May 2010

A PawSox Coach Puts Memorial Day In Perspective

The PawSox new strength coach this year, Mike Roose, is not only a native of Pawtucket – he was born on perhaps the most important day in PawSox history.


Mike Roose.jpg 

“I was born at Memorial Hospital in Pawtucket on June 23, 1981 – the day they finished the Longest Game in Baseball History,” Roose told me.  “It was something that I thought was really cool as a kid and it made my love for baseball grow even more.  How ironic is it that I was born on that day a few hundred yards from McCoy Stadium and now I’m working for the team?  There are a lot of signs that God puts in front of you – maybe I was destined to be in baseball.”


But Roose took an unusual path to working in the Red Sox organization.  In 2002, he joined the Air Force and spent four years serving our country.


“It was 9/11 – that’s what inspired me to serve,” Roose said.  “I was going through a time in my life where I felt like I wasn’t making a difference and the timing was right.  It just kind of clicked and I felt like that was the right thing to do at that point in my life.”


Roose was 21-years-old when he reported to basic training in San Antonio.  After being stationed in Valdosta, Georgia he was sent to Iraq for the first time.


“I was in my unit for four or five days and I didn’t know anybody, and they said, ‘You’re going overseas.’  My head was spinning.  Everything happened so fast and when we hit the ground we were actually in an undisclosed location setting up for the invasion.  We went in and ended up guarding an airfield in Western Iraq.  As far as the eye could see it was desert.  We ended up staying there for about a month and after that we went to Afghanistan.  We ended up staying there for about six months.  That was my first tour.  It was a great experience – the best thing I ever did.  I wouldn’t take anything back because I learned a lot about life and learned to appreciate everything.  When you go without running water, a bed, and the bare necessities that we don’t think about here in the States, you put things in a different perspective.  It makes you realize what’s really important.  And when you have missiles and land mines blowing up all around you, you think about things a little bit differently.”


Mike served four tours of duty in Iraq and was in Baghdad when U.S. forces captured Saddam Hussein.


“It was surreal,” Roose said.  “It’s one of those things that you think is mythical.  It’s like the Pyramids of Egypt – until you see them they don’t seem real.  But Hussein is just a man.  He’s flesh and blood and I saw emotions like fear and cowardice.  It’s something that I’ll never forget and I’m glad we took care of him, but there’s a lot more stuff over there that needs to be done.”


Two soldiers that served with Mike in Iraq attended a PawSox game in Durham last week and told me that he was legendary in their unit for his love of baseball.


“It’s what I’ve loved my whole life,” Roose said.  “I used to come to McCoy Stadium as a little kid.  We moved away for a little while during my adolescence, but baseball has always been there for me.  You have to be tough to play this game and people in New England pride themselves on being tough.  Overseas when we were in the desert, that was the one thing that kind of kept me going.  I would check the box scores when I had access to the internet and when I got to see some highlights I was pumped.  I even put some sandlot games together – literally sandlot in the middle of the desert.  We used ax handles for bats and made a ball out of tape and got as many guys as we could.  That’s an awesome memory.”


It’s one of many memories that will undoubtedly cross his mind on this Memorial Day as we pay tribute to the men and women who died while serving our country.


“Memorial Day means everything for this country – and not just because of the guys that have served recently,” Roose said.  “We have previous generations that served in World War I, World War II, Vietnam . . . without those guys we wouldn’t have what we have today.  It gets me up in the morning – maybe I don’t think about it every morning – but on Memorial Day morning I’m definitely going to try to live the right way and live in their honor.”


* * * * *


The PawSox won for the 9th time in their last 11 home games on Sunday, scoring a pair of runs in the bottom of the 8th inning to beat Norfolk 5-4.


The only negative was that Kris Johnson did not get the win.


Johnson delivery re.jpg 

(photo courtesy of Kelly O’Connor)


The 25-year-old lefty allowed 2 unearned runs in 7 innings and left the game with a 3-2 lead.  In 7 starts, Johnson is 3-2 with a 2.52 ERA.  Toss out a bad outing on May 8th at Charlotte (5 ER in 4.1 IP), and Kris’s ERA in his other 6 starts is a microscopic 1.54.


“It started in spring training,” PawSox manager Torey Lovullo said.  “I think he was on a different page this year knowing that it was a new year.  I think he’s done a great job of going out and executing a game plan and finding a way to get that key out.  He’s got a bunch of guys behind him that are playing with a lot of confidence and believe in him, and I think it’s just a whole different mindset from a year ago.  He believes he’s going to go out there and get the job done and he deserves all of the credit because he’s worked his butt off.”


* * * * *


The Red Sox have Memorial Day off, but you can get your baseball fix by watching or listening to the PawSox.


Pawtucket hosts Charlotte on Monday afternoon at 1:05.  I’ll join Bob Montgomery for TV coverage on Cox Sports beginning at 1:00.  Or you can listen to the game with Steve Hyder and Mike Logan on the PawSox radio network beginning with the pre-game show at 12:50.


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


And if you Twitter, you can follow my tweets at

A Trip Down Memory Lane With Mugsy Allenson

When Norfolk manager Gary “Mugsy” Allenson walks into the clubhouse entrance at McCoy Stadium each year, he is greeted by images of his younger self.



Allenson was the International League MVP when he caught for Pawtucket in 1978, and there are several photos of him on the walls outside of the clubhouses.  Additionally, one of his autographed balls is part of an exhibit devoted to members of the PawSox “Silver Anniversary Team” which was selected in 1997.  


“I walk down that hallway every time we’re here and I get a few chuckles when I see the pictures and stuff,” Allenson told me.  “My God, that’s 32 years ago now.  Time flies.


“My players say, ‘You were the MVP in this league?  How many home runs did you hit?’  But it wasn’t the offense; I believe it was the defense that allowed me to win.  I hit 20 home runs but I think we picked off 27 or 28 guys, including 17 off of first base.  Our first baseman Wayne Harer – who happened to be the best man at my wedding – had a great awareness of when to look for things and we were very instinctual about looking for plays.  It was a special year for me.”


Allenson batted .299 – the only time in his career that he hit better than .266 for a full season.  However, he might have topped .300 if he had followed Ted Williams’ 1941 example and played on the final day of the year.


