August 2010

Clock Ticking For Carlos

On Sunday morning, about two hours before the PawSox faced Rochester, Carlos Delgado stood next to home plate at Frontier Field and prepared to take a swing.

 

But there was no pitcher on the mound and Delgado didn’t even have a bat in his hands.  The only other people on their field were PawSox trainer Jon Jochim and manager Torey Lovullo.

 

Still, Delgado took a mighty phantom swing and sprinted toward first base as if he had just ripped a base hit.  Then he took his lead from the bag and raced from first to third. 

 

It looked more like the NFL combine then a baseball drill, but if Delgado’s body responds favorably to the vigorous workout, he should return to action during the 4-game homestand that gets underway on Monday night at McCoy Stadium.

 

“Any time you have a caliber of player like Carlos who is willing to put forth the effort that he is putting forth from the time of his surgery to present day, you have to feel like he can make an impact,” Lovullo said.

 

Delgado swing.jpg(photo courtesy of Louriann Mardo-Zayat) 

 

Delgado signed with the Red Sox on August 7th and made his PawSox debut on August 9th, but he pushed himself to get ready for a role in Boston by playing in five out of the team’s next six games.  That’s when the 38-year-old slugger began to feel pain in his left hip and lower back, and he has not played since August 15th.

 

Hanging out and watching Triple-A baseball in International League hot spots like Pawtucket, Rochester, and Scranton is not what Carlos had in mind when he signed a minor league contract. 

 

“I’m really enjoying Providence – I think it’s really nice – but this is not a vacation,” Delgado told me.  “I’m here for a reason and I’m working on it.  Obviously I would like things to go a little faster than they’re going right now, but I’ll keep working and see what happens.

 

“It’s made me appreciate my tour through the minor leagues and the effort that it takes to get to the big leagues.  It’s been awhile.  I don’t feel that old, but it’s been almost 16 years since I played in the minor leagues.”

 

This hasn’t been a one month rehab for Delgado – it’s been a 16 month ordeal to return to action since having surgery on his right hip.

 

“I had surgery in May of 2009 and went right into rehab,” Delgado said.  “About eight weeks later I was down in Florida at the Mets’ facility trying to get back.  I had a setback and then continued to do my rehab, so I was around baseball the whole time.  In August of last year I tried to come back, but my hip still wasn’t good enough.” 

 

Delgado took batting practice on Saturday afternoon in Rochester and put on his most impressive show since joining the PawSox as he launched several blasts over the center field fence.  With eight days left in Pawtucket’s season, he hopes to show that he’s still capable of doing that in games.

 

“I knew my rehab stint wasn’t going to be perfect, but I like to think that hitting a baseball is like riding a bicycle – you don’t forget how,” Delgado said.  “But that’s why you start in the minor leagues – there’s an adjustment period where you have to get into playing shape, so that’s why I came here.” 

 

Here’s hoping his hard work is about to pay off. 

 

* * * * *

 

The PawSox will play six of their final eight games at home, and they return to McCoy Stadium as the International League’s hottest team.  Pawtucket has won six straight, and went 8-2 on a 10-game road trip to Buffalo and Rochester.

 

Torey Lovullo is proud that his team is finishing strong despite being out of playoff contention.

 

“Wins and losses often dictate the energy of a ball club, but these guys have a lot to play for,” Lovullo said.  “There are September call-ups, there are 40-man roster implications for next year and beyond, there are other teams’ scouts in the stands, and there is the potential for jobs next year.  I haven’t seen the energy fall off and if I do, I will address it.”

 

Major league rosters expand on Wednesday and several Pawtucket players are likely to get a promotion.  Lovullo will also get a call-up after the minor league season ends on September 6th.

 

“I’ve been fortunate enough to be asked to join the big club in September,” Torey told me.  “I’ll join the club when they’re in Oakland, so I’ll stay there for about three weeks and get to enjoy the pennant race.  I’ll keep my ears and eyes open and do what is asked of me.  Then once the season is over, I’ll go home to Southern California and really get away from baseball for a little while.  This is a grind.  It’s a long season.  It’s not the five months that everybody sees – it is 7 months and it’s every single day.  So I’ll take a few weeks off and then get back at it.”

 

* * * * *

 

Bubba Bell is letting his hair grow until the end of the season. 

 

This is how he looked with a shaved head.

 


Bell bald.jpg 

(photo courtesy of Kelly O’Connor)

 

Now I think he’s a dead-ringer for actor Jason Statham.

 


Statham.jpg 

Both of them are having good years.  Statham can currently be seen with Sly Stallone and Arnold Schwarzenegger in The Expendables which has already made $82 million at the box office.

 

Bell went 2-for-5 with an RBI on Sunday in Rochester and is hitting .298 (.369 OBP) with 5 HR and 46 RBI.

 

* * * * *

 

The PawSox will look for their 7th straight win on Monday night as they host Rochester at 7:05.

 

I’ll join Bob Montgomery for live TV coverage throughout Rhode Island on Cox Sports.  Our coverage begins 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

Lars Hopes To Delay Drive Home

When his season ends, Lars Anderson will hop in his car with some books on tape and drive more than 3,000 miles to return home to California.

