As you have surely noticed, the Red Sox have sent out a bunch of players on minor-league rehab assignments.
That’s good news for the players at Portland and Pawtucket.
Whenever a major league player goes on a rehab assignment, baseball tradition calls for him to “pick up the spread.” In other words, it’s his duty to pay for dinner after the game.
Minor league players do not eat nearly as well as their major-league counterparts, especially in the Class A and AA. You may get a sandwich or a few burgers, nothing special. The “spread” could be a jar of peanut butter and loaf of bread.
But when a big leaguer comes to town, that means a nice catered dinner from a local restaurant. Usually the player will consult with the clubhouse guy to find a place that delivers. The really magnanimous players will throw in a case of beer and he has to drop a good tip on the clubhouse staff when he leaves.
No big leaguer wants to be seen as cheap in the eyes of the organization, so almost everybody springs for a good spread. Dustin Pedroia joked the other day that he would show everybody else up by ordering lobster.
But there are perks for the big leaguers. For a pitcher, he is free to leave once he’s out of the game. Manny Delcarmen was probably showered and in his car by the third inning last night after he pitched for Portland.
Big leaguers also get their numbers, as PawSox broadcaster Dan Hoard mentioned in the latest installment of his excellent blog.
When Clay Buchholz pitches for Pawtucket tonight, PawSox manager Torey Lovullo will give up No. 11 for the night. Randor Bierd also loses No. 19 when Josh Beckett comes to town.
Roger Clemens, when he rehabbed for Houston, once outfitted a Class A clubhouse with new televisions and leather couches. I can remember Tim Raines taking some guys from from Class AA Norwich to Foxwoods and bankrolling a night of blackjack.
The big leaguers, nearly all them, enjoy it and gladly part with the money. They remember what it was like to be a prospect.
So if you go see one of the Sox play in the minors, ask one of his temporary teammates what he’s getting for dinner that night. Bet it’s good.