A Great Day to Play Two…AGAIN

The PawSox will play their second doubleheader in three days this afternoon.

This one, however, was on the original schedule.

Pawtucket will have a boost in their lineup after a 7-3 loss Friday night to Buffalo as OF Shane Victorino will start in right field and bat 2nd for the PawSox in game one this afternoon. He is not expected to play in Game 2 but if all goes well he will play again this Monday and Tuesday at McCoy. Shane was placed on Boston’s disabled list on March 31 (retroactive to March 30) with a right hamstring strain suffered during Boston’s final spring training game on March 29 in Fort Myers, FL. Jackie Bradley, Jr. was promoted from the PawSox roster to replace Victorino.

Victorino, 33, hit .250 (7-for-28) in spring training while being brought along slowly on a conditioning program. He suffered a Grade 1 strain of his right hamstring while legging out a double on a wet field at JetBlue Park on March 29. After the injury Shane then suffered for more than a week with a severe bout of the flu that caused him to lose about 12 pounds.

The two-time National League All-Star (2009 & 2011), four-time Gold Glove outfielder (2008-2010, 2013), and two-time World Champion (2008 with Philadelphia and 2013 with Boston), comes into this season with a .277 average along with 105 HR, 470 RBI, and 222 SB in 1198 career games with San Diego (2003), Philadelphia (2005-2012), the Los Angeles Dodgers (2012), and Boston (2013). Shane hit .294 with 15 HR & 61 RBI in 122 games for the Red Sox last season and then topped it off by driving in the winning run in all three deciding post-season games during Boston’s run to the 2013 World Series title. His two most memorable hits were a 7th-inning grand slam in Game 6 of the ALCS vs. Detroit that erased a 2-1 deficit and sent Boston onto a 5-2 victory and a berth in the World Series (I was there for that one). And then in Game 6 of the World Series at Fenway, Victorino drilled a 3-run double in the 3rd-inning to stake the Sox to a 3-0 lead en route to a 6-1 victory and the first Red Sox World Series clincher at Fenway in 95 years.

Victorino rehabbed with the PawSox last June 6 for a left hamstring strain and played in just one game going 2-for-4 with a solo HR vs. Charlotte here at McCoy. He also played at McCoy Stadium against the PawSox while a member of the Scranton/Wiles-Barre Red Barons back in 2005 (he hit .310 in 126 games with 18 HR & 70 RBI to earn International League MVP honors that year).

In another roster move today, the PawSox have transferred reliever Jose Valdez back to Portland (after his one day stay in Pawtucket) and have added INF/OF Carlos Rivero from Portland. Rivero was hitting .294 with 1 HR & 2 RBI in 10 games for Portland this season playing 8 games in LF, 1 at 3B, and 1 as the DH. He split last season between Harrisburg (AA) and Syracuse (AAA) in the Washington Nationals’ system hitting .253 in 51 games for Harrisburg and .233 in 63 games for Syracuse. In 2012 he was an International League All-Star batting .303 for Syracuse with 10 HR & 64 RBI. Rivero played for PawSox manager Kevin Boles in the Venezuelan Winter League (Boles was a coach for Rivero’s team).

New Skipper Kevin Boles has written out a different lineup card for every game this year…17 different lineups so far…Game 2 of the doubleheader could make it 18 in a row with the addition of Rivero…

Speaking of said new lineup, here it is for Game One:

Mike McCoy SS
Shane Victorino RF
Dan Butler DH
Ryan Lavarnway 1B
Bryce Brentz LF
Garin Cecchini 3B
Christian Vazquez C
Corey Brown CF
Heiker Meneses 2B
and Anthony Ranaudo on the mound

Thanks for reading and HAPPY EASTER (a day early)!

Jeff
@jlevering4
jlevering@pawsox.com

It’s a Nice Day to Play Two

After two days of really, and I mean REALLY, cold conditions in Rochester, Mother Nature has served up a meatball for today’s doubleheader. Temps are expected in the mid to high 50′s…a far cry from the 35 from yesterday and the snow out on Tuesday.

