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.
(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.
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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.
“His fiancé 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.
“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 fiancé 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.
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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 pawsox.com.
I’d love to hear from you. The address is firstname.lastname@example.org.
And if you Twitter, you can follow my tweets at http://twitter.com/Dan_Hoard