, 18.00 ERA

Bobby Scales – Triple-A Iowa Cubs – .306, 2 HR, 9 RBI

Jimmy Serrano – Southern Maryland Blue Crabs (Atlantic League)

Chris Smith – Triple-A Nashville Sounds – 1-0, 3 saves, 1.15 ERA

Kyle Snyder – Buffalo Bisons – 0-1, 5.25

Chad Spann – Triple-A Round Rock – 0-for-3 in 2 games after promotion from Double-A (ironically called-up after RJ’s son Chris went on the disabled list)

Junior Spivey – Camden Riversharks (Atlantic League)

Adam Stern – Double-A Huntsville Stars – .329, 0 HR, 7 RBI

Jon Switzer – Buffalo Bisons – 0-1, 3.68 ERA

Michael Tejera – Quintana Roos (Mexican League) – 2-1, 4.41 ERA

Joe Thurston – St. Louis Cardinals – .304, 0 HR, 11 RBI

Michael Tucker – Newark Bears – Atlantic League (came out of retirement after missing all of last year).

Beau Vaughan – Triple-A Oklahoma City Redhawks – 2-0, 0.00  Check out his blog here!

John “Way Back” Wasdin – Seibu Lions (Japan Central League) – Way before my time with Pawtucket (1998-2000), but interesting no?

Josh Wilson – Arizona Diamondbacks – 1-for-3 after recent promotion from Triple-A Reno

I couldn’t find anything on active rosters for Brady Clark, Barry Hertzler, Travis Hughes, Bryan Pritz, Ed Rogers, Phil Seibel, Earl Snyder, or Jermaine Van Buren (among others). 

One more game in Syracuse before the PawSox return to McCoy on Thursday night.  I’ll hope you’ll join Steve Hyder and me for the radio call, beginning with the pregame show at 5:45 on the PawSox radio network and PawSox.com.

 

 

 

 

Buchholz and Bowden

Clay Buchholz made his third start of the season on Monday night at Lehigh Valley and reminded everyone in attendance that there isn’t a pitcher in minor league baseball with better stuff.

 

His fastball hit 97 on the stadium radar gun, and he was getting numerous swings and misses on all four of his pitches (fastball, curve, slider, and changeup).  In six innings, Clay allowed three hits, walked one, and struck out seven (six swinging and one looking on a nasty curve).

 

Unfortunately, he made one mistake — a 2-0 fastball that John Mayberry Jr. hit out of the yard to tie the game at one in the 5th inning, and the IronPigs eventually beat the PawSox 2-1 in 12 innings.

 

Still, it was a treat to watch.  Clay’s next start will be at McCoy Stadium on Sunday if you would like to see for yourself.

 

(Although be prepared to stay awhile.  All three of Clay’s starts have gone to extra innings this year).

 

* * * * *

 

Quite a weekend for Michael Bowden huh?

 

On Saturday night around midnight, manager Ron Johnson called Bowden on his cell phone to tell him he needed to be on a plane in a few hours to report to Fenway Park for Sunday night’s game against the Yankees.

 

“I was already under the covers in bed, flipping through the channels, and I actually missed RJ’s call,” Bowden told me.  “I usually don’t listen to my voicemails right away, but for some reason I decided to listen to that one and it was RJ telling me to call him right back.  When I called him he told me I was going to Boston, but there was a pretty good chance I wouldn’t get to pitch – it was an emergency-type thing.  At 1 o’clock in the morning they brought me my stuff from the clubhouse, and at 9:30 I was on an airplane ready to go.”

 

Bowden was the first player to arrive in the Red Sox clubhouse that afternoon and said his teammates were surprised to see him.  Shortly after that, he got a surprise from Terry Francona.

 

“I went into his office to say hi and thank him for the opportunity and he said there was a 95 % chance I would pitch that night in relief,” Bowden said with a laugh.

 

Red Sox fans know how it turned out.  The 22-year-old righty tossed two scoreless innings against the Yankees to help Boston complete a 3-game sweep and a perfect 9-0 homestand.

 

“It was one of the most bone-chilling things I’ve ever experienced,” Bowden said.  “I said after my major league debut that it was a dream come true, but experiencing that atmosphere against the New York Yankees. . .close game. . .packed house. . .Sunday night on ESPN. . .it was just an unbelievable experience.  I can’t even describe it.”

 

Immediately after the game he was optioned right back to Pawtucket.  The same thing happened last August after Bowden beat the White Sox in his major league debut.