And, despite the chilly weather, the PawSox bats are hot. They opened this series 13th out of 14 teams in International League in team batting average at .219. After two games played against Rochester, their average now sits at .253 thanks to 32 hits (13 for extra bases) and 16 runs. Oh, and the club is 2-0. One win in the doubleheader and the PawSox win the series and secure a winning road trip.

Ryan Lavarnway has gotten hot going 6-for-9 in the series.
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Alex Hassan has caught fire as well…he’s 5-for-9 in the series with three doubles and four RBI and even his outs have been loud.
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And Brock Holt continues his season long tear. His three hits in yesterday’s 7-6 win increased his average to .415 (17-for-41). He also doubled for the 5th time this year…he had just SIX in 83 games with Pawtucket a year ago.
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Brandon Workman made his PawSox debut in 2014 in Wednesday’s win. He started and went 3.1 innings allowing 3 runs on 3 hits with a walk and two strikeouts (both on curveballs). Those were the actual numbers, but his performance was much better than the stats at the end of the day.
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He allowed just two base runners in his first three innings and used just 36 pitches to get through those frames. His fastball command was spot on. His curveball was nasty and he located his changeup. To big offensive innings for the PawSox in the 3rd and 4th made him sit in the dugout for long stretches and, when the temperature never got above 37, that could have had an effect on the righty. In all, Workman allowed 3 runs, while none scored while he was actually on the mound. He left with the bases loaded and one out and the bullpen could not keep Rochester from scoring. But, overall, it was a good start for Workman who ended up throwing 62 pitches (38 strikes). If he gets another start with the PawSox, he’ll probably be extended to 70-75 pitches as he builds him arm strength back up to starting.

One of the big keys to the 7-6 win was the late inning relief by Tommy Layne and Drake Britton. The two combined to pitch the final four innings without allowing a run. They did allow three hits and walk three, but they also struck out seven batters, including Britton striking out the side in the 9th.

But the key play in the game was in the 8th. With runners on the corners and one out, #3 hitter Eduardo Nunez lifted a fly ball to right field. Bryce Brentz lost it in the sun momentarily, but found the ball, raced towards the foul line, made the catch and fire a rocket home on he fly to nab Danny Santana, the potential trying run, at home.

By far the play of the game and keyed the PawSox in the win.

Because of the snow/”wintry-mix” out on Tuesday, the two clubs play two 7-inning games today.

Rubby De La Rosa, who takes his 1-0 record and 0.84 ERA to the mound, will start Game One. Lefty, Chris Hernandez is scheduled for Game Two.

The Game One lineup provided by skipper Kevin Boles:

Brock Holt 2B
Alex Hassan RF
Brandon Snyder 1B
Ryan Lavarnway DH
Bryce Brentz LF
Garin Cecchini 3B
Christian Vazquez C
Mike McCoy CF
Heiker Meneses SS

Hope you all can tune in to our double dip this afternoon starting at 1:05pm…pregame at 12:50.

Jeff
@jlevering4
jlevering@pawsox.com

Highlights from Buffalo; Random Thoughts

The four game set in Buffalo and a series split behind the PawSox, the team now embarks on a 4-game trip in Rochester before we come home.

It’s nice and warm today, in the 70′s, but a cold front is expected tomorrow and weather folks in the area think we might get 1-3 inches of snow?! Excuse me, what? I was just getting reacquainted with the sun…oh well.

So, here we are in Rochester…Frontier Field. The last time we were here it was the semi-finals of the Governors’ Cup. Pawtucket split the first two games here before taking 2-of-3 at McCoy Stadium…It’s good to be back.
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As for what just took place in Buffalo during the split, it really was a great series. Runs, hits, good pitching (dominant at times), and a sampling of famous Buffalo Wings.

The baseball first…Rubby De La Rosa was dominant. 1 ER in 5.2 innings on Thursday and he’s out to a 0.84 ERA, 7th best in the league to this point.

The two middle games were somewhat of a downer losing by scores of 7-4 and 3-2, but Dan Butler did launch his first homer of the season on Saturday afternoon, a two-run shot off the left field foul pole accounting for all of the PawSox’ runs.

Sunday was a thriller. Back and forth it went. Up one, down two, back to up one, to tied, to up a run in the 9th only to see the lead evaporate despite the Bisons not having a hit.

