July 2010

Why The PawSox No Longer Wear Shorts To The Ballpark

Daniel Nava knew exactly what to do on the first pitch he saw in the big leagues, but what to wear to work was a different story.

 


Nava praying.jpg 

(all photos, except when noted, courtesy of Kelly O’Connor)

 

As Gordon Edes of ESPNBoston.com wrote in early July, Nava committed a minor breach of major league protocol on a Red Sox road trip when he arrived at the clubhouse wearing shorts.  That had always been allowed in the minors, so Daniel’s wardrobe malfunction was understandable but embarrassing.

 

“It was stuff that I’m not going to do again, but at the same time, you live and you learn,” Nava told me.  “I wish I hadn’t done that, but now I know.  I guess next time I should err on the safe side.  Rather safe than sorry right?”

 

Shortly after Daniel’s minor flub, PawSox players were no longer allowed to wear shorts to the stadium.

 

“It’s such a tough job that we all have as staff members here because we want them to go up there and be perfect but it’s impossible,” Pawtucket manager Torey Lovullo said.  “Daniel has mastered the hard part and that’s going out there and performing.  He is one of the nicest, most-compassionate kids that I’ve ever met and the fact that he wore shorts is not an indication that he’s not a big leaguer.  But we talk about having ‘feel’ and know what it’s going to take to fit into Tito’s clubhouse.”

 


Nava grand slam.jpg 

Nava certainly didn’t look out of place in the batters box.  In 29 games with Boston, Daniel batted .286/.381/.451 with 10 2B, 1 3B, 1 HR, and 16 RBI.  But the 27-year-old outfielder says he never felt totally comfortable.

 

“I really don’t think that I ever felt ‘normal’ up there because everything is so dramatically different,” Nava said.  “The emphasis on winning is huge, and I was constantly learning as I was going.  I got more comfortable, but I would never say that I sat there and thought, ‘Now I’m good to go.’  It definitely kept me on edge.”

 

“There was the nervousness and anxiety of going up there and being a major leaguer and all of the little things that nobody understands until you walk into that clubhouse for the first time,” Lovullo said.  “Once you go up there and feel that and experience the intensity of going out and trying to win each and every day, you come down here with a new attitude.”    

 

In 7 games since returning from Boston, Nava is 8-for-26 (.308) with 2 2B, 1 HR, 5 RBI, and 7 walks (.441 OBP).  He is virtually guaranteed to return to the Red Sox when rosters expand in September if not sooner.

 

“I want to get back there, and I think any player who has been up is going to say the same thing,” Nava said.  “I do know that there is stuff that I have to work on, so I’m trying to focus on that stuff and realize that if I get another shot, I want to have those things locked-down.” 

 

And next time, he’ll know what to wear.

 

* * * * *

 

If you’ve read this blog in the past, you have undoubtedly enjoyed the brilliant photos provided by the “Official Unpaid Photographer of Heard if From Hoard” Kelly O’Connor.

 

Kelly has graciously allowed me to pick and choose from her website and I can honestly say that I am dazzled on a daily basis when I go looking for a photo to match my content.

 

In addition to the great photography, Kelly has come up with a fantastic idea for a potential giveaway item at McCoy Stadium:  The Josh Reddick Magic Hair Game.

 


WoolyWilly.jpg 

It’s based on the old Wooly Willy toy in which metal filings are moved about with a magnetic wand to add features to a cartoon face.

 


Reddick smile.jpg 

In the Josh Reddick version, you start with a buzz-cut and a clean-shaven face and let the fun begin.

 


Reddick with Mohawk re.jpg

 

You can use the magnetic pen and metal filings to add a Mohawk.

 


Reddick with mustache.jpg 

Or a bushy mustache/soul patch combo.

 


Reddick pornstache.jpg 

Or just the mustache.

 


Reddick with beard.jpg 

Or a scruffy beard.

 


Reddick re.jpg 

Or long sideburns . . . you get the picture.

 

(The Mohawk and bushy mustache/soul patch photos are courtesy of Louriann Mardo-Zayat.  All others are courtesy of Kelly O’Connor)

 

In case you’re wondering, Reddick loves the idea.  This MUST happen in 2011.

 

By the way, Josh has missed the PawSox last seven games with a strained oblique on his left side, but he could be back in the lineup on Thursday night in Toledo.

 

“Josh had a good day yesterday,” Torey Lovullo told me before Wednesday’s game against the Mud Hens.  “He threw from the outfield to all of the bases, he took good batting practice, and if he continues on that path today, he should be in the lineup on Thursday.  We need him.  This team misses him.  We’ve had a lot of guys going out there without being able to have a day off, so he’ll be a welcome addition.”