 


Anderson stretch.jpg(photo courtesy of Kelly O’Connor) 

 

Last year, Lars ventured north through Canada before meeting his mother near the end of her 2,700 mile hike up the Pacific Coast Trail.

 

This year he plans to head south to see his sister in Virginia . . . then west to visit a buddy in Colorado . . . then north to Montana (because he’s never been there before).

 

The trip is all set – except for the start date.

 

Lars is obviously hoping for a September call-up to Boston and is currently swinging a hot bat for the PawSox.  In Sunday’s doubleheader in Buffalo, the 22-year-old first baseman went 4-for-7 with a double, HR, and 5 RBI.  In his last 12 games, Lars is batting .381 (16-for-42) with 5 2B, 1 HR, and 9 RBI.

 

“I’m closer to where I want to be, but I’m not super-content,” Anderson told me.  “There were goals coming into spring training that I feel like I’ve kind of lost sight of and I’m trying to get back to.  I’m trying to turn off my brain and let my body do what it’s supposed to do.  My body knows how to hit a baseball and my body knows how to catch a baseball, but I think I’ve gotten a little too cerebral over the last few months.  I want to get back to a more simplistic way of playing.”

 

If you combine his stats between Double-A Portland and Pawtucket, Anderson is batting .272 with 34 doubles, 13 HR, and 62 RBI in 117 games (.354 OBP/.456 SLG/.809 OPS).

 

“I know there have been some ups and downs, but if you put the aggregate numbers together, combining Double-A and Triple-A, we’re talking about an .800 OPS, which is pretty good for a 22-year-old kid,” Red Sox farm director Mike Hazen told Brendan McGair of The Pawtucket Times.  I think he is going through some growing pains that come with figuring out the next level while hitting in the middle of the order.  He’s come a long way and will continue to do so. He’s taken a huge step forward defensively . . . I know that the numbers aren’t what people are expecting, but we have a lot of confidence that he’ll be a big league player.”

 

Still, that didn’t stop the Red Sox from signing 38-year-old Carlos Delgado as a potential September call-up.  If Delgado (who is currently on the disabled list with a sore back) looks like he can help Boston down the stretch, it’s hard to imagine the Red Sox promoting two left-handed hitting first basemen.

 

“I’m not bothered by it,” Anderson said.  “I feel like I’ve made huge strides in my game this year, but I’m not content with how I’m playing.  I want to force them to call me up to the big leagues.  That’s my goal and I understand why they signed Carlos.  They’re in the race and they’re trying to cover some holes right now so it’s totally understandable.  But I want to force the issue with my performance.”

 

In other words, he would happily delay his trip to California for a trip to Boston.

 

* * * * *

 

Rich Hill is scheduled to start the final game of the Buffalo series on Wednesday, and it will be interesting to see if he’s constantly looking up at the seagulls that circle the field in search of food at Coca-Cola Field.

 


Hill tight.jpg 

(photo courtesy of Kelly O’Connor)

 

Last season while pitching for Norfolk, Hill was involved in a possible “first” in baseball history:  A bird poop delay.

 

“That was interesting,” Hill said.  “It was last year during a rehab stint and I think I had a no-hitter going around the 5th inning.  All of a sudden a bird swooped down and crapped on my head.  It went down my hat and on to my shoe and I was like, ‘Where did that come from?’  I walked toward the dugout and the trainer came out and gave me a towel so I could wipe it off.”

 

Let the record show that Rich tossed 6 scoreless innings in a 3-1 victory over the Bisons.

 

I guess the old saying is true.

 

* * * * *

 

On Monday, Ramon Ramirez was named the IL Pitcher of the Week after wins over Lehigh Valley and Buffalo (2 ER in 12 IP). 

 


Ramirez pitch.jpg 

(photo courtesy of Louriann Mardo-Zayat)

 

In the opener of Sunday’s doubleheader, Ramirez became the 2nd PawSox pitcher to toss a complete game in 2010, as he beat the Bisons 7-2 in a 7-inning game.  Adam Mills was credited with a CG in a rain-shortened loss to Charlotte on June 3rd (5 IP).  Ramirez was one out from tossing the first shutout of his 10-year pro career before allowing a 2-run HR to Buffalo’s J.R. House.  Ramon retired the next batter to finish his second career CG and first since 2006.

 

* * * * *

 

It was a surf and turf Sunday in Buffalo.

 


Mondor re.jpg 

Pawtucket owner Ben Mondor treated the team to a steak and lobster dinner in the clubhouse following the doubleheader sweep in Buffalo.  The feast was planned in advance and was not a reward for taking a pair of games from the Bisons.  It was the third expensive dinner that the PawSox owner has treated the team to on the road this season. 

 

And yes, the radio guys were included.  Thanks boss!

 

* * * * *

 

The PawSox will look for their 3rd straight win over the Bisons 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

Defending Jacoby Ellsbury

Here’s what I don’t get about the controversy over talk show hosts calling Jacoby Ellsbury “soft” because he’s only played in 18 games this season.

 

How exactly do they know?

 

I guess I would better understand their pot shots if a pattern had been established over several seasons, but last year Jacoby played in 153 games – one fewer than Dustin Pedroia – and attempted 82 stolen bases (which is incredibly taxing on the body).  As a rookie In 2008, Ellsbury played in 145 games – equaling Kevin Youkilis – and attempted 61 steals.