“We went into the last day of the regular season and the playoffs were starting the next day,” Allenson said.  “(PawSox manager) Joe Morgan walked up to me and said, ‘Do you need a day off?  You’re hitting .302.’  I was tired because I had been catching every day, so for me it was more about getting a break than sitting on .300, but I have to admit . . . .302 sounded pretty nice, so I said, ‘Sure I’ll take a day off.’  A few days later before the second game of the playoffs, the official league stats came out and it turned out that I hit .299.  It’s a little more precise nowadays than it was back then.”


Allenson didn’t make his major league debut for Boston until the following season and I’ve always wondered why he didn’t get promoted to the big leagues in September following his MVP season.  As it turns out, he did.


“I did go up for the last three weeks of the season, but I didn’t play,” Allenson said.  “The Red Sox waited until the Governor’s Cup playoffs were over.  I remember being in the clubhouse and (Red Sox Vice President) Ed Kenney Sr. came up to me and said, ‘Sorry about the game Mugsy, but you’re going to the big leagues.’  I honestly did not think about that the whole year – maybe I was that nave, I don’t know.


“I was there for that incredible finish between the Red Sox and Yankees.  Every day we would all be scoreboard watching.  That was the amazing thing about Fenway – watching the scoreboard.  They would take the number down on the Yankees’ side and we would all go, ‘Make it a small one, make it a small one.’  I remember on that last day of the season, we needed to win and the Yankees needed to lose and their score went up really early – Cleveland waxed the Yankees, I think it was 9-2, so we knew right away that if we won there would be a one game playoff.”


That day, Luis Tiant shutout Toronto 5-0, and the Red Sox and Yankees met the following afternoon to decide the 1978 AL East champion. 


You know the rest, and yes, Gary Allenson was in uniform when Bucky “Bleeping” Dent hit his home run.


Dent home run re.jpg 

“It just floated into the net,” Allenson said.  “It hung up there forever.  But the play of the game was Piniella catching that ball on one hop in right field.  He completely lost the ball in the sun – if that ball gets by him we would have been shaking hands instead of those guys.  Baseball is a funny game.


“The playoff that day was surreal.  There were cops on horses in the bullpens and there were people who were borderline insane near us at the end of that game.  If the outcome had been different, it would have been interesting to see if we could have actually made it back to the clubhouse.  It was fun.”


It’s a trip down memory lane for Allenson.  One he gets to make every time he walks through the halls of McCoy Stadium.


* * * * *


22-year-old Felix Doubront picked up a loss in his McCoy Stadium debut on Friday night, but was impressive in a 3-0 loss to Norfolk.


Doubront 2 re.jpg 

(photo courtesy of Kelly O’Connor)


Doubront allowed 1 run in 5 innings and recorded 6 strikeouts.  His fastball was consistently clocked in the 93-94 mph range, and he got numerous swings-and-misses on his changeup and curve. 


Doubront allowed 8 hits, but all of them were singles and 5 of the hits were ground balls that found holes.  He did not allow a fly ball until the fifth inning.


Baseball America had Felix ranked as Boston’s #18 prospect going into the season.  Our friends at update their rankings on a regular basis and have Doubront all the way up to #6.


If you would like to check him out, Doubront’s next start at McCoy is scheduled for next Wednesday vs. Charlotte.


* * * * *


The PawSox face Norfolk on Saturday at 6:05 in Game 3 of their 4-game series.  I hope you’ll join us for radio coverage beginning with the pre-game show at 5:50 on the PawSox radio network and


And don’t forget “PawSox Insider” on Saturday afternoon from 2:00 – 3:00 on many of our radio affiliates.  You can also listen online at


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


And if you Twitter, you can follow my tweets at

The Silver Lining In A 1-0 Loss

Kudos to Red Sox relief pitcher Joe Nelson for a great scouting report.


A couple of weeks ago when he was still with Pawtucket, Nelson told me that Durham’s Jeremy Hellickson was one of the best young pitching prospects he had ever seen.


Hard to argue after watching the 23-year-old Tampa Bay prospect shut down the PawSox on Monday night.


Hellickson took a perfect game into the 7th inning before issuing a walk to Tug Hulett (on a borderline 3-2 pitch).  The only hit he allowed was a lead-off single to Aaron Bates in the 8th inning, as Hellickson combined with Winston Abreu on a 1-hit shutout in Durham’s 1-0 win.


But here’s the good news for Red Sox fans:  Kris Johnson was almost as impressive as Hellickson.


Kris Johnson re.jpg 

(photo courtesy of Kelly O’Connor)


Last year, Johnson was a mess as he went 3-16 with a 6.35 ERA between Pawtucket and Portland.  There was only one pitcher in minor league baseball that lost more games – Jeremy Horst in the Reds’ organization with 17.


This year, Kris is 3-3 with a 4.50 ERA.  In his last 3 starts, Johnson is 2-1 with a 1.50 ERA (3 ER in 18 IP).


“He is blossoming into the pitcher that everyone thought that he could be,” PawSox pitching coach Rich Sauveur told me.  “He struggled last year, but this is what everyone has been expecting.”


It’s easy to see why the Red Sox chose Johnson with the 40th overall pick in the 2006 draft.  The 25-year-old lefty has a 90-94 mph fastball, along with a decent curve and changeup.  His only mistake in 6 IP on Monday was a 2-0 delivery in the second inning that Durham’s Ryan Shealy hit over the center field fence.


“That was a great game to watch,” Sauveur said.  “I want our team and our pitchers to win, but it’s not just about winning and losing, it’s about development and to see this kid go out and give up just one run against a guy who was throwing a perfect game until the 7th inning was awesome.  Kris battled his butt off.  Yea, he gave up a home run, but he kept putting zeroes up to keep us in the game.  He got beat 1-0, but that’s 5 out of 6 starts where he has pitched very, very well.”


Toss out a bad outing on May 8th where Johnson allowed 5 ER in 4.1 IP at Charlotte, and his ERA in his other 5 starts is 1.93 (6 ER in 28 IP).  KJ’s confidence appears to be growing with every solid start.