Onto the 12th we went and the PawSox were out of available arms in the bullpen and now having a two run lead. In comes utility man Justin Henry to pitch…for the first time in his 8th professional season. Six pitches, four strikes, later he picks up the save to complete a 7-5 victory. He’s now played every position on the diamond with the exception of catcher. Remarkable!

Here is how the final inning sounded, don’t worry, it’s only 6 pitches…

And it wouldn’t be a trip to Buffalo without crushing some world famous wings. Seeing that it was my broadcast partner, Josh Maurer’s first time to the city, we took advantage of our afternoon game Saturday to enjoy wings from a couple different establishments.

First it was Gabriel’s Gate…Always solid…great flavor. Overall my favorite in the city. We went with 20 to split between the two of us, both hot and medium were ordered.
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I think we liked them…

A stones throw away was the Anchor Bar, which is said to be the home of the original Buffalo Wing. As far as atmosphere, it’s great. As for the wings, they didn’t overtake the Gate during the trip…
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Don’t get me wrong, they were good…just not up the “bar” set by Gabriel’s Gate.

Sounds like we’ll have to try Duff’s when we’re in town in August for the true wing test.

Another fun moment from the weekend…Saturday Night Live was new. It’s not what it once was in its hay day, but I still find it to be highly entertaining. This weekend Seth Rogan (of Superbad and Pineapple Express fame) hosted. But maybe the best moment of the show did not come from Rogan…it came during the Weekend Update sketch when “Big Papi” made an appearance. Well, Keenan Thompson doing a Big Papi impression…you be the judge…


Got to love selfies with the President!

Back to the baseball, the PawSox flipped Anthony Ranaudo and Brandon Workman in the rotation, so Ranaudo will start tonight on regular rest and Workman will wait until tomorrow (fingers crossed) to make his first start with Pawtucket. A move, more than likely, predicated by the injury situations with Koji and Burke Badenhop in Boston.

As for the rest of tonight’s lineup:
Justin Henry CF (not available to pitch tonight…I don’t think)
Alex Hassan RF
Brandon Snyder 1B
Ryan Lavarnway DH
Bryce Brentz LF
Garin Cecchini 3B
Christian Vazquez C
Mike McCoy 2B
Heiker Meneses SS

And for a full look at what’s going on around the Red Sox Minor League system, check in with Alex Speier of weei.com…http://fullcount.weei.com/sports/boston/baseball/red-sox/2014/04/14/red-sox-minor-league-roundup-would-mookie-betts-be-a-consideration-for-an-injured-dustin-pedroia-the-riddle-of-allen-webster-wendell-rijo-shows-some-pop/

Thanks for popping in to read…hope you enjoyed a few laughs to go along with your info.

Jeff
@jlevering4
jlevering@pawsox.com

On the Road Again

It has been a while since the PawSox played their last road game. September 11th, 2013, to be exact, in Game 2 of the Governors’ Cup Finals against Durham. For the club that had the best road record in the International League last year (40-32), the PawSox got off on the right foot away from McCoy Stadium with a 7-4 win in Buffalo Thursday night.

Rubby De La Rosa continued his dominant start to 2014 twirling 5.2 innings allowing just one run on two hits. After allowing a lead-off walk and a two-out RBI single in the 1st inning, the native of the Dominican Republic allowed just two more base runners in the rest of his start. In fact, he retired the last 12 batters he faced.

He commanded the strike zone after a second inning walk. He faced 21 batters and retired 17…11 came on ground outs, 4 on strikeouts and 2 on flyouts. His 94-97 MPH fastball was down in the zone and his changeup was spectacular.
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Through two starts for Rubby, he’s allowed one run in 10.2 innings (0.84 ERA) and has allowed just four hits and two walks.

But maybe the most impressive thing about his outing Thursday was his efficiency. He didn’t throw more than 20 pitches in any inning. He used 38 in the first two innings…he threw just 48 over his next four frames. Command was a big issue for the right hander a year ago, and maybe he was still recovering from his 2011 Tommy John Surgery, but he looks as good as he did when he dazzled with the Dodgers in his first major league action earlier that year. A GREAT sign moving forward for the PawSox and the Red Sox.

