Brandon Duckworth wears Schilling’s #38, bears a physical resemblance to the former Sox ace, and even has some of the same mannerisms on the mound. If Duckworth wore a bloody sock, they would be virtually identical.
Are the similarities a coincidence or by design?
“I think it’s coincidental,” Duckworth told me with a laugh. “Coming up in the Phillies organization, everybody made that comparison back then, but it was kind of weird to show up here and have number 38 sitting in my locker. Now everybody is giving me a hard time saying, ‘Schilling, Schilling.’ It’s kind of funny, but at the same time, if you’re being compared to a guy like that, hopefully you can pitch somewhat to the same standard as him.”
“Schilling-like” would be a good way to describe Duckworth’s first three starts for the PawSox. After tossing 7 scoreless innings in Thursday’s 14-0 win over Syracuse, the 35-year-old righty is 2-0 with a 0.48 ERA (18.2 IP, 13 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 3 BB, 14 K).
“He’s been outstanding,” said Pawtucket pitching coach Rich Sauveur. “If he continues to do what he’s done in his first three starts, I feel that he could help the Boston Red Sox at some point this year.”
Duckworth signed with the Red Sox as a minor league free agent in November. It was no surprise that Boston was interested in him after seeing Brandon pitch for Lehigh Valley last season. In two starts against Pawtucket, Duckworth was 2-0 with a 0.00 ERA (12 IP, 7 H, 0 R, 5 BB, 15 K).
“The Red Sox came in pretty quick,” Duckworth said. “There were a handful of teams that were interested, but after speaking to the front office from Boston, I just felt that it was a good fit. Besides, I think everyone can honestly say that they would love to play for the Red Sox someday. I feel very comfortable here so far, and hopefully I can eventually get up to Boston.”
Duckworth has pitched in parts of eight big league seasons for Philadelphia, Houston, and Kansas City, going 23-34 with a 5.28 ERA in 134 games. His last two seasons have been spent back in the minor leagues, but the Utah native is not complaining about being in Triple-A.
“You have to have fun in this game,” Duckworth said. “If you don’t, you’re in it for the wrong reasons. Minor league seasons can be tough. You see a lot of movement up and down and you can fall into that bitterness stage where guys are getting called up and you feel like you should. Or maybe you’re not having a good year and your job is on the line. I just think you have to live in the moment and have fun with it every day.”
If he keeps pitching like Curt Schilling, he’ll have a blast.
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Duckworth was obviously not the only star in Thursday’s 14-0 rout overSyracuse. Drew Sutton went 5-for-6, and Nate Spears crushed a grand slam to help the PawSox finish 5-1 on their 6-game homestand.
Unfortunately, there was some bad news as Ryan Kalish suffered a left shoulder injury while making a diving catch in the second inning. Ryan was taken to the hospital for X-rays. There’s no word yet from the Red Sox on the severity of his injury.
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The PawSox open an 8-game road trip on Friday as they face the Rochester Red Wings at Frontier Field beginning at 1:05. It will be Felix Doubront’s first start since being sent down by Boston. Felix was the Red Sox Minor League Pitcher of the Year last season, going 8-3 with a 2.81 ERA between Pawtucket and Double-A Portland.
Alfredo Aceves is also expected to join the PawSox in Rochester. A corresponding roster move will have to be made when Aceves is added to Pawtucket’s roster.
I hope you’ll join us for radio coverage on Friday, beginning with the pre-game show at 12:50 on the PawSox radio network and pawsox.com.
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