 


Ellsbury sprint.jpg 

(photos courtesy of Kelly O’Connor)

 

Jacoby has five broken ribs.  Among other things, his critics say it shouldn’t take this long for broken ribs to heal.  Huh?  I don’t claim to be an expert on the subject and that’s the point – I don’t know of any sports broadcasters who got into the business after breezing through med school.

 

Over the past few months, I’ve had several people who had suffered broken ribs in the past bring up Ellsbury’s injury.  Every single one said that they’re not surprised that Jacoby has had a hard time returning this season.

 

Broken ribs are apparently very painful – who knew?

 

When Jacoby rehabbed with Pawtucket at the beginning of August, I asked him if he was bothered by media members calling him “soft.”

 

“You can’t let that get to you,” Ellsbury said.  “Anybody that knows me – my teammates and my coaches – they know how hard that I play.  They know my track record.  I don’t miss games, I play hard, and I play all-out, so the naysayers just motivate me more.  It doesn’t really bother me at all.  Deep down, if you’re comfortable with yourself that’s all that matters.”

 

After Terry Francona defended Ellsbury this week by saying that “talking tough on the radio is a lot different than running into a wall or getting hit with a pitch,” the response over the airwaves was predictable:

 

“So now we’re not supposed to have an opinion?” was a typical defense.

 

No, good talk show hosts need to have strong opinions and my favorite hosts often tick me off with positions that I disagree with.  As long as they’re not “pulling a Bayless” and saying something absurd just to be provocative, I have no problem with expressing strong opinions.

 

I just happen to think that in this case that they’re wrong.

 

And that’s my opinion.

 

* * * * *

 

It took 2 months, for Josh Reddick to lift his batting average above the Uecker Line.

 

Bob Uecker batted exactly .200 in his major league career . . . Mario Mendoza hit .215.  It’s a one-man campaign to have the reference changed.

 

If he glanced at his stats on the scoreboard, Reddick saw a batting average below .200 in 44 of his first 48 games.

 

“I try my best not to look up at the scoreboard even when things are going well,” Reddick said with a laugh.  “That’s one of those things that baseball players look at as a bad omen because if you are going to worry about your stats, then you are not going to worry about the at-bat. But looking up when my average was .180 it was like ‘Oh, why are you even here.’  So .250 looks fantastic to me right now.”

 


Reddick follow thru.jpg 

Since June 4th, the 23-year-old outfielder has batted .313 (57-for-182) to lift his average from .183 to .247.  It’s not what he was hoping for after batting .390 for the Red Sox in spring training, but there has been considerable improvement.

 

“I’m not letting things get to me anymore,” Reddick said.  “And hits that seem to be falling in for me now so I guess it is true what they say about everything evening out.  To be honest, I’ve stopped caring about my stats and that has worked out for me.”

 

“He’s finally gotten himself into a rhythm, which is good to see,” Red Sox farm director Mike Hazen told Brendan McGair of The Pawtucket Times.  “He’s putting a stamp on the end of the season, which is good considering where he was.  Hopefully he can take that confidence into the off-season and be ready for next year.  Nobody has ever lost any faith or confidence in what this guy will be able to do.”

 

With September call-ups less than two weeks away, Reddick says he’s trying not to think about it.

 

“I’m not really there yet,” Reddick said.  “I’m still trying to work on my numbers here. If it happens, it happens.  But if not, I’ll go home early. I always want to be up there so I hope that it does happen, but if it doesn’t happen it would be understandable because I haven’t really done much for those guys except for one or two at-bats. We’ll just see what happens. I am working for it so hopefully they can see that I have been having a good month since the all-star break and I’ll get rewarded for it.”

 


WoolyWilly.jpg 

Reddick is a strong candidate to return to Pawtucket next year and the PawSox have started investigating the possibility of a “Josh Reddick Magic Hair” promotion (if you don’t know what I’m talking about read this).  The team has contacted the manufacturer of the Wooly Willy toy to see if it’s feasible to make a version with Reddick’s face.

 

“That would be a hilarious thing to take part in and I think that the fans and the kids would get a huge kick out of it,” Reddick said.  “As everybody has seen, for the last four years that I’ve been in this organization I’ve given everyone a what-the-heck-is-he-doing kind of feeling because I’ve has a Mohawk three or four times, and the mustache is always an option.  It comes at a time whenever I’m not swinging the bat well.  If I go about a two week stretch where I can’t seem to do anything, I mix up my look and see what happens.  Then I hope that the baseball gods will start making things work out.”

 

For the last two months he’s been looking good where it counts – at the plate.

 

* * * * *

 

The PawSox conclude their 8-game homestand on Friday as they face Lehigh Valley 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

Born To Run . . . At The Mouth

Moments after I emerged from my mother’s womb, the doctor slapped me on the butt and my play-by-play career began.

 

“That’s a personal foul – unnecessary roughness!” the infant me yelled (ironically sporting the same amount of hair that I have now).

 

My actual comment at the time was probably a loud “Waaa!”, but you get the idea – I’ve dreamed of being a sports broadcaster for as long as I can remember.