 

Thursday’s game starts at 7:00.  I hope you’ll join us for radio coverage beginning with the pre-game show at 6:45 on the PawSox radio network and pawsox.com.

 

I’d love to hear from you.  Please take a moment to tell me who you are and where you’re from in the comments section or you can e-mail me at dhoard@pawsox.com.

 

And if you Twitter, you can follow my tweets at http://twitter.com/Dan_Hoard

Mike Lowell Was A Bad Choice

Listen to my post-game interview with Mike Lowell here.

 

Before every game at Fifth Third Field in Toledo, a player from the visiting team is chosen to be the “Toft’s Strikeout Player of the Game.”  Each time that player whiffs, Mud Hens fans who scream the loudest get free Toft’s Ice Cream delivered to their seats.

 


Lowell in Pawtucket.jpg(photo courtesy of Louriann Mardo-Zayat) 

 

On Tuesday night, Toledo front office staffers chose Mike Lowell as the Toft’s K-man.  The four-time All-Star didn’t strike out, so nobody got free ice cream. 

 

Instead, Lowell belted three home runs in Pawtucket’s 10-6 win.

 

“They basically screamed it in my face my first time up and when I got one strike, everybody was really rooting for me to strike out,” Lowell said with a grin.  “I feel sorry for the people of Toledo, but they were rooting for me to strike out so bad, that maybe the baseball Gods took care of me.”

 

Lowell tied the PawSox single-game record with 3 HR, becoming the 18th player in Pawtucket history to accomplish the feat.  The 36-year-old veteran also hit 3 HR in a major league game on April 21, 2004 with the Florida Marlins.

 

“I don’t really care if it’s Tee Ball or Little League, that’s a good feeling,” Lowell said.  “Big picture – I’m happy that I’m swinging the bat well and I was seeing the ball very well, but it’s still a thrill.  A home run is good at any level, so this is still a special day for me.  I’ve only done it one other time in my life, so it felt really good.”

 

In four games on his rehab stint, Lowell is 8-for-18 (.444) with 3 doubles, 3 HR, and 7 RBI. 

 

Is he already locked in at the plate?

 

“I think I would be a little arrogant to say after a few days that I’m locked in – that would be a little extreme – but I do feel good at the plate, that’s for sure,” Lowell said.  “It isn’t like I haven’t seen any baseball in four or five months, so I’ve had something to build on and I know how to make adjustments.  But it feels good without a doubt.”

 


Lowell waving.jpg 

(photo courtesy of Kelly O’Connor)

 

Tuesday’s game marked the first time that Lowell has played at third base with the PawSox and he had no trouble with the only ground ball that was hit in his direction.

 

“Selfishly I would have liked to get more action,” Lowell said, “But you make quick movements when guys foul balls down the line, and I didn’t feel any pain or any sharp grinding like I felt in ’09.  So that was positive.”

 

Lowell says the big night doesn’t change his rehab schedule and he expects to be back in Pawtucket’s starting lineup on Wednesday in Toledo.  Terry Francona told reporters in Anaheim on Monday that there’s a good chance that Lowell will be activated by Boston on Friday when the team opens its next homestand.

 

He’ll be missed in the PawSox clubhouse where Lowell has treated his minor league teammates to several postgame feasts.  Despite that generosity, the players gave Mike the silent treatment after one of his blasts on Tuesday.

 

“They didn’t want to shake my hand after the second home run, but I told them there would be no nice post-game spread tomorrow if they continued that,” Lowell said.  “After the third one I was greeted with a lot of high fives, so it worked out well.”

 

* * * * *

 

I’d love to hear from you.  Please take a moment to tell me who you are and where you’re from in the comments section or you can e-mail me at dhoard@pawsox.com.

 

And if you Twitter, you can follow my tweets at http://twitter.com/Dan_Hoard

Mike Lowell’s Bid For MVRP

In three rehab games with Pawtucket, Mike Lowell is hitting .357.

 

Before and after those games, he is batting 1.000.

 


Lowell at McCoy.jpg 

(photo courtesy of Louriann Mardo-Zayat)

 

The four-time All-Star is making an impressive bid to be Pawtucket’s 2010 MVRP (Most Valuable Rehabbing Player) with the generosity he has displayed toward his teammates, and the fun he is having while spending a week in the minors.

 

As I’ve described many times, it’s customary for a rehabbing big leaguer to buy a post-game “spread” for his minor league teammates on his first night in town, but Lowell has sprung for feasts after each of his three starts.

