On Sunday morning, about two hours before the PawSox faced Rochester, Carlos Delgado stood next to home plate at Frontier Field and prepared to take a swing.
But there was no pitcher on the mound and Delgado didn’t even have a bat in his hands. The only other people on their field were PawSox trainer Jon Jochim and manager Torey Lovullo.
Still, Delgado took a mighty phantom swing and sprinted toward first base as if he had just ripped a base hit. Then he took his lead from the bag and raced from first to third.
It looked more like the NFL combine then a baseball drill, but if Delgado’s body responds favorably to the vigorous workout, he should return to action during the 4-game homestand that gets underway on Monday night at McCoy Stadium.
“Any time you have a caliber of player like Carlos who is willing to put forth the effort that he is putting forth from the time of his surgery to present day, you have to feel like he can make an impact,” Lovullo said.
(photo courtesy of Louriann Mardo-Zayat)
Delgado signed with the Red Sox on August 7th and made his PawSox debut on August 9th, but he pushed himself to get ready for a role in Boston by playing in five out of the team’s next six games. That’s when the 38-year-old slugger began to feel pain in his left hip and lower back, and he has not played since August 15th.
Hanging out and watching Triple-A baseball in International League hot spots like Pawtucket, Rochester, and Scranton is not what Carlos had in mind when he signed a minor league contract.
“I’m really enjoying Providence – I think it’s really nice – but this is not a vacation,” Delgado told me. “I’m here for a reason and I’m working on it. Obviously I would like things to go a little faster than they’re going right now, but I’ll keep working and see what happens.
“It’s made me appreciate my tour through the minor leagues and the effort that it takes to get to the big leagues. It’s been awhile. I don’t feel that old, but it’s been almost 16 years since I played in the minor leagues.”
This hasn’t been a one month rehab for Delgado – it’s been a 16 month ordeal to return to action since having surgery on his right hip.
“I had surgery in May of 2009 and went right into rehab,” Delgado said. “About eight weeks later I was down in Florida at the Mets’ facility trying to get back. I had a setback and then continued to do my rehab, so I was around baseball the whole time. In August of last year I tried to come back, but my hip still wasn’t good enough.”
Delgado took batting practice on Saturday afternoon in Rochester and put on his most impressive show since joining the PawSox as he launched several blasts over the center field fence. With eight days left in Pawtucket’s season, he hopes to show that he’s still capable of doing that in games.
“I knew my rehab stint wasn’t going to be perfect, but I like to think that hitting a baseball is like riding a bicycle – you don’t forget how,” Delgado said. “But that’s why you start in the minor leagues – there’s an adjustment period where you have to get into playing shape, so that’s why I came here.”
Here’s hoping his hard work is about to pay off.
* * * * *
The PawSox will play six of their final eight games at home, and they return to McCoy Stadium as the International League’s hottest team. Pawtucket has won six straight, and went 8-2 on a 10-game road trip to Buffalo and Rochester.
Torey Lovullo is proud that his team is finishing strong despite being out of playoff contention.
“Wins and losses often dictate the energy of a ball club, but these guys have a lot to play for,” Lovullo said. “There are September call-ups, there are 40-man roster implications for next year and beyond, there are other teams’ scouts in the stands, and there is the potential for jobs next year. I haven’t seen the energy fall off and if I do, I will address it.”
Major league rosters expand on Wednesday and several Pawtucket players are likely to get a promotion. Lovullo will also get a call-up after the minor league season ends on September 6th.
“I’ve been fortunate enough to be asked to join the big club in September,” Torey told me. “I’ll join the club when they’re in Oakland, so I’ll stay there for about three weeks and get to enjoy the pennant race. I’ll keep my ears and eyes open and do what is asked of me. Then once the season is over, I’ll go home to Southern California and really get away from baseball for a little while. This is a grind. It’s a long season. It’s not the five months that everybody sees – it is 7 ½ months and it’s every single day. So I’ll take a few weeks off and then get back at it.”
* * * * *
Bubba Bell is letting his hair grow until the end of the season.
This is how he looked with a shaved head.
(photo courtesy of Kelly O’Connor)
Now I think he’s a dead-ringer for actor Jason Statham.
Both of them are having good years. Statham can currently be seen with Sly Stallone and Arnold Schwarzenegger in The Expendables which has already made $82 million at the box office.
Bell went 2-for-5 with an RBI on Sunday in Rochester and is hitting .298 (.369 OBP) with 5 HR and 46 RBI.
* * * * *
The PawSox will look for their 7th straight win on Monday night as they host Rochester at 7:05.
I’ll join Bob Montgomery for live TV coverage throughout Rhode Island on Cox Sports. Our coverage begins at 7:00.
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 email@example.com.
And if you Twitter, you can follow my tweets at http://twitter.com/Dan_Hoard