The Road Back To The Bigs Begins On A Bus
Carlos Delgado is a two-time All-Star, a three-time Silver Slugger Award winner, and ranks 30th on the career home run list with 473 – just 2 HR behind Stan Musial and Willie Stargell.
On Monday morning, he spent 5 1/2 hours on a bus from McCoy Stadium to Scranton, PA.
“You know what? You gotta do what you gotta do,” Delgado said with a wide grin. “I understand that this is going to be part of the process so you might as well enjoy it.”
(photo courtesy of Ken Babbitt)
The 38-year-old slugger is expected to make his 2010 debut on Monday night as the PawSox open a 4-game road trip to Pennsylvania. It will be Delgado’s first game in 457 days after having two surgical procedures on his right hip.
“We’re going to go off of him and make the guidelines based on what he is saying to us,” said PawSox manager Torey Lovullo. “Fundamentally, he’s going to probably get beat up for a couple of days and we all know that. Our expectations have been obviously minimized because of the length of time down. We’re probably going to ease him in with 3 or 4 at-bats like the start of spring training. That’s how I think we should start to see where he’s at. We can’t push him too far or too fast.”
“(My hip) feels pretty good,” Delgado said. “I’m really happy because for awhile I wondered if I was going to be able to come back. Is it going to be good enough to run out there, and play defense, and hit, and slide? I see progress every day. There were some bumps in the road, but the last few weeks it has felt good. I worked out for a few teams and I thought, ‘Damn, I didn’t know I could still do that.’ So that was nice.”
Delgado worked out for the Red Sox on Friday in New York – one day after the club announced that Kevin Youkilis would miss the rest of the season because of his injured right thumb.
“As an athlete you hate to see anybody get hurt, because you understand how tough rehab will be,” Delgado said. “But I did realize that there might be an opportunity, so we reached out to Boston. They said, ‘Are you ready? We’d like to see you.’ That’s how everything happened.
“It is a good opportunity. It’s a good fit. This team is passionate about winning, and it seems like they are going to do everything in their power to make it to the playoffs and that’s what I want to do. If I can come back and play and contribute to a team that is in contention, it would be a big plus.”
Delgado was still one of the baseball’s leading sluggers two years ago when he finished with 38 HR and 115 RBI for the New York Mets. Carlos has a .280 career batting average (.383 OBP, .546 SLG) and has topped 30 HR in 11 of his 13 full seasons.
Lovullo first saw Delgado while competing against him as a minor leaguer in 1995.
“I remember he swatted a ball out of the old Syracuse stadium that went over the right-field batting cage and I thought, ‘That is a pretty spectacular swing,’ Lovullo said. “It is a beautiful swing.”
Delgado is eager to prove that it is still a beautiful swing – even if that means enduring lengthy bus rides.
(And if that wasn’t a sufficient reminder that he’s back in the minor leagues, the players’ hotel rooms were not available for check-in when the PawSox arrived in Scranton at 12:30 in the afternoon)
“I’m very excited,” Delgado said. “This is fun, and a unique opportunity after a long, long, long rehab.”
“I can’t say enough about the energy that he’s brought so far to this office and the clubhouse since he walked in,” Lovullo said. He’s bubbly, he’s fun-loving, and he’s everything that’s ever been advertised about him.”
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As soon as it was announced that Kevin Youkilis was out for the season, reports began circulating that the Red Sox were in the market for a left-handed hitting compliment to Mike Lowell at first base.
Even after signing Delgado, the Red Sox were still showing interest in possibly dealing for Adam LaRoche or Lyle Overbay according to Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports.
The PawSox, of course, already have a left-handed hitting first baseman in 22-year-old Lars Anderson.
(photo courtesy of Kelly O’Connor)
“I’m confident that Lars understands exactly what’s going on,” Lovullo said. “He’s a very intelligent guy, but I’ll make sure to call him in here and let him know that he’s the everyday first baseman and nothing is going to change in his progression and development. We’ll integrate Carlos in there to get him ready to play at the next level because he’s experienced at that level and has been a championship-style player. A lot of times you don’t need to explain things to guys, but it’s my style and the organization’s style to communicate to a fault so there is no unknown to the player.”
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This year the Washington Nationals have been awarding a Silver Elvis Wig to their player of the game after wins. Here’s how it looked on Stephen Strasburg after he struck out 14 batters in his major league debut.
Well it took awhile, but leave it to team comedian Chad Paronto to come up with the PawSox’ version.
On Monday’s bus ride to Scranton, Paronto wore this “Meowy Christmas” sweatshirt and announced that Pawtucket’s Player of the Game would get to wear it in the clubhouse after victories.
We hope to see a lot of it over the final 29 games of the season.
The PawSox look to snap a 3-game losing streak on Monday night at 7:05 at PNC Field in Moosic, PA. I hope you’ll join us for radio coverage beginning with the pre-game show at 6:50 on the PawSox radio network and pawsox.com.
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