Get Ready For The Runnin’ Reliever
“He looks like a giant yak being chased by a lion across the Serengeti” – Steve Hyder.
For the past two years, the fans in Portland have been able to enjoy it. Now it’s our turn in Pawtucket.
I’m referring to Blake Maxwell’s legendary mad dash from the bullpen.
(Photos courtesy of Kelly O’Connor)
Whenever the 6’5”, 255 pound pitcher enters a game, he sprints as fast as he can from the bullpen to the mound. It became a big crowd pleaser at Hadlock Field in Portland.
“It started out about two years ago,” Maxwell told me. “I wasn’t pitching too well and I wasn’t having fun coming to the ballpark, so I kinda wanted to change things up and I started sprinting in from the bullpen. I actually started pitching better, so I’ve kept it going. The fans really got into it there whenever I would come in.”
“We did that on the last day of the season in 2009,” Maxwell said. “The catcher wanted to run in with me the whole year and I told him on the last day that we could. Then last year on the final day of the season in Portland, Alex Wilson started the game and he and the catcher sprinted in, so it’s become a tradition on the final day of the year in Portland.”
Maxwell even did his trademark sprint before pitching a scoreless 9th inning in the Boston Red Sox final exhibition game on March 30th at Houston’s Minute Maid Park.
“The night before the game we all went out to dinner and I was telling the guys that they had better hope that I get in tomorrow so that they could see my entrance,” Maxwell said. “Then I showed it to them on youtube and they said, ‘You’re definitely getting in.’ They started chirping at Tito to put me in and I think that helped me get into the game. The guys loved it. I could hear John Lackey yelling from the dugout when I was on the mound. He was going crazy.”
Of course, Blake’s race to the mound would be frowned upon if his performance suffered, but he’s off to an excellent start in 2011. After pitching 5 scoreless innings for Boston in 5 spring training games, Maxwell began the year at Double-A Portland where he posted a 1.38 ERA in his first 8 relief outings for the Sea Dogs. That led to Thursday’s promotion to Pawtucket where Blake has tossed 2.1 scoreless innings in his first 2 appearances. He was the winning pitcher on Saturday in Pawtucket’s 7-6 win at Scranton/WB.
So if you make it out to McCoy Stadium next week during the PawSox’ 8-game homestand, keep an eye on the home bullpen in left field.
You’ll get a kick out of the runnin’ reliever Blake Maxwell.
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It’s good to hear that former PawSox OF/1B Aaron Bates has signed with the Minnesota Twins and will join the Rochester Red Wings. Aaron was released by the Red Sox in late March despite having an excellent spring. Rochester’s next visit to McCoy Stadium is for a 4-game series beginning on June 28th.
And it was nice to chat on Friday with former PawSox catcher Gustavo Molina who opened the season with the New York Yankees and is currently playing for Scranton/WB. I always found it amusing that Gustavo is a catcher named Molina, but is not related to Bengie, Jose, or Yadier. It’s like being a politician named Kennedy and not being related to John, Bobby, Ted, Joe, Patrick, or Kathleen.
The PawSox will look to pull within a half game of first place as they conclude their 4-game series at Scranton/WB on Sunday at 1:05. I hope you’ll join us for radio coverage beginning with the pre-game show at 12:50 on the PawSox radio network and pawsox.com.
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