“He’s throwing all of his pitches better and in better spots, but that’s not the key to him pitching well – confidence is a major factor,” Sauveur said.  “Last year I think he tried to project confidence, but when things started to go wrong it was like, ‘Here we go again.’  This year, when he gives up a walk or a base hit, it’s like, ‘OK, I’m going to get this guy to hit into a double play or I’m going to get this guy out.’  He’s very positive out on the mound, but he’s not cocky and that’s what I’m loving about him.”


Johnson was not able to beat Jeremy Hellickson on Monday, but the struggles of 2009 are becoming a distant memory.


* * * * *


I’ve written several stories about Daniel Nava’s unlikely rise to brink of the big leagues, but he shared a funny anecdote on Monday that further illustrates how he seemingly came out of nowhere to become one of Boston’s best minor league hitters.


Nava shades re.jpg 

(photo courtesy of Kelly O’Connor)


Two years when Nava reported to spring training in Ft. Myers after being signed out of the independent Golden Baseball League, he was selected to suit up for the parent club in one of Boston’s exhibition games.  After the starters took a few at-bats, the minor leaguers got into the game, and Nava came to the plate in the late innings.


As Daniel stood in the on-deck circle, Terry Francona took one look at him and said, “Who the heck are you?”


That’s right – the Red Sox manager didn’t even know who Nava was when he sent Daniel to the plate for the first time in a Boston uniform.


“It was all new to me and I didn’t even know that I was supposed to introduce myself,” Nava said with a laugh.


Nava says he got a hit in that first spring training at-bat.  After hitting .348/.443/.552 in his first 257 professional games (including independent ball), it’s safe to safe that Francona knows who he is now.


* * * * *


Happy Birthday wishes were in order on Monday for former PawSox Kevin Frandsen and Bartolo Colon.


It does beg this question about Colon:  Which is more accurate – his listed age (37) or weight (245)?


Hyder says he’ll take the “over” in both cases.


* * * * *


Over the past few days, the stands at Durham Bulls Athletic Park have included Tug Hulett’s parents, Aaron Bates’ mom, and Josh Reddick’s dad.


Kenny Reddick has been the most vocal fan in the entire ballpark – not just for Josh, but for every player on the PawSox.


His enthusiasm brought to mind the story Josh told me last year about his first major league call-up, when he was promoted directly from Double-A Portland to the big leagues.


Josh and parents re.jpg 

Reddick said his first phone call was to his dad.  Since it was 1:00 in the afternoon, he figured his father would be working, but Kenny was actually at lunch.  Josh says his father stood up at a restaurant and proudly yelled, “My son is going to the big leagues.”


Josh’s next call was to his mom who was shopping at a Walmart.  Josh says she fell down in the middle of an aisle and started crying.


I suspect the other customers were probably thinking, “OK lady, so they ran out of a sale item.  It happens.”


* * * * *


I want to take a moment to thank all of you who read this blog.  According to mlblog’s numbers for April, “Heard it from Hoard” ranked 23rd in its category for most traffic.


I’d love to know more about you.  If you have the time, please take a moment to tell me who you are and where you’re from in the comments section. 


* * * * *


The PawSox conclude their 8-game road trip on Tuesday at 7:05 in Durham.


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


I’d love to hear from you.  The address is


And if you Twitter, you can follow my tweets at

The Unbelievable Streak of Gil Velazquez

Here are the four most remarkable streaks in baseball history (in no particular order):


Cal Ripken’s streak of playing in 2,632 consecutive games.


Joe DiMaggio’s 56-game hitting streak.


Orel Hershiser’s run of 59 straight scoreless innings.


Gil Velazquez’s streak of never having complained in 13 minor league seasons. 


Velazquez in field re.jpg 

(photos courtesy of Kelly O’Connor)


OK, I’ve only been around Gil for the last three years but I’ve never heard him gripe about anything.


You have to understand – minor league baseball players (and announcers) complain a bunch.  The travel can be brutal . . . the schedule is unforgiving . . . and even though you are only one step from the big leagues, it can feel like you are light years from the show.


And yet, after playing 1077 games in the minors and only 9 in the majors, Gil Velazquez is always upbeat.


Consider his reaction to spending the first six weeks of this season at extended spring training recovering from a broken left thumb.


“It was tough, but I enjoyed working out with all of the young guys,” Gil told me.  “Hopefully, I set a good example for them that hard works gets you to higher levels and pays dividends in the long run.  I had a good time being there.”


Velazquez might be the first player in history to say he had “a good time” at extended spring training, where the Monday through Saturday schedule consists of an early-morning workout followed by an exhibition game at noon.


“It can be a grind, but I didn’t take time to think about how hard it would be because I was focused on trying to get ready to get back over here,” Velazquez said.  “One of the hardest parts is playing in one of those games and not having anybody there to see you play.  It’s really fun when you take the field in a nice big ballpark and there are fans there to watch you.  It gets the adrenaline flowing and it feels great to be out there in uniform.  It’s especially fun when you do well, but even when you have those tough days it’s still a privilege to come out and play in front of a nice crowd.”


Perhaps that comment makes it easy to understand why the Red Sox re-signed Gil after a tough 2009 season.  While he is solid and versatile defensively, Velazquez struggled at the plate, batting .193/.240/.269 in 93 games with Pawtucket.  Two years ago, Gil batted .260 with 10 HR in 350 at-bats.


“I’ve been swinging the bat pretty well since spring training – the ball has been jumping off my bat,” Velazquez said.  “I think my biggest problem is that my swing was long.  I was drifting and getting out in front of a lot of pitches instead of using my lower half and staying short and through the ball.  I worked hard in the off-season and so far, so good.  I feel really good and hopefully I can do some damage at the plate this year.” 


Gil’s biggest hope is to get called-up to Boston for the third consecutive year.


“One of the most important days of my life was that first call-up in ’08 at the end of September,” Velazquez said.  “It’s the best experience I’ve had in baseball.  I spent 10 years in the minor leagues before I finally got to the big leagues and it’s the best feeling I’ve had in baseball.  I’m happy I stuck it out and got to accomplish my goal.”


A goal he accomplished without complaint.


* * * * *


While Velazquez has escaped extended spring training, Jed Lowrie remains in Ft. Myers recovering from the severe case of mononucleosis that he was diagnosed with in mid-March.


