PAWTUCKET – No one ever wants to leave the friendly confines of home, but the Pawtucket Red Sox are looking to do just that after dropping a 5-2 decision to the Charlotte Knights on Friday night at McCoy Stadium.
It was the team’s seventh loss of an eight game homestand and eleventh loss in their last twelve games, dropping them out of first place for the first time since April 19th following Lehigh Valley’s 6-5 win over Rochester.
In the second inning the Knights turned into the Bad News Bears, which turned into an early 2-0 PawSox lead.
Three straight PawSox singles set the tone, with Alex Hassan plating Mauro Gomez from second to make it 1-0.
Juan Carlos Linares followed the single-fest with a grounder to third that was tailor-made for a double play, but Knights second baseman Drew Garcia fumbled the transfer and only one out was recorded.
Another grounder by Jose Iglesias to third was misplayed by Kyle Stanton, loading the bases for Che-Hsuan Lin who floated a lazy fly ball into shallow left-center field that fell between Tyler Kuhn and Greg Golson, allowing Andy LaRoche to score.
The Knights were able to escape without any more damage, then they began to chip away at the PawSox lead one inning at a time.
Back-to-back doubles by Dan Johnson and Connor Jackson in the top of the third put Charlotte on the board.
Drew Garcia hit a solo home run in the top of the fourth that just cleared the fence in right center, pulling the Knights even at two and in the top of the fifth inning Johnson (2-3, double, HR, two walks, three runs) crushed a 2-2 fastball deep into the night and just like that the Knights had a 3-2 lead.
They would add to that lead when Daniel Bard appeared on the mound in the top of the seventh and proceeded to give up a single, stolen base, sac fly, walk, hit-batter, walk and walk to make it 5-2 before Pedro Ciriaco made a diving play on a ball up the middle to spark a 4-6-3 double play that ended the inning.
Gregory Infante (W, 4-0) held the PawSox at bay, allowing only one hit over the final three innings to shut the door on the night.
The PawSox head out to Allentown, Pennsylvania to try and wrestle back first place from the Lehigh Valley IronPigs in a three-game series, with one game on Saturday and two on Sunday.
NOTES: Scott Podsednik began a 20-day rehab assignment as he works back from a groin strain that landed him on the disabled list on June 18th. He was 0-3 with a walk as the designated hitter before being pulled for Lars Anderson in the ninth inning. Podsednik batted .323 in nine games with the PawSox earlier in the season before getting called up to Boston.
Andy LaRoche was 3-4, with three singles and a run scored in his PawSox debut. LaRoche was briefly a member of the organization back in 2008 when he was part of the three-team Manny Ramirez-Jason Bay trade.
There is a ton of great baseball action to be had across the region. The forecast calls for picture perfect baseball weather, so make your weekend plans now and get out and enjoy.
Friday, June 29
Trenton (Yankees – AA) at New Britain (Twins - AA), 6:35 p.m.
New Hampshire (Blue Jays – AA) at Portland (Red Sox – AA), 7:00 p.m.
Charlotte (White Sox – AAA) at Pawtucket (Red Sox – AAA), 7:05 p.m.
Lowell (Red Sox – Short A) vs. Vermont (A’s – Short A), 7:05 p.m.
Orleans at Yarmouth-Dennis, 5:00 p.m.
Brewster at Bourne, 6:00 p.m.
Chatham at Falmouth, 6:30 p.m.
Cotuit at Harwich, 7:00 p.m.
Wareham at Hyannis, 7:00 p.m.
Brockton at Martha’s Vineyard, 5:00 p.m.
Seacoast at Old Orchard Beach, 6:00 p.m.
Torrington at Wachusett, 6:30 p.m.
Pittsfield at Nashua, 7:05 p.m.
Laconia at Mystic, 6:05 p.m.
Keene at Danbury, 6:30 p.m.
North Adams at Holyoke, 6:30 p.m.
New Bedford at Vermont, 6:30 p.m.
Sanford at Newport, 6:35 p.m.
Saturday, June 30
Trenton (Yankees – AA) at Portland (Red Sox – AA), 6:00 p.m.
Lowell (Red Sox – Short A) vs. Vermont (A’s – Short A), 6:05 p.m.
Bowie (Orioles – AA) at New Britain (Twins – AA), 6:35 p.m.
Wareham at Cotuit, 5:00 p.m.
Yarmouth-Dennis at Falmouth, 5:30 p.m.
Brewster at Chatham, 7:00 p.m.
Harwich at Hyannis, 7:00 p.m.
Bourne at Orleans, 7:00 p.m.
Nashua at Old Orchard Beach, 4:00 p.m. (DH)
Nashua at Old Orchard Beach, 7:00 p.m. (DH)
North Shore at Seacoast, 7:00 p.m.
Pittsfield at Torrington, 7:05 p.m.
Wachusett at Brockton, 7:05 p.m.
Keene at Mystic, 6:05 p.m.
Sanford at New Bedford, 6:30 p.m.
Danbury at North Adams, 6:30 p.m.
Newport at Laconia, 6:30 p.m.
Holyoke at Vermont, 6:30 p.m.
Sunday, July 1
Trenton (Yankees – AA) at Portland (Red Sox – AA), 1:00 p.m.
(double header – second game will start 45 minutes after conclusion of game one)
Bowie (Orioles – AA) at New Britain (Twins – AA), 1:35 p.m.
Vermont (A’s – Short A) vs. Connecticut (Tigers – Short A), 4:05 p.m.
Tri-City (Astros - Short A) vs. Lowell (Red Sox – Short A), 5:05 p.m.
Orleans at Brewster, 5:00 p.m.
Chatham at Yarmouth-Dennis, 5:00 p.m.
Falmouth at Harwich, 5:30 p.m.
Cotuit at Bourne, 6:00 p.m.
Hyannis at Wareham, 7:00 p.m.
Nashua at Torrington, 1:05 p.m.
Brockton at Pittsfield, 4:00 p.m.
Old Orchard Beach at Seacoast, 4:00 p.m.
North Shore at Martha’s Vineyard, 5:00 p.m.
Sanford at Mystic, 6:05 p.m.
Keene at North Adams, 6:30 p.m.
New Bedford at Laconia, 6:30 p.m.
The defending champion Harwich Mariners are the story of the early part of the season as they take an eight-game win streak into the weekend. It took a tight, 5-3 win over Orleans for them to move into a tie with the Firebirds atop the Eastern Division. Both squads are now 10-2 on the young season. Mariners’ outfielder Phil Ervin (Samford) has put up some big numbers early as he leads the league in home runs (7), RBIs (15), slugging percentage (.935) and is third in batting average (.391) and on-base percentage (.462). Pitchers David Whitehead (Elon) and Aaron Nola (LSU) have both allowed only one run in two starts each.
