Happy Days in Kentucky
I’ve come up with a new nickname for Mark Kotsay.
He’s the Fonz.
Since “Happy Days” aired from 1974 to 1984, most of the PawSox players are probably too young to even know who I’m talking about. Shoot, Travis Denker and Michael Bowden weren’t even born by 1984.
But for those of us who grew up in the 70’s and 80’s, Fonzie (played by Henry Winkler) was the epitome of effortless cool.
Kotsay has similar charisma.
(photo courtesy of Kelly O’Connor)
In his short rehab stint with the PawSox, he’s become the team’s social director. Instead of complaining about being back in the minors, he’s doing his best to enjoy it – and making sure the rest of us enjoy it with him.
“I think it’s great,” Kotsay told us on the pre-game show. “If you haven’t been to Louisville I would recommend it, even though I wouldn’t have recommended it before coming here. I think it’s a great town. There’s a lot to do.”
Following the first game of the road trip, “The Fonz” picked up the tab for about 25 of us to go bowling in downtown Louisville. And following the game tonight, he apparently has something fun planned for the two hour bus ride to Indianapolis.
“I’m looking forward to my first bus ride in a long time with the fellas – hopefully we’ll have some good times,” Kotsay said. “But Monday’s bowling event I think will top the time spent in Triple-A.”
After having back surgery in January to repair a displaced disc, Kotsay has been gradually working his way back to Boston. If there are no setbacks this weekend in Indianapolis, he should be ready next week.
“The time frame depends largely on my health, and the calf has responded quite well since pulling it in early May at Pawtucket,” Kotsay said. “The Red Sox go to Detroit after they venture up to Toronto this weekend, so Monday or Tuesday I hope to get back to the big league team and start contributing to a World Championship team.”
Kotsay has a career .281 average in 1450 major league games, and says he can help the Red Sox as a jack-of-all-trades off the bench.
“I think my role is to give guys days off when they need ’em,” Kotsay said. “Mike Lowell is playing quite a bit right now and could probably use a day off here and there, and I can play first base with Youkilis swinging over to third. I can give J.D. Drew days off and possibly Ellsbury too. So whatever way Tito sees to use me, hopefully I can contribute in a positive manner.”
I’m sure he will – on and off the field.
Here’s one more note on Kotsay.
In 2006 on Mother’s Day, Mark used a pink bat as part of baseball’s annual Breast Cancer Awareness Day and homered off of the Yankees’ Randy Johnson. It prompted Oakland teammate Nick Swisher to remark, “If going yard off ‘Big Unit” at Yankee Stadium with a pink bat doesn’t make you a stud, I don’t know what does.”
Sounds like something the Fonz would have done.
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On Wednesday afternoon, Charlie Zink, Jose Vaquedano, and Fernando Cabrera combined on a 1-hit shutout as the PawSox beat Louisville 2-0.
It was Pawtucket’s second 1-hitter of the season (both in the last three days) and PawSox pitchers have also had three 2-hitters and three 3-hitters.
The shutout was Pawtucket’s league-leading ninth, and they’ve also had two games in which neither team scored in the first nine innings.
Despite being next-to-last in the IL in runs scored, the PawSox are 25-20 and only 4.5 games out of first place.
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The Louisville series concludes on Thursday night at 7:05 with Michael Bowden facing Homer Bailey. I hope you’ll join us for the radio call beginning with the pre-game show at 6:50 on the PawSox radio network and PawSox.com.
I’d love to hear from you. The address is firstname.lastname@example.org.