Bryce Brentz also slugged his first home of the year in Thursday’s win. A much need jolt of power for a guy who hit 17 a season ago in 84 games.
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Brandon Snyder went yard too, a shot to straight away center field into the teeth of a howling wind.
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The PawSox and Bisons have traditionally played close games and tight series. But the numbers, courtesy of PawSox PR Man Bill Wanless, prove how tightly contested each and every game is between these two clubs. The all-time series (this is the 17th year) between Pawtucket and Buffalo has gone back and forth in recent times and the teams come into play tonight 128-127 in favor of the PawSox after last night’s 7-4 victory. These two rivals have battled for 16 years now since the Bisons returned to the IL in 1998. The PawSox are 69-58 at home (including 0-1 at Fenway Park) vs. the Bisons but 59-69 in Buffalo since ’98.

And, while the club is 5-3 and in a three-way 1st place tie in the North in the early going, Pawtucket has been able to avoid long losing streaks since last August. The PawSox have won two games in a row twice in the early season thus far (April 4 & 5 and April 7 & 8) and have still not lost two in a row. Besides their 3 straight losses to Durham in the 2013 Governors’ Cup Finals, the PawSox have not lost back-to-back regular-season games since last August 6-9 when they lost four straight games. Including their 8 games thus far this season, Pawtucket has gone 31 consecutive games without losing back-to-back games. That’s a streak that wont end tonight either, no matter what happens in the game.

We all know that Brandon Workman is with the PawSox now after being optioned from Boston. Unfortunate news for the big right hander who threw 6.1 innings with the Red Sox allowing just 1 run while striking out 7. But in the numbers game, he was the one that had to come down. Before he goes back to Boston, which he will at some point, he’ll be in the PawSox starting rotation. We don’t know where he’ll slot within the current rotation, but reports away from the team say he’ll pitch Monday in the 1st game in Rochester. That would make sense since he threw four innings in relief on Tuesday against Texas.

In the meantime, the PawSox still have a loaded rotation that is only getting better with Workman’s addition.

Tonight, Jeremy Kehrt starts for the second time. He pitched well in his first outing Sunday afternoon going 5 innings allowing 2 earned runs.

The rest of the line up behind Kehrt is as follows…

Brock Holt SS
Alex Hassan DH
Justin Henry CF
Ryan Lavarnway 1B
Bryce Brentz LF
Garin Cecchini 3B
Christian Vazquez C
Corey Brown RF
Heiker Meneses 2B

Thanks for reading and Go PawSox!

Jeff
@jlevering4
jlevering@pawsox.com

Defensive Gems Guide PawSox Early

Guys like Bryce Brentz and Garin Cecchini have been long known for their offensive talents. While Cecchini has gotten off to a hot start at the plate (.438), Brentz has not (.118, 2-for-17). But BOTH have come up with some outstanding plays on the defensive side.

For Brentz, he’s always possessed a strong throwing arm. However, his range in the corner outfield spots has been questioned at times. But, there’s no doubt he’s been terrific so far this season playing both right and left field.

He’s been equally skilled making diving plays to his right, to his left and even making a great over the shoulder catch.



Not only are these plays dazzling, but they’ve also come in critical situations with runners on base saving runs each time.

Now if his bat could heat up, he’d be in great shape!

The book on Cecchini has been that he can hit but is a work in progress with the glove. So far this year, though, his off-season and spring training work has payed dividends.

PawSox Bench Coach Bruce Crabbe, the former Red Sox Minor League Infield Coordinator, has worked with Garin on his first step quickness since the beginning of spring training, as has Red Sox third base coach Brian Butterfield (while Garin was in big league camp). Those two instructors (and Roving Coach Andy Fox) have seen much improvement over the course of the last 18 months.

On multiple occasions in the first handful of PawSox games, Cecchini has shown quick first step reaction moving both left and right. And has even come up with a couple run saving plays of his own, including a huge bases loaded snare of a rocket off the bat of Brandon Laird in the 6th inning Monday night against Syracuse.