Orleans had run off eight straight wins of their own before Harwich got a hold of them on Thursday night. Pitching has been the Firebirds strong point thus far as they lead the league with a 2.55 team ERA and have only walked 16 total batters in twelve games. Dylan Clark (Elon), Kyle Crockett (Virginia) and Jarrett Arakawa (Hawaii) have combined for 32 strikeouts and have allowed only two runs over 31 2/3 innings. Clark, a left-handed reliever, has yet to allow a run and has allowed only three hits over seven appearances.
The Falmouth Commodores (7-5) are the only team in the Western Division currently boasting a winning record. Jared King (Kansas State) is off to a nice start, batting .392 (second in the league), with three home runs (tied for second), four stolen bases (tied for sixth) and a .466 on-base percentage (tied for second).
Yarmouth-Dennis hurler Aaron Blair (Marshall) has shined in his three starts, going 3-0 with a 0.50 ERA, 0.94 WHIP and .185 opponent batting average, to go along with 25 strikeouts over 18 innings. Red Sox second baseman Robert Pehl (Washington) leads the league with a .432 batting average.
The Bourne Braves, who started the season 2-1, are in the midst of an eight game losing streak in which they have been outscored 57-25.
After an 0-9 start, the Hyannis Harbor Hawks finally got on the right side of the standings with a 7-6 win over Bourne this past Sunday. Offensively, as a team, they are last in the league in runs scored (32) and hits (76).
Player – Phil Ervin, Harwich
Pitcher – Aaron Blair, Yarmouth-Dennis
Player – Mike Ahmed, Bourne
Pitcher – Aaron Blair, Yarmouth-Dennis
The New England Collegiate Baseball League kicked off its 19th season of play on the heels of having 85 alumni chosen in the 2012 MLB entry draft. Two weeks into the season and the action is heating up, so let’s use this Summer School session to take a look around the NECBL, “The New England League.”
The Newport Gulls have jumped out to a 9-3 record, good enough for first place in the Eastern Division, thanks to the stick of Yale Rosen and arm of Daniel Wright. Rosen, an outfielder from Washington State, is batting .372 (fifth best in league) with 5 home runs (first), 14 RBIs (third), 12 runs (sixth) and 5 doubles (third). Wright, a right-hander out of Arkansas State, is tied for the league lead in wins (3) and has struck out 21 batters in 20 innings of work.
The New Bedford Bay Sox are second in the Eastern Division, a game behind the Gulls after a 10-6 start to the season. Former Boston Globe All-Scholastic pitcher Donald Murray (Holy Cross) has allowed only one run over 15 innings of work and has gone 5 innings in each of his three starts. The Walpole native and B.C. High grad has a 0.60 ERA, second best in the league.
In the Western Division the defending champion Keene Swamp Bats, 10-4, have used a balanced attack to gain a foothold on first place. They have scored 90 runs, fourth most in the league, while allowing only 64, third fewest in the league. Jared Walsh (Georgia) is batting .351 (eighth in the league) with a .442 on-base percentage and 1.064 OPS. He has also made two relief appearances, striking out five batters over 2 1/3 innings.
The second place North Adams SteepleCats started the season with a 6-1 run out of the gate, but have stumbled a bit as of late and currently sit a game behind Keene with a 10-6 mark. Jeff Roy (URI) and Charlie Law (Rutgers-Brunswick) have seven doubles apiece to lead the league. Roy has a team-high .368 batting average and leads the league with 17 stolen bases, while Law, who pitches and plays first base, is 1-0 with a 2.31 ERA in three starts.
Laconia Muskrats starter Matthew Aldrich leads the league with 27 strikeouts in three starts, 12 of which came at Newport on June 18th. However, the righty from Darton College has a 9.64 ERA after allowing 15 earned runs over 14 innings.
Vermont Mountaineers lefty Alex Haines (Seton Hill) leads the league with a 0.48 ERA and has allowed only two walks over 18 2/3 innings. A pair of Vermont outfielders have been shredding up the base paths. Aaron Barbosa (Northeastern) is 14 for 14 on stolen base attempt and John Mishu (Princeton) is 11 for 12.
Mystic’s Jeramy Matos (Central Florida) took home Player of the Week honors for the period ending on June 23rd. The Schooners right-fielder/DH batted .412 for the week, with five home runs and eight RBIs.
Pitcher of the Week honors were shared by the Keene trio of Kevin McAvoy (Bryant), Tyler Gauthier (Southern N.H) and Ryan Horstman (St. John’s) who combined for a no-hitter against the Danbury Westerners on June 19th. The three hurlers struck out 12 batters with and McAvoy went 6 2/3 for the win.
The Pawtucket Red Sox will be well represented in the Triple-A All-Star Game as four players were named to the International League team that will square off against the Pacific Coast League on July 11th.
Shortstop Pedro Ciriaco, designated hitter Mauro Gomez and catcher Ryan Lavarnway were all voted as starters and pitcher Justin Germano will be among the staff of arms on-hand for the I.L. At this time, a starting pitcher has yet to be named.
It is the largest contingent of PawSox players to be selected to the mid-summer night classic since a record five players were chosen in 2008.
PawSox manager Arnie Beyeler will be joining his troops as part of Mike Sarbaugh’s (Columbus Clippers) coaching staff, alongside Baseball Hall of Famer and Lehigh Valley manager Ryne Sandberg.
"Summer School" is where we check in with the collegiate summer baseball leagues of New England. We kick things off with the Futures Collegiate Baseball League, who have jumped from four teams in their inaugural season, to nine in just their second year of existence.
The North Shore Navigators have gotten off to a hot start behind new bench boss Richie Hebner. The first place Navs (11-3) have gotten a balanced offensive attack, led by some solid hitting from outfielders Tony Serino (.396 batting average) and Tim Hendriks (.372). Third baseman Ryan Muno has collected the only two home runs for the team thus far, but the team has amassed 30 extra-base hits and has scored 80 runs. From the hill, the relief crew has tallied six wins with Baylor senior Miles Landry leading the league with three. Shrewsbury native and Suffolk junior Josh Desai has impressed in his three starts, allowing only one earned run in 21 innings for a 0.43 ERA, second best in the league.
The defending champion Nashua Silver Knights are nipping at the heels of the Navigators as they sit two games back with a 9-5 record. Offensively they are led by Bentley senior, and 2011 FCBL batting champion Logan Gillis, who leads the league in batting average (.491) and RBIs (15). Gillis has ten multi-hit games and has hit safely in twelve of fourteen. Recent Lexington (Mass.) High School grad and B.C. bound first baseman Chris Shaw is tied for the league lead with four home runs. Starting pitcher Chris Good, a University of New Mexico product, has been solid in three starts, going 2-0 with a 0.44 ERA. Good has gone seven or more innings over his last two starts, notching wins in each of those appearances.