 

Thursday:  Steaks and chicken from Russell Morin Fine Catering and a buffet from the Dominican Restaurant in Central Falls, RI.

 

Saturday:  P.F. Chang’s China Bistro (if you’ve never been to one, I highly recommend the Spicy Ground Chicken and Eggplant).   

 

Sunday:  Outback Steakhouse (steak + shrimp = happy clubhouse).

 

Lowell was not in the starting lineup on Monday in Columbus, but he still treated his mates to a pre-game feast of sandwich wraps and sushi.  Then when we all piled on the bus to head to Toledo, Lowell paid for 12 large pizzas from Little Caesars.

 

There was even enough for two hungry radio guys.

 

As one Pawtucket player put it, “I think I have a serious man-crush on Mike Lowell.”

 

But it’s not just the free food.  Lowell has embraced the nostalgia of returning to places that he had not seen since his last full season in the minor leagues in 1998.

 

“When he walked into my office last Thursday, he said, ‘I can’t wait to get back on the field, I can’t wait to get back into baseball mode, and I can’t wait to take the bus trip from Columbus to Toledo,’ PawSox manager Torey Lovullo said with a laugh.  “I said, ‘That’s absurd Mike.’  But he’s really excited to be back in this environment and I guess the meaning of that to me is that when you’re in it, you don’t appreciate it.  When it gets taken away from you, you really miss it.  The camaraderie and the fellowship are more meaningful than you realize.”  

 

In 1998, Lowell was named the Columbus Clippers Player-of-the-Year, and on Monday night, the Clippers held a special pre-game ceremony to present him with a portrait of his much-younger self that had been hanging in the team’s Hall of Fame Bar.

 


Lowell art.jpg 

Lowell also took the time to tour the shrine with Clippers’ Team President Ken Schnacke (My pal Rick Medeiros has the full story and some great photos on his blog “Rollin’ With Rick”).

 

Terry Francona told reporters in Anaheim yesterday that there’s a good chance that Lowell will be activated on Friday when the Red Sox return to Fenway Park to play the Tigers.

 

I think I might cry.

 

(By the way, the interview that I did with Lowell on Sunday for the PawSox pre-game show can be found online here)

 

Lowell is expected to be back in the lineup on Tuesday as the PawSox open a 4-game series in Toledo at 7:00.  I hope you’ll join us for radio coverage beginning with the pre-game show at 6:45 on the PawSox radio network and pawsox.com.

 

I’d love to hear from you.  Please take a moment to tell me who you are and where you’re from in the comments section or you can e-mail me at dhoard@pawsox.com.

 

And if you Twitter, you can follow my tweets at http://twitter.com/Dan_Hoard

Lowell Focusing On Rehab, Not Rumors

According to a story filed Saturday night by Joe McDonald of ESPNBoston.com, the Detroit Tigers are interested in possibly trading for Mike Lowell as a replacement for injured third baseman Brandon Inge.

 

According to a July 16th report from Rob Bradford of WEEI.com, the Texas Rangers are still considering a deal for Lowell to give them a right-handed hitting compliment to Chris Davis at first base.

 

And according to Mike Lowell, he’s not paying attention to the latest trade rumors.

 

“In my first few years in the big leagues I followed it very closely because I think you believe everything that anyone says,” Lowell told me.  “Right now, I don’t pay too much attention to it because it doesn’t change my plan.  My focus is to feel good at the plate, and to be able to get back to the big leagues and contribute wherever I am.  Do I think I can contribute more than what I’ve been used this year?  Absolutely.  If that entails being traded – like I said before, the beautiful thing about that is that I don’t have a no-trade clause and I can’t control where I go, so I literally choose not to worry about it.  If it happens, it’s probably going to be to a team that wants to use me and is probably in a pretty good pennant race.  But I can honestly say that I really don’t lose any sleep at night thinking about it.” 

 


Lowell celebrating.jpg 

(photo courtesy of Kelly O’Connor)

 

The Red Sox attempted to trade Lowell to Texas last December for catcher Max Ramirez but the deal fell through when the 36-year-old third baseman flunked his physical due to a torn ligament in his thumb.

 

Did that attempted trade scar his feelings for the Red Sox organization?

