The Red Sox will honor the 2004 World Series champions before Tuesday night’s game against Tampa Bay. The ceremony was planned as part of the 100th anniversary of Fenway Park’s opening but will serve as a reminder of how far the team has fallen this season.
At 69-85, the Sox will finish under .500 for the first time since 1997.
Pedro Martinez was obtained from the Montreal Expos after that season and helped the Sox back into the playoffs in 1998. Martinez, who will attend Tuesday’s event, believes the team can rebound as quickly again.
“The team has the tools to actually come back by next year. I was on a lot of teams where we had a lot of sore and painful defeats. So this team, all they have to do is fix their character, come back next year and think that everything is possible and start nice and fresh.
“Hopefully management will make the adjustments they need to make and work on the character a little more and I think that talent is basically there. So they need to just work all together and focus on it. I think that’s achievable.”
All uniformed members of the 2004 team were invited back. Jason Varitek and Tim Wakefield will be among those attending.
On Wednesday, the Red Sox will recognize an “All-Fenway” team.
Men of influence
The Sox have eight games remaining, two against Tampa Bay at home before a six-game road trip to Baltimore and New York.
The Rays are trying to stay in the American League wild-card race while the Orioles and Yankees are fighting for the American League East title. That distinction holds more weight under the new playoff system as the division champion avoids the one-game wild-card playoff.
“We’re just trying to play the game right. It’s not about spoiling anything for another team,” outfielder Cody Ross said.
Clay Buchholz will face David Price Tuesday night in a rematch of a game in Florida last Thursday. Buchholz pitched seven shutout innings but was denied the victory when Andrew Bailey allowed five runs in the ninth inning of a 7-4 loss. Price allowed three runs over 7⅓ innings.
Take your hacks
The Sox are going to great lengths to keep the season ticket-holders happy. The team has scheduled three days of fan batting practice at Fenway Park and apparently is expecting a big turnout. From 9 a.m. to 9:30 p.m. on Oct. 5, Oct. 7, and Oct. 8, fans with Red Sox ticket accounts can swing at five pitches from a pitching machine on the field. Only one representative per account will be allowed on the field. E-mails have gone out this week with invitations. Guests of those invited are welcome to attend and can watch from the seats. The Sox are providing bats (metal or wood) and helmets. There also will be tours of the park, photos with the World Series trophies, and other events. Concessions will be half price . . . Tom Umphlett, who finished second in the 1953 American League rookie of the year voting in his only season with the Sox, died Sept. 21 at the age of 81 in Norfolk, Va. Umphlett hit .283 and started 133 games in center field in place of the retired Dom DiMaggio. Umphlett and Mickey McDermott were traded to the Senators after the season to obtain Jackie Jensen. Umphlett spent only two more seasons in the majors. He returned to the Red Sox via trade in 1955 but did not advance beyond Triple A.