The Torrington Titans (7-5) and the Old Orchard Beach Raging Tides (7-6) are the only other teams over .500 at this point in the season.
The Wachusett Dirt Dawgs have had a rough start to their inaugural season. Currently in last place with a 4-12 mark, the Dawgs have been outscored 110-22 in their losses, have been shutout four times and have allowed double-digit run totals on six occasions. The bright spots for Wachusett have been pitchers Jeff Anderson (17 strikeouts) and Northeastern’s Mike Murphy (16).
Recent Lawrence Academy grad and future Wake Forest hurler Max Tishman is 2-0 with a 1.93 ERA in three starts for Brockton. The Rox, who have a 5-8 record this season, have won in all three of Tishman’s starts.
Infielder Anyelo Roman of the Seacoast Mavericks picked up Player of the Week honors for the period ending on June 24th. The Lowell, Mass. native batted .550 over five games with two doubles, four home runs, ten runs, and nine RBIs.
Old Orchard Beach RHP Henry Van Zant grabbed his second Pitcher of the Week honor this season. The Bowdoin College sophomore struck out nine batters in four innings of relief work and only allowed one batter to reach base. In 11 1/3 innings of work this season he is 1-0 with 2 saves, 23 strikeouts and has only allowed two walks and four singles.
After completing his junior year at Arizona State he officially closed the books on his collegiate baseball career when he signed with the Red Sox.
But he refused to close the books on his academic career as he has committed himself to finishing up his course load so he can obtain his degree in Criminal Justice.
Just 20 credits shy of his goal, Marrero has set himself up so that he can complete his studies with online classes while beginning his professional baseball career.
“That’s my one goal, to get a degree,” said Marrero, a 2012 First Team Academic All-District VIII. “That’s one thing that I take really serious and have since college. I want to finish up right now. Why waste those three years.”
He is currently enrolled in two courses, a criminal justice course and a course on tourism. He is already planning on taking three courses during the fall semester and should wrap it all up by the time the 2013 baseball season is in full swing.
Now he must find a way to balance his work load and his budding baseball career.
“It’s like the same thing [as being at ASU],” said Marrero on handling everything. “That experience will definitely get me ready for doing it out here and will make it a lot easier.
“We come out here at two o’clock and play baseball until eleven. You get to your schoolwork before you get [to the park] and that’s just the way it is.”
He also feels that those long bus rides will serve for ample study time, adding, “Keep that night light on and I’m good.”
Knowledge around every corner
Little did Marrero know that once he got to his new home at LeLacheur Park in Lowell that he would get an on-the-job learning opportunity, with rehabbing shortstop Jose Iglesias in uniform working his way back from lower back issues.
“I’ve heard great things about him,” said Marrero, who took his first fielding reps with Iglesias by his side. “It was great getting ground balls in with him. He showed me a lot of things I had no idea about.”
Marrero, a slick-fielding shortstop in his own right, was eager to learn from Iglesias who is considered one of the best fielding prospects in the game.
They discussed positioning and reads, jumps and throwing angles. Marrero was all ears and was quick to find that he had a lot in common with Iglesias.
“He is just a great guy, a great player and I can see why he’s so good and why everybody loves him,” said Marrero of Iglesias. “He’s a first class guy and a Cuban shortstop, just like me.”
A higher place of learning
Prior to joining up with his Spinners teammates, Marrero made his first trip to Fenway Park to dot the “I”s and cross the “T”s on his contract.
He donned a red number 17 Red Sox jersey, met with the media and even got the chance to take some hacks at the Green Monster.
“That was an awesome experience,” said Marrero. “I got to hit a little bit, hit some balls out and some off the wall, so that was fun. That thing [the Monster] is right there, so it’s nice for a right-handed hitter.”
He also had an added level of comfort when he stepped on to the field with the big boys, thanks to fellow Sun Devil Dustin Pedroia.
“Me and Pedroia had our fun a little bit, goofing everybody about Arizona State,” said Marrero of his experience. “It was fun and is one thing I’m going to remember to keep me pushing, keep me going, because that’s where I want to be at the end of the day.”
For now, Marrero is more than content opening the book on his career with the Short-Season Single-A Lowell Spinners and taking things one day at a time, but you can bet that he plans to take the accelerated courses to get back to Fenway Park.
“One thing I need to learn is just to get better every day and not to stop learning and working,” said the determined Marrero. “Even when I move up, I just got to work every day and not take a day off because you can always get better.
“I’m just going to work, work, work, 24-7 and see what happens. That’s the philosophy that I have.”
The game also marked the return of shortstop Jose Iglesias to the field as he began his rehab from a lower back issue that has had him on the sidelines since May 29th.
At the plate Iglesias went 2 for 3 with two singles and a walk. In his first at-bat he blistered a liner that Lake Monsters first baseman Jacob Tanis lunged to his right to snag for an out.
In his second at-bat of the night he laced a single to center field and after a failed hit-and-run attempt, then four throw overs from Vermont starter Kurt Wunderlich, Iglesias swiped second base. David Chester followed up on the next pitch with a tape-measure home run to left field to put the Spinners up, 3-0, in the third inning.
“The at-bat before [Wunderlich] threw a couple of hangers that I didn’t capitalize on,” said Chester. “He threw me a fastball, first pitch, he hung it for me and I just did what I needed to do with it.”
“He’s a big bat in our lineup right now,” said Spinners manager Bruce Crabbe of Chester. “We’re going to ride it as long as we can. He has big power and he’s done a real good job all around.”
Iglesias walked in his third at-bat, then recorded an infield single in his final at-bat in the seventh inning.
Igleias was only directly tested in the field on one play, a grounder from Sam Roberts in the fifth inning that he handled with ease. However, he did have a couple of tough transition throws to handle, which he was more than up to task on.
The Spinners sticks got off and running right away as Aneury Tavarez (3-5, HR, two singles, stolen base) took a 1-0 fastball over the wall in right-center to lead off the bottom of the first inning.
“We lost [Dreily] Guerro to Greenville, so that put us in a bind at the leadoff spot,” said Crabbe. “We put Tavarez in there tonight, and he put a nice swing on it. He did a nice job at the plate. It was good to see.”
Tim Roberson drove in Williams Jerez with a single in the second and Kendrick Perkins had an RBI single of his own in the fourth inning, giving the Spinners pitchers all of the run support they would require.