 

“We were joking around in the clubhouse today that I have 11 hours of major league service time and I have a win and a hold,” Bowden said.  “Both of my trips have been quick, but I’ll take it.”

 

He’ll be back.  Eventually for good.

 

* * * * *

 

After a sizzling start, Hyder has dropped to 7-7 in “Stump Steve.”

 

On Monday in honor of Clay Buchholz — the only rookie in Red Sox history to throw a no-hitter — we played “2 Out of 3 Ain’t Bad” about MLB rookies who have thrown no-hitters.

 

Ready?

 

1.  I threw a no-hitter as a rookie in 1970, and won the Cy Young Award and MVP award the following year.

 

2.  In my major league debut in 1991, I walked two batters, allowed a single, and gave up 2 home runs without retiring a batter for an ERA of infinity.  In my next start, I tossed a no-hitter.

 

3.  I threw a no-hitter as a rookie in 1967 and threw another no-hitter in 1969 making me a member of two exclusive clubs — rookie pitchers who threw no-hitters and pitchers who threw more than one.

 

The answers are:

 

1.  Vida Blue (Hyder incorrectly guessed Steve Carlton).

2.  Wilson Alvarez (Steve got it right).

3.  Don Wilson  (Hydes incorrectly guessed Jim Palmer).

 

We’ll see if he can get back on the winning track on Tuesday night at Syracuse.  I hope you’ll tune in for the broadcast beginning with the pregame show at 5:45 on the PawSox radio network and PawSox.com.

 

I’d love to hear from you.  The address is dhoard@pawsox.com.

 

 

 

 

A Broadcasting Cup of Coffee

I got a wonderful surprise recently when the Cincinnati Reds called me to see if I could fill-in for Hall of Fame broadcaster Marty Brennaman next weekend.

I feel a bit like one of the PawSox players because it’s a tremendous thrill to get a call to the big leagues.

Marty will be attending the 50th anniversary celebration of the National Sportscasters and Sportswriters Association (he is a member of its Hall of Fame) and I feel privileged to keep his seat warm.

I’ll work with Jeff Brantley in Pittsburgh May 1-3 and I’m really excited to get another “cup of coffee” in the majors.

I’ve have the good fortune to broadcast about 30 big league games on radio and TV in my career – two with the Toronto Blue Jays, seven with the NY Mets (on the mighty WFAN), and the rest with the Reds (I used to host their pre-game show on TV).

I’ve called two of Ken Griffey Jr’s 613 home runs, as well as HR by Mike Piazza, Chipper Jones, Fred McGriff, Adam Dunn, and Vladimir Guerrero.

I described the only shutout that Danny Graves threw in 518 major league appearances and was behind the mic when Ryan Freel set a Reds franchise record with 5 stolen bases in a game against the Dodgers.

And if Reds fans are wondering if I can bring the team good luck next week, they should consider this:  I was the TV announcer on July 31, 2005 when Eric Milton tossed 7 shutout innings in 7-1 win at San Diego. 

(Milton was 16-27 with a 5.83 in 3 years with the Reds, so I’m pretty sure I witnessed the best of his 66 starts)

I’m grateful to the Reds for giving me the opportunity and to PawSox President Mike Tamburro for allowing me to go.   

* * * * *

The PawSox are a season-high 4 games over .500 after a 7-4 win at Lehigh Valley on Sunday.  It’s was the fourth and final game of Julio Lugo’s rehab stint with Pawtucket and he had 2 hits for the second straight game, including a long double to right field (he also flied out to the wall in center).

While Lugo swung the bat fairly well, he did not display the speed we’re used to seeing.  On Saturday, he was thrown out at second base on a sacrifice bunt attempt by Sean Danielson, and the bunt appeared to be OK.  On Sunday, Julio hit a slow roller to the left side of the infield that looked like it might be an infield hit, but got thrown out by a wide margin.

Lugo, who had arthroscopic knee surgery on March 17, is likely to be back in the Red Sox lineup tomorrow night.

* * * * *

Coca-Cola Park in Allentown, PA is slightly more than one year old, and probably has the nicest video board in the International League.

One of the things it’s used for is to post interesting tidbits about the Lehigh Valley players, including their response to the question “What is your favorite food?”

IronPigs relief pitcher Jake Woods responded with, “Whatever my wife makes.”

Yikes.

If his wife is a world-famous chef that’s acceptable.  To specify a specific dish like “my wife’s chicken cacciatore” would have been OK.

But “whatever my wife makes” is definitely worthy of a fine in Lehigh Valley’s kangaroo court. 

