There have been 945 players in the Pawtucket Red Sox 39-year history and I can’t imagine that any of them has gotten off to a better start with the franchise than Tony Thomas.
On Saturday night in Buffalo, the 24-year-old infielder hit a grand slam in his first at-bat in a PawSox uniform and finished his first start with 5 RBI.
As it turns out, Tony was just getting warmed up.
On Monday night, Thomas hit another grand slam – his 2nd in three starts for the PawSox – as Pawtucket destroyed Buffalo 15-1.
“Before this, I had only hit two grand slams my whole life and I’ve been playing since I was about four years old,” Thomas told me. “To do that twice within three games is something that I’ll never forget for the rest of my life.”
Thomas hit his first grand slam in his junior year at Florida State University and belted another one last year while playing for Double-A Tennessee in the Cubs organization. He’s hit two in 11 at-bats as a member of the PawSox, but when he reached the dugout after Monday’s blast, his teammates tried to pretend that was no big deal.
“They were saying, ‘Oh, Thomas hit another grand slam – what a shock,’ Tony said with a laugh. “I think I’m going to get teased about that for the next couple of days.”
Thomas wasn’t even in Pawtucket’s starting lineup for the first two games of the season, but he’s currently tied for the league lead in RBI with 9. The Red Sox acquired him from the Chicago Cubs on February 15th in a trade for former PawSox pitcher Robert Coello.
“I was ecstatic,” Thomas said. “The Cubs are a great organization and I thank them for giving me the opportunity to play pro ball, but I feel like I have a better future here with the Red Sox. The fan base is amazing and to play on TV for the Boston Red Sox would be a dream come true.”
* * * * *
ESPN blew it on Sunday night.
Don’t get me wrong, the resources that the network devotes to its coverage of Sunday Night Baseball guarantees exceptional coverage of the action, but I can’t believe they didn’t show us video of Bridget Johnson throwing out the ceremonial first pitch.
Bridget is the 11th-year-old daughter of former PawSox manager Ron Johnson (now the Red Sox first base coach). Last summer, she was involved in a horrific accident near the family’s home in Tennessee when the horse she was riding was struck by a car. Bridget spent 34 days in the hospital and eventually had to have one of her legs amputated.
But you would never know it now. Bridget’s been fitted with a prosthetic leg and is even riding horses again. In fact, she was given a new pony by Red Sox third baseman Kevin Youkilis who was on the receving end of her ceremonial pitch on Sunday.
Bridget’s new horse is named “Youkie.”
It’s an incredible story. Too bad that ESPN missed it on Sunday.
* * * * *
21-year-old shortstop Jose Iglesias is such a slick fielder than Lars Anderson jokingly calls him “Domingo.”
It’s a reference to Domingo Ayala of YouTube fame – the star of a series of humorous instructional videos in which he shows the proper fundamentals of playing the game.
Well, sort of.
I’d love to hear from you. The address is email@example.com.
If you Twitter, you can follow my tweets at http://twitter.com/Dan_Hoard
And I’ve finally joined Facebook. Just search for Dan Hoard and look for the photo of me with the handsome lad.