Lowrie at Fenway re.jpg 

“Jed is doing better,” Gil said.  “He’s starting to take ground balls, hitting, and getting his running in.  I think he still has days here and there where he feels a little weak, but it’s all going to come back.  He was pretty sick and lost a lot of weight and strength so he’s just trying to get back to where he was.  Hopefully, he’ll be back to 100% soon and can get back to playing on the field and helping the Red Sox.  I just wish the best for him because he’s a good ballplayer.”


* * * * *


Chalk up Sunday’s doubleheader in Durham as one of the most unusual things I’ve seen in minor league baseball.


The PawSox were outscored by 16 runs . . . and still managed to split.  They dropped the completion of a suspended game 18-1, but rallied to win the second game 1-0.


The second game marked the Triple-A debut of 22-year-old LHP Felix Doubront who got off to an impressive start by pitching a perfect first inning with 2 strikeouts.  Unfortunately, there was a downpour in the 2nd inning and Doubront did not return to the mound after a 1:32 rain delay.


Chad Paronto (4 IP) and Fernando Cabrera (2 IP) did a tremendous job in relief and Gustavo Molina homered for the game’s only run.


For the second straight year, the PawSox were the opponent on Negro League Night in Durham and wore vintage gray uniforms representing a variety of teams from that era.  Here are a few of them, courtesy of Bulls’ photographer Ashley Yarber:


House of David re.jpg 

Ramon Ramirez in a House of David uniform.


Cleveland Buckeyes 3 re.jpg 

Josh Reddick in a Cleveland Buckeyes uniform. 


Negro League unis re.jpg 

Scott Atchison in a Baltimore Elite Giants uniform and Dustin Richardson in an Indianapolis Stars uniform.


* * * * *


Torey Lovullo was saddened to learn about the passing of former All-Star pitcher Jose Lima, who died of a suspected heart attack on Sunday at the age of 37.


Lovullo said he had just been thinking about Lima a couple of days ago when the PawSox were in Norfolk, as he remembered a funny story about facing Jose at Harbor Park when he pitched for the Tides in 2006.


Lovullo was managing Buffalo at the time, and one night, Lima was dominating the Bisons as he allowed 1 run on 4 hits in 6 innings.  It was vintage “Lima Time” as he celebrated his strikeouts and the final out of each inning with fist pumps and other emphatic gestures.


Torey was growing increasingly annoyed until the 5th inning when Lima surrendered a solid single to Buffalo’s light-hitting shortstop Jose Flores.  As the runner stood at first base, Lima stepped off the mound and tipped his cap toward Flores for getting a hit off of him.


When Lovullo asked Lima about it the next day, the veteran pitcher claimed he had intentionally grooved a pitch right down the middle to give Flores a chance.  According to Torey, Jose then uttered this classic line:


“I wanted the kid to be able to call home and tell his Mama that he got a hit off of Lima Time.”


* * * * *


The PawSox figure to have their hands full on Monday at 7:05, as they face the International League’s only 6-game winner – Durham stud Jeremy Hellickson (I wrote about him here).


Pawtucket will counter with Kris Johnson who tossed 6 scoreless innings in his last outing and is 3-1 with a 3.42 ERA as a starter this year.


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


I’d love to hear from you.  The address is


And if you Twitter, you can follow my tweets at

Anybody Have Any DVDs?

The 2010 PawSox have a nice blend of good young prospects (Lars Anderson, Josh Reddick, Felix Doubront) and seasoned veterans (Boof Bonser, Scott Atchison, Chad Paronto) and an articulate and friendly manager in Torey Lovullo.  For the most part, it’s a fun team to hang around.


But we desperately need to add somebody with a good DVD collection.


On Friday night after Pawtucket’s 3-2 loss in Norfolk, the team had a 3-hour bus ride to Durham.  Just before we departed, trainer Jon Jochim asked, “Does anybody have any movies?”




Jochim tried again, “Anybody have any movies?”




Finally, on J.J.’s third try, Chad Paronto chimed in, “Do I have to do everything on this team?”


To Chad’s credit, he has a collection of really good movies.  All three Godfather flicks, Goodfellas, Raging Bull . . . we’re talking all-time classics.  I wouldn’t be surprised if he had Vittorio DeSica’s “The Bicycle Thief” on DVD.


Unfortunately, I don’t know if he has anything that I haven’t seen at least 10 times.


Casino re.jpg 

Last night’s selection was Casino.  Great direction by Scorsese . . . easily the best performance of Sharon Stone’s career . . . and who doesn’t love watching the violent brilliance of Joe Pesci.


I just wish I couldn’t recite the dialogue from memory.


So far on bus rides this year, movie selections have included Caddyshack and Rounders.  Apparently, movies made in the last 10 years are not eligible for viewing.


The next time the PawSox add a player, the scouting report needs to include his DVD selections.


* * * * *


It was great to walk into the clubhouse on Friday and see the familiar smiling face of Gil Velazquez.



(photos courtesy of Kelly O’Connor)


The 30-year-old infielder had been stuck at extended spring training camp in Ft. Myers after breaking his left thumb while diving into first base in a Red Sox exhibition game on March 16th.


Gil is thrilled to be back with the PawSox after enduring the drudgery of extended spring training.  He described the routine as follows:


6:45 – wake-up.

7:15 – arrive at training complex.

8:00 – take the field for batting practice/workout.

11:00 – take a break/grab bite to eat

12:00 – play an exhibition game in front of no fans in hot Florida sun

4:00 – sleep


That’s the way it goes from Monday through Saturday.  The players get Sunday off.


Gil was so happy to be back in uniform for a real game last night that he probably even enjoyed watching Casino.


* * * * *


According to Sean McAdam of CSNNE, the Red Sox designed outfielder Jonathan Van Every for assignment after Boston’s loss to Philadelphia on Friday in order to open a roster spot for Jacoby Ellsbury. 


VanEvery re.jpg


Here’s what McAdam wrote:


Van Every, obtained earlier this season in a deal with Pittsburgh, is out of options. If he clears waivers, he’d likely accept an assignment to Pawtucket. The Sox have up to 10 days to determine whether to trade him or send him through waivers.


Ellsbury played in a game for Pawtucket this week, joining the lengthy list of big name stars who have rehabbed with the PawSox over the last few years.


