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The Matt Clement All-Stars: 15 Red Sox we forgot were part of the Midsummer Classic

Posted by Chad Finn, Globe Staff  July 12, 2013 11:58 AM

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So barring a late Decent-Sample Size Awesomeness Exception for Jose Iglesias, the Red Sox will have three players on the American League All-Star roster during Tuesday night's Midsummer This-Time-It-Counts-For-Real-You-Guys Classic:

David Ortiz, Dustin Pedroia, and Clay Buchholz, who won't pitch after suffering a debilitating Bouncy Seat injury a month ago (or whatever and whenever it was).

All worthy choices. All choices we'll look back on in a few years and say, "Yep, that guy was definitely an All-Star. He belonged." And I say that even with the sneaking suspicion that it's only a matter of time before Buchholz's career is tragically derailed by a Big Wheel crash or an Inchworm catastrophe like you read about.

This year's trio of Red Sox All-Stars are, you know, All-Stars. But there have been many through the years who in retrospect surprise you that they were picked for such an honor. Maybe it's because they're not associated with that particular time and place in Red Sox history, maybe it's because time has eroded the recollection of their accomplishments, or maybe it's because they just weren't all that good.

Take Matt Clement. Signed essentially to replace Derek Lowe following the 2004 season, he's generally remembered for two things as a Red Sox pitcher: Getting drilled by a Carl Crawford line drive (yes, he hit them once) during a June 2005 game in Tampa, and not pitching particularly well during his two seasons with the Sox before an elbow injury ended his career.

Clement finished his Red Sox career with an 18-11 record and a 5.09 ERA. In other words, he was slightly less useful than John Lackey in 2010-11, which isn't particularly useful at all. But, 10 of Clement's 18 wins came during the first half of his first season with the Sox, when he lost just two decisions, posted a 3.85 ERA and a 1.21 WHIP, and ... yep, made the All-Star team, albeit with perhaps a little favoritism from the AL manager, some guy named Francona.

Clement's career in Boston was unfulfilling, and it ended abruptly. But to the high school basketball team he now coaches in Pennsylvania, he'll always be known as Coach Clement, the former big-league All-Star. And that's pretty cool.

Here are 14 other Red Sox whose All-Star appearances you may have forgotten -- or refuse to believe happened ...

They were one-season-and-done in Boston, but hey, it was a quality one

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1. Mark Loretta
2006

The dependable Loretta gave all those old-school Marty Barrett fans the warm fuzzies during his lone season with the Sox, hitting .285 and fielding everything hit a step to his left and a step to his right. Still trying to figure out why Terry Francona played him at first base late in the season (while he was injured, no less) while Carlos Pena watched from the dugout.

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2. Erik Hanson
1995

Hanson and his killer curveball were scooped up by Dan Duquette in the signing frenzy at the conclusion of the strike, and he proved to be a bargain for one year at $1.5 million. He went 15-5 with a 4.24 ERA -- respectable in the juiced-everything era. He finished second to Tim Wakefield in wins -- this season was the beginning of Wake's redemption song -- and arguably had a better season than Roger Clemens, who went 10-5 with a 4.18 ERA in just 140 innings. Hanson departed for a three-year, $9.4 million deal with Toronto after the '95 season. There his elbow became the final victim of his curveball -- he went 13-20 with a 5.68 ERA in 49 appearances for the Jays.

Straight outta the bullpen

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The little lefthander pitched five seasons for the Sox (1978-82), and the last four of those seasons were excellent. His ERA ranged from 2.00 (in '80, when he saved a career-high 24 games) to 2.76 in those years, and he never had an adjusted ERA below 136. Wanna feel old? He turns 70 on Aug. 2.

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4. Mark Clear
1982

A.k.a. Ball Four In The Dirt. I don't remember him throwing a strike for the Red Sox, let alone making an All-Star team. But apparently it's true. I can't think of a more exasperating pitcher in recent Sox memory than Clear, who had a blazing fastball, a hellacious curve, and, at times, absolutely no command. (Early-season Joel Hanrahan was a decent facsimile, I suppose.) Clear actually had a very solid season in '82 -- in 105 relief innings over 55 games, he had 14 wins, 14 saves, and struck out 109. (Being Mark Clear, he also walked 61.) I think I probably remember him more for his follow-up season. In '83, he had a 6.28 ERA and 1.76 WHIP in 96 innings. Yes, that's the Mark Clear I knew.

