May 2009

I Hope He Gets The Frequent Flyer Miles

Chris Carter is on his way back to the PawSox.

After flying to Anaheim yesterday just in case the Red Sox decided they needed him due to an injury to Kevin Youkilis, Carter is on his way back to Toledo to rejoin Pawtucket tonight.  He was never added to the Red Sox roster and as a result wasn’t even able to go to the ballpark in Anaheim.

Chris isn’t expected to arrive in Toledo until Thursday’s game is underway so he’s listed on the lineup card as an extra player and could be used as a pinch-hitter.

When he arrives, I look forward to seeing what he looks like with a shaved head — Manager Ron Johnson told him to get rid of his Mohawk before heading west to potentially join the Red Sox.

* * * * *

Here’s the breakdown of Clay Buchholz’s masterful performance on Wednesday:

48 fastballs

16 curves

7 sliders

22 changeups

His fastball was timed between 88 and 94 (not too shabby considering the 10:30am start.

His 11 strikeouts came on 5 changeups, 3 curves, 2 fastballs, and 1 slider.

* * * * *

The PawSox have placed Carlos Maldonado on the DL with a hamstring injury and added C John Otness from Portland where he was hitting .185 in 7 games.  Otness has spent all of the last two years with the Sea Dogs and will be making his Triple-A debut.

In other injury news, Jeff Natale will be testing his oblique injury by taking batting practice today.  He hopes to be back in the lineup during the next homestand.

* * * * *

After pitching in relief following Daisuke Matsuzaka’s first two rehab outings, Charlie Zink will return to the rotation on Saturday at McCoy Stadium.  The PawSox are using the opportunity to give their other starters an extra day of rest, so if you eager to see “a couple of B’s who throw BB’s,” Michael Bowden will start on Sunday and Clay Buchholz will start on Tuesday.

* * * * *

It’s a beautiful night in Toledo as we get set for Game 3 of the 4-game series.  Kris Johnson will face Ron Chiavacci.  The first pitch is at 6:30 and the pre-game show begins at 6:15 on the PawSox radio network and PawSox.com.

 

 

 

 

The Buck Stops Here. . .At Least For Now

How good does Clay Buchholz look right now?

We’re talking Pedro Martinez Circa 1999.

Yea I know, it’s not the major leagues and it’s a small sample size (6 starts, 35 IP), but there is no doubt in my mind that the kid who threw a no-hitter in his second big league start is absolutely, unequivocally, 100% back.

Let’s return to the Pedro comparison.

                           W/L       ERA      OPP BA      WHIP      K/9 IP 

Pedro ’99:             23-4       2.07       .205            0.92         13.2

Buchholz ’09:         2-0        1.03       .130            0.74           9.5                                                                                 

To me, opponent batting average and WHIP (walk + hits per innings pitched) provide the best indication of how dominant Buchholz has been this season.  He’s rarely working out of jams because there’s nobody on base.

By pitching 8 scoreless innings on Wednesday in a 1-0, 10-inning loss at Toledo, Clay increased his shutout streak to 21.1 innings (the PawSox record is 27.2 IP by Rob Woodward in 1986).

His 11 strikeouts were a new Triple-A high (his personal best is 12 K’s at Double-A Portland in 5.2 IP in 2007) and by my count 5 whiffs came on changeups.

That pitch was so nasty against the Mud Hens that at one point, Toledo’s long-time radio man Jim Weber poked his head into our booth and asked me if it was a screwball.

Oddly enough, I had asked Clay on the pre-game show if he felt his changeup was back to its 2007 effectiveness.

“Mechanically last year it was a little off,” Buchholz told me.  “I was cutting it and it was cutting a whole lot so it was more like a slider than a changeup and the spin was different.  Now it’s a straight 4-seam fastball spin, and if I’m throwing my fastball low-to-mid 90’s, it’s a 78 mile-an-hour pitch.  So it’s definitely a good pitch with the same arm action and I do feel really good throwing it right now in any situation.”

So what now?