 

As a kid growing up in Lakewood, NY, I was simultaneously the play-by-play man for the Buffalo Bills, Buffalo Sabres, Buffalo Braves (now the L.A. Clippers), and New York Mets.

 

OK, so I was broadcasting the games into a tape recorder in my bedroom, but I took it seriously and probably drove my parents and four brothers and sisters nuts.

 

I wouldn’t be surprised if our dog Penny grew sick of listening to me.

 

When I got to high school, I figured that I could improve my public speaking ability by joining the debate club (now there’s a way to woo the ladies!).  Unfortunately, winning debates required critical thinking more than the gift of gab.  My argument in favor of the death penalty was that it would curb the worldwide crisis of overpopulation.  The judges were not impressed.

 

My college choice was easy after reading the book “Yesss!” by Marv Albert.  When I saw that he had attended Syracuse University along with Bob Costas, Dick Stockton, and other prominent broadcasters, I knew it was the place for me.

 

Best decision I ever made.  While I had some outstanding professors, I learned even more from spending four years hanging out with incredibly talented students who shared my obsession.  Several of my classmates have gone on to have phenomenal careers including Sean McDonough (ESPN/ABC), Mike Tirico (Monday Night Football), Greg Papa (Oakland Raiders), Jim Jackson (Philadelphia Flyers), Tony Caridi (West Virginia University), Bill Roth (Virginia Tech), Craig Minervini (Florida Marlins), and Todd Kalas (Tampa Bay Rays) to name a few.

 

I have been extremely fortunate to do this for a living for 25 years, including my current positions with two first-class organizations – the Pawtucket Red Sox and the University of Cincinnati Bearcats.  Additionally, last Sunday I experienced the thrill of broadcasting NFL play-by-play for the first time as I called the Bengals/Broncos game with Hall of Famer Anthony Munoz.  The game was carried on the NFL Network and I’ve been getting e-mails and text messages from friends I haven’t heard from in years.  Mike Tirico watched the game with the Monday Night Football crew and passed along a nice comment from Jon Gruden which I greatly appreciate.

 

The telecast wasn’t flawless and I made some mistakes (note to self:  If it’s hard to see whether the receiver is wearing #81 or #85, Chad Ochocinco wears ORANGE shoes), but it was our first broadcast of the pre-season and I know we’ll be better on August 28th when the Bengals play at Buffalo.

 

I’m grateful to Bengals owner Mike Brown and Director of Corporate Sales and Marketing Vince Cicero for the opportunity, as well as PawSox President Mike Tamburro, University of Cincinnati Senior Associate Athletic Director Mike Waddell, and WLW’s Darryl Parks for giving me the flexibility in my schedule to be able to do the Bengals pre-season TV package.

 

In the meantime, I’m back in the PawSox booth tonight for a 5:35 pm doubleheader against the Lehigh Valley Iron Pigs.

 

It sure beats working for a living.

 

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

Catching Up With Carlos

I met Carlos Delgado for the first time in 1991 when I was broadcasting games for the Blue Jays’ top farm club in Syracuse and he got promoted from Single-A Myrtle Beach for one game at the end of the season. 

 


Delgado old card.jpg 

He was a 19-year-old catcher and I had a full head of hair.

 

Nineteen years and approximately $146 million in salary later (for Carlos, not me), our paths have crossed again as the 2-time All-Star attempts to come back from the first serious injury of his career.

 

“I missed hanging out with the boys and competing – that’s what drives me,” Delgado said.  “I have a passion for the game and the day that I don’t, I’ll tip my cap and go.  If you don’t have passion, it’s hard to crank it up every day.  You need to have that inner desire to go out there and try to out-play the opposition and I still feel that I have that.  That’s why I’m still taking five hour bus rides from Pawtucket to Scranton at age 38.”

 


Delgado-Carlos-Jessica%20Kovalcin.jpg 

(photo courtesy of Jessica Kovalcin)

 

After two surgical procedures on his right hip, Delgado stepped into the batters box on Monday for the first time in 456 days.  After taking a pitch, he swung at a curve ball and missed a home run by a few feet when Scranton/WB’s Greg Golson made a leaping catch against the right field wall.   

 

“I didn’t really have butterflies, but I felt a little weird out there,” Delgado said.  “This is something that I’ve been doing my whole life, but it’s been awhile since I took the field and played in an organized game. 

 

“You let your abilities take over.  I don’t think that’s an indication on whether I’m ready or not, but I like to think this is a little like riding a bicycle – you don’t forget how to do it.”

 

That’s what the Red Sox are hoping for.

 

While Delgado isn’t likely to ever hit .344 again (as he did in 2000), or belt 44 HR (as he did in 1999), or drive in 145 runs (as he did in 2003), he could give the Red Sox a left-handed hitting compliment to Mike Lowell at first base as Boston tries to fill the void left by the season-ending injury to Kevin Youkilis.

 

“When you play for Toronto in the American League East, the Red Sox and Yankees are always beating you up, so it is a little strange to be on the other side,” Delgado said with a laugh.  “I wish I was here under different circumstances, but it is what it is, and I’m going to try to take advantage of this opportunity and try to get ready as soon as I can.”