Their popularity is permanent

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He played in his only All-Star Game on July 11, 1967, batting fifth between Harmon Killebrew and Carl Yastrzemski and going 0 for 6. Five weeks later, he was beaned by a Jack Hamilton fastball, and everything changed. What if, dammit. What if.

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6. Jerry Remy
1978

Before he was international superstar RemDawg, he was a dogged second baseman, one who made his only All-Star team during his first season with the Sox. In Bill Lee's book "The Wrong Stuff,'' -- highly recommended -- he remembered how Remy fit in with the Sox right away by saying of the Yankees, "I hate every one of those [expletive] pinstriped [expletives]." No wonder he's still so beloved.

Jerks, knuckleheads, dinosaur truthers, machete-wielding closers, and other assorted lunatics

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When he arrived, his aw-shucks attitude reminded you of Woody Boyd. When he departed, he seemed about as stable asOil Can Boyd. His might have been the fastest heel-turn in Red Sox history, though Phil Plantier's was pretty close.

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Mo Vaughn's on-base percentage in 1998: .402. Offerman's in '99: .391. So I guess Dan Duquette wasn't that far off. As loathsome as Offerman ultimately proved ...

... he actually had an excellent inaugural season in Boston, hitting .294/.391/.435 with 96 walks, 107 runs, and 56 extra-base hits. He Ciriaco'd the Yankees, too, putting up a .324/.479/.432 line in 48 plate appearances.

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Completely misunderstood the concept of sabermetrics.

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10. Carl Everett
2002

It's lost amid all of the in the lunacy that came after, and maybe it should be. But there's no denying that for the first half of the first season of his Red Sox career, the charismatic-in-all-the-wrong-ways Everett was wildly popular and wildly productive. Here are his numbers at the break that first season:

Split PA AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI SB BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS
1st Half 330 289 53 95 16 2 24 69 6 33 71 .329 .403 .647 1.050
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 7/12/2013.

A year and a half later, he was such a migraine that the Red Sox had to take on Darren Oliver's lousy contract from Texas just to be rid of him. Who would have thought a dozen years later that Oliver would still be pitching, and pitching well?

Rice, Evans, and ...

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11. Tony Armas
1984

Or as a certain hopeless, hapless, shaggy-haired, tinted-glasses-wearing 14-year-old in Bath, Maine, knew him at the time, ToeKnee Arm ... well, you know. Don't believe that little word game technically makes him a four-tool player, but he was better than many remember. He was a surprisingly graceful outfielder with a strong arm, and as a hitter, he was your quintessential all-or-nothing slugger, the man Rob Deer aspired to be. In '84, it was more all than nothing for Armas, who led the AL with 43 homers, 123 RBIs, and 339 total bases while finishing seventh in the MVP balloting despite a .300 on-base percentage.

A two-time All-Star? Huh? How'd he make it once? Oh, right: The Sox were awful

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12. Scott Cooper
1993, '94

What's really strange is that's just two fewer All-Star Games than Jeff Bagwell made.

Stephen Drew's cool older brother (and that doesn't mean Tim Drew, either)

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13. J.D. Drew
2008

Oh, Drew wasn't just an All-Star. He was the '08 All-Star Game Most Valuable Player. With that, I rest my case. He was worth every dollar of that contract that you're currently holding against his kid brother. Not buying it? Well, at least give me this much. J.D. was way better than Jose Iglesias's brother. You know, presuming he has one.

Hypothetically, what's worse? Being called a gerbil, or mistaken for David Wells?

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14. Don Zimmer
1978

Zimmer was a coach on the '78 AL All-Stars. Rich Gossage was the losing pitcher in that game, giving up four runs in one inning of work. Unfortunately, it wasn't the last time the two would cross paths that season.

http://boston.redsox.mlb.com/bos/history/all_stars.jsp

About Touching All The Bases

Irreverence and insight from Chad Finn, a Globe/Boston.com sports writer and media columnist. A winner of several national and regional writing awards, he is the founder and sole contributor to the TATB blog, which launched in December 2004. Yes, he realizes how lucky he is.

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