 

“I don’t think so,” Lowell said.  “They are a business first and foremost.  I think every major league team runs it like a business.  Do I think some teams take the human element into account more than others?  Sure – that’s just the nature of who runs it and their personalities.  The Red Sox had the ability to not only take on my salary but Adrian Beltre’s salary and basically hope that they would get production out of one of the two guys and it’s worked out for them.  I think if we were talking about 26 or 27 other major league teams that’s not even a question because most teams can’t handle that financial hit.  I understand the business aspect.  I don’t think I was too happy because I felt like in 2009 I played in pain or discomfort every single time I went out there, and I felt like my numbers were still respectable.  But that’s human nature.  I would not have opposed being traded.  Look how good Texas is doing – they’re a great team and it looks like they have the potential to go deep into the playoffs.”

 

Whether Lowell stays in Boston or gets dealt, he has no desire to be a role player – now or in the future.

 

“Absolutely not – I’ll retire before I do that,” Lowell said.  “I realize that winning and being able to put up consistent numbers satisfies me.  To be a bench guy I think you need to be one of two things – I think you either need to be really fast or have above-average power, because you can get away with hitting .230 or .240 if you hit 10 or 12 home runs in limited at-bats.  I’m neither one, and if I’m on a team I want to be playing.  I don’t enjoy sitting and watching it.  The role thing – once every 9 or 10 days – is not something that I look forward to or feel like I want to do.”

 

Lowell has appeared in three games on his rehab stint with Pawtucket, going 5-for-14 (.357) with 3 doubles.  He’s expected to take Monday night off, before returning to action on Tuesday in Toledo.

 

“We have the next 4 or 5 days mapped out and I think with each at-bat I have been feeling better,” Lowell said.  “I hadn’t seen live pitching in over a month so the ball tends to get on you pretty quickly.  But once you realize the pace of live pitching and just get your foot down and get ready – I feel like my swing mechanically is pretty good, so it’s just a matter of the adjustments that you have to make during the course of a game.     

 

Technically it’s a 20-day rehab stint, but Lowell says he expects to be activated by Boston this week.  In the meantime, he’s enjoying his brief return to the minors.

 

“I look back on my time in the minor leagues as very positive,” Lowell said.  “There’s a big picture for these guys and it’s not necessarily about winning and losing – the goal is to develop each player to see the highest level that he can get to.  I don’t think anyone says when they are eight years old that, ‘I want to be a Triple-A player.’  Everyone wants to be in the big leagues.  So I enjoy the intensity and being around guys that are hungry.  Even at the big league level, the guys that remain hungry are the guys that are successful year after year.  It’s fun to watch and I’m going to good places.  In Pawtucket I got a tremendous response from the Red Sox fans there.  When I played Triple-A it was here in Columbus, and my first Triple-A game was in Toledo so it brings back good memories.”

 

* * * * *

 

On Sunday, I witnessed something I had never seen before in professional baseball:  A team singing “Happy Birthday” to its manager.

 

Prior to the game, I was sitting in the dugout with Torey Lovullo to tape a pre-game interview while the players were stretching in the outfield.  Suddenly, all 30 guys approached (including the players who aren’t on the active roster) and they formed a semi-circle around us before serenading their skipper.

 

“That was pretty spectacular,” Lovullo said.  “These players mean a lot to me and when they come out and return some of those feelings back to me it makes me feel pretty special.  I was glad that they did that, but I told them, ‘Hey, for a grand finale it would be nice to get a win.’  That would be the perfect birthday present.” 

 

Unfortunately, it didn’t work out that way for the 45-year-old manager as the Clippers beat the PawSox 5-4.  Pawtucket will try to avoid a 4-game sweep in the final game of the series on Monday night at 7:05.  I hope you’ll join us for radio coverage beginning with the pre-game show at 6:50 on the PawSox radio network and pawsox.com.

 

I’d love to hear from you.  Please take a moment to tell me who you are and where you’re from in the comments section or you can e-mail me at dhoard@pawsox.com.

 

And if you Twitter, you can follow my tweets at http://twitter.com/Dan_Hoard

A Few Comments From Mike Lowell

I had a great chat with Mike Lowell before Sunday’s game in Columbus.  I plan to do a full blog entry later, but here are a couple of the questions and answers that I thought I would post right away:

 


Lowell.jpg 

(photo courtesy of Kelly O’Connor)

 

You were 4-for-4 last night with 3 doubles – that would seem to a strong statement that this rehab isn’t going to take very long.

 

Well, I hope not.  We have the next 4 or 5 days mapped out and I think with each at-bat I have been feeling better.  I hadn’t seen live pitching in over a month so the ball tends to get on you pretty quickly.  But once you realize the pace of live pitching and just get your foot down and get ready – I feel like my swing mechanically is pretty good, so it’s just a matter of the adjustments that you have to make during the course of a game.