It will be mentioned every time Woods pitches against Pawtucket for the rest of the year.

* * * * *

I went with an IronPigs theme today on “Stump Steve.”  The game was “2 Out of 3 Ain’t Bad” and the correct answer to all 3 questions had the word “ham” in his last name.

Ready?

1.  I am a current major leaguer who has been an All-Star, the MVP of a league championship series, and the MVP of the World Series.

2.  I pitched for the National League in the 1983 All-Star game and gave up the first grand slam in All-Star game history.

3.  I spent 13 years in the big leagues with Baltimore, Cincinnati, Colorado, Milwaukee, San Francisco, and Washington.  I was an All-Star in 2000 when I batted .335 with 106 RBI for the Rockies.

The answers are:

1.  Cole Hamels

2.  Atlee Hammaker

3.  Jeffrey Hammonds

Hyder was only able to get #3, so he falls to 7-6 this season.

* * * * *

Since scheduled starter Michael Bowden got promoted to Boston and pitched in Sunday night’s game against the Yankees, Clay Buchholz will get the start for Pawtucket on Monday night at Lehigh Valley.  Buchholz will be pitching on normal rest since the PawSox had a day off on Thursday.

I hope you’ll join Steve Hyder and me for the radio call beginning with the pregame show at 6:50 on the PawSox radio network and PawSox.com.

I’d love to hear from you.  The address is dhoard@pawsox.com.

 

 

,

  

Instant Karma

On Friday night, Lehigh Valley set a franchise record by scoring 13 runs and tied a franchise record by pounding out 18 hits in a 13-3 win over the PawSox.

Anyone mind if I write about something else?

Boston’s game at Fenway Park was considerably more exciting.  A 2-out home run in the bottom of the 9th by Jason Bay off of Mariano Rivera forced extra innings, and a towering blast by Kevin Youkilis over the Green Monster in the 11th inning gave the Red Sox a 5-4 win.

It you believe in Karma — the notion that good deeds have an impact on future experiences — than I’m here to tell you that Youkilis deserved his extra inning heroics.

On Thursday night, I attended a fundraiser for “Raising A Reader,” an organization that helps get children’s books into the hands of low-income families.  Youkilis and his wife Enza were there to help host the event in assocation with his charitable foundation “Hits for Kids.”

On a night off for the Red Sox, Youkilis could have very easily said a few words and made a graceful exit, but he stayed for the entire program while signing countless autographs and posing for dozens of pictures (including one with yours truly).

Youk! (resized).JPG

I’ve gotten to know Kevin through our mutual ties to the University of Cincinnati (he went to school there and I’m UC’s broadcaster for football and basketball) and I can honestly say that he understands the power of celebrity as well as any athlete I’ve met.  By spending a few hours mingling with strangers on Thursday night, he helped raise thousands of dollars for kids.

That’s good Karma to the tune of a .433 average, 5 HR, and 13 RBI in Boston’s first 16 games.

* * * * *

It was good to have Chris Carter back in the PawSox lineup on Friday, but a bit strange to see him at first base.  After all, he did not play that position in a single game last year.

That was the inspiration for “Stump Steve.”  We played “the list” and I asked him to name 6 of the 8 players who appeared at first base for Pawtucket last year (and I gave him one incorrect answer).

He was only able to get four:  Jeff Bailey, Sandy Madera, Jeff Natale, and Gil Velazquez.

He incorrectly guessed Joe Thurston and Bryan Pritz.

The others were Brandon Moss, Sean Casey, Chad Spann, and Jason Lane.

Hyder’s record falls to 7-5.

We’ll be busy on Saturday.  We’re on the air with PawSox Insider from 2-3 and then back on the air with the pregame show at 6:50.  Hope you’ll tune in.

I’d love to hear from you.  The address is dhoard@pawsox.com.

 

 

 

 

 

Cloud Ninth

I’ve probably broadcast at least 1500 baseball games.

I’ve probably watched a few thousand more.

And today, I was reminded why I can’t wait to call my next game.

At the end of 8 innings on Wednesday, the PawSox trailed Rochester 7-2 and I figured they were toast.

But the plot began to thicken in the top of the 9th when Daniel Bard took the mound a tossed a TRULY perfect inning.

I injected the word “truly” because he didn’t just pitch a 1-2-3 inning and didn’t simply strike out the side.

He did it on 9 pitches!

3 fastballs to Jason Pridie — see ya.

3 fastballs to Matt Tolbert — have a seat.