The PawSox continue their series with Syracuse tonight at 6:15pm with Allen Webster on the mound looking to rebound after a tough first start on opening night.

Here’s the rest of the lineup

Brock Holt 3B
Alex Hassan RF
Justin Henry 2B
Ryan Lavarnway 1B
Bryce Brentz LF
Christian Vazquez C
Dan Butler DH
Heiker Menses SS
Peter Hissey CF

Pawtucket is 3-2 so far and, with a win tonight, they can ensure a winning first homestand.

Jeff
@jlevering4
jlevering@pawsox.com

PawSox Split Eventful Weekend

On the field, the PawSox split the weekend series with Lehigh Valley. After and opening night 4-0 shutout defeat, Pawtucket broke out for a 9-4 win Friday and 6-4 victory on Saturday before a 5-4 loss earlier today.

Over the span of 13 innings from the 5th on Friday (an 8-run frame) through the 2nd inning this afternoon, the PawSox scored 18 runs. That was after the club had been shutout for the first 13 innings of the season and the last 42 total innings going back to last September. Fear not folks…the offense is fine. Add in that it’s April and chilly…no worries on the offensive side of things.

On the hill, Rubby De La Rosa was as good as we’ve ever seen him on Saturday. He tossed five scoreless innings of two-hit ball. He struck out five and did not walk a batter. You’d have to go back to June 22nd of last season against Toledo when he threw six scoreless, one-hit innings with no walks and seven strikeouts.
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He commanded the fastball with ease down in the zone and sat at 93-96 with his fastball velocity. He recorded four of his five k’s on changeups and his slider was sharp and well located. Rubby looked like the Rubby from 2011 before his Tommy John Surgery.

Jeremy Kehrt, who has been the “Swiss Army Knife” in the Red Sox system over the last several seasons, begins 2014 in the PawSox rotation due to the shoulder injury to Matt Barnes in the spring. The native of Indiana threw well Sunday afternoon against Lehigh Valley. Only one bad inning (a three-run 3rd) that began because of a two-base error. But, the righty provided the PawSox with five innings of solid work. Can’t ask for more than that.
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At the plate, no one in the International League has been as hot as Garin Cecchini. After a 3-for-3 day on Saturday with a walk, Garin singled and walked in his first two AB’s on Sunday reaching base in six straight plate appearances. In fact, he reached in 9 of his first 13 plate appearances in Triple-A. His overall average sits at .500 (6-for-12)…Not too shabby for a 22-year-old.
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Legendary, and Hall of Fame, Reporter Paul Kenyon, who covered his final game at McCoy on Saturday (also his 66th birthday), wrote a glowing piece on Cecchini…Give it a read here…http://www.providencejournal.com/sports/pawtucket-red-sox/content/20140405-pawsox-journal-cecchini-is-already-impressing.ece
And on a side note, we’ll miss Paul in the booth. Truly the best of the best. It was an honor to have a piece written by you about me and a true pleasure to have you on the air with us on your last day. A true gem of a writer and an even better person!
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Back to the baseball, and Christian Vazquez has come out of the gates hot at the plate. A 3-for-4 night on Friday with a couple of doubles and two RBI and a 2-for-4 day Sunday with another double, he’s hitting .455 (5-for-11) in his first three games of the season.
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Another highlight to the weekend was “Bark in the Park”. Always a fan favorite, Bark in the Park allows fans to bring their pooches to McCoy to enjoy a ball game. The fans love it, but I feel like the players enjoyed it just as much as they lined the dugout during the “puppy parade” before the game to say hello.
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What a great event for dogs of all shapes and sizes…many, even, in Red Sox/PawSox gear!

The Sox are back to work Monday at McCoy against Syracuse. The first of a three game season will see Chris Hernandez make his season debut against the Chiefs.

Every Monday is a Dollar Menu Monday where all the ballpark classics (hot dogs, chips, peanuts, cracker jacks and popcorn) are just $1! No better deal in town…

So happy that baseball is back!

