When PawSox manager Torey Lovullo left the Cleveland Indians organization last winter, he thought he was going to work for the Red Sox, not the Red Cross.
The Boston Red Sox have 11 players on the disabled list, including six current or former All-Stars, a former MVP, a pair of World Series MVPs, and a two-time stolen base champ. Their ailments include mononucleosis, two sets of broken ribs, two broken feet, a broken thumb, a strained back, a strained hip, a strained forearm, and a strained hamstring.
And yet, despite Thursday’s loss to Texas, the Red Sox are still only 5 ½ games back in the AL East and 3 ½ games back in the wild card race.
“I’m amazed,” Lovullo told me. “It’s a credit to everybody involved from top to bottom. I think Theo and Tito have done a great juggling act in getting everybody to perform at that level. They’re only a few games out and they have nearly half of their team from the start of the season on the disabled list. We’re proud of the fact that several guys have been promoted from Pawtucket and contributed – that’s our job.”
It’s also his job to get the walking wounded back to Boston.
(photos courtesy of Kelly O’Connor)
The “Pawtucket Pit Stop Parade” started last Sunday with Josh Beckett’s solid showing at McCoy Stadium (4 IP, 2 H, 1 R, 0 BB, 4 K). He’ll make at least one more rehab start for the PawSox on Saturday night at Syracuse.
After hitting .400 in 6 games for Single-A Lowell, Jed Lowrie joined Pawtucket on Thursday and went 1-for-4 with a long double and a sacrifice fly. His 20-day rehab stint expires on July 25th.
2010 All-Star Clay Buchholz is expected to make one rehab start for Pawtucket tonight (Friday) in Syracuse, and Jeremy Hermida is scheduled to play a few games for the PawSox beginning on Monday night at McCoy Stadium.
“It’s like a puzzle right now and they’re trying to figure out when to get all the pieces back into the right places and I’m sure their heads are spinning with all of the injuries that have happened up there,” Lovullo said. “We welcome those guys. They’re such great influences for so many reasons and the first is their professionalism – they come in here and work hard and guys can see quickly why they’re such special players.”
So special that they get to keep their uniform numbers.
When Buchholz takes the mound on Friday, Torey Lovullo will relinquish his #11 to allow Clay to wear the number he wears in Boston. Similarly, Randor Bierd will switch from #19 to #29 on Saturday when Josh Beckett is his teammate.
Jed Lowrie’s #12 was available, but he opted for #2 in a PawSox uniform with Ryan Kalish agreeing to switch to #12. Kalish did so even though he was on a hot streak – violating the Crash Davis rule that a player on a streak has to respect the streak – but it didn’t slow him down on Thursday as Kalish had a single and triple in an 8-2 win at Syracuse.
Kalish has had multiple hits 9 of his last 11 games, going 21-for-45, .467, with 4 doubles and 1 triple. In 23 games at the Triple-A level, the 22-year-old outfielder is batting .337/.406/.477.
“He goes out there and always gives you 100%,” Lovullo said. “He’s so athletic, powerful, and graceful and he doesn’t leave any of his gifts behind on a given night. He has a football player’s mentality playing a baseball game but not with that, ‘I want to run through a wall and kill you,’ mentality. It’s with the power and grace that I’m talking about and he does it very, very well.”
Another Pawtucket player who has excelled lately is pitcher Michael Bowden. Since being moved the bullpen, the 23-year-old righty has tossed 4 scoreless innings in 3 relief outings without giving up an extra-base hit.
“He’s got so much durability,” Lovullo said. “With his body type and his mindset, he can go out and throw every single day. I think that’s one of the reasons why we chose him as a candidate to make this move. You just can’t take a starting pitcher and make him a reliever – there’s a certain adjustment that you have to go through and it’s a difficult transition. It’s like asking a right-handed batter to go out there and hit left-handed all of a sudden. If you can’t get a feel for it you’re going to stumble and fall. He hasn’t done that whatsoever. He’s gone out there and his stuff has played up – his fastball has had a little bit more velocity, his breaking ball has been very effective and we’re just fine-tuning some things to hopefully get him in line to get that opportunity to go to the big leagues as a reliever.”
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If you’ve never been to a Sunday afternoon home game at McCoy Stadium, kids are allowed to run the bases after the game.
4-year-old Sam Hoard did so for the first time last week. Thanks to Michael Gwynn for the great photo!
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The PawSox will have Clay Buchholz on the mound as they look for their third straight win on Friday night at 7:00. I hope you’ll join us for radio coverage beginning with the pre-game show at 6:45 on the PawSox radio network and pawsox.com.
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