Extra Bases

Pregame notes from AT&T Park

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Good evening, everybody. It’s great to be back at this ballpark, which is my favorite in the majors.

It’s not too big (41,915 capacity) and the views are tremendous. There was a lot of Sox fans working the sidewalks this afternoon, seeking tickets. If you were looking for a weekend road trip, it’s hard to beat San Francisco in June. Great weather, great park, great restaurants. It’s all good.

One of the best games I covered was here on Oct. 2, 2000, in the NL Division Series. The Mets led the Giants, 5-4, in the 10th inning when Armando Benitez (of course) allowed a single by Armando Rios.

Bobby Valentine, ever the gambler, went to John Franco. He got two outs then had to face Barry Bonds. Barry was colossus at that point, about to run off four straight MVPs. He had a 1.127 OPS that season and looked about three times the size of Franco.

(Barry at that point was probably on a regimen of Yugoslavian horse steroids. But that’s another story.)

With the crowd screaming, Franco struck out Bonds looking at a changeup. What a gutsy pitch. The Mets went on to win the series in four games then lost to the Yankees in the Series.

That was the year I knew I wanted to be a baseball beat writer. I loved every second of it. Every time I’ve been back here since, I think about that game and how much fun it was.

As for the Red Sox, here’s what Terry Francona had to say before the game:

* J.D. Drew is set to play Saturday.

* Jacoby Ellsbury has been away for two weeks and according to Francona is not yet ready to start baseball-type activities. All of the medical people involved are trying to decide whether he should remain in Arizona or rejoin the team.

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At this point, it seems safe to count him out until after the All-Star break.

* The Sox will not use Jonathan Papelbon and Manny Delcarmen Friday night. The rest of the bullpen should be OK.

* Mike Cameron, who is swinging the bat well, wanted to play but the Sox decided to hold him out as a precaution after a long game and a late night.

* Spoke to Jeremy Hermida, who has started swinging at balls off a tee and feels good. He’s hoping to work up to a rehab game in a week or so.

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