Jeff
@jlevering4
jlevering@pawsox.com

Season Begins with an L, but a Big W for some Today

The nuts and bolts from Opening Night last night…

Beautiful production in the pregame with the local service men and women with Amazing Grace played on the bagpipes and the National Anthem performed by Rhode Island State Trooper Amanda Brezniak.
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More than 8,200 fans were here to see it and open McCoy Stadium in grand fashion.
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Sadly, the game did not go as beautifully as the pregame ceremony.

Tough night for Allen Webster who lasted just 3.2 innings and threw 81 pitches in his 2014 debut. He gave up two first inning runs and did not command the lower part of the strike zone like we grew accustomed to in 2013. Some more 1st inning problems for Allen who had an ERA over 5.00 in the 1st inning last year…it was 3.21 in all other innings.
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But the offense did not help him much either as Pawtucket had just two hits in the game (a Garin Cecchini single and a Brock Holt double) and drew two walks. Four total base runners and they never sent more than four to the plate in any inning in the game.

A lot of credit goes to Lehigh Valley’s pitching staff, especially starter David Buchanan, who set the tone early. The last 15 batters to come to the plate for the PawSox were retired in order.

The PawSox bullpen was strong getting 5.1 innings of one-run ball from Chris Resop, Craig Breslow, Tommy Layne, Dalier Hinojosa and Drake Britton.

The 4-0 shutout loss, sadly, runs the Pawtucket scoreless streak to 38 straight innings…the last run they scored was in the 3rd inning of Game 2 of the Governors’ Cup Finals at Durham September 11th, 205 days ago. That’s got to end tonight right? Starter Anthony Ranaudo certainly hopes so.

The defeat also snapped the PawSox eight-game Opening Night winning streak. Their first loss since 2005 when Curt Schilling, making a rehab start for the PawSox, suffered a 7-5 defeat in Indianapolis. It also marked the first time the PawSox had ever been shutout in a home-opener and was only the second time in club-history they have been blanked in their season-opener (they were shutout, 7-0 at Scranton/Wilkes-Barre in the first game of the 1999 season).

Ok, enough of what happened last night as today is a very happy day in New England…The Red Sox opened up Fenway Park and World Series rings were given out in a gorgeous ceremony set up by the legendary Dr. Charles Steinberg. Eight current PawSox players, who at one point last season were members of the 2013 World Series Champion Boston Red Sox, received their World Series rings prior to Boston’s home-opener this afternoon at Fenway Park. The eight players left McCoy Stadium this morning at 9:00 am and were escorted to Fenway to take part in today’s special ceremonies. Pitchers Drake Britton, Rubby De La Rosa, Brayan Villarreal, Allen Webster, Alex Wilson, catcher Ryan Lavarnway, and infielders Brock Holt & Brandon Snyder returned to McCoy – with their coveted World Series rings – this afternoon.

Here’s a look at the hardware…
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Pretty outstanding stuff!

As for tonight’s game…7:05pm and Anthony Ranaudo makes his 2014 season debut.

The lineup behind him:
Brock Holt SS (will not be wearing World Series ring during the game)
Alex Hassan LF
Ryan Lavarnway 1B (neither will Ryan)
Bryce Brentz RF
Dan Butler DH
Garin Cecchini 3B
Christian Vazquez C
Corey Brown CF
Mike McCoy 2B

Let’s get in the win column!

Jeff
@jlevering4
jlevering@pawsox.com

Opening Night is Here

Well…here it is.

Opening Night, 2014.
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It has been 200 days since the PawSox took the McCoy Stadium field…
200 days of remember what a 7-0 loss felt like in the Governors’ Cup Finals…
200 days to get better
200 days to get healthy
200 days to see your family and friends
200 blog posts to read (or write)
1 World Series won by the Boston Red Sox, thanks to contributions from 39 players who have worn a PawSox uniform at some point in their careers.

A lot has happened in 200 days, but the one thing that remained the same was that baseball would be back…and now it is.

New players, a new manager, a new coach…same players, two same coaches…it’s the 2014 PawSox.

Today, everyone is undefeated. Everyone thinks it’s their year to win it all. And, honestly, anyone could.

Allen Webster makes the start for Pawtucket tonight against Lehigh Valley…David Buchanan starts for the IronPigs… Bacon jokes and swine related material will be abound!