 

In 17 major league seasons, Delgado has only been to the playoffs once – in 2006 when the Mets lost a 7-game series in the NLCS to the Cardinals.  He does, however, have a World Series ring, as he made his big league debut with Toronto in September of 1993 before the Blue Jays won their second straight championship.

 

“It is a nice thing and I’m not going to try to minimize that by any means, but there is a different taste in your mouth when you actually played and contributed,” Delgado said.  “For that ring, I was a September call-up and I didn’t contribute anything.  I had one at-bat and one walk in two plate appearances.  It is pretty cool and it’s something you can tell your kids and your grandkids about, but it would be a better story if I actually earned it over a long period of time.”

 

While Delgado hopes to play in a World Series, he also has a statistical goal needing 27 home runs to reach 500 for his career.

 

“I’m not saying that that is the reason that I’m playing, but when you play as long as I have and get as close as I am to that benchmark, it definitely becomes important,” Delgado said.  “But it’s not a life and death situation.  I want to come in after my long rehab and see all of the hard work pay off.  I spent a lot of days in the clinic after the two surgeries doing rehab and there were a lot of bumps in the road.  It is nice to work your way back and make it to the big leagues.  From there, if I’m lucky enough to hit 27 more home runs, it would be a great honor and a privilege.  But I want to play the game for the right reasons and I respect the game a lot.  I want to go out there and have good at-bats and try to win.”

 

Last year, Tom Verducci of Sports Illustrated wrote a column making the case that Delgado is a Hall of Famer.  I asked Carlos if he agrees. 

 

“If you ask me, I’ll say yes, but I don’t get to vote,” Delgado said.  “I guess we’re going to have to wait a few years for that.  It’s completely out of my hands, but it would be an honor – I’m not going to lie to you.  If I get that call it would be a phenomenal honor and privilege.”

 

* * * * *

 

The PawSox return home on Friday to open a 4-game series against Buffalo.  Delgado is likely to be in the lineup on Friday, and Dustin Pedroia is expected to rehab with the PawSox on Saturday and Sunday.

 

I hope you’ll join us for radio coverage on Friday, 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

Cat Scratch Fever

The PawSox “Player of the Game” not only receives the privilege of wearing Chad Paronto’s “Meowy Christmas” sweatshirt after the game (scroll down for more info) – he gets to sign the back of it with a silver sharpie.

 

Here’s what Jared Saltalamacchia wrote after earning the prestigious honor on Tuesday night at Scranton/WB:

 


Signed shirt.jpg 

This morning, Jared was promoted to Boston.

 

Purr-fect.

Hermida Eager To Return

After broadcasting 117 baseball games over the last 124 days, I would kill for a 10-day break.  But that was the last thing that Jeremy Hermida wanted.

 


Hermida.jpg 

(photo courtesy of Kelly O’Connor)

 

After being designated for assignment and taken off of Boston’s 40-man roster on July 31st, the 26-year-old outfielder spent 10 days in limbo before being sent to Pawtucket on Monday.

 

“I’ve been bored to be honest with you,” Hermida told me.  “I’ve basically just been hanging out.  I got a chance to go down to the stadium and do some hitting off of a tee, and run around and work out a little bit.  But it’s definitely been a little bit boring.  After the first couple of days I wanted to get out there and start playing, but I had to sit tight and wait to see what was going to happen.  I’m just happy to be playing now and I’m ready to get going.”

 

Hermida worked out with the PawSox at Scranton/WB on Tuesday and is expected to be activated within a few days.

 

“We’re going to ease him back in there,” manager Torey Lovullo said.  “He asked for a couple of days to run around, shag some fly balls, take batting practice, and get his legs back under him.  We’ll get him back in there as soon as we possibly can.”

 

“I’d like to come down here and perform well,” Hermida said.  “Since I had 10 days off, I’m going to take batting practice for a couple of days and swing at a moving ball.  It will be good to get out here and just play, and I hope to get back up there and contribute to the playoff run.”

 

It’s been a tough first season in Boston for Hermida.  After batting .265 with a .344 OBP in 5 seasons with the Florida Marlins, Jeremy is batting .203 with a .257 OBP in 52 games with the Red Sox. 

 

Additionally, Jeremy suffered five broken ribs on June 4th when he collided in the outfield with Adrian Beltre and is 1 of 16 Red Sox players to spend time on the disabled list this season.

 

“I’ve never seen anything quite like it to be honest with you,” Hermida said.  “It wasn’t tweaking this and tweaking that – it was broken foot, broken thumb, ribs . . . we definitely have suffered a lot up there.  I think it shows the depth of this organization and the job that the coaching staff and team have done.  It didn’t matter who we were running out there every night, we believed we could go out there and win.”

 

Aside from a few brief rehab stints, Hermida has not been a minor leaguer since 2005.  But he arrived in Scranton on Tuesday with a smile and a positive outlook. 

 

“It’s the first time that I’ve had to go through something like this, but what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger,” Jeremy told me.  “I’m going to come down here and make the best of the opportunity.  Nobody is going to feel sorry for me, so I’m going to try to perform and take it as a challenge.”

 

“You can take one of two roads,” said Lovullo.  “You can feel sorry for yourself and say I’m an ex-big leaguer who has had a lot of success and I don’t want to do it anymore, or you can say that I’ve had a taste of it and I want to make it happen again.  I have a funny field that Herm is going to choose the latter.”