1 curve ball and 2 fastballs to Luke Hughes — please drive home carefully.

Good morning, good afternoon, and good night.

To put that in persective, the TRULY perfect inning has only been accomplished 42 times in major league history and just once by a Red Sox pitcher (Pedro Martinez vs. Seattle on May 18, 2002).

It’s just the latest marvelous outing for Bard.  In 6 games with Pawtucket, he’s pitched 9 innings, allowing 1 hit and 1 run with 3 walks and 16 strikeouts.  The league is hitting .037 against him.

A few days ago I asked Daniel the following question, “What’s more enjoyable — to blow a fastball by a hitter when he knows it’s coming or to make a batter look silly with your breaking ball?

He said, “I like ‘em both, but if I have to choose I’ll take the fastball.  I guess it’s the “mano y mano” aspect of it.”

Pretty exciting stuff right?  Well, the best was yet to come.

In the bottom of the 9th, Pawtucket scored 5 runs to force extra innings and tied the game on a 2-out grand slam by Jonathan Van Every over the center field wall.  (You can listen to the grand slam here.)

Not a bad way to start the season for JV who had been out of action since hurting his ankle in spring training with Boston.

Here’s your SOTD (Stat of the Day).  Last year, Van Every led the PawSox with 26 home runs and 10 came in Pawtucket’s final at-bat including 3 in extra innings.

The dude certainly has a flare for the dramatic.

So how did Pawtucket finally win the game?  By scoring a run without getting a hit in the bottom of the 11th inning.  Ivan Ochoa, Travis Denker, Paul McAnulty, and Chip Ambres drew walks to give the PawSox an 8-7 win.

Just another day at the yard.

We played “the list” on “Stump Steve” today.  In honor of Gary Sheffield joining the 500 home run club last week, I asked Steve to name the last 5 players to reach 500 HR (allowing him one incorrect guess).

He correctly named Sheffield, Manny Ramirez, Jim Thome and Alex Rodriguez.

But incorrectly said Ken Griffey Jr. and Sammy Sosa.

The one he missed was Frank Thomas — dropping Hyder’s record to 7-4 this season. 

Finally, you may have seen reports that the Red Sox released Devern Hansack.  That’s true,  but it’s not what it appears.  In fact he was in good spirits and hanging out in the PawSox clubhouse today.

Since Devern is injured, the Sox were looking for a way to clear a spot on their 40-man roster.  He’s expected to re-sign with Boston when he clears waivers and I’m guessing the Red Sox offered him a nice boost in pay to get him to agree.

* * * * *

During the course of the season, the PawSox play 144 games in 151 days.  Yup, that’s 7 days off in 5 months and Thursday is one of them.  I’m looking forward to spending it with Peg and Sam.

I’d love to hear from you.  The address is dhoard@pawsox.com.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Roster Roulette

Souvenir program sales should be good for the next several home games at McCoy Stadium because it could be hard to tell who is in uniform without a roster.

Let’s start with who’s gone.

I was able to wish Jeff Bailey good luck as he packed his bags following Monday’s 2-0 win over Lehigh Valley.  The 2008 International League MVP is headed to Boston to replace Rocco Baldelli who came out of the Red Sox win over Baltimore with a strained hamstring and is headed to the D.L.

Pawtucket won’t have Bailey tomorrow but will have Julio Lugo and Jonathan Van Every, who join the team on rehab assignments from Boston.  Both of them figure to be in the starting lineup at 6:15 vs. Rochester.

Lugo had knee surgery on March 17th and figures to play in several games for Pawtucket before joining the Red Sox.

Van Every suffered an ankle injury in spring training, and it will be interesting to see if his stint with the PawSox is brief.  If he proves he’s healthy and swings the bat well, the Red Sox could call him up and send Chris Carter down since they both bat left-handed and Van Every is better defensively.

It also seems likely that Daisuke Matsuzaka and Mark Kotsay will be wearing Pawtucket uniforms relatively soon.  Dice-K has been on the D.L. for a week and will play catch on Tuesday at Fenway while continuing to build strength in his shoulder.  Last year under similar circumstances, Matsuzaka was out for about two-and-a-half weeks before making a rehab start for the PawSox.

Kotsay, who is recovering from a back injury, has been playing in games at extended spring training so it’s only a matter of time before he begins a rehab stint. 

Terry Francona told reporters today that Jed Lowrie will have surgery on his wrist, but it will not be a season-ending proceedure.  In fact, the Sox hope Jed will be back by the All-Star break which means we’ll probably see Lowrie with Pawtucket on a rehab assignment in several weeks.

