Early Season Feasts and Buzz Cuts
The first time that I saw Michael Bowden at spring training this year, we were talking about the players who were likely to begin the season in Pawtucket when he made the following observation:
“If nothing else, we should eat really well,” Bowden said with a grin.
That was a reference to the time-honored tradition of rehabbing major league players buying their minor league teammates a post-game meal – better known as the “clubhouse spread.” It’s their way of saying, “Yea, I’m making big bucks but we’re all in this together.”
The PawSox roster currently includes two players on rehab assignments – pitchers Daisuke Matsuzaka and Boof Bonser. Additionally, 16-year MLB veteran Alan Embree isn’t technically on rehab, but his situation is similar since he has an opt-out clause in his contract on April 15th.
Well, Michael Bowden was right. The PawSox have had three home dates and have enjoyed big league feasts after all three. Here’s the rundown:
April 8th: Cowboy Ribeye steaks from Ruth’s Chris Steak House courtesy of Alan Embree.
(photo courtesy of Ruth’s Chris Steak House)
I can honestly say that I have never seen larger steaks than these 22-ounce bone-in ribeyes. In the words Carl “Goody” Goodreau, the man in charge of the PawSox clubhouse, “Some of them were still mooing.” It goes without saying that these babies weren’t cheap. Embree sprung for 40 of them.
April 10th: A pre-game made-to-order omelet station and a post-game feast from Mei King Chinese restaurant courtesy of Daisuke Matsuzaka.
The pre-game omelet station was a bit of a change for Matsuzaka but was appropriate for the 1:05 start time. In the past, Daisuke has treated the gang to a huge tray of sushi before night games. His next scheduled start is at 4:05 pm on Thursday in Buffalo so the players will arrive in the clubhouse between normal breakfast and lunch hours. I wonder what will Matsuzaka provide for a pre-game brunch?
By the way, according to its website, Mei King – located directly across the street from McCoy Stadium – has been serving Rhode Island’s best Chinese food since 1978. Who knew?
April 11th: Mounds of ribs and assorted barbecue from LJ’s BBQ courtesy of Boof Bonser.
LJ’s was once named by noted food writer John Mariani as one of seven great barbecue joints around the country. When my broadcast partner Steve Hyder walked through the clubhouse before doing a post-game interview yesterday, he caught a glimpse of the trays of barbecue waiting to be devoured by a bunch of hungry dudes other than himself.
I thought Hydes was going to cry when he got back to the press box.
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In the biblical story of Samson and Delilah, Samson lost his tremendous strength when Delilah shaved his head.
In the story of Reddick and Wagner, it works the other way around.
After great springs with Boston, Josh Reddick and Mark Wagner got off to slow starts with Pawtucket. In the PawSox first three games, Reddick was 0-for-11 and Wagner was 0-for-6.
So they shaved each other’s heads.
“We were both kind of struggling up there a little bit and we kinda went home last night and said, ‘We’re going to get this stuff out of the way and go ahead and see if it works,’ and to our benefit it did,” Reddick told us after the game. “Being in the baseball career you learn how to do it coming up through the minor leagues so it’s not that hard of a task.”
Reddick doubled in his first at-bat and finished 3-for-5 and Wagner belted a 2-run home run.
I’m expecting to see a barber’s pole inside the PawSox clubhouse this afternoon.
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Kevin Frandsen is new to the Red Sox organization and the International League this year, so he is getting his first look at the McCoy Stadium tradition of “fishing” for autographs. Since the first row of the seats is eight feet above field level, autograph seekers put their items-to-be-signed in empty milk jugs or two-liter soda bottles and dangle them in front of the dugouts below.
(photo courtesy of Tom Perreira)
Frandsen spent several minutes signing yesterday and says he tries to be as accommodating to fans as possible. But here are a couple of friendly hints if you’re looking for his autograph.
- He prefers “Kevin” to “Mr. Frandsen.” As he put it, “I’m in my 20’s . . . not my 40’s.” Having said that, I’m sure he’ll sign for anyone who is polite.
- Don’t throw a ball for him to sign unless he’s looking at you. He got drilled in the face last year while looking in a different direction.
(photo courtesy of Kelly O’Connor)
A day or two after being traded from San Francisco to Boston, Kevin was with the Red Sox at a spring training road game and was the only player who didn’t have a name on the back of his uniform. As a result, a 10-year-old autograph seeker took one look at him and said, “Who the heck are you?”
Frandsen wasn’t offended and told the youngster that he had just joined the team.
The kid immediately responded with, “Oh, are you that shortstop we got from San Francisco?”
Kevin promptly provided a signature.
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The PawSox season-opening 6-game homestand continues on Monday night as the Lehigh Valley Iron Pigs come to town for a 2-game series. It’s a Kids Eat Free night at McCoy Stadium. All kids (12-and-under) who enter the stadium with a box seat ticket will receive a hot dog, bag of chips, and soda for no additional charge. The offer is good at all Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday home games through June 15th.
If you can’t make it out to the ballpark I hope you’ll join us for radio coverage beginning at 6:00 on the PawSox radio network and pawsox.com.
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