As for the PawSox Opening Night Lineup, as announced by skipper Kevin Boles:
Brick Holt SS
Alex Hassan LF
Ryan Lavarnway 1B
Bryce Brentz RF
Brandon Snyder DH
Garin Cecchini 3B
Christian Vazquez C
Corey Brown CF
Heiker Meneses 2B

Pawtucket has won 8 straight opening night games…the last loss was in 2005 at Indianapolis when Curt Schilling made a rehab start. No reason to break the streak tonight.

And a heartfelt congratulations to the PawSox Justin Henry who is back home in Mississippi to be with his wife to welcome daughter #2 into the world! More good news on baseball’s best day.

The Natural has been watched…the scorebook has been filled in…the popcorn is popped…the hotdogs are being grilled and the beer is nice and cold…
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Bring your blankets and let’s get this show on the road!

144 games in 149 days…Time to go!

Jeff
@jlevering4
jlevering@pawsox.com

A Season on the Brink

Pardon the “blog silence” the last couple of days. It wouldn’t be the beginning of the season with out a little stress/scramble, and that’s exactly what happened on Saturday when my laptop hard drive decided to say, “It was a good run, all done now.”

So, with an assist to my wife for loaning me her jumbo jet 2003 laptop so that I could work and attempt to recreate all the work I had done the last two years, here we are, back in action…

While we were quiet…the baseball season started. Opening Day ended with a loss for the Red Sox, but they weren’t going to go 162-0. Shane Victorino was placed on the disabled list and Jackie Bradley Jr, who was scheduled to be the PawSox starting centerfielder tomorrow night, never arrived in Pawtucket at all.

The chances of Victorino in a PawSox uniform for a second straight year on a rehab assignment is pretty good…so is seeing Craig Breslow either Thursday and/or Friday night at McCoy.

As for the guys on the actual roster, that will be unveiled in person at the Welcome Home Luncheon at noon today, it is stocked well with prospects on the rise and veterans with a ton of big league experience.

The Pawtucket Red Sox Opening Night Roster is highlighted by 8 players who at one point last season were members of the 2013 World Series Champion Boston Red Sox. Those elite eight will receive their World Series rings prior to Boston’s home-opener this Friday afternoon at Fenway Park, but will be back in time for the PawSox game later that evening. They are pitchers Drake Britton, Rubby De La Rosa, Brayan Villarreal, Allen Webster, Alex Wilson, catcher Ryan Lavarnway, and infielders Brock Holt & Brandon Snyder.

Each of those 8 players also spent time with the PawSox last season and will be joined on Opening Night at McCoy by several other returning PawSox players from last season’s IL North Champs. Pitchers Chris Hernandez, Jeremy Kehrt, Anthony Ranaudo; catchers Dan Butler & Christian Vazquez; infielders Justin Henry & Heiker Meneses, and outfielders Bryce Brentz & Alex Hassan all were contributors to a PawSox team that reached the Governors’ Cup Finals for the second straight season. Starting pitchers Matt Barnes and Steven Wright, who begin the season on the DL, were also a member of the 2013 PawSox.

The top young position prospect making his PawSox and Triple-A debut is 22-year-old 3B Garin Cecchini, who led all of minor league baseball with a .443 on-base pct. last season between Salem (A) and Portland (AA). Cecchini had the highest batting average in the Red Sox system last year (.322). He will be joined by 24-year-old outfielder Peter Hissey who will also be making his Triple-A debut after spending all of last season with Portland.

There are several impressive newcomers to the organization on the PawSox Opening Night Roster led by veteran relievers lefty Tommy Layne, who had a 2.84 ERA over parts of the past two seasons with San Diego, and righty Chris Resop, who has appeared in 235 big leagues games with Florida, the Angels, Atlanta, Pittsburgh, and Oakland. Dalier Hinojosa, who has pitched in Cuba for the last nine years, and Milton, MA native Rich Hill, who spent all of last season working out of the Cleveland bullpen after three years split between Pawtucket and Boston from 2010-2012, round out the PawSox pitching staff. Former LA Dodger John Ely begins the year on the PawSox DL as he comes back from Tommy John surgery one year ago.