Did I forget anybody?

Kudos to Michael Bowden who earned his first Triple-A win on Monday as he teamed up with Fernando Cabrera and Daniel Bard on a 3-hit shutout in the win over Lehigh Valley.  

That’s a league-high 4 shutouts for the Pawtucket pitching staff in the first 12 games of the season.

Bowden entered the game with an stingy 1.04 ERA in two starts, but this was easily his most impressive performance of the season.  His fastball appeared to have a little extra pop and he had command of all of his pitches (92 pitches, 61 strikes).  Bowden struck out 7 in 5.1 IP to reduce his ERA to 0.64.

Bard pitched a hitless 9th inning with a walk and two strikeouts.  International League batters are 1-for-24 against him for a .042 batting average.

Bard, Jeff Natale, and manager Ron Johnson will be my guests tomorrow as we tape our first episode of “Talkin’ PawSox” this year.  The show airs on Cox Sports and we do 10 episodes each summer.  You can check out previous episodes on PawSox.com.  Just go to the top of the homepage where is says “Multimedia” and scroll down to “Watchin’ Talkin’ PawSox.”

On Monday, I came up with a Patriots Day edition of “Stump Steve” as we played “2 Out of 3 Ain’t Bad.”

In this case, the correct answers to three baseball questions shared the last name of a famous patriot of the American Revolution.

Ready?

1.  I was an American League All-Star last year in just my second year in the big leagues and broke a record that had previously been held by Bobby Abreu.

2.  I pitched in the big leagues from 1995 to 2005 for the Cubs, Dodgers, Phillies, Blue Jays and Red Sox and I have a World Series ring.

3.  I am a current major league pitcher now in my third season with the St. Louis Cardinals.  In fact, last year due to injuries to Jason Isringhausen, I became their closer and finished with 17 saves.

The answers are:

1.  Josh Hamilton (Alexander Hamilton).  Hamilton broke Abreu’s record for most home runs in one round of the home run derby competition (28 to 24).

2.  Terry Adams (John Adams), who earned a ring with the Red Sox in 2004.

3.  Ryan Franklin (Ben Franklin) was the Cardinals closer last year.

Steve was completely stumped this time, but it still 7-3 this season.

Speaking of Patriots Day, I highly recommend this story by Gordon Edes about the Red Sox tradition of playing at 11:00am on that holiday.

Pawtucket opens a 2-game series against Rochester on Tuesday night at 6:15.  Kris Johnson takes the mound for the PawSox, and the team has won both of the games he has started this year by 1-0 final scores.

Pregame coverage starts at 6:00 on the PawSox radio network and PawSox.com. 

The Silver Lining

Sunday was not a good day for the PawSox.

They wasted a good effort by starting pitcher Enrique Gonzalez (2 ER in 6 IP) and lost to Lehigh Valley 6-2.  Pawtucket left 10 runners on base, going 1-for-11 with runners in scoring position.

But the silver lining was the Triple-A debut of pitcher Robert Coello (pronounced Kway-yo).

The 24-year-old had never pitched above the rookie league level in affiliated baseball and spent last year in the independent Golden Baseball League, but Robert got called-up to Pawtucket on Friday to help the bullpen after Hunter Jones was promoted to Boston.

Today in an otherwise forgettable afternoon for the PawSox, the converted catched struck out the first batter he faced and tossed 1.1 scoreless innings.  Coello hit 91 on the stadium radar gun with his fastball and picked up his strikeout with a forkball.

Congrats to Robert on making a great first impression.

* * * * *

Lehigh Valley is managed by Dave Huppert who enjoyed today’s game at McCoy Stadium much more than the one he took part in 28 years ago.  You see, Huppert was Rochester’s starting catcher in the longest game in baseball history — the 33-inning marathon between the PawSox and Red Wings.

In fact, he would have been the hero if not for Wade Boggs.  Huppert gave Rochester a 2-1 lead in the 21st inning with an RBI double, only to see Boggs tie it with his own RBI double in the bottom of the inning to keep the game going.

In Boggs words, “I didn’t know if my teammates were going to hug me or slug me.”

Huppert was finally removed for a pinch-hitter after catching the first 31 innings and went 1-for-11 in the game.

* * * * *

Red Sox minor league field coordinator Rob Leary is in town after spending several days watching Class-A Greenville, and came away raving about Casey Kelly, the Red Sox number one draft pick last year.