Mondor re.jpg 

I thought it might to be fun discuss a few of them with PawSox owner Ben Mondor who – in addition to being a great boss – is a fantastic storyteller.


Daisuke Matsuzaka (rehab stints in 2008, 2009 and 2010)


“I enjoy him tremendously contrary to our managers.  You see, Daisuke has a habit of loading the bases or putting two men on and then striking out three men.  That drives a manager crazy and I laugh my head off because I think it’s the most entertaining thing in baseball.”


Jason Varitek (rehab stint in 2006)


“A quiet man who does his business – a real pro.  He did a heck of a job rehabbing because he was serious about getting back to the big leagues.  He was a pleasure to have around.”


Curt Schilling (rehab stints in 2005 and 2007)


“Curt Schilling was in a world of his own.  He was a veteran by the time he reached us on two rehabs.  It was like a business deal when he was here – forget about the other guys and do what it takes to get him back to the big leagues.  It was all business.”


Tim Wakefield (rehab stint in 2009)


“I wish he was my brother – that nice a guy.  He was a really classy guy to have around.  He set a good example for the other guys in the clubhouse and so forth.  We were proud to have him here and I wish he would come back often.”


Manny Ramirez (rehab stint in 2002)


“My buddy Manny – he made baseball what it is for me.  I could go on forever – Manny and I used to sit down and talk.  He said, ‘Man, you don’t take this too seriously.’  I said, ‘Do you?’ and he said, ‘No.’  He did things a little bit out of the ordinary like the time we were playing a weekday game and around the 6th or 7th inning, when we took the field, we had no left fielder.  So the manager is hollering, ‘Where the heck is Manny?’  They searched the clubhouse and couldn’t find him and finally the clubbie solved it – Manny had gone in uniform to a barbershop on Newport Avenue to get a haircut in the middle of the game.  It didn’t bother him at all.  I thought that was funny.”


* * * * *


The PawSox will look to snap a 3-game losing streak as they open a series at Durham on Saturday night at 7:05.


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


And don’t forget “PawSox Insider” every Saturday afternoon from 2:00 to 3:00.  If you don’t live in New England, you can listen to the show live on WHJJ’s website or find archived episodes at in the multimedia section.


I’d love to hear from you.  The address is


And if you Twitter, you can follow my tweets at

A Cat Named Felix Arrives

I was in spring training for about a week, and the last time that I saw the PawSox play, Felix Doubront was Pawtucket’s starting pitcher even though it appeared likely that he would open the season in Portland.  On Thursday, after Doubront was promoted from Double-A, I asked PawSox manager Torey Lovullo what he remembered about that outing in Ft. Myers.


Doubront re.jpg 

(photo courtesy of Kelly O’Connor)


“Fastball command down in the zone . . . good movement . . . the plane of his ball is angled downward . . . and a short breaking ball to both left-handed and right-handed batters,” Lovullo said.  “He’s got great mound presence and for a 22-year-old, it’s not always like that.  A young kid has to build that type of stuff and he looks great when he steps on the mound.”


Did Lovullo suspect in March that Doubront would eventually pitch for Pawtucket at some point this season?


“I was hoping that we would have him on April 8th (opening day).  But obviously, as far as player development goes, they had a great plan and didn’t want to rush him along.  He told us by his performance that he was ready to move up.  I think the team was 8-0 in the games that he started.  He was keeping Portland in games and that’s all that we ask.  The numbers indicated that he was ready for this challenge.”


In eight starts for the Sea Dogs, Doubront was 4-0 with a 2.51 ERA (43 IP, 39 H, 12 ER, 17 BB, 38 K).  The lefty from Venezuela was told that he was being called-up after Portland’s game on Tuesday night.


“I was keeping the pitching chart and when the game was over our pitching coach said, ‘Don’t go yet.  We need you to stay for a few minutes.’ Doubront said.  “So they called me into the office and told me that I got promoted to Pawtucket.  It’s the next step toward getting to Boston so I’m really happy.  It was my goal so I’m enjoying the moment.  I’m going to do my best to get to the big leagues.”


This winter, Felix was ranked as the #18 prospect in the Red Sox organization by Baseball America after going 8-6 with a 3.35 ERA for Portland last season.  But he undoubtedly would have been ranked higher after spring training, as Doubront tossed 7 scoreless innings in 3 appearances (2 starts) for Boston. 


“I’ve been pounding the strike zone,” Doubront said.  “I’ve been getting ahead in the count and throwing quality pitches.  That’s what I’ve been working on in my side sessions – pounding the zone with my fastball.”


The fifth-year pro throws his fastball in the low 90’s, and is also known for having an outstanding changeup.


“I was 16 years old when I signed with the Red Sox and I already had a good changeup.” Doubront told me.  “That was what I was recognized for when the scouts saw me.  I’ve been working on it year after year and I feel like it’s much better than it was six years ago.  I can throw it with conviction whenever I want to, and it’s a big pitch for me.”


Doubront will make his Triple-A debut on Sunday at Durham.  His first start at McCoy Stadium is likely to be on Saturday, May 29th.


* * * * *


I have a marked parking spot at McCoy Stadium that I rarely use during games for the following reason:  My windshield has been busted twice by foul balls that carried over the stadium roof.


Former PawSox broadcaster Dave Fleming – now part of the Giants radio crew – suffered similar misfortune last weekend in San Francisco.


After the San Diego Padres took batting practice at AT & T Park, pitcher Mats Latos tossed a ball into the stands.  Unfortunately, the ball bounced off the concourse and landed in the player’s parking lot where it smashed through the sun roof of Fleming’s new Honda Civic.


“I’ve heard people are saying I threw it over the Coke bottle. That’s not even close to true,” Latos told the San Jose Mercury News. “Look, people are going to believe whatever they want to believe. If they send me a bill, I’ll pay it. I’m sorry it happened and I’ll be responsible for it. But I didn’t know there was a parking lot back there. I wasn’t trying to throw it out of the stadium.”


According to published reports, the Giants plan to forward a repair bill to Latos.


* * * * *


Torey Lovullo’s second stop as a minor league manager was Kinston, NC of the Carolina League and one of the people he grew close to was a woman named Evelyn Kornegay.  “Mama” as she was lovingly known, housed more than 150 Kinston Indians players over the years – including Victor Martinez – and was one of the team’s biggest and most beloved fans.



