After a week-long stint in which he got into two games for his hometown Boston Red Sox, Alex Hassan returned to Pawtucket with a new sense of what it takes to get to the top, and a renewed determination for making that happen as soon as possible.
For the Milton native who honed his skills at B.C. High, playing at Fenway Park was a boyhood dream realized thanks to an intense persistence that has helped him climb the ranks and work through injuries and struggles.
“It was an exciting time,” said Hassan, who played in only 63 games last season due to injuries. “It’s been a long hard journey to get there. It was an awesome experience and one that I’ll never forget.
“I definitely had to go through a lot to get there, not only with injuries. I wasn’t drafted really high (20th round in 2009) and I had to earn my way up each level.”
Hassan played in two games for Boston, both in right field, and picked up his first big league hit in his second at-bat, a fourth inning single off of Erik Bedard on June 1.
In his second game, he went 0-for-4, striking out four times and when Mike Napoli returned from the disabled list, Hassan was sent back to the PawSox.
Encouraged by the experience, Hassan now hopes to pull from the lessons learned in Boston and use them to improve his game across the board.
“I saw the competition level, saw what the big leagues is like,” said Hassan on getting back. “The intensity to win is a lot higher. I take from that, try to become a winning player and do the little things to help the team win.”
Hassan had been batting just .217 prior to his call-up, but returning to Pawtucket with the confidence of having been there, he seems poised to catch fire.
In his first game back with Pawtucket on Tuesday, Hassan went 2-for-3 with a walk, scoring a crucial run in the seventh inning.
“Now, he’s a big leaguer,” said PawSox manager Kevin Boles. “Nobody can ever take that away from him. But now, what’s the path to get back up there? Obviously, there has to be an opportunity or a need at the Major League level, but what can we do here and now to get him in that position to get back up there?”
For Hassan it will take that continued determination while Boles and company provide him with the opportunities to prove himself at every turn.
Kevin Heller – The Salem Sox outfielder has already been hit by a pitch 10 times this season, doubling the amount of HBPs he had drawn in his prior two seasons combined. No Red Sox farm hand has been plunked more than 15 times over the last five seasons.
Squeezing the system
Pawtucket (AAA) – Chris Hernandez put together the best start of his career last Sunday versus the Louisville Bats, taking a no-hitter into the seventh inning before a rehabbing Joey Votto broke things up with a leadoff single. It was the only hit that the lefty allowed in 7 1/3 innings, and his nine strikeouts were a career high.
Portland (AA) – Reliever Noe Ramirez has allowed just two runs in his last 11 appearances over a stretch of 20 innings. He is 1-0 with five saves, a 0.80 WHIP, and 16 strikeouts in that span.
Salem (A+) – Mario Martinez has gone on a tear during his current seven game hit streak, collecting 12 hits while driving in 15 runs. The third baseman has four straight multi-hit games.
Greenville (A) – After winning his first start of the season, things have not come easy for 2013 first-rounder Trey Ball. In his last seven starts, the left hander is 0-5 with a 7.46 ERA, having allowed 37 hits and 13 walks over 25 1/3 innings.
Dominican (Rookie) – Catcher Roldani Baldwin has driven in a run in seven of nine games. The 18-year-old has 14 hits - three for extra bases – eight runs and 12 RBIs.