 

How does your hip feel on a daily basis?  Does it ache when you get up?  Do you know when it’s going to rain?

 

I’m not sure I should comment on that one.  I’ve come to realize that there are anti-inflamatory drugs that I have to take in order to feel somewhat comfortable.  When I don’t take them, I notice there’s a stiffness – like you said – when I get up or if I’ve been sitting down for awhile.  I think once I move around it kind of goes away.  The good thing is that it’s never bothered me rotationally.  I can throw, I can hit – none of that stuff has really bothered me, even at its worst point pre-surgery.  I think now after the surgery, I just don’t have a lot of cartilage in that area so I get that bone-on-bone pounding – that’s the most uncomfortable part of it.  Hopefully if I can monitor that and still be able to produce at the plate, I can get by.

 

Could you see yourself being content as a bench guy down the road?

 

Absolutely not – I’ll retire before I do that.  I realize that winning and being able to put up consistent numbers satisfies me.  To be a bench guy I think you need to be one of two things – I think you either need to be really fast or have above-average power, because you can get away with hitting .230 or .240 if you hit 10 or 12 home runs in limited at-bats.  I’m neither one, and if I’m on a team I want to be playing.  I don’t enjoy sitting and watching it.  The role thing – once every 9 or 10 days – is not something that I look forward to or feel like I want to do.

Potentially Great Timing


Bobblehead Ellsbury.jpgThe PawSox return home next Saturday (July 31) on Jacoby Ellsbury Bobblehead Night at McCoy Stadium.

 

In an ironic twist, it looks like Jacoby might be there.

 


Ellsbury running.jpg 

(photo courtesy of Kelly O’Connor)

 

Red Sox manager Terry Francona told reporters in Seattle on Saturday that Ellsbury is expected to play for the Single-A GCL Red Sox on Monday and Tuesday.  If all goes well, Jacoby could join the PawSox in time for the upcoming 8-game homestand against Durham and Scranton/WB.

 

Maybe Jacoby’s bobblehead should come with a tiny flak jacket to protect his broken ribs.

 

Ellsbury would not be the first athlete to play on his own bobblehead night.

 


Thome bobblehead.jpg 

In 2007, Jim Thome hit his 500th career home run on Jim Thome Bobblehead Night in Chicago.  Thome certainly has a flair for the dramatic – it was a 2-run walk-off blast in the bottom of the 9th inning to give the White Sox a 9-7 win.

 


Ramirez bobblehead.jpg 

Last year, Manny Ramirez was not in the starting lineup due to an injured hand when the Dodgers dolled out 50,000 of his bobbleheads at Dodger Stadium.  No big deal – Manny hit a pinch-hit grand slam to snap a 2-2 tie in a 6-2 win over Cincinnati.  Vin Scully said it was the loudest roar he had heard at Dodger Stadium in 20 years.  Manny then played real-life bobblehead by bouncing his head up and down to the amusement of his teammates.  

 

There are two bobbleheads I would love to get my hands on.

 


Rojo Johnson bobblehead.jpg 

Earlier this month, the Round Rock Express of the Pacific Coast League handed out 2,500 Billy Ray “Rojo” Johnson bobbleheads.  He’s the legendary pitcher from the Venezuelan Leagues (who happens to look a lot like a mustachioed Will Ferrell) who threw one pitch for Round Rock in May before getting ejected.

 

I’ve attempted to purchase one on eBay, but so far I keep getting outbid.

 

I would also love to have the Torey Lovullo bobblehead that the Buffalo Bisons gave away in 2003.

 

It’s been the subject of considerable verbal abuse for Torey over the last seven years because it doesn’t depict him in a typical baseball pose.

 

“I think his bobblehead says it all,” former Buffalo teammate Jeff Manto told me.  “Most hitters are shown swinging a bat and pitchers have a ball in their hand, but Torey is just standing there waving.” 

 


Lovullo, Manto bobbleheads.jpg 

 

“That’s how they are in Buffalo – they love to play jokes on people so my bobblehead doesn’t show me swinging or fielding a ball – it shows me with my arm waving to the fans,” Lovullo said.  “I do think that people appreciated how I connected with the community and the fans.  That’s how they remember me in Buffalo – by the bobblehead that’s waving.” 

 

* * * * *

 

The PawSox – who have dropped 7 of their last 8 games – will look to get back on the winning track on Sunday as they face Columbus at 5:05 at Huntington Park.

 

Mike Lowell, who went 4-for-4 with 3 doubles on Saturday, is expected to be in the starting lineup.  Lowell has hits in his last 5 at-bats – the team record is 9 consecutive hits by Keith Mitchell in 1998.