Buchholz is clearly ready for another shot in Boston, but barring a trade or injury, it’s hard to project when he’s going to get his opportunity.  Especially when you consider that Daisuke Matsuzaka and John Smoltz are waiting in the wings. 

Dice-K will make his third rehab start for Pawtucket on Friday and then is expected to return to the Red Sox rotation (allowing Justin Masterson to go back to the bullpen).

Smoltz threw a side session in Florida on Wednesday and is expected to pitch a couple of innings in an extended spring game on Friday.  He’s hoping to be in the Red Sox rotation by the end of June.

That means Clay is likely to make his next start at McCoy Stadium and not Fenway Park.

Is Manager Ron Johnson worried about Buchholz getting stale in the minor leagues?

“Not Buck,” RJ told me.  “I spend a lot of time on issues like that and it’s almost like the kids say, ‘Let’s keep it real.’  He’s a professional and this is where his job takes him right now.  It’s like a guy who does anything — an electrician or a guy who follows storms or whatever — this is where his job is right now.  The decision to be made on where his job takes him is out of his control.  I had a long talk with him and I really believe that his mentality and maturity is the reason why he will get back to Boston and be successful for a long time because of the way he is handling this right now.”

To his credit, Buchholz isn’t complaining about being in Triple-A.

“RJ called me into the office and said, ‘I don’t want you to start feeling sorry for yourself and start pouting.’  I said, ‘You know me, I’m playing baseball so I’m alright.’  If it’s September and I don’t get called up then maybe we’ll start talking about how sorry I feel for myself.  It is what it is.  There’s a logjam up there and there are a lot of guys even on this team that probably should be in the big leagues but there’s nowhere to go in this organization right now.  That’s how good the players are that we have.  It’s fun to be in an organization like that, but there are ups and downs with it too.”

As a former major league manager once told a player who was being sent to the minor leagues, “It’s nothing personal — it’s personnel.”

* * * * *

We played “PawSox Who Am I?” on “Stump Steve” during Wednesday’s broadcast.

Ready?

1.  I was the 4th overall pick in the 1984 draft (Hydes guessed Roger Clemens).

2.  I spent 9 years in the big leagues with the Dodgers, Giants, Indians, Blue Jays and White Sox, but not necessarily in that order (he guessed Jose Offerman).

3.  In my first 3 major league seasons, I hit 24, 33, and 26 home runs (he tried Jon Nunnally).

4.  I played on the first US Olympic baseball team in 1984 with the likes of Mark McGwire, Will Clark, and Barry Larkin (no guess).

5.  In 1987 when Indiana beat Syracuse for the national championship in basketball, that story only received a small photo on the cover of Sports Illustrated.  The main cover photo of that issue featured me and Joe Carter in front of a Chief Wahoo logo calling the Cleveland Indians the best team in the American League in the baseball preview issue.

Hydes gave up.  The correct answer is Cory Snyder.

Steve falls to 12-14 this season.

* * * * *

Game 7 of the 8-game road trip is coming up on Thursday night at 6:30.  I hope you’ll join us for the radio call beginning with the pre-game show at 6:15 on the PawSox radio network and PawSox.com.

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

 

Junior and Me

Did you happen to notice that Ken Griffey Jr. homered a few days ago on Mother’s Day?

It continued a remarkable 21-year tradition of paying tribute to his parents Ken Sr. and Birdie.

Junior hit home runs #1 and #400 on his dad’s birthday.

He hit #500 on Father’s Day.

And the home run he hit last Sunday was the 7th he’s hit on Mother’s Day.

I got to know Junior quite well during the years that I hosted the Reds TV pre-game show, and I’m not the least bit embarrassed to admit that I openly root for him.

As one prolific slugger after another gets tainted with steroid allegations, Junior appears to be clean as a whistle, and stands out as the true home run champion of his era with 614 HR (and counting).

If not for a series of injuries that caused him to miss more than 300 games during a 4-year period where he would have been near his physical prime (ages 31-34), Junior might have been the player to break Hank Aaron’s career home run record instead of a certain San Francisco Giant with a head the size of a float in the Macy’s Day Parade.