(photo courtesy of the Kinston Free Press)


“It’s hard to describe what she meant unless you’ve been in that community and seen the beauty of her heart,” Lovullo said.  “My first introduction to her was at a hot stove banquet in the off-season and she said, ‘From now own you call me Mama.  I take care of my boys and you’re one of my boys now.’  She had an uncanny knack for caring when she didn’t need to and loving when she knew nothing else, and she was a special lady.”


Mama Kornegay died last week of pancreatic cancer at the age of 81.  A visitation will take place at Grainger Stadium on Friday night in Kinston.  The funeral will be held on Saturday afternoon at United American Free Will Baptist Tabernacle and Lovullo hopes to attend.


“I have a very strong connection to her and I’ve stayed in touch with her over the years – just to tell her how I was doing and it was always nice to hear her say, ‘I love you,’ Lovullo said.  “Now that we’re going to be in Durham, we’ll be an hour and a half from the funeral that day and I feel like I have to be there.  Hopefully I can make it.” 


Here’s a great story about Mama Kornegay written by’s Benjamin Hill.


* * * * *


We’ve mentioned in recent weeks that PawSox outfielder Daniel Nava leaves a ticket for ESPN sideline reporter Erin Andrews on the player’s pass list at every Pawtucket road game.  Here’s proof:


Erin Andrews on pass list.jpg 

Erin has been busy competing in Dancing With The Stars and has advanced to the final three couples.  Since the competition is nearly finished, perhaps she’ll be able to take Nava up on his generous offer sometime soon.


* * * * *


Bubba Bell singled in the 9th inning of Pawtucket’s 8-1 loss in Norfork on Thursday to extend his hitting streak to 11 games.  


He also signed a ball for a big fan named Ted after the game.


Bubba ball.jpg 

Since I mentioned Ted and posted this photo, he and the friends that I met outside the clubhouse are now required to check out my blog on a daily basis.


* * * * *


The PawSox conclude their 4-game series in Norfolk on Friday at 7:15.  I hope you’ll join us for radio coverage beginning with the pre-game show at 7:00 on the PawSox radio network and


I’d love to hear from you.  The address is


And if you Twitter, you can follow my tweets at

The Power Of Suggestion

What are the odds?


On Tuesday morning I sat next to Bubba Bell on the PawSox flight out of Providence and reminded him that the last time the team played in Norfolk, he hit a huge home run – a 420-foot 10th inning blast that gave Pawtucket a 6-5 win.


“Do you realize that’s the only Triple-A home run I’ve hit,” Bubba responded.  “That’s ridiculous.”


Bubba at plate re.jpg 

(photos courtesy of Kelly O’Connor)


Bell was apparently so annoyed that he did something about it; drilling a 3-run HR as the PawSox won the opening game of a 4-game series at Harbor Park 6-0.


The home run was his first in 312 at-bats dating back to last season, but I’m confident that it won’t be his only one of the year.  Bubba looks great at the plate – he has a 9-game hitting streak, going 12-for-33 (.364) with a HR and 7 RBI.  Bell has a hit or walk in 16 straight games, going 19-for-56 (.339) with 6 walks for a .397 OBP.


And he’s not Pawtucket’s only hot hitter.


Aaron Bates has a 10-game hitting streak, going 13-for-37 (.351) with 2 2B, 2 HR, and 4 RBI.  Has a hit, walk, or HBP in 34 of his 37 games this season for a .366 OBP.


Jorge Jimenez is batting .462 in his last 11 games (18-for-39) with 2 2B and 3 RBI.


While Pawtucket’s hitting has been much-improved, good pitching has been the key to winning 8 of the last 10 games as the PawSox have posted a 1.70 ERA during that stretch (17 ER in 90 IP).


On Tuesday, Kris Johnson (6 IP), Scott Atchison (1 IP), and Dustin Richardson (2 IP) combined to toss an 8-hit shutout.  At one point between the 7th and 9th innings, Atchison and Richardson struck out 8 consecutive batters.


We’ll see if Michael Bowden can keep it rolling when he takes the ball on Wednesday night.


* * * * *


Lovullo and Bell re.jpgPawSox manager Torey Lovullo played for seven teams during his 8-year MLB career and that gave him the opportunity to play with some of the game’s all-time greats.  I thought it would be fun to throw a few names at him and have Torey say the first thing that comes to mind about each of these former teammates.


Ken Griffey Jr. (Seattle 1994)


“A fun-loving guy who played the game like a little kid – like it was little league.  He had so many things pulling at him during the course of the day between Nike commitments and interviews, but when it came time to play a baseball game, he played it like he was 12-years-old.”


Don Mattingly (New York 1991)


“Don Mattingly once told me I made the worst throw across the diamond that he had ever seen.  I threw one over his head in Milwaukee about 15 rows into the stands and I figured I would make a joke about it, so when we got in the dugout I asked him why he didn’t even jump for it.  He said, ‘Are you kidding me?  That’s the worst throw anybody has ever thrown across the diamond at me.’  It’s a nice distinction to have.”


Jack Morris (Detroit 1988-89)


“An intense competitor.  He wasn’t afraid to have confrontations with the other team’s manager, or his own teammates because he wanted to win so badly.”


Fred Lynn (Detroit 1988-89)


“One of the all-time most professional people that I’ve ever been around.  He had a great perspective about who he was and what it took to go out there on a daily basis and be productive.”


Mark McGwire (Oakland 1996)


“He hit the longest home runs I’ve ever seen hit.  He hit one out of the old Tiger Stadium and then in the Metrodome he hit a ball that almost went into the second deck there.  If you ever sat in that stadium, it is almost unbelievable how far that ball went.”


Manny Ramirez (Cleveland 1998)


“Fun-loving and giggly.  I made a mistake on defense one time and he said to me, ‘You think that was bad?  Have you ever seen me play defense!’ “ 


Curt Schilling (Philadelphia 1999)


“A great teammate and a great professional.  Even though he was intense and maybe looked like he was looking down on people, that’s not my perception of Curt Schilling.  He was always pulling for every teammate that he had.”


* * * * *


The PawSox will look to climb to .500 on Wednesday night as they face Norfolk at 7:15.