 

I hope you’ll join us for radio coverage beginning with the pre-game show at 4:50 on the PawSox radio network and pawsox.com.

 

I’d love to hear from you.  Please take a moment to tell me who you are and where you’re from in the comments section or you can e-mail me at dhoard@pawsox.com.

 

And if you Twitter, you can follow my tweets at http://twitter.com/Dan_Hoard

Lars Anderson Can Hit . . . and Knit

In 4 ½ years of broadcasting Pawtucket Red Sox baseball, I’ve gotten to know approximately 300 different players.

 

I’m fairly certain that Lars Anderson is the only one that knows how to knit and crochet.

 

“Knitting is easier than crocheting,” Anderson told me.  “I learned when I was in the first or second grade.  I knit my girlfriend something for Christmas one year – she loved it.”

 


Anderson in field.jpg 

(photos courtesy of Kelly O’Connor)

 

Of course, Red Sox fans are more interested in Anderson’s hitting than his knitting, and lately, the 22-year-old first baseman has demonstrated why he is the #3 rated prospect in the Red Sox organization according to soxprospects.com.

 

Lars currently has a 9-game hitting streak, going 14-for-36 (.389) with 5 2B, 2 3B, and 6 RBI.  In his last 21 games, Anderson is 28-for-78 (.359) with 11 2B, 2 3B, and 1 HR.

 

If you combine his overall numbers between Portland and Pawtucket this year, Lars is batting .270/.357/.470 in 85 games with 26 doubles, 2 triples, and 10 HR.

 

The left-handed hitting slugger is obviously putting his bat to good use, but what about those knitting needles?

 

“I haven’t made anything for probably a year or two,” Anderson said.

 

* * * * *

 

This coming weekend is Hall of Fame Weekend in Cooperstown as Andre Dawson, umpire Doug Harvey, and manager Whitey Herzog will be inducted on Sunday afternoon.

 


Lovullo re.jpg 

PawSox manager Torey Lovullo obviously did not make it to Cooperstown in his 8-year major league playing career, but he did earn an honor that is nearly as prestigious when he was inducted into the UCLA Athletic Hall of Fame.

 

Here are some of the legends enshrined at UCLA:  Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Arthur Ashe, Evelyn Ashford, Jimmy Connors, Rafer Johnson, Jackie Joyner-Kersee, Karch Kiraly, Reggie Miller, Corey Pavin, Jackie Robinson, Bill Walton, and John Wooden.

 

When Lovullo was inducted in 1999, he was part of a class that included Troy Aikman and 3-time Olympic gold medalist Gail Devers.

 

“Look at me – I am a bootleg ex-major leaguer who manages the Pawtucket Red Sox and I’m in company with those names,” Torey said.  “It blows me away.  The thing that I’m most proud of is that when I think of my career, it spanned so many years and so many teams, but the one thing I’ll always have is those four golden years at UCLA.  That will never change.  We won a lot of games and championships and when I’m mentioned with those names I have to pinch myself to make sure that I am hearing it correctly because those are some pretty spectacular names and I’m proud to be in that Hall.”

 

* * * * * 

 

The PawSox open a 4-game homestand against the Toledo Mud Hens on Monday night at 7:05.

 

I’ll join Bob Montgomery for TV coverage on Cox Cable throughout Rhode Island beginning at 7:00.

 

I’d love to hear from you.  Please take a moment to tell me who you are and where you’re from in the comments section or you can e-mail me at dhoard@pawsox.com.

 

And if you Twitter, you can follow my tweets at http://twitter.com/Dan_Hoard

Buchholz Says He Is Ready

I interviewed Clay Buchholz following his rehab start tonight in Syracuse.  Buchholz threw 60 pitches, 33 strikes (3.2 IP, 4 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 1 BB, 2 K) in Pawtucket’s 9-5 win over the Chiefs.

 


Buchholz Boston.jpg 

(photo courtesy of Kelly O’Connor)

 

How did your hamstring feel?

 

It felt good.  I figured going in – I’ve been throwing bullpens throughout the whole thing and it hasn’t really bothered me – I didn’t think pitching was going to bother me at all today so it was just going to be bouncing off the mound and getting to first and I did that a couple of times and it felt fine.  I thought I would be a little bit rusty and a little bit amped up to get back and both of those things were true.  But I felt good – I’m definitely making progress.

 

Your velocity was good – how about your command?

 

Mediocre I think.  I threw a couple of good pitches and tried to go back to them and the release point wasn’t really there.  But I think that will come as I get back into the game and throw bullpens at a regular pace.  Other than that, everything felt good.