A few years ago, Junior was kind enough to allow me and photographer Kent Weaver to spend a few days at his home in Orlando for a series of stories about what he’s like away from the ballpark.  You can watch one of those stories here.  Scroll down that page a bit until you see “Griffey at Home” and click that.  It might take a minute to load, but I think you’ll enjoy it.

And then there’s the story about the Pope t-shirt that my wife got for him.  I’ll save that for another day.

* * * * *

Wednesday morning at 10:30, Clay Buchholz (2-0, 1.33 ERA) will take the mound for Pawtucket as the PawSox look to improve to 6-0 this year against the Toledo Mud Hens.  The 24-year-old righty isn’t exactly thrilled about the start time.

“I guess it was about four days ago and everybody started complaining that we had a 10:30 game coming up,” Buchholz told me.  “I joked and said, ‘I guarantee that I’ll have to pitch that game.’  Then I dug a little deeper and found out that I was actually pitching that day.  It is what it is.  I’m not really a morning person but I figure there aren’t too many hitters that want to climb into the box at 10:30 in the morning either.”

It will be Clay’s second start on this road trip, and he was sensational in Columbus, allowing 1 hit in 7 scoreless innings while striking out 8.

So far this year, hitters are batting .126 against him — the lowest opponent batting average of any qualifying pitcher in minor league baseball, and he’s working on a streak of 13.1 scoreless innings.

One of the reasons Clay’s been so dominant is that he is back to throwing all 4 of his pitches effectively.

Here was the breakdown in his last start:  50 fastballs, 15 curves, 5 sliders, and 16 changeups.  His strikeouts came on 2 fastballs, 3 curves, 2 sliders, and 1 changeup.

In the start before that, he featured the slider more than the curve:  52 fastball, 7 curves, 15 sliders, 19 changeups.  His strikeouts came on 4 fastballs, 1 curve, and 1 changeup.

Best of all, he didn’t give up a run in either game.

I hope you can turn the radio on at work and enjoy the broadcast.  Pregame coverage begins at 10:15am on the PawSox radio network and PawSox.com.

Steve Hyder will look to climb to .500 in “Stump Steve.”  He was a winner last night to improve to 12-13 this season.

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

 

 

Greatest Photos Ever (non-Sam Division)

On Monday in Columbus, Daisuke Matsuzaka made his first-ever appearance in Ron Johnson’s “Circle of Trust.”

(if you’re not familiar with “The Circle” you should probably read this previous blog entry before continuing).

Knowing that he would be facing a wide variety of questions from his teammates, Daisuke brought his interpreter Masa Hoshino into the circle with him.

But that’s not all.

Several members of the Japanese media also pulled in close to hear what was being said and get pictures and video.  RJ made several attempts to say that the circle was strictly off-limits to the media, but apparently wasn’t understood due to the language barrier.

As a result, we have two tremendous photographs courtesy of photographer Shingo Nogami from the Nikkan Sports News.

Dice-K tips cap (resized).jpg

In the above photo, Dice-K tips his cap after officially being welcomed to the team.  A few minutes later the questions began and one of his answers produced a huge burst of laughter.

Dice-K in circle (resized).jpg

I told RJ that he is going to be huge in Japan after that photo appears in the Nikkan Sports News.

(Hyder quickly pointed out that RJ is huge everywhere).

By the way, I had lunch with the PawSox manager yesterday and when we discussed Daisuke’s upcoming appearance in the “circle,” I suggested that he ask him this question:  “What is your favorite American expression?’

Bob Costas asked Mariners star Ichiro Suzuki that question a few years ago, and it produced one of the funniest answers ever.

In English, Ichiro said, “August in Kansas City is hotter than two rats “fooling around” in a wool sock.”

I have edited that slightly.  If you want to see the original version — and I warn you that it includes adult language — you can watch it here.

Daisuke will throw in the bullpen on Tuesday in Toledo before making his third rehab start on Friday.  Barring a setback, he should be ready to return to the Red Sox after that.