Two other newcomers complete the list of PawSox position players as INF Mike McCoy, who played with Buffalo last season after three consecutive years as a member of the Toronto Blue Jays, and OF Corey Brown, the former Syracuse Chief (44 HR the past two seasons) and Washington Nationals outfielder will make their Pawtucket debuts in 2014.

New PawSox manager Kevin Boles, who has had many of the current PawSox players while managing Double-A Portland the past three seasons, becomes the fifth Pawtucket skipper in the past six years following Ron Johnson, Torey Lovullo, Arnie Beyeler, and Gary DiSarcina who all left for coaching jobs in the Major Leagues. Pitching coach Rich Sauveur returns for his seventh season (the longest tenure of any PawSox pitching coach) while hitting coach Dave Joppie is back for his second season. The PawSox have added another coach in 2014 as Bruce Crabbe, manager of Lowell (short-season A) the past two years, joins the PawSox staff. Trainer Jon Jochim begins his fifth season with the PawSox and his 12th year as an athletic trainer in the Red Sox organization. He is joined by assistant trainer Josh Elleman and new strength & conditioning coach Kyle Marandino who are both making their debuts on the PawSox staff.

As for the starting rotation: Allen Webster gets the call on Thursday, Anthony Ranaudo will start Friday followed by Rubby De La Rosa, Jeremy Kehrt and Chris Hernandez

Needless to say, this is a group beaming with talent. With a couple more guys on the way coming off of injuries, and the inevitable Breslow and Victorino activations in Boston, the PawSox will feature one of the deepest and most talented rosters in all of the minor leagues.

Opening Night, again, is just a few hours away at McCoy Stadium, 7:05pm against Lehigh Valley (bacon is on the dinner menu)…The first 3,000 fans will receive a sweet PawSox Poster…and the Bullpen Cop (Officer Steve Horgan) will be on hand to throw out a first pitch and sign autographs…I’m pretty sure he’ll give his famous “Touchdown” sign after he throws a strike (just don’t bounce it, officer).

Thanks for popping in to read, and my apologies for the silence the last few days…it was not an April Fools joke :)

Jeff
@jlevering4
jlevering@pawsox.com

PawSox Roster Starting to Take Shape

It was announced just moments ago that Jackie Bradley Jr. would be optioned to Pawtucket to begin the 2014 season. Grady Sizemore, who has been a revelation this spring, will be the Red Sox Opening Day center fielder according to manager John Farrell.

Sizemore was humbled and gracious for the opportunity; Jackie, according to reports, took the news like he should have, disappointed that he didn’t make the team, but determined to get back to Boston.

When you look at the numbers, Sizemore won the job and passed every test he was asked to. Jackie struggled in the spring, something that he did NOT do a year ago when he made the 2013 Opening Day roster without playing a game in Triple-A.

So, we know who’ll be in center field for the PawSox come Thursday, April 3rd at 7:05 at McCoy Stadium…JBJ. Selfishly, PawSox fans will get to see one of the best defensive outfielders in baseball, and they should enjoy it while they can because he might not be around too long.

Other moves will be announced later in the day which should put a ribbon on who will be on the Pawtucket roster to open the season.

In other “news”, I came across a cool uniform that the Sacramento River Cats (A’s Triple-A, PCL) will be wearing on their “Social Media Night” this year. If the players and team don’t have hundreds or thousands more followers after that particular game, I’d be surprised.

Also, with the new MLB replay rules, all games will be on broadcast into a network center with more TVs than four Buffalo Wild Wings combined. Umpires have no more excuses for missing another call with all the angles that are available to review plays. Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports went inside the nerve center…http://sports.yahoo.com/news/inside-look-at-mlb-s-new-instant-replay-bunker-032951044.html
Fascinating!

And just to get fans into the spirit of spring coming and the season on the brink in just 3 days for the Red Sox and 6 days for the PawSox, enjoy this!

Winter in Fenway (sonnet 97) from DGA Productions on Vimeo.

More moves will be announced a little later and “45 Miles from Fenway’ will report when the news becomes official/available.

Happy Friday and Go Sox!!

Jeff
@jlevering4
jlevering@pawsox.com

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