 

Which pitches were working and which ones weren’t?

 

I think the 2-seamer was moving a little too much.  Both hits by Bynum, the home run and the single up the middle, were sinkers that were supposed to hit the corner and they ran right over the middle.  You expect those pitches to get hit.  The changeup was good from time to time and I threw a couple of good curveballs.  The cutter just comes off the fastball so if the fastball is good I think the cutter is going to be good.

 

Do you know what’s next?

 

Not really.  I just got off the phone with Tito.  He called me to see if everything was alright and I told him it was.  He said, “Alright, you’re good to go.” Hopefully I’ll get to go back up there and get in the mix again at Fenway.  That’s what I’m hoping.

 

Based on that conversation with Tito, do you expect your next start to be with Boston?

 

I would like it to be.  They’re not going to risk hurting me – they’re going to wait until I’m fully healthy.  So I’ll get to Boston tomorrow and probably do some more running stuff and see where that leads.  I definitely want to be back in the rotation in the next five days.

The Pawtucket Pit Stop Parade

When PawSox manager Torey Lovullo left the Cleveland Indians organization last winter, he thought he was going to work for the Red Sox, not the Red Cross.

 


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The Boston Red Sox have 11 players on the disabled list, including six current or former All-Stars, a former MVP, a pair of World Series MVPs, and a two-time stolen base champ.  Their ailments include mononucleosis, two sets of broken ribs, two broken feet, a broken thumb, a strained back, a strained hip, a strained forearm, and a strained hamstring. 

 

And yet, despite Thursday’s loss to Texas, the Red Sox are still only 5 ½ games back in the AL East and 3 ½ games back in the wild card race.

 

“I’m amazed,” Lovullo told me.  “It’s a credit to everybody involved from top to bottom.  I think Theo and Tito have done a great juggling act in getting everybody to perform at that level.  They’re only a few games out and they have nearly half of their team from the start of the season on the disabled list.  We’re proud of the fact that several guys have been promoted from Pawtucket and contributed – that’s our job.”

 

It’s also his job to get the walking wounded back to Boston.

 


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(photos courtesy of Kelly O’Connor)

 

The “Pawtucket Pit Stop Parade” started last Sunday with Josh Beckett’s solid showing at McCoy Stadium (4 IP, 2 H, 1 R, 0 BB, 4 K).  He’ll make at least one more rehab start for the PawSox on Saturday night at Syracuse.

 

After hitting .400 in 6 games for Single-A Lowell, Jed Lowrie joined Pawtucket on Thursday and went 1-for-4 with a long double and a sacrifice fly.  His 20-day rehab stint expires on July 25th.

 

2010 All-Star Clay Buchholz is expected to make one rehab start for Pawtucket tonight (Friday) in Syracuse, and Jeremy Hermida is scheduled to play a few games for the PawSox beginning on Monday night at McCoy Stadium.

 

“It’s like a puzzle right now and they’re trying to figure out when to get all the pieces back into the right places and I’m sure their heads are spinning with all of the injuries that have happened up there,” Lovullo said.  “We welcome those guys.  They’re such great influences for so many reasons and the first is their professionalism – they come in here and work hard and guys can see quickly why they’re such special players.” 

 

So special that they get to keep their uniform numbers.

 

When Buchholz takes the mound on Friday, Torey Lovullo will relinquish his #11 to allow Clay to wear the number he wears in Boston.  Similarly, Randor Bierd will switch from #19 to #29 on Saturday when Josh Beckett is his teammate.

 

Jed Lowrie’s #12 was available, but he opted for #2 in a PawSox uniform with Ryan Kalish agreeing to switch to #12.  Kalish did so even though he was on a hot streak – violating the Crash Davis rule that a player on a streak has to respect the streak – but it didn’t slow him down on Thursday as Kalish had a single and triple in an 8-2 win at Syracuse.

 


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Kalish has had multiple hits 9 of his last 11 games, going 21-for-45, .467, with 4 doubles and 1 triple.  In 23 games at the Triple-A level, the 22-year-old outfielder is batting .337/.406/.477.

 

“He goes out there and always gives you 100%,” Lovullo said.  “He’s so athletic, powerful, and graceful and he doesn’t leave any of his gifts behind on a given night.  He has a football player’s mentality playing a baseball game but not with that, ‘I want to run through a wall and kill you,’ mentality.  It’s with the power and grace that I’m talking about and he does it very, very well.”

