There are more than 200 players and coaches in the Red Sox spring training camp and I have a pretty good guess as to which one of them had the shortest off-season.
That would be PawSox pitching coach Rich Sauveur.
(photo courtesy of Tom Perreira)
After the PawSox played their final game on September 7th, Sauveur went home for a couple of weeks before heading to South America to serve as the pitching coach for the Leones del Caracas (Caracas Lions) of the Venezuelan Winter League.
His stay there was extended when the Lions advanced to the league championship series to face the archrival Navegantes del Magallanes.
“It’s just like the Red Sox/Yankees rivalry,” Sauveur told me from Ft. Myers. “It’s just something that you can’t imagine unless you’ve been there. I tell everybody to look on YouTube and pull up ‘Leones of Caracas’. The atmosphere is absolutely incredible – I can’t even explain it. There were 25,000 people at our games in Venezuela, and I’ve had people tell me that those 25,000 were louder than a full house at the Metrodome.”
The championship series lasted seven games with Sauveur’s Lions winning the final two to capture the Venezuelan title.
That meant advancing to the Caribbean World Series.
By the time that week-long event ended on February 7th (the Dominican Republic won); Sauveur’s “off-season” was basically over.
“I got back home on February 10th and I came down to Ft. Myers on the 12th to watch a couple of pitchers throw,” Sauveur said. “And then I officially reported to camp on the 16th. I did get three days off during Christmas though – that was nice. That was 72 hours that I got to spend at home.”
This will be the third year that Sauveur has spent his summer in Pawtucket and he’s the only returning member of the 2009 coaching staff. Former manager Ron Johnson is Boston’s new first base coach and hitting coach Russ Morman has joined the San Francisco Giants minor league staff. They have been replaced by new manager Torey Lovullo and hitting coach Gerald Perry who previously coached in Pawtucket in 1998.
“Torey has asked a lot of questions about Pawtucket and I’ve filled him in,” Sauveur said. “He’s going to be a good manager. He’s as nice as RJ is – just not as flamboyant. And RJ has been fantastic down here – he’s been like a kid in a candy store and it’s well-deserved. He’s doing a great job down here and the players love him. I think it’s a great fit.”
While it’s too soon to say who will make up the PawSox opening night pitching staff, the likely candidates include highly-touted prospects Michael Bowden, Junichi Tazawa, and Dustin Richardson along with last season’s All-Star closer Fernando Cabrera.
“I’m very excited,” Sauveur told me. “We don’t know exactly who we are going to have and I don’t want to speculate because these guys are trying to make the major league team, but from what I’ve seen, we’re going to have a nice staff.”
Perhaps the pitching will be strong enough to extend the season and lead the PawSox back to the playoffs.
Who needs an off-season anyway?