I hope you’ll join us for radio coverage beginning with the pre-game show at 7:00 on the PawSox radio network and


I’d love to hear from you.  The address is


And if you Twitter, you can follow my tweets at

The Return Of Ellsbury and Rooting For The Other Redick

Ever since the Washington Nationals announced that pitching sensation Stephen Strasburg was being pushed back a day and would not make a start in Pawtucket, I’ve been feeling a little guilty for spending several weeks promoting his anticipated McCoy Stadium outing on my blog, on twitter, and on the radio.  I was only reporting what the Nationals were saying at the time, but I hate to provide inaccurate information – especially when encouraging people to buy tickets.


I’m feeling much better now that Jacoby Ellsbury will be in the PawSox starting lineup on Monday.


Ellsbury re.jpg 

(photos courtesy of Kelly O’Connor)


The 26-year-old outfielder has not played since April 11th when he suffered hairline fractures in four ribs after colliding with third baseman Adrian Beltre.


“We’re going to welcome him with open arms,” PawSox manager Torey Lovullo told me.  “He’s an exciting player, but what everybody has to realize is that he’s not going to come up here and lead the band the way they want him to.  He’s got to get healthy, but he’s going to come here and play aggressively and work his way back into full health.”


Ellsbury is expected to play for Pawtucket on Monday and Portland on Tuesday before being reevaluated.  Jacoby last played for the PawSox in 2007 when he batted .298 in 87 games and set a club record with a 25-game hitting streak.  He finished 2nd in the International League with 33 stolen bases.


“He was a young guy who was ready to go and wondering why he wasn’t up there yet,” said PawSox owner Ben Mondor.  “He was a special kid because of that speed.  He could do everything but bunt.  He could probably get on base 10 or 12 more times a year by bunting but he just wouldn’t do it.  But you knew he was going to make it big.  It was only a matter of when.”


Jacoby led the majors and set a single-season Red Sox record with 70 stolen bases last year, passing Tommy Harper’s previous mark of 54 set in 1973.


Perhaps it’s not as exciting as seeing Stephen Strasburg for the first time, but having Ellsbury back at McCoy certainly adds a little buzz to Monday’s homestand finale.


* * * * * 


While most of Red Sox Nation is celebrating the Celtics’ 92-88 win over Orlando in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Finals, you’ll have to forgive PawSox pitcher T.J. Large for being bummed.


One of his good friends is Orlando Magic guard J.J. Redick.


JJ Reddick re.jpg 

“His fianc Chelsea was in our wedding,” Large explained.  “She and my wife Kendall went to high school and were cheerleaders together.”


The two professional athletes hit it off, and Redick sent Large a congratulatory text last year when T.J. was promoted from Portland to Pawtucket.  Redick is obviously the bigger star, but Large says he doesn’t act like one.


Large re.jpg 


“One time we were sitting on the couch in my apartment,” Large told me.  “Now J.J.’s the all-time scoring leader at Duke and a big-time guy, and we were watching a basketball game.  After a couple of hours he said, ‘T.J., I’ve got to tell you something.’  And I said, ‘What’s up?’  He said, “I just want you to know that this is awesome.  It’s one of the coolest things I’ve ever done.’  I was in Double-A at the time and I’m like, ‘What dude?’  And he said, ‘I am a diehard Red Sox fan and this is awesome.’  It was pretty exciting for me to hear a guy with his status come out and say something like that to a minor league guy.”


Since the PawSox begin a road trip on Tuesday, the two pals probably won’t get a chance to get together during the Celtics/Magic playoff series.  Although if there’s a Game 6 and the PawSox have a rain out on May 28th, you can bet that Large will have a great seat at the TD Garden. 


“I talked to him a few times about it,” Large said.  “He was all excited to come up here and we were looking forward to hanging out together.  I’ve never been to an NBA game, so it would be awesome to start with a playoff game with great tickets.  I always see his fianc on TV – she’s in the third row right behind the bench.”


So you’ll have to forgive the PawSox reliever for rooting for Orlando.


“If JJ is going to get me tickets, I’ve got to go with the Magic,” Large said with a laugh.


* * * *  *


The PawSox go for their 7th straight win on Monday when they host Syracuse at 12:05 in the afternoon.


I hope you’ll join us for radio coverage beginning with the pre-game show at 11:50 on the PawSox radio network and


I’d love to hear from you.  The address is


And if you Twitter, you can follow my tweets at 


A Big Leaguer In Every Way

Since I’ve been broadcasting PawSox games, the list of prominent players who have joined the team on rehab stints includes David Ortiz, Curt Schilling, Kevin Youkilis, Jason Varitek, Daisuke Matsuzaka, Mike Lowell, Tim Wakefield, Sean Casey, and Trot Nixon.


Mike Cameron is making an impressive bid to be known as the most generous with his minor league teammates.


Cameron fist bump re.jpg 

(photo courtesy of Kelly O’Connor)


All of the above have treated the guys to lavish post-game spreads and Cameron is no exception.  After his second game in a Pawtucket uniform, he dropped nearly $1300 on a lobster and chicken marsala feast.  After game three, steaks were on the clubhouse menu.


But Cameron took the notion of being a “big leaguer” to new heights on Thursday when he purchased a luxury box for Game 6 of the Celtics/Cavs playoff series and invited the PawSox players and coaches to join him.


“That was the first time I attended an NBA game,” Jorge Jimenez told me with a huge grin.  “I was rooting for LeBron James – he’s my guy.  I love basketball and I was so excited that I was like a baby.”


I told Cameron on Friday that the Pawtucket guys have been so spoiled that they’ll probably handcuff him to his locker to prevent him from returning to Boston.


The 37-year-old outfielder appears ready to rejoin the Red Sox and that is expected to happen on Monday when Boston opens a 2-game series at Yankee Stadium.


Cameron starred in Friday’s 4-2 win over Syracuse, belting a towering 2-run HR and making two great catches in left field.


The defensive plays were vintage Cameron and his ability to patrol center field was the primary reason why the Red Sox signed him to a 2-year, $15.5 million dollar deal in December.


The 3-time Gold Glove Award winner is in his 16th major league season, and recently I asked him to name the best outfielders he’s seen during his big league career.