 

The vacation is over.

 

* * * * *   

 

Carlos Delgado is expected to be back in the lineup on Wednesday as the PawSox open a brief 2-game series in Allentown, PA against the Lehigh Valley Iron Pigs.

 


Delgado-Carlos-SWB.jpg 

(photo courtesy of Jessica Kovalcin)

 

Delgado took Tuesday off after going 0-for-3 on Monday – his first game in 457 days after recovering from two surgical procedures on his right hip.

 

In his first at-bat, Delgado wowed his teammates and coaches by nearly hitting a home run.  Scranton/WB’s Greg Golson made a leaping catch of a 370-foot fly ball that would have hit high off of the right field wall at PNC Field.  It would have been a home run at McCoy Stadium.

 

“I told him that he was messing around with us and has been playing the whole time,” Lovullo said.  “A hitter is a hitter.  He’s going to find a way to put the barrel on the ball and he did that.  I thought he looked very good and it’s only going to get better as his pitch recognition improves and he gains strength.  After the game he said he was a little sore, but that was to be expected.”

 

“He loves the game,” Hermida said.  “I got a change to play with Carlos a little bit while I was with Florida.  He’s a great guy and a great hitter, and he’s done some unbelievable things in this game.  There are a lot of guys who probably would have called it quits, but for him to fight and come back the way he has shows how much he cares about this game.  I’m hoping he can get back and contribute to the team.”

 

* * * * *

 

It took 11 innings and a season-long 4 hours and 30 minutes, but the PawSox snapped a 4-game losing streak on Tuesday with a 6-5 win at Scranton/WB.

 

Jarrod Saltalamacchia broke a 4-all tie with a 2-out RBI double off of Yankees closer Jonathan Albaladejo in the 11th inning and earned the honor of wearing Chad Paronto’s Player of the Game “Meowy Christmas” sweatshirt on the bus ride to Allentown.

 


Player of game sweatshirt.jpg 

Since I took this cell phone picture, the sleeves have been cut off and a 70’s hippie fringe has been added to the bottom.

 

The Boston Globe’s Amalie Benjamin reported on Wednesday morning that Saltalamacchia has been promoted by Boston.  I hope he didn’t forget to return the sweatshirt. 

 

* * * * *

 

After testing his injured foot on Tuesday in Toronto, Dustin Pedroia said that he’s hoping to play in Pawtucket on Saturday and Sunday before returning to the Red Sox lineup on Tuesday at Fenway Park.

 


Pedroia.jpg 

(photo courtesy of Kelly O’Connor)

 

“He is a great leader and an inspiration,” Torey Lovullo said.  “He goes out there with the attitude that he’s going to win and rip your heart out.  I think that’s very contagious.  The fact that Boston is still in the race without him is pretty amazing.”

 

There are still great seats available for this weekend’s games at McCoy Stadium.  For tickets and info, go to pawsox.com or call 401-724-7300.

 

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

The Road Back To The Bigs Begins On A Bus

Carlos Delgado is a two-time All-Star, a three-time Silver Slugger Award winner, and ranks 30th on the career home run list with 473 – just 2 HR behind Stan Musial and Willie Stargell.

 

On Monday morning, he spent 5 1/2 hours on a bus from McCoy Stadium to Scranton, PA.

 

“You know what?  You gotta do what you gotta do,” Delgado said with a wide grin.  “I understand that this is going to be part of the process so you might as well enjoy it.”

 

Delgado in Paw.jpg(photo courtesy of Ken Babbitt) 

The 38-year-old slugger is expected to make his 2010 debut on Monday night as the PawSox open a 4-game road trip to Pennsylvania.  It will be Delgado’s first game in 457 days after having two surgical procedures on his right hip.

 

“We’re going to go off of him and make the guidelines based on what he is saying to us,” said PawSox manager Torey Lovullo.  “Fundamentally, he’s going to probably get beat up for a couple of days and we all know that.  Our expectations have been obviously minimized because of the length of time down.  We’re probably going to ease him in with 3 or 4 at-bats like the start of spring training.  That’s how I think we should start to see where he’s at.  We can’t push him too far or too fast.”

 

“(My hip) feels pretty good,” Delgado said.  “I’m really happy because for awhile I wondered if I was going to be able to come back.  Is it going to be good enough to run out there, and play defense, and hit, and slide?  I see progress every day.  There were some bumps in the road, but the last few weeks it has felt good.  I worked out for a few teams and I thought, ‘Damn, I didn’t know I could still do that.’  So that was nice.”

 

Delgado worked out for the Red Sox on Friday in New York – one day after the club announced that Kevin Youkilis would miss the rest of the season because of his injured right thumb.

 

“As an athlete you hate to see anybody get hurt, because you understand how tough rehab will be,” Delgado said.  “But I did realize that there might be an opportunity, so we reached out to Boston.  They said, ‘Are you ready?  We’d like to see you.’  That’s how everything happened.

 

“It is a good opportunity.  It’s a good fit.  This team is passionate about winning, and it seems like they are going to do everything in their power to make it to the playoffs and that’s what I want to do.  If I can come back and play and contribute to a team that is in contention, it would be a big plus.”   