* * * * *

I suspect Jeff Natale will have plenty of volunteers the next time he does an interview for the pre-game show.  Yesterday, Natale did his first one and choose his spring training roommate Sean Danielson for a guest.

Danielson prompty had his best game in five years as a pro, going 5-for-6 with three singles, a double, and a home run (matching his HR total from last year).

Natale is planning to do one interview a week and we’re taking suggestions for a good name for the segment (e-mailer Bobby Tierney came up with “Natale’s Nation).  If you have an idea, e-mail it to radioguys@pawsox.com.  The winner will get a $25 gift card to Gregg’s Restaurant.

* * * * *

There’s a good story today about Clay Buchholz in the Eagle-Tribune.  Clay makes his next start on Wednesday in a game that starts at 10:30 in the morning.  Buchholz isn’t too excited about that starting time and admits he’s not much of a morning person.  I reminded Clay that the Toledo batters probably aren’t exactly thrilled about the prospect of trying to hit him a couple of hours after rolling out of bed.

* * * * *

I’ve found the perfect gift for my broadcast partner and pal Steve Hyder — dirt from the old Yankee Stadium.

Speaking of Hydes, he was a winner last night in “Stump Steve.”  In honor of Randy Johnson getting his 298th career win, we played “The List.”

In this case, it included the last 5 pitchers to reach 300 career wins.  Steve had to name 4 out of 5 to be a winner and I allowed him to have one incorrect guess.

The answers (in order) are:  Tom Glavine, Greg Maddux, Roger Clemens, Nolan Ryan and Don Sutton.

Hydes quickly got the first three, then missed with Phil Niekro, before getting Nolan Ryan for the win.  He improved to 11-13 this season.

* * * * *

Tonight in Toledo, Enrique Gonzalez will try to move into a tie for the league lead with 5 wins as the PawSox open a 4-game series against the Mud Hens.

Since the Red Sox don’t play until 10:05, I hope you’ll tune in to our broadcast first.  Pre-game coverage starts at 6:15 on the PawSox radio network and PawSox.com.

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

 

 

Kudos to Baseball America

Heading into this season, Baseball America (the minor league bible) rated Michael Bowden and Daniel Bard as the top 2 pitching prospects in the Red Sox minor league system.

(Clay Buchholz was not included, since he has pitched in 20 major league games for Boston)

In any case, you can debate whether it should be Bowden then Bard or Bard then Bowden, but both of the young righties are living up to the hype.

On Wednesday night at McCoy, Bowden had a no-hitter going with 2-outs in the 7th inning before allowing a double to Toledo’s Ryan Roberson.  The 22-year-old pitcher would have been out of the inning without facing Roberson if not for a Pawtucket error.

It was the only hit that Bowden allowed in 6.2 IP, and marked the 2nd straight start in which he’s only allowed 1 hit (he gave up 1 hit in 6 IP last Friday vs. Gwinnett).  Michael’s ERA for the season is down to 1.01.

By the way, here’s a great Fantastic Fun Fact about Bowden.  In his 2 appearances in the big leagues, his uniform number with Boston has been 64.  Can you name the only other player in Red Sox history to wear that number?

Ready?

Dustin Pedroia, who debuted in the #64 before eventually switching to #15.

Then there’s Bard who recorded the final 4 outs — all by strikeout — for his 6th save.  The 23-year-old hit 99 mph on the stadium radar gun and now has 29 strikeouts in 16 IP (for a Little League-like 16.3 K per 9 innings).

Marcus McBeth also tossed a scoreless inning (reducing his ERA to 1.32) as the PawSox held Toledo to 2 hits in a 2-1 win.

Here’s an amazing stat.

Pawtucket has already had 10 games this year (out of 25 total) in which the opposition has been held to 5-or-fewer-hits:

2 2-hitters

3 3-hitters

3 4-hitters

2 5-hitters

Pretty incredible stuff.

* * * * *

In honor of the Toledo Mud Hens, we played “2 Out of 3 Ain’t Bad” on “Stump Steve” in which the last name of the correct answer to all 3 questions began with the letters “H-E-N”

1.  I spent 18 years in the majors with 6 teams, including 7 years with the St. Louis Cardinals.  I was a 4-time All-Star and made the final out in Tom Seaver’s only no-hitter.