Starter William Cuevas (four innings), Leandor Marin (two innings, win) and Yunior Ortega (three innings, save) pounded the strike zone and forced the Lake Monsters to take their hacks, allowing only four hits through eight innings.
A three-run ninth-inning rally by the Lake Monsters, highlighted by four straight hits, put the heat on the Spinners late, but Ortega forced leadoff hitter Chris Bostick to ground out to second base to end the game.
“I’m very pleased with the start by Cuevas,” said Crabbe. “Morin did a nice job after a tough outing his last time. Even Ortega was in the strike zone [in the ninth], they just got hits and you can’t do anything about that.”
The Spinners (4-1) return to action at LaLacheur Park on Saturday at 7:05 p.m. in game two of their three-game set against the Lake Monsters (2-3).
NOTES: Iglesias will have Saturday off, but will return to the field on Sunday in the final game of the three-game series against Vermont. Based on his performance, and baring any setbacks, he could be back in Pawtucket at the beginning of next week.
Pat Light said that he is 11 days away from being able to return to game action. The 6’6” righty from Monmouth will have some down time to start his Spinners career due to 101+ innings of work during the college season. According to Light, he is more than ready now.
Before the game manager Bruce Crabbe said that he expects Mookie Betts to continue to get opportunities at shortstop despite the arrival of first–round selection Deven Marrero. He said he plans to use Marrero at DH at times while switching Betts between second and short. Betts said that he is more than willing to play wherever he is needed.
Deven Marrero, the Red Sox first selection of the 2012 MLB entry draft (24th overall, first round), will be headed to the Lowell Spinners to kick off his professional career.
The sure-handed shortstop from Arizona State received a $2.05 million signing bonus, passed his physical on Tuesday and was introduced to the media at Fenway Park on Wednesday.
There is a great feature in the current issue of Baseball America about the character of Marrero who has had to face some hardships growing up. From all accounts he seems like a man that is matured well beyond his years and should be able to handle the pressures of playing in Boston.
Marrero is best friends with Kansas City’s Eric Hosmer, who he played high school baseball with at American Heritage School in Plantation, Florida.
The interesting twist to Marrero’s arrival in Lowell is that it will likely coincide with the start of Jose Iglesias’ rehab, which is expected to begin sometime this weekend.
Marrero may eventually push Iglesias at shortstop, so it should be interesting to see how they are managed when together on the same roster.
Mookie Betts will be the odd-man out at the position, but his speed should allow him ample opportunities to prove his worth. Being versatile at other positions wouldn’t hurt the youngster’s cause either.
Marrero was able to field some grounders and take some swings at Fenway prior to the Red Sox game versus the Marlins on Wednesday. He will join the Spinners in Connecticut on Thursday night.
Like a modern day Paul Bunyan, Nathan Minnich has carved out his own legend with his mighty swing, that in time will only exaggerate across this region.
The burly first baseman became the first ever baseball player drafted out of Division 2 Shepherd University when the Red Sox snagged him in the 8th round of the 2012 entry draft.
“I’m honored to be the first one,” said Minnich, winner of the 2012 Tino Martinez Award as the best baseball player in Division 2.
“I think it’s a huge deal for me and the university because hopefully it’ll get their name on the map and give the guys behind me a better chance to get picked up, as well as bring better guys in.”
It was Minnich’s eye-popping numbers that led scouts to the banks of the Potomac River.
As a senior he set single-season school records for batting average (.487), home runs (21), RBIs (72), runs (69), walks (67) and games played (52).
He had 58 home runs in his four-years with the Rams, averaging one long-ball per every ten at-bats in his career.
“I don’t go to the plate trying to hit home runs, I just try to hit the ball hard and I’ve been blessed with being able to hit it over the fence,” said Minnich. “I’m just going to try to keep doing that.”
In baseball’s post-steroid era, his 6’3”, 240 pound frame is a throw back to sluggers of yore, lending to the legend he cemented, which led to him being honored by the Hagerstown Suns, a Single-A affiliate of the Washington Nationals.
Located just twenty minutes from Minnich’s hometown of Waynesboro, Pennsylvania, the Suns came to him prior to the draft asking if he would be interested in coming out to the park to sign some autographs.
Minnich figured it would be a 30 to 45 minute signing session after which he would enjoy a night of baseball.
But prior to his scheduled appearance the Red Sox came calling via the draft and his legend echoed louder across the valley.
“I signed autographs for 3 to 4 hours,” said Minnich. “It was hectic. I probably only got to watch an inning and a half of the game itself.”
Minnich hopes to return to Hagerstown as a player should his career progresses in the right direction. The Suns play in the South Atlantic League (SAL), where the Red Sox Low-A affiliate, the Greenville Drive, reside.
“A lot of people were hoping I’d get picked up by the Nationals,” said Minnich. “I was like, “Boston does have a team that will go there and play and you will get an opportunity to come and watch me.”
“I’ve always thought that I could definitely play here [on the next level].”
Minnich faces a big learning curve on his current level as he begins his pro career with the Lowell Spinners.
It was a rough beginning for Minnich who struck out in his first three at-bats in Monday night's season opener, before a hit-by-pitch saved him from the dreadful golden sombrero in his debut.
He did fare better in his second game, notching his first hit, a single to right field in the fourth inning against Connecticut.
Right now, the lights in Hagerstown and the echoes of Shenandoah Valley seem light years away from Lowell.
Here legends are not simply born; they are made, one at-bat at time.
New Britain (35-33, EL Eastern 3rd place - AA Minnesota Twins) – It has been a forgettable June for the Rock Cats who were once planted firmly atop the Eastern Division. They have gone 4-12 so far this month and are in the midst of their second six-game losing streak as they have now slipped down into third place and spiral towards a sub-.500 oblivion…A big-time reinforcements is on the way in the form of Oswaldo Arcia, a Florida State League All-Star outfielder, who has just been called up from Ft. Myers. Arcia, ranked as the Twins 5th best prospect according to Baseball America, batted .309 with 16 doubles, 3 triples, 7 home runs and 31 RBIs in 51 games with Ft. Myers…The Twins released Marc Dolenc who was batting .168 with a homer and 3 RBIs in 46 games this season. He had been with the Rock Cats for the past three seasons…New Britain has two more games to play in Altoona before moving on to Richmond for three games against the Flying Squirrels.
New Hampshire (25-43 EL Eastern 6th place - AA Toronto Blue Jays) – A trip to Bowie helped the Fisher Cats halt a season-high eight game losing streak at the end of last week. Upon returning home on Tuesday, New Hampshire kept the ball rolling as they beat Reading to run their current win streak to three games…RHP Chad Jenkins (3-6) had his longest outing this season against Reading on Tuesday, throwing seven scoreless innings for his first win since April 24th…Shortstop Ryan Goins went 3 for 5 in Tuesday’s game, giving him a team-high ten 3-hit games this year. He raised his batting average to .313, sixth best in the Eastern League…The Fisher Cats still have two more games in their current series against the Reading Phillies, then the Harrisburg Senators make a trek to Manchester for four games starting on Friday.