 

Delgado was still one of the baseball’s leading sluggers two years ago when he finished with 38 HR and 115 RBI for the New York Mets.  Carlos has a .280 career batting average (.383 OBP, .546 SLG) and has topped 30 HR in 11 of his 13 full seasons.

 

Lovullo first saw Delgado while competing against him as a minor leaguer in 1995.

 

“I remember he swatted a ball out of the old Syracuse stadium that went over the right-field batting cage and I thought, ‘That is a pretty spectacular swing,’ Lovullo said.  “It is a beautiful swing.”

 

Delgado is eager to prove that it is still a beautiful swing – even if that means enduring lengthy bus rides.

 

(And if that wasn’t a sufficient reminder that he’s back in the minor leagues, the players’ hotel rooms were not available for check-in when the PawSox arrived in Scranton at 12:30 in the afternoon) 

 

“I’m very excited,” Delgado said.  “This is fun, and a unique opportunity after a long, long, long rehab.”

 

“I can’t say enough about the energy that he’s brought so far to this office and the clubhouse since he walked in,” Lovullo said.  He’s bubbly, he’s fun-loving, and he’s everything that’s ever been advertised about him.”

 

* * * * *

 

As soon as it was announced that Kevin Youkilis was out for the season, reports began circulating that the Red Sox were in the market for a left-handed hitting compliment to Mike Lowell at first base.

 

Even after signing Delgado, the Red Sox were still showing interest in possibly dealing for Adam LaRoche or Lyle Overbay according to Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports.

 

The PawSox, of course, already have a left-handed hitting first baseman in 22-year-old Lars Anderson.

 


Anderson fist.jpg 

(photo courtesy of Kelly O’Connor)

 

“I’m confident that Lars understands exactly what’s going on,” Lovullo said.  “He’s a very intelligent guy, but I’ll make sure to call him in here and let him know that he’s the everyday first baseman and nothing is going to change in his progression and development.  We’ll integrate Carlos in there to get him ready to play at the next level because he’s experienced at that level and has been a championship-style player.  A lot of times you don’t need to explain things to guys, but it’s my style and the organization’s style to communicate to a fault so there is no unknown to the player.”

 

* * * * *

\

This year the Washington Nationals have been awarding a Silver Elvis Wig to their player of the game after wins.  Here’s how it looked on Stephen Strasburg after he struck out 14 batters in his major league debut.

 


Elvis wig.jpg 

Well it took awhile, but leave it to team comedian Chad Paronto to come up with the PawSox’ version.

 


Player of game sweatshirt.jpg 

On Monday’s bus ride to Scranton, Paronto wore this “Meowy Christmas” sweatshirt and announced that Pawtucket’s Player of the Game would get to wear it in the clubhouse after victories.

 

We hope to see a lot of it over the final 29 games of the season.

 

The PawSox look to snap a 3-game losing streak on Monday night at 7:05 at PNC Field in Moosic, PA.  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

First Bowden. Then Doubront. Now Coello.

Michael Bowden was the first PawSox starter to be moved to the bullpen.  Felix Doubront was next.  And now we can add Robert Coello to the list.

 


Coello tight.jpg 

(photos courtesy of Kelly o’Connor)

 

The 25-year-old righty tossed 6 scoreless innings with 9 strikeouts in his last start in a 12-0 win over Durham, but Robert’s next outing will come in relief as LHP Rich Hill takes his place in the PawSox rotation.

 

Coello is 3-5 with a 4.56 ERA, but the league is only batting .211 against him (right-handed batters are hitting .155) and he has 61 strikeouts in 47.1 IP (11.6 per 9 IP).  His stuff might be better suited to a bullpen role instead of a starting spot.

 

“We think that there are some guys that you can transition into the bullpen mid-season and there are some guys that you can’t,” PawSox manager Torey Lovullo said.  “It’s like trying to make a third baseman into a first baseman mid-stream and sometimes it’s hard to do.  But I think those guys are smart enough to know that the Boston Red Sox didn’t go out and make any deals for relief pitchers and we shuttled them to the bullpen for one reason:  Because we believe in them.”

 

I did a TV interview with Bowden on Thursday, and when I introduced him as “relief pitcher Michael Bowden,” I could tell that it still sounded strange to him after spending his first 5 professional seasons as a starter.

 

“It does sound different, but I’m getting used to it,” Bowden said.  “In September of last year while I was up in the big leagues, I learned a lot from the guys, asked a lot of questions, and got a good routine.  When I got the news that I was moving to the bullpen, it was a very smooth transition and I felt like I really didn’t skip a beat.  I’m still learning, but I feel really comfortable out there.”

 


Bowden PawSox.jpg 

When healthy, the Red Sox rotation of Josh Beckett, Jon Lester, Clay Buchholz, John Lackey, and Daisuke Matsuzaka certainly ranks among the best in baseball.  The first four are signed through 2014, and Matsuzaka is signed through 2012.  Did Bowden feel stuck as a starter is the Red Sox organization?

 

“It’s tough to answer that question,” Michael said.  “I started off the year not pitching very well so I didn’t feel like I should have an opportunity, so that was the last of my worries.  But I’m a realist and I know it was going to be difficult to break into a rotation like that.  I feel like this has created a great opportunity for me and if I keep on performing down here, I’ll get a chance to go up there and help the team win.”