2.  I’m a right-handed pitcher who spent 14 years in the majors, winning 19 games in 1993 and 20 games in 1996.

3.  In 1977, I was involved in perhaps the most famous trade in New York Mets history.  I wound up playing in 99 games for the Mets that year and finished 2nd in the National League Rookie-of-the-Year vote to Andre Dawson.

The answers are:

1.  George Hendrick

2.  Pat Hentgen

3.  Steve Henderson (who was traded to the Mets as part of the Tom Seaver deal with Cincinnati).

Hydes was only able to get #1, so he falls to 8-11 this season.

* * * * *

We passed along an amusing story on the broadcast on Wednesday night.  Regin Philbin claims that Hanley Ramirez tried to kill him.

* * * * *

The PawSox will go for their 6th straight win on Thursday afternoon at 12:05.  If you can’t make it out to McCoy, join us for the broadcast beginning at 11:50am on the PawSox radio network and PawSox.com.

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

 

 

Crash Davis Nailed It

“Yeah, I was in the show. I was in the show for 21 days once – the 21 greatest days of my life. You know, you never handle your luggage in the show, somebody else carries your bags. It was great. You hit white balls for batting practice, the ballparks are like cathedrals, the hotels all have room service, and the women all have long legs and brains” – Crash Davis.

 

After a fill-in stint with the Cincinnati Reds last weekend, I can understand how Kevin Costner’s character felt in Bull Durham.  When you’re an announcer in “the show”, somebody else carries and sets up your broadcasting equipment, the radio booths are like luxury boxes, and the hotels not only have room service, but it’s available 24 hours a day.

By the way, when he learned that I had called three major league games over the weekend, PawSox outfielder Sean “Spike” Danielson gave me a smile and said, “Are you like, a prospect or something?”

I’d certainly like to think so Spike.

Pawtucket isn’t the big leagues, but it’s a close as it gets in Triple-A.  The crowds are great, the entire operation is first-class, and I couldn’t work for better people than Ben Mondor, Mike Tamburro, and Lou Schwechheimer.

As much as I enjoyed last weekend in Pittsburgh, the last two nights at McCoy Stadium have been fantastic.

On Monday, it was great to see Woonsocket native Rocco Baldelli return to McCoy Stadium for the first time since he was a high school senior, and help the PawSox beat Toledo 2-1.

And on Tuesday, watching Daisuke Matsuzaka wiggle out of a bases-loaded, nobody-out jam (doesn’t he always?) in the 2nd inning, was the highlight of a 4-0 win over the Mud Hens.

The shutout was Pawtucket’s 6th in the first 24 games of the season (the PawSox had a total of 5 last year) and the pitching staff has has given up 1 run in its last 29 innings.

The team is 14-10 despite having scored the second-fewest runs in the league, and the biggest reason is the bullpen.

Here are some mind-blowing numbers:

The PawSox “pen pals” have a 2.14 ERA (105 IP, 71 H, 25 ER, 96 K).

Throw out the 2 runs allowed by backup catcher Carlos Maldonado in a 15-inning game on April 12th, and the bullpen ERA drops to 1.97.

Daniel Bard is getting most of the hype — thanks to 25 strikeouts in 14.2 IP (that’s 15.3 per 9 innings).

But Fernando Cabrera hasn’t given up a run in his last 10 appearances, covering 15.2 innings.

Jose Vaquedano has a 1.35 ERA, and Marcus McBeth has a 1.42 ERA.

A good bullpen makes a manager look smart, and right now RJ is looking like Einstein.

With slightly better hair.