“In my generation?  I guess it would be Jim Edmonds and Ken Griffey Jr. and Junior probably tops the list,” Cameron told me.  “The next-tier guys are Torii Hunter, Andruw Jones, and I guess I’d have to throw myself on the list a little bit.  And Ichiro too.  There are a lot of good outfielders that are playing today.  One of my favorite guys – believe it or not – is Jacoby Ellsbury.  Not just because I play with him, but I’ve admired the way he plays from afar.  He’s one of my favorite guys.  There are some other guys that are really good – I cannot leave out Carlos Beltran.  I switched positions with him so I guess I had better give him the nod.”


His list of great outfielders is longer than my list of most-generous rehabbers.


* * * * *


I wonder if Daniel Nava looked familiar to Syracuse infielder Eric Bruntlett.


Bruntlett played at Stanford from 1997 to 2000, and Nava was one of the Cardinal’s bat boys in 1999.


That Stanford team also included pitcher Mike Gosling who has a link to the PawSox.  He surrendered Dusty Brown’s first major league hit – a home run – on October 3, 2009.


* * * * *


Special thanks to e-mailer Melissa LeTellier for pointing out that former Pawtucket outfielder Adam Stern has been called-up by the Milwaukee Brewers.  It’s Adam’s first taste of the big leagues since 2007 when he appeared in two games for the Baltimore Orioles.


Stern re.jpg 

Stern earned the promotion by hitting .349 with a .429 OBP for the Milwaukee’s Triple-A team in Nashville.  Adam struck out as a pinch-hitter in his first at-bat for the Brewers on Friday night.


* * * * *


The PawSox will look to extend their season-high 4-game winning streak to five as they host Syracuse on Saturday at 6:05.  I hope you’ll join us for radio coverage beginning at 5:50 on the PawSox radio network and


And don’t forget “PawSox Insider” on Saturday from 2:00 to 3:00.


I’d love to hear from you.  The address is


And if you Twitter, you can follow my tweets at

Cameron Feat Is Rarer Than Traveling To The Moon

After Oakland’s Dallas Braden tossed his perfect game against Tampa Bay on Sunday, ESPN’s Jayson Stark provided a phenomenal stat to illustrate how incredibly rare that feat is.


Believe it or not, more men have traveled to the moon (24) than have thrown a perfect game (19) in the big leagues.


So with that in mind, it’s worth pointing out that Mike Cameron has done something even fewer people have done – he’s one of only 15 players in MLB history to hit four home runs in one game (here’s the list).


Cameron smiling re.jpg 

(photo courtesy of Kelly O’Connor)


Cameron put his name in the record books as a member of the Seattle Mariners on May 2, 2002 when he belted solo home runs in his first four at-bats against the Chicago White Sox. 


And that was all by the fifth inning.


In the seventh inning, Mike was hit by a pitch, and in the ninth inning he flied out to the warning track in right field.


“To go to the plate four times in a major league stadium and hit four home runs – I think it’s the most amazing thing I’ve ever experienced in my life,” Cameron told me.  “Everybody kept asking me, ‘What did you feel at the plate?’  I just felt like I was seeing the ball well.  It was almost like the ball stopped and I put a good swing on it.  It’s a zone that you get into – I was like a little kid having an unbelievable time.  That was the first time since 1957 that it had been done in the American League since Rocky Colavito and I was like, ‘Oh my goodness.’  I’m in pretty good company.  When they started reeling off the names of guys that have done it before it was unbelievable.  I tried to duplicate it the next day against the Yankees and I think I dribbled three balls into the ground.  There’s no way you can go up there and try to hit four home runs.”


When the game ended, Cameron’s teammates gave him a hero’s welcome when he returned to the clubhouse after meeting with the media.


“Everyone lined up and held up bats like I was ‘King for a Day,’ Cameron said.  “They made me a silver bat by putting aluminum foil around my bat and they made me an aluminum foil crown, and then everybody lined up and made it seem like I was walking down the red carpet and they poured beer on me as I walked through.  It was a joyous feat that I’ll never forget.  To this day, I remember the feeling I had at the plate that day.”


Hoard and Cameron re.jpg 

Cameron began a rehab stint with Pawtucket on Monday and went 2-for-6 with a double and 2 walks in his first two games before taking a break on Wednesday.  The 37-year-old outfielder is scheduled to DH for Pawtucket on Thursday before playing in the outfield at McCoy Stadium this weekend.  He told reporters at Fenway Park on Wednesday that there are tentative plans for him to rejoin the Red Sox in New York on Monday.


His Pawtucket teammates are in no hurry for Cameron to leave.  The 3-time Gold Glove Award winner dropped nearly $1300 dollars on a lobster and chicken post-game feast for the players and coaches on Tuesday.  Rumor has it that they’ll be treated to steaks after Thursday afternoon’s game.


* * * * *


The PawSox equaled their longest winning streak of the year on Wednesday with a 6-0 victory over Gwinnett.


OK, it’s only two games in a row but you’ve got to start somewhere, right?


To quote Confucius:


“A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.”


The PawSox have been getting great pitching on their current homestand.  Boof Bonser, Fabio Castro, and TJ Large combined on a 4-hit shutout on Wednesday, and Pawtucket pitchers have not allowed an earned run in their last 30 innings.


Daniel Nava provided much of the offense in Wednesday’s win with a double, home run, and 4 RBI.  After 32 games in Triple-A, Nava is batting .313/.409/.545 and leads the PawSox with 6 HR and 27 RBI.


It’s the best $1 dollar the Boston Red Sox ever spent.


* * * * *


Congrats to former PawSox slugger Chris Carter on his promotion to the New York Mets.


Carter has been nicknamed “The Animal” by Mets manager Jerry Manuel for his hyperactive personality, and he wound up on the back cover of both New York tabloids after drilling a game-winning pinch-hit double in his Mets’ debut on Tuesday.


Carter Daily News re.jpg 



Carter Post re.jpg


* * * * *


The PawSox will look for their first 3-game winning streak of the year when they host Gwinnett on Thursday at 12:05.


If you can’t make it to McCoy, you can watch the game on Cox Sports throughout Rhode Island.  I’ll join Bob Montgomery for the call.


I’d love to hear from you.  The address is


And if you Twitter, you can follow my tweets at