Connecticut (1-1 NYPL Stedler T1st place - Short-Season A Detroit Tigers) – After going a combined 0 for 8 with five strikeouts in the season opener, the Tigers' five and six hitters, Brett Harrison and Danry Vasquez, went 8 for 10 with two doubles each in the second game, driving in seven of the team’s eleven runs…Carlos De los Santos swiped three bases on Tuesday. In 46 games with the Gulf Coast League Tigers last year he had a total of four…The Tigers used nine pitchers in the first two games and struck out 16 batters…Dodd Stadium will open up to Tigers fans on Wednesday night when the Lowell Spinners come to Norwich for two games, followed by the Tri-City ValleyCats who pull into town Friday to start a three-game set.
Vermont (1-1 NYPL Stedler T1st place - Short-Season A Oakland A's) – Miguel Marte and John Wooten were the only two Lake Monsters to collect hits in the first two games. They both had two hits in game one and one hit in game two…Vermont batters struck out 16 times in the first two games while Vermont pitchers struck out 16 Tri-City batters…Shane Boras, son of super-agent Scott Boras, has yet to see any playing time…The Lake Monsters hit the road, stopping in Troy, New York to play two more against the ValleyCats before heading to Lowell for three games over the weekend.
LOWELL – LaLacheur Park played host to the last Opening Day of the year as the seventeenth Lowell Spinners season kicked off on Monday night with the sellout crowd of 5,249 going home happy after the Spinners rallied late for a 2-1 victory over the Connecticut Tigers.
Pitching was the order of the night as both team’s starters were unflappable over five innings of work.
Tigers starter Montreal Robertson lacked some early control, but quickly found his groove and allowed only 3 hits while striking out 6 batters.
Francisco Taveras had similar numbers for Lowell, allowing only 3 hits while striking out 9 and allowing only one unearned run.
“Taveras was excellent, he really was,” said manager Bruce Crabbe, back for his third tour of duty in Lowell. “He was flash under the lights. He pounded the strike zone, had a great breaking ball and kept the hitters off balance.”
The Tigers lone run came in the third inning when Spinners shortstop Mookie Betts threw wild to first on a routine grounder that would have ended the inning.
Tigers designated hitter Edgar Corcino had a one-out single and advanced to second base on a wild pitch before Jared Reaves bounded the ball towards Betts and when the throw sailed past first baseman David Chester, Corcino rounded third to put Connecticut up, 1-0.
“I got older guy that tell me the things I do wrong and to just forget it and make the next play,” said Betts who was quick to shake off the mistake. “They went up 1-0 on that error so I knew I had to come back for the team and execute a quality at-bat.”
That at-bat would come in the seventh inning for Betts, who lined a single over the outstretched reach of Reaves at shortstop to spark the rally.
After timing a couple of pitches, Betts showed off his speed by stealing second base, but Williams Jerez whiffed for the second out of the inning.
Oscar Perez came through with a flared double into the right field corner to tie the game, 1-1, and Dreily Guerrero (2-4, double) followed with an opposite field single, as Perez was held up at third.
The bases were loaded up after Nathan Minnich was plunked by an Eric Heckaman offering, and Matt Gedman cashed in with another flared hit, this time a single to left that plated Perez for the go-ahead, 2-1 run.
“[Heckaman] was hitting his spots pretty good,” said Gedman. “Oscar’s at-bat was huge, Guerrero had been swinging the bat well all night and I just kind of got lucky on mine. He fooled me a little bit with a 2-1 breaking ball and I flared it in there.”
Lowell reliever Yunior Ortega was flawless over the final three frames, retiring all nine batters he faced, two by strikeout, and picked up the win in the process.
“Everybody’s goal is to win them all,” said Betts, “You can’t win them all without winning the first one.”
"A win is a win, it doesn't matter when it is, we'll take it," added Crabbe. "It was good for the kids to get a win under their belt and see what it's like. I was happy with the way the guys battled."
NOTES: Right fielder Kendrick Perkins had a pitch deflect off of his shoulder and hit him square in the lip. According to Crabbe, he had some swelling and bleeding underneath the gums and will be re-evaluated tomorrow. Perkins did not leave the game after being hit by the pitch in the sixth inning.
Supplemental first-round pick RHP Pat Light will not see any action for a few weeks, according to Light himself. The Monmouth star said he will be shut down for up to three weeks after a grueling college season.
Pawtucket (45-25, IL North 1st place) – The PawSox maintain their hold atop the International League North Division after sparking up a five-game winning streak which started after their only loss of the week last Monday against Gwinnett. They will open the week with four games in Syracuse as Aaron Cook returns to the mix to kick off his rehab. Cook was 3-0 with a 1.89 ERA with the PawSox before being called up to Boston where he was spiked on a play at home plate in his only start with the big club. Monday night's game will be televised on NESN where you should also be able to catch the rehabbing Cody Ross who is expected to continue his stint with the PawSox (unless the Podsednik injury expedites things) after returning to the field this the past weekend. While we are on the subject of guys working their way back, Mark Prior has made five relief appearances for Pawtucket and has not allowed a run in 6 2/3 innings while striking out 15 batters. Prior has not pitched in the Majors since 2006, but after numerous comeback attempts, he may have finally found the comfort zone that gets him back.
Portland (28-40, EL Eastern 5th place) – A 1-5 week has the Sea Dogs at 6-9 for the month of June as they head home to Hadlock for a quick three game set against Harrisburg starting on Tuesday night. Anthony Ranaudo and Drake Britton will be the bookends to Chris Hernandez, who despite a 3-6 record, carries a 2.89 ERA into the game, eighth best mark in the Eastern League. The Sea Dogs were shut out twice last week and have been held scoreless eight times this season. They have had only one shutout go in their favor, a 4-0 win against Binghamton on May 18th. Portland has given up a league-high 315 runs while scoring 247 runs, second lowest mark in the EL. The Sea Dogs took two of three games in Harrisburg at the end of May and they are 2-8 against Trenton this season, where they will travel to for four games at the end of the week.
Salem (41-28, CL Southern 2nd place) – The Salem Sox found themselves three games back of snagging the playoff spot that comes with the league’s best record in the first half of the Carolina League season. On Tuesday night Jackie Bradley, Jr., Travis Shaw, Xander Bogaerts, and Mike Olmsted will be on the Carolina League All-Star team as they face off against the California League All-Stars in Winston-Salem. Former Red Sox first base prospect, and current A's third base prospect, Miles Head, who went to Oakland in the offseason as part of the trade that brought Andrew Bailey to the Red Sox, will take part in the Home Run Derby for the California League. Salem will open up the second half on the road with three games in Lynchburg followed by a four-game set in Winston-Salem starting on Sunday.