* * * * *

Tuesday night on “Stump Steve” we played “PawSox Who Am I?”  Here were the clues:

1.  I was the Sporting News American League Rookie of the Year in 1981 (Steve incorrectly guessed Mike Greenwell).

2.  I was an American League All-Star twice in the 1980’s (incorrectly guessed Todd Benzinger).

3.  I played for 3 major league teams — the Red Sox, Astros, and Cardinals (no guess).

4.  I am the manager of the Independent Worcester Tornadoes (no guess).

5.  I went 1-for-3 in the longest game in baseball history (incorrectly guessed Marty Barrett).

The correct answer was Rich Gedman.  After a blazing 7-2 start, Hydes falls to 8-10 this season.

* * * * *

I can’t tell you how excited I was to see that former Pawtucket standout Bobby Scales made his major league debut on Tuesday for the Chicago Cubs.  It came after 10 years, 1,013 games, and 3,303 at-bats in the minors.

Bobby went 1-for-4 and scored a run in his first big league game.  You can read all about it and see the highlight of his first major league hit here.

* * * * *

We have a good pitching matchup to look forward to on Wednesday as Michael Bowden squares off against 2-time National League All-Star Dontrelle Willis.  If you can’t make it to McCoy, I hope you’ll join for the call on the PawSox radio network or PawSox.com.  Pregame coverage begins at 6:00.

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

 

 

All in the Family

Here is my list of the all-time greatest inventions:

1.  The toaster oven (I was a bachelor until I was 38 and would have starved without it).

2.  The VCR and/or DVR (how did we survive when we had to watch TV shows when they actually aired?).

3.  E-mail.

One of great things about broadcasting PawSox games is hearing from the players’ families at radioguys@pawsox.com.

So far on this year’s team we’ve heard from Daniel Bard’s dad, Michael Bowden’s mom, Clay Buchholz’s parents and grandparents, Charlie Zink’s mom, Dusty Brown’s mother and brother, Angel Chavez’s mother-in-law, and Chris Carter’s father.  We certainly hope the list will grow.

It’s really nice to still hear from the parents of former PawSox David Murphy and David Pauley as we follow their progress with other teams.

And Murphy’s “Grandma Jeanne” will always be the official grandma of the PawSox radio network.

It’s been great to get to know so many family members, and frequently they provide great information for the broadcasts.

As I watched Bard mow down the Toledo Mud Hens in the 9th inning on Monday night to earn his 5th save in Pawtucket’s 2-1 win, I was able to pass along some interesting information that his dad had e-mailed me earlier in the day.

A few weeks ago, Daniel and I were discussing his father’s playing career as a minor league catcher and he mentioned that his dad had caught a number of Cy Young Award winners.  I asked for his dad’s e-mail address and requested more details.  Here you go:

“Catching in the Dodgers and Orioles systems for 5 years, going to big league camp 3 times and Instructional League twice afforded me many opportunities to catch in games several Cy Young Winners and All-Star pitchers.  They were Orel Hershiser, Rick Sutcliffe, Dave Stewart, Bob Welch, Fernando Valenzuela, John Franco, Sid Fernandez, the late Steve Howe, Jim Palmer, Tippy Martinez, Mike Bodiker, Storm Davis, and Mike Flanagan.  But, playing catch with Sandy Koufax and talking about “catching” for hours with the late Roy Campanella (while in a wheelchair) were some of my fondest memories!

Had the unique priviledge of catching the late Mark Fidrych as a sophmore at Worcester Academy before he started his professional career with the Tigers.  His stuff was filthy!”

After reading that, is it any surprise that Daniel Bard has become an outstanding pitching prospect?

* * * * *

Dice-K mania comes to McCoy Stadium on Tuesday night as Daisuke Matsuzaka is scheduled to make a rehab start for the PawSox (3 innings or 45-50 pitches).

He pitched for the PawSox at Lehigh Valley last year in his only previous minor league game and the first pitch was delayed by 2 hours and 10 minutes.  Let’s hope for better luck on Tuesday night!

Hope to see you at McCoy at 6:15.

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Diceman Cometh

Tuesday’s game at McCoy just became a hot ticket as Daisuke Matsuzaka is expected to be on the mound for the PawSox.

The 28-year-old righty, who has been out with a mild shoulder strain since April 15th, will be limited to 3 innings or roughly 45-50 pitches.