 

In 9 relief outings for Pawtucket, Bowden is 2-0 with 1 save and a 2.19 ERA.  Doubront has pitched once in relief and tossed 2 scoreless innings with a pair of strikeouts.

 

“Those two guys are full of character, and blood and guts, and they want to go out there and do whatever they can to help the team win,” Lovullo said.  “On top of that, their stuff plays whether they are starters or bullpen guys.  In fact, in those two cases we’ve seen their stuff play up.  When I say that, I mean their fastball velocity is a little harder and the breaking ball is a little sharper.”

 

 We’ll find out soon is the same if true of Robert Coello.

 

* * * * *

 

We’ve all heard the old philosophical question, “If a tree falls in a forest and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound?”

 

Here’s the 2010 version:  “If an admitted steroid user hits his 600th career home run should baseball fans cheer?”  Or care?

 

When Alex Rodriquez reached that milestone this week, most fans – at least outside of the Bronx – greeted the news with a yawn.

 

Rodriguez broke into the major leagues with Seattle in 1994 which happened to be the season that Torey Lovullo played for the Mariners.  They were not teammates because they were exchanged for each other on the active roster.  When A-Rod got promoted to the big leagues, Lovullo was sent to Triple-A (and vice-versa).

 

I asked Torey what he thinks of admitted cheaters like A-Rod, reaching cherished baseball milestones.

 

“It’s a tough question for me to answer,” Lovullo said.  “It would be easy for me to sit here and bash players that group of players.  I knew that I was competing against guys that were taking steroids.  It was kind of a little fraternity where you didn’t say much outside of the clubhouse as to what was going on.  I was very proud of the fact that I gave everything that I had with my God-given abilities and competed against a lot of players that were using.  Alex Rodriguez is a tremendous player and it’s a well-deserved honor.  He’s done a lot of great things with his ability and he should be proud of that.”

 

Was Torey tempted to use steroids during his playing career?

 

“I had somebody confront me with it one time and I thought long and hard about it,” Lovullo admitted.  “I had some discussions with myself for a night before I decided that God blessed me with the ability to be a major league baseball player without the assistance of steroids.  Today I feel very good about that decision.”

 

* * * * *

 

The PawSox will look for their 4th straight win on Friday night as they host Scranton/WB at 7:05.

 

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

 

And if you can’t make it out to McCoy Stadium on Saturday night at 6:05, you can catch that game throughout New England on NESN.  I’ll be making my NESN debut alongside Ken Ryan, as I’ll pinch-hit for Eric Frede.

 

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

Ellsbury Nears Red Sox Return

 

Ellsbury with bobblehead.jpg

2010 has been a rough year for Jacoby Ellsbury, but things are looking up.  He is on the verge of returning to the Boston Red Sox active roster, and he took care of some early Christmas shopping by grabbing a few of his bobbleheads when they were handed out on Saturday night at McCoy Stadium.

 

“It will be good for the holidays – I’ll give them to my family members and they can do whatever they want with them,” Jacoby told me with a grin.  “I think the bobblehead looks pretty good.”

 


Ellsbury tight.jpg 

(photo courtesy of Kelly O’Connor)

 

So does Ellsbury.  In two rehab games with the PawSox, the 26-year-old outfielder is 4-for-9 with 2 runs scored.  He was scheduled to have his injured ribs examined in Boston on Monday, and according to WEEI’s Alex Speier, will play at least one more rehab game with Pawtucket on Tuesday before being reevaluated on Wednesday.

 

“I’m getting anxious,” Ellsbury said.  “It’s fun when you’re getting close, and I don’t think I’m too far away.”

 

It’s been 16 weeks since Jacoby collided in the outfield with Adrian Beltre and fractured four ribs on April 11th.  He knows that some people are questioning his toughness. 

 

“You can’t let that get to you,” Ellsbury told me.  “Anybody that knows me – my teammates, my coaches – they know how hard that I play.  In the past I haven’t missed many games and I play all-out.  The naysayers don’t really bother me at all – they just motivate me more.  Deep down, if you’re comfortable with yourself that is all that really matters.

 

“At first, the pain was so bad that it was tough to sleep,” Ellsbury told me.  “I couldn’t laugh or sneeze.  Just taking a deep breath would give me a sharp pain in there.  I think anybody that’s had one broken rib knows what I’m talking about.  It’s getting better – most of those pains are gone.  It’s just managing it now.  It’s manageable now and I’m just excited to be on the field and playing.”

 

Ellsbury still isn’t pain-free, but says he’s confident that he’s not going to have another setback.  

 

“It’s something I’ll have to manage and be smart about it,” Jacoby said.  “The doctors feel safe that I can play without making the situation any worse.  I’ll play with any discomfort that I have.

 

“It’s tough because you want to be with your team.  This is what I’ve done for a long time and injuries are tough for anybody – especially athletes.  Our bodies are our livelihood and as bad as you want to get out there and get on the field, you sometimes have to let your body heal.  It doesn’t have to be 100%, but you want it to be at a point where you’re not going to jeopardize your career and possibly hurt the team.  It’s a fine line.”

 

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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