Kelly is 2-0 with a 0.00 ERA in two starts (10 IP, 8 K) for Greenville, and Leary says he has outstanding command of his fastball, curve and changeup and great mound presence for a kid who has never been a full-time pitcher.

Kelly was primarily a shortstop in high school and could still wind up in the infield.  The Red Sox will reportedly limit him to 90-100 innings on the mound this year and then give him the opportunity to be a position player.

* * * * *

Red Sox minor league infield instructor Bruce Crabbe is also in town and made manager Ron Johnson’s day by programming the TV remote in his office.  RJ will no longer have to waste time searching for his favorite channels, as Crabbe set up the favorites button to include Country Music Television, Great American Country, ESPN, NESN, and the Golf Channel.

Wait a second, the golf channel?  RJ has no interest in golf.

Crabbe does, and is a frequent visitor.

* * * * *

Don’t forget to tune in early on Monday as the PawSox will conclude their series against Lehigh Valley at 12:05.  Michael Bowden (0-0, 1.04) gets the start for Pawtucket.

I’d love to hear from you.  The address is dhoard@pawsox.com.

 

 

 

 

 

Thank You PawSox Fans

On opening night in Pawtucket it felt more like August than April.

The temperature reached 68 degrees in the afternoon and was 65 degrees at game time.

In short, a magnificent night to begin the home portion of the schedule and 11,982 PawSox fans responded, making it the biggest crowd in McCoy Stadium history.

The only thing that wasn’t perfect was the final score as Lehigh Valley beat Pawtucket 4-3.

Charlie Zink was a little sharper than he was in his first appearance but still struggled with his control, walking 3 and hitting 3 batters in 6 IP.  He took the loss to fall to 0-2.

LHP Billy Traber was outstanding in relief, tossing 3 scoreless innings. 

If you toss out backup catcher Carlos Maldonado’s pitching stats from the 15-inning loss to Buffalo last Sunday, the PawSox pen has a 1.09 ERA (5 ER in 41.1 IP).

Reliever Marcus McBeth will make a spot start on Saturday due to Clay Buchholz’s sore hamstring.  It will be McBeth’s first start in 179 career pitching appearances. 

Here’s a FFF (Fantastic Fun Fact) about McBeth.  In 1999 he was the kickoff specialist and backup punter for the University of South Carolina under Head Coach Lou Holtz.  The Gamecocks went 0-11 that year, but McBeth says that Holtz was such a great speaker that they thought they were going to win every week. 

The PawSox face Lehigh Valley on Saturday afternoon at 1:05.  If you can’t make it to McCoy, I hope you’ll join Bob Montgomery, Steve McDonald and me for the TV coverage on Cox Sports throughout Rhode Island.

Steve Hyder and Mike Logan have the radio call on the PawSox radio network and PawSox.com.

I’d love to hear from you.  The address is dhoard@pawsox.com.

 

…Unless Your Battery Is Dead

So much for my previous post about the ideal getaway day.

When the team rolled into McCoy Stadium last night at 12:30am, my car wouldn’t start.

I didn’t hide my anger very well.  Home clubhouse supervisor Carl “Goody” Goodreau asked, “Why do you look so mean?”

After a 30-minute wait for AAA to come to the rescue, I finally got home around 2:00am.

If there are massive bags under my eyes on Cox Sports tonight, I hope the viewers will be sympathetic.

It looks like the temperature is going to be around 60 degrees at game time for tonight’s home opener!

Since Clay Buchholz has a sore hamstring, Charlie Zink will get the start on 3-days rest.

Here’s your SOTD (stat of the day).

Last year the knuckleballer made 3 starts on 3-days rest and went 2-0 with a 0.59 ERA (1 ER in 15.1 IP).

Furthermore, after a lousy 2008 debut (8-0 loss to Indy), he pitched on 3-days rest in his 2nd start and threw 4.1 scoreless innings.

Let’s hope history repeats.

The PawSox are expected to add a relief pitcher tonight named Robert Coello.  He’s a 24-year-old converted catcher who was signed out of independent ball at the end of last season.  He’s been down at extended spring training, so he has not appeared in a game this season.

There are still some tickets left for tonight’s home opener.  If you can’t make it, you can join Bob Montgomery, Steve McDonald, and me for the TV coverage on Cox Sports throughout Rhode Island, or listen to the game with Steve Hyder and Mike Logan on the PawSox radio network or PawSox.com.

I’d love to hear from you.  The address is dhoard@pawsox.com.

 

 

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