Dice-K made one rehab appearance for the PawSox last year, but it was at Lehigh Valley.  A packed house endured a 2:10 rain delay before watching Matsuzaka toss 5 solid innings in the only minor league game of his career.

Matsuzaka was 18-3 for the Red Sox last year, and is 33-16 in his big league career.  Don’t miss the chance to see him for $6 bucks (or $10 if you want to splurge on a box seat) on Tuesday night.

Dice-K is one of three Boston players who is expected to suit up for the PawSox over the next few days.

Mark Kotsay will likely be in the Pawtucket lineup on Saturday afternoon.  The 12-year major league vet had back surgery to repair a displaced disc in January.

And Rocco “The Woonsocket Rocket” Baldelli is expected to be the PawSox DH on Monday as he returns from a hamstring injury.  Baldelli hasn’t played at McCoy Stadium since he was a senior at Bishop Hendricken High School in Warwick. 

* * * * *

Over the years, several starting pitchers have had “personal” catchers (Steve Carlton/Tim McCarver, Greg Maddux/Eddie Perez, Tim Wakefield/Guy Other Than Jason Varitek).

Well, Cincinnati Reds pitchers might want to consider adding yours truly to the broadcast team.

Consider:

In 2003, Danny Graves switched from being the Reds closer to a member of their starting rotation and went 4-15 with a 5.33 ERA.  But on May 14th, I subbed for Marty Brennaman on the radio and called Graves’ only major league shutout — a 4-hitter against the Cardinals.

Eric Milton ranks as the biggest free agent bust in Reds history.  After signing a 3-year, $25 million contract before the 2005 season, he went 16-27 with a 5.83 ERA.  But on July 31, 2005, I subbed for George Grande on TV and Milton tossed 7 scoreless innings in a 7-1 win over the Padres.

My mojo continued last night.  Bronson Arroyo entered the game with a 6.48 ERA and was coming off a 9-run debacle against Atlanta in his last start.  He promptly tossed 8 scoreless innings in Cincinnati’s 4-0 win over the Pirates.

OK, I know I had nothing to do with it.  Pittsburgh hasn’t scored a run in its last 22 innings, and Arroyo improved to 4-1 this season.

His performance was great, but the most spectacular thing I saw last night was simply the view from the radio booth at PNC Park.

PNC Park (resized).gif

I had a nice chat with Brandon Moss yesterday and plan to interview him this afternoon for a future edition of PawSox Insider.  He had great news — he’s going to be a dad!

He and his wife Ally had just listened to the baby’s heartbeat on Thursday and the due date is November 7th.  They’ll learn whether it’s a boy or girl in 4 weeks.

* * * * *

There’s a PawSox connection to the Kentucky Derby today — Jeff Corsaletti’s parents, Art and Cathy, will be in attendance.

Corso’s sister won box seat tickets to the Derby in a raffle and his mom took care of the rest as a 60th birthday present for his dad.

I used to cover the Kentucky Derby every year when I was a TV sports anchor in Cincinnati.  I highly recommend it as a thing to do once in your lifetime if you can swing it.

* * * * *

I’ll be listening to Steve and Steve (Hyder and McDonald) this afternoon to see if the PawSox can score a few runs.

If you want to check out my broadcast tonight at 7:05, try 700-AM on the radio dial.  On a clear night, WLW can be heard in 38 states, earning the nicknames “The Big One” or “The Nation’s Station.”

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

Pittsburgh Peppered With PawSox

Greetings from the magnificent Omni William Penn Hotel in Pittsburgh where tonight (weather permitting) I’ll begin a 3-game fill-in stint as the radio play-by-play man for the Cincinnati Reds.

One of the great things about this opportunity is that it gives me a chance to visit with a couple of former PawSox that were traded to Pittsburgh as part of the Manny Ramirez deal last year — Brandon Moss and Craig Hansen.

(Moss is the subject of one of my all-time favorite Fantastic Fun Facts:  His hometown of Loganville, GA is where Burt Reynolds and Loni Anderson lived during the brief time they were happily married.  Mossy says the locals call Burt and Loni’s former mansion “Tara.”  You can see a slide show here.)