 

Another Pawtucket player who has excelled lately is pitcher Michael Bowden.  Since being moved the bullpen, the 23-year-old righty has tossed 4 scoreless innings in 3 relief outings without giving up an extra-base hit.

 


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“He’s got so much durability,” Lovullo said.  “With his body type and his mindset, he can go out and throw every single day.  I think that’s one of the reasons why we chose him as a candidate to make this move.  You just can’t take a starting pitcher and make him a reliever – there’s a certain adjustment that you have to go through and it’s a difficult transition.  It’s like asking a right-handed batter to go out there and hit left-handed all of a sudden.  If you can’t get a feel for it you’re going to stumble and fall.  He hasn’t done that whatsoever.  He’s gone out there and his stuff has played up – his fastball has had a little bit more velocity, his breaking ball has been very effective and we’re just fine-tuning some things to hopefully get him in line to get that opportunity to go to the big leagues as a reliever.”

 

* * * * *

 

If you’ve never been to a Sunday afternoon home game at McCoy Stadium, kids are allowed to run the bases after the game.

 

4-year-old Sam Hoard did so for the first time last week.  Thanks to Michael Gwynn for the great photo!

 


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* * * * *

 

The PawSox will have Clay Buchholz on the mound as they look for their third straight win on Friday night at 7:00.  I hope you’ll join us for radio coverage beginning with the pre-game show at 6:45 on the PawSox radio network and pawsox.com.

 

I’d love to hear from you.  Please take a moment to tell me who you are and where you’re from in the comments section or you can e-mail me at dhoard@pawsox.com.

 

And if you Twitter, you can follow my tweets at http://twitter.com/Dan_Hoard

A Budding Virtuoso

At a Buffalo Wild Wings restaurant, the heat level on the chicken wing sauce goes from “Hot” to “Wild” to “Blazin’.”

 


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The description of the most blistering level reads as follows:  “Keep away from eyes, pets, and children.  The hottest sauce we got”

 

I propose an ever hotter level.

 

It’s called “Kalish.”

 


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(photo courtesy of Kelly O’Connor)

 

PawSox outfielder Ryan Kalish is on an incredible tear.  Thursday night in a 9-2 loss to Rochester, Kalish went 4-for-5 for his first 4-hit game at the Triple-A level.  He’s had multiple hits in 7 of his last 8 games, going 17-for-33 for a .515 average.

 

Shoot, you might even say that over the last week, Kalish has been as big a virtuoso with a baseball bat as Itzhak Perlman is with a violin.

 


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Kalish would dig the reference.

 

Believe it or not, the 22-year-old from Red Bank, NJ is trying to learn how to play the violin.

 

“My favorite band is Yellowcard and my walk up to the plate song is one of theirs called ‘Breathing,’ Kalish told me.  (You can listen to it here)  “If you listen carefully to the song you’ll hear a very strong violin piece in it.  I just think that in a rock band, a violin makes it.  Yellowcard uses a lot of it, so it’s something that I want to learn.”

 

Kalish is serious.  Before getting promoted to Pawtucket on June 1st, he purchased his first violin.

 

“I bought one at a local music store when I was in Portland,” Ryan said.  “The guys kid me because I have a tendency to make spontaneous purchases and they’re like, ‘Oh man, you made another one of those decisions with your money – you’ll never learn.’  But I’m going to try to prove them wrong.  Right now they’re right, but when I get more time I’m really going to work on it.” 

 

I have not seen Kalish practicing in the clubhouse or lugging his violin case on road trips, but he says that could change next season.

 

“I’ve been messing around with it, but it’s going to take a lot of time – it’s really hard to learn,” Kalish said.  “It’s hard right now because during the season I can’t find time to take lessons.  You’re up so late playing ball that you just want to sleep in the morning.  I have my violin along with a little disc on how to play, but I really need lessons from a person to really hone in on it.  I’m going to take it up seriously in the off-season and hopefully I’ll come back next year and be able to jam out with Lars and a couple of the other guys that can play guitar.”

 

For now, we’ll enjoy watching Ryan wield his bat.

 

The bow will have to wait.

 

* * * * *

 

Adam Mills will take the mound on Friday night at 7:05 as the PawSox conclude their brief 2-game series against Rochester.

 

I hope you’ll join us for radio coverage beginning with the pre-game show at 6:50 on the PawSox radio network and pawsox.com.

 

I’d love to hear from you.  Please take a moment to tell me who you are and where you’re from in the comments section or you can e-mail me at dhoard@pawsox.com.

 

And if you Twitter, you can follow my tweets at http://twitter.com/Dan_Hoard

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