Greenville (34-36, SAL Southern 5th place) – The Drive find themselves well back of first place Ashville at the All-Star break. Keury De la Cruz, Garin Cecchini and Miguel Pena will represent Greenville in the Sally League’s 53rd annual mid-summer classic. The Drive kick off the second half by hosting the Charleston River Dogs for four games. De la Cruz will take an 11 game hitting streak into the second half.
Lowell (0-0, NYPL) – Spinners season is finally upon us with LaLacheur Park in Lowell ready to go after a 6-inning exhibition on Friday against the FCBL’s Nashua Silver Knights. David Chester, a 6’5”, 270 pound first baseman, showed off his power in that game by stroking one over the high scoreboard in left field, marking his presence as a “must watch” guy whenever he is swinging a stick. Francisco Taveras, a lefty who spent the last two seasons in the Gulf Coast League, will be the first Spinners pitcher out of the gate. Last season he went 5-3 with a 3.63 ERA in 12 games with the GCL Sox. Lowell hosts the Connecticut Tigers on Monday and Tuesday night, with Connecticut returning the favor on Wednesday and Thursday, before the Spinners return home for three against the Vermont Lake Monsters over the weekend.
The first members of the Red Sox 2012 draft class have started to trickle their way into the pro ranks, as seven players have joined up with the Lowell Spinners who will open their 17th season on Monday.
The players are only weeks removed from their final collegiate games and the thrill of being selected in the draft was still very fresh on their minds during Media Day at LaLacheur Park on Thursday.
“I was ecstatic when they called me [last] Tuesday,” said Kyle Kraus, a right-handed pitcher out of Portland University. “I’ve always wanted to play baseball professionally and to get the opportunity to take that next step and potentially make it to the big leagues is big.”
Kraus, a seventh round selection, went 7-6 with a 2.03 ERA and walked only 11 batters in 111 innings during his senior season. His 27 career wins is a Pilots record.
Fellow right-hander Justin Haley, a junior from Fresno State selected in the sixth round, did his best to stay calm in the face of normal draft day anxieties.
“I was hoping I was going to get drafted that day. I had been in contact with the Red Sox a little bit,” said Haley. “I think most of it was trying to stay calm. It’s a little bit hectic hoping you go early and then not knowing really.
“My little brother and I played ‘Go Fish’ at the dinner table while the draft was going on to kind of keep my mind off of it. He beat me.”
Haley went 7-4 with a 3.28 ERA and 94 strikeouts in 93 1/3 innings in his final season with the Bulldogs.
Another new arm in the mix is left-hander Dylan Chavez, who was snapped up in the 14th round.
“I knew I was going to get drafted that day and I had a pretty good idea that it would be the Red Sox because I talked to them before,” said Chavez who is eager to get back at it. “You want to be out here as soon as possible and start getting ready to play. It’s a different game at this level. You want to start gaining that experience.”
In his only season at Ole Miss, Chavez worked mostly out of the bullpen and compiled a 3-4 record with one save, a 4.66 ERA and 36 strikeouts in 36 1/3 innings. He also pitched for Saint Mary’s College and American River Community College.
First baseman Nathan Minnich brings a hulking presence to the positional side of the roster. The 6’3”, 240-pounder from Shepherd University is looking to keep momentum in his corner after a stellar senior season.
“I think it’s better to get in here right away,” said Minnich who batted .487 with 21 home runs and 72 RBIs in 52 games as a senior. “I had 3 to 4 days after the draft off, but still [worked out], and once we got here everything was thrown right back into the mix and you get that baseball back into your blood.”
It was also announced today that supplemental first-rounder Pat Light (37th overall), will be the seventh member of the 2012 class to join the Spinners ranks. The right-handed pitcher from Monmouth University posted an 8-3 record with a 2.40 ERA as a junior.
Right-handed pitcher Mike Augliera (5th round) out of Binghamton University and shortstop Mike Miller (9th round) from Cal Poly, are the two other players from the class of 2012 on Lowell’s initial roster. Augliera went 23-17 with a 3.95 ERA in his four-year record with Binghamton. Miller, sure-handed fielder, batter .354 in his senior season with Cal Poly and was the Alaska Baseball League Player of the Year in 2011.
The Spinners host the Connecticut Tigers for two games on Monday, June 18th and Tuesday the 19th, both games starting at 7:05 p.m.
Kyle Kraus returned to Massachusetts almost one year to the day of his first visit, but this time he was headed north.
The Oregon native - seventh round selection of the Boston Red Sox in the 2012 MLB entry draft - stood proud in his Lowell Spinners uniform and reflected fondly on his 2011 summer with the Hyannis Harbor Hawks of the Cape League.
"It's the premier league out here," said Kraus, a right-handed pitcher who went 3-1 with a 3.60 ERA in Hyannis. "It gave me the confidence to improve myself and know that I can compete with anybody."
"It gave me the confidence that my stuff is good enough anywhere. As long as you believe in that, you can go as far as you want."
Although Kraus' slate will be filled with the Spinners, who open their season on Monday, he is looking forward to making the trek down to Hyannis to catch up with old friends.
"I'll be pretty busy up here, but I do have some off days and I'm still good friends with my host family," said Kraus. "I'm trying to get down there at some point [this season], but I don't know when."
The Cape Cod Baseball League season kicked off on Thursday night and heads into the first weekend of action with 43 games still remaining on each team's regular season calendar.
We'll have more from Kraus, and other 2012 Sox draftees later today.
In the meantime you can get a head start on your weekend by checking out this Cape League preview.
Shepard had been playing with the North Shore Navigators of the Futures Collegiate Baseball League at the time of his signing. In one appearance he earned a win after tossing two innings of scoreless relief.
“We’re ecstatic for Kyle and his opportunity,” said Navigators general manager Bill Terlecky in a press release. “We wish him nothing but the best, and hope one day we’ll see him pitching in Wrigley Field.”
At Stonehill he compiled a 5-2 record with a 4.19 ERA, striking out 59 batters over 53 2/3 innings.
Shepard graduated from Masconomet Regional High School in 2008 where he went 7-1 as a senior and was named Cape Ann League All-Star, Team MVP and Salem News All-Star.
His brother Brendan was the first Stonehill baseball player to ever get drafted when the Boston Red Sox selected him in the 28th round a year ago.