Moss and Hansen were with Pawtucket during my year’s in the booth, but the PawSox connections certainly don’t end there.

Freddy Sanchez, who was with Pawtucket in 2002-03, won a National League batting title with the Pirates in 2006, and is off to an outstanding start this season.  He’s 7th in the league in hitting at .337, and leads the NL with 10 doubles.

Dick Pole, whom Ben Mondor calls the greatest pitcher in PawSox history, is in his 3rd year as the Reds pitching coach.  He still holds Pawtucket records for most strikeouts in a game (19), and most complete games in a season (16).

And then there’s tonight’s starting pitcher for Cincinnati — Bronson Arroyo — who was named the International League’s Pitcher of the Year in 2003 after going 12-6 with a 3.43 ERA for the PawSox.

On August 10th of that year, Bronson threw the fourth 9-inning perfect game in International League history, as the PawSox beat Buffalo 7-0 at McCoy Stadium.

I discussed that performance with Arroyo several weeks ago at spring training.

“I was on my way to the stadium and I couldn’t get the gate to open at the place where I lived in downtown Providence – the magnetic card wasn’t working,” Arroyo told me.  “So I walked around to the other side and I wound up bashing my elbow on this metal box, and I could immediately feel my elbow swelling up and feel the tightness in there.  I was thinking, ‘Geez, this is all I need today when I’m supposed to start.’  But when I got to the park and started warming up it felt OK.  Most of the game felt pretty average until about the fifth or six inning when I realized that nobody was talking to me on the bench, and if they did talk to me, they said the same things they had been saying for the previous three innings.  It was definitely a weird vibe, and around the eighth inning I went in to get a cup of coffee and I could hear the crowd just buzzing out there – I’ve never heard that in a minor league stadium before.  I still say to this day, after pitching in the World Series and starting Game 3 of the ALDS against the Angels in ’04, I’ve never been more nervous than when I took the mound in the 9th inning in Pawtucket that day.  I struck out the first guy on three pitches.  Then I struck out the second guy on three pitches, and it was like, ‘Wow, I’ve got a chance to do this.’  The last batter hit a ground ball to Andy Abad – one of my good buddies – and the rest is history. 

 

Bronson still has his hat, glove, and spikes from that game, and the pitcher’s rubber was immediately dug up by the ground’s crew and is now mounted on the wall just outside of the PawSox home clubhouse. 

 

“I’ve been back to the park a couple of times since then,” Arroyo said, ” but it’s been a long time and I’d like to get back there one of these days.  I remember walking into the stadium and seeing all of the murals they have of the guys who have come through Pawtucket, and you never imagine yourself being one of those guys.  It’s funny now to think that people go to McCoy Stadium and probably say, ‘I remember when Arroyo pitched here.’ 

 

Bronson won a World Series ring with the Red Sox in 2004, and pitched in the All-Star Game as a member of the Reds in 2006.  But his 101-pitch masterpiece with the PawSox remains one of his greatest memories.

 

“The perfect game – without question – is one of the highlights of my career and ranks up there with winning the World Series in ’04,” Bronson told me.  “Pawtucket was the best place I played in the minor leagues.  It’s so close to Boston that the fans bring that excitement and atmosphere that you don’t find anywhere else other than Fenway Park.  Ben Mondor runs a great ship there.  They don’t bring in a lot of the antics that you find at other minor league parks and they don’t need to because they fill that place up every day as long as it’s not snowing.  My time there was as good as it gets in the minor leagues and every time I drive by Providence going to play a show at Mohegan Sun (Arroyo is a musician), I always think about that ballpark and the great times I had there.”

 

Since the Pawtucket game starts at 6:15pm tonight, the Reds and Pirates will probably still be playing when the PawSox are finished.  There’s a good chance you can hear the broadcast wherever you live on 700-WLW.  It’s one of the nation’s most powerful radio stations and can be heard in 38 states on a clear night.

 

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

   

 

 

 

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