LaLacheur Park in Lowell has been warming up for the upcoming Spinners season by hosting some high school tournament action over the past week or so. But the New York-Penn League season is drawing near, so the rightful tenants are ready to take over.
This Friday the latest crop of Lowell Spinners (full roster here) will open the gates at LaLacheur to the public as they take on the Nashua Silver Knights of the Futures Collegiate Baseball League, in a free admission exhibition game starting at 5:00 p.m.
The Spinners will open the season with six selections from the 2012 MLB entry draft on the roster. Pitchers Mike Augliera (5th round), Justin Haley (6th), Kyle Kraus (7th) and Dylan Chavez (14th), will be joined by infielders Nathan Minnich (8th) and Mike Miller (9th).
Bruce Crabbe returns to the helm for the Spinners after coaching Salem last season. Also returning to Lowell are some familiar names, including Matt Gedman and 2011 Minors Moniker Madness Champion Seth Schwindenhammer.
The Nashua Silver Knights won the inaugural Futures League title last season and are owned by Drew Weber, who also owns the Spinners. This year’s squad features four players from both Northeastern and UMass-Lowell, three players from Bentley, two each from Southern New Hampshire and Bates, and a recent Lexington (Mass.) High School grad (Chris Shaw) bound for Boston College.
The gates will open at 3:00 p.m. on Friday, seating will be general admission and concessions will be available.
Drake Britton made quite the impression in jumping to AA Portland last week, garnering an Eastern League Pitcher of the Week nod after going 1-0 in two outings. In his first start for the Sea Dogs last Tuesday, Britton tossed five innings of no-hit ball against the Bowie Baysox, striking out two and walking six. He followed that up with by holding Richmond to three-hits over 5 1/3 innings on Sunday. Britton has yet to surrender a run since his promotion.
For the second time this season Matt Barnes earned Pitcher of the Week honors, this time in the Carolina League for the Salem Red Sox. The righty was 2-0 in two scoreless starts that spanned thirteen innings of work. In those games Barnes struck out eight, allowed nine hits and four walks. Barnes took home PotW honors in the South Atlantic League after the first week of the season while pitching with Greenville.
Boston Red Sox reliever Andrew Miller will join eight others in the 13th class of Hall of Fame inductees for the Cape Cod Baseball League.
Miller dealing in the 2005 CCBL All-Star Game
Photo Courtesy of SportsPix
The 6’7” left-hander was an integral part of the Chatham A’s in 2004 and 2005, compiling an 8-0 record and sub 2.00 ERA, earning him the league’s outstanding pro prospect, co-pitcher of the year and college summer baseball’s player of the year during the ’05 season.
Miller, the 6th overall pick in the 2006 draft by the Detroit Tigers, seems to have finally found a suitable role in the Red Sox bullpen after enduring numerous seasons between Detroit and Florida trying to live up to the hype of being a high draft pick.
Other former A’s joining Miller include two-time All-Star Jim Sherman (1980, 1981), who batted .337 in his two seasons in Chatham, and late coach Jim Carroll (1961-1963) who helmed the A’s to two Lower Division pennants in 1962 and 1963 and Harwich (1968-1969) in 1968.
Influential administrator and player Jack Aylmer gets the call for his endless efforts in numerous communities across the Cape. Aylmer helped launch teams in Hyannis and Bourne, headed the efforts to build McKeon Field in Hyannis, served as a member of the Board of Directors for Cotuit and started in the league back in 1952 as a third baseman and catcher for the Barnstable Barons.
Dan DeMichele had a career .330 batting average in four seasons on the Cape. The Cranston, Rhode Island native played with Sagamore in 1965 and 1966 and Yarmouth in 1967 and 1968. He won a league title with Sagamore in 1965, is the only player to be selected an All-Star at three different positions and was named the second baseman of the 1960 All-Decade team.
One-year wonder Billy Best makes the class of 2012 after his record-setting 1979 season which earned him 1970s All-Decade honors. During his only season on the Cape, the Falmouth Commodores outfielder had a .398 batting average after hitting safely in 39 of 41 games, including a record-setting 32 game hit streak.
Rounding out the inductees are the late Danny “Deacon” MacFayden and Laurin “Pete” Peterson. MacFayden went 9-2 on the 1924 Osterville championship team and hurled a one-hitter for Falmouth in 1925. Peterson started his Cape career as the Orleans AC’s catcher, then managed the club for 14 seasons, winning seven league championships in the process (1947, ’49, ’50, ’52, ’53, ’55 and ’57).
The 13th annual Cape Cod Baseball League Hall of Fame class will be inducted on Saturday, November 10, during a ceremony to be held at the Chatham Bars Inn.
Let's take a look at what the Red Sox farm teams have in store for the upcoming week.
Pawtucket (40-23, IL North 1st place) - The PawSox story of the week will continue to be the progress of Daniel Bard, who will start at home against the Gwinnett Braves on Monday night. After his scheduled one inning on Friday night (1IP, 3H, 3ER, 2K, 2 HBP), Bard is expected to bump up to two or three innings in this next outing as the brass tries to ultimately determine his fate. After the Braves shuffle out of town, the PawSox will enjoy their first scheduled off day since May 23rd on Wednesday, before making the eight hour bus ride to Buffalo for a four-game set against the Bisons (Mets).
Portland (27-35, EL Eastern 5th place) – The Sea Dogs leave the friendly confines of Hadlock Field behind and hit the road for three game series at the Bowie Baysox (Orioles) and Richmond Flying Squirrels (Giants). Portland took two of three games against both teams last week at home, outscoring their opponents 21-8 in those victories. Drake Britton pitched 10 1/3 innings of scoreless ball in his first two AA starts last week and is lined up to throw against the Flying Squirrels on Saturday. This past Sunday, Britton - ranked as the Red Sox 18th best prospect according to SoxProspects.com – allowed three hits and two walks against Richmond, striking out five in the process.
Salem (35-27, CL Southern 2nd place) – The Single-A Sox have a full slate of games on tap for the week ahead, with three in Wilmington (Royals) and four back LewisGale Field against Carolina (Indians) before the All-Star break. Outfielder Shannon Wilkerson returns to Salem after his second tour of duty with the Sea Dogs. The speedy outfielder is 16-for-16 on stolen base attempts with the Salem Sox and went 2-for-2 while with Portland. In his pro career, Wilkerson has only been thrown out ten times in fifty-nine attempts. The always-anticipated Matt Barnes (4-1, 1.32 ERA) start should happen at Wilmington on Wednesday and will be his last start before he inevitably pitches next Tuesday in the California League/Carolina League All-Star Game.
Greenville (31-31, SAL Southern 5th place) – The Drive start the week back at Fluor Field with three games against the first place Asheville Tourists (Rockies) before heading to Augusta for five games against the GreenJackets (Giants), which includes a double header on Thursday. Sally League All-Star Keury De La Cruz brings an eleven game hit streak into the week. During that span the outfielder is batting .419 with 8 RBIs and 11 runs. Third baseman Garin Ceccini and starting pitcher Miguel Pena will join Cruz in Charleston on June 19th to represent the Southern Division in the All-Star game. The host Charleston River Dogs (Yankees) will stage the first round of the Sally League’s home run derby on the deck of the USS Yorktown, a retired warship anchored in Charleston harbor.
Lowell (0-0, NYPL) – The Spinners season will kick-off a week from Monday when they host the Connecticut Tigers at LaLacheur Park. Once the roster is rounded out we will preview their upcoming season.
In his 47th at-bat of the season, the Worcester Tornadoes' designated hitter connected on his first home run of the season. The crowd on hand at Hanover Insurance Park at Fitton Field gave Canseco a big pop for his big fly and the controversial slugger put the cherry on top with a forearm bash to a teammate after crossing the plate.
On the season Canseco is batting .178 with 16 strikeouts in 13 games with Worcester.
Video courtesy of the Worcester Tornadoes Baseball channel on YouTube
Pawtucket Red Sox catcher Ryan Lavarnway made a name for himself in 2011, putting up big numbers between Portland and Pawtucket, earning him a big league call-up where he hit 2 home runs and had 8 RBIs in 17 games. With Boston’s catching situation settled for the time being, Lavarnway is biding his time with the PawSox as their number one option behind the dish. We recently had a chance to sit down and spend ten minutes with Ryan and here is what came of it.
You were a philosophy major at Yale. Is there anything that you learned in the classroom that you take with you into games and use to your advantage?
“I don’t know how much philosophy I bring to the field per se. People always ask “what exactly is studying philosophy” and I didn’t really know myself when I first decided to declare that as my major. The way it was explained to me is that it is “the critical analysis of arguments”. It’s really logic based and rational, that’s what I like about it.”
Do you use any of that analysis in your arguments with umpires?
“I don’t know how rational those arguments are, more than heated. I’ve always kind of been a logical guy.
Earlier in the season you caught for Ross Ohlendorf (who recently opted out of his minor league contract with the Red Sox and signed a one year deal with the San Diego Padres) who is a Princeton guy. Do you feel that the two of you formed the smartest battery of all time?
(laughs) “I don’t want to toot my horn, or his. He was a real cerebral guy, the most cerebral pitcher I’ve ever caught and we had a good time together. We had some good natured ribbing going back and forth. He was great.”
ON THE DRAFT
With the Major League Baseball entry draft having just been conducted, what are your draft day memories?
“We were looking at maybe getting taken in the third round. They did the first six rounds on TV that year and I knew I wasn’t going to be in the first round, so I went and rented a movie once the draft started. I don’t remember what it was and I didn’t actually watch it, I just kind of stared at the screen.
"Then the third round came around and I started watching it on the internet and listening on XM Radio. Third round came and went. Fourth round came and went. Fifth round came and went. And then I was the last pick of the first day because the Red Sox won the World Series the year before (Ryan was taken with the 202nd pick in the 6th round of the 2008 entry draft). Then on MLB.com it said “From Tim Beckham to Ryan Lavarnway: All the picks.” So that was pretty cool. I don’t know if I would have slept much if I had to wait until the next day.
"I went in the back yard; I turned my phone off and kind of let it sink in for a while before I started answering phone calls.”
ON HIS GAME
You’ve had the opportunity to catch many pitchers with extensive big league experience (Daisuke Matsuzaka, Aaron Cook, Rich Hill, etc.), how has that helped in your development?
“It’s been good to learn different ways of attacking different hitters from different guys. It really opened my eyes to the fact that there really is no clear cut way to pitching a guy. Depending on who is on the mound, if that guy has different stuff or it’s working differently that day, you have to adjust and work on the fly. As much as you have a game plan going in, you have to be able to adapt to what the situation is on a given night.”
This season you are throwing out would-be base stealers 36% of the time. What do you do to work on this aspect of the game and how to you get better at it?
“It’s something that happens very quickly, but just as with everything else, you break it down into smaller parts and slow it down in practice. You do it a hundred-million times until it’s second nature. The pitchers here have done a great job at giving me a chance, so I appreciate what they’ve done. The biggest thing is making a strong, accurate throw. If you don’t make a good throw, no one is going to be out.”
The power numbers are not where they were a year ago, but all else seems to be working for you at the plate. Is this something that concerns you or that you try to improve upon?
“It’ll come. It’s still pretty early in the year and the weather hasn’t really warmed up around here. I had a slow start last year and when the weather warmed up, the power numbers warmed up too. I’m not worried about it. I’m swinging the bat well and probably hitting the ball harder than those numbers might necessarily indicate.”
MAKING THE BIGS
You got your first taste of the big leagues last season, so how hungry are you to get back?
“Playing for the Boston Red Sox was one of the few things in my life that I can say I had extremely high expectations for and it still exceeded my expectations. It was one of the best experiences that I can ever imagine, short of personal experience. I want to be back and I’m doing what I can to put myself in a position to be there.”
You went to college in Connecticut, played in the NECBL in Manchester, New Hampshire, have played for the Red Sox in Lowell, Portland and Pawtucket, as well as Boston itself. Do you now consider the New England region your home?
“My family is [in California] and the property that I own is there, but that’s about it. I finally, officially changed my permanent address out of California this year. I’ve kind of considered for a while that where my home is, is where my heart is and I just recently got engaged and she is here with me and we’ve built a little life for ourselves. So wherever we go, that’s kind of where we call home.”
Baseball idol – “I always loved watching Ken Griffey, Jr. hit. It was a thing of beauty.”
Nicknames – “In college they called me Elway, here I am referred to as Varney. One time a fan thought they were calling me Barney and I got looked at kind of funny.”
Reason for wearing No. 36 – “Not at all actually.”
Superstitions – “If a black cat walks in front of me I will go out of my way to avoid him and I will not walk under a ladder, ever.”
Pre-game rituals – “There’s a lot of routine involved, but I don’t know if you want to call it a ritual.”
Welcome to On Deck, a blog dedicated to baseball on the prospect levels, with focuses on the Red Sox farm system, the minor league and Indy teams of New England, collegiate summer ball and anything else within our reach.
Expect consistent, daily content that will bring you closer to the action, with features, interviews, game recaps, live chats and so much more.
Please feel free to leave comments, suggestions and questions along the way, because this does not succeed unless we bring you what you want and build a community where we can do just that.
Thanks for visiting. I hope you enjoy what we offer and continue to come back for more.