Working Overtime/Memorial Day Weekend in The Bluegrass State

by Josh Maurer

The PawSox have made extra innings a regular occurrence this season, especially in the past week.  The team has played past the ninth inning four times in the last seven days, including back-to-back on Friday/Saturday and Wednesday/Thursday.  That stretch was capped by a 10-inning loss in Louisville on Thursday night.

The unfortunate thing – the team has lost all four of those games.  You can even take it a step further: Pawtucket has played extra innings in 6 of its last 13 games (since Saturday 5/10 at Columbus) and has only won 1 of those six.  They are now 2-6 in extra inning affairs in 2015.

Rusney WalkOff

Rusney Castillo celebrates a walk-off hit in extra innings on 5/12 vs. Indianapolis

Interestingly enough, four of those five extra-inning losses the past two weeks belong to two of the PawSox’ most reliable relievers in Heath Hembree and Miguel Celestino.  Also in the past seven days, Pawtucket’s offense has not scored a run in 13 innings at bat after the ninth.

The margin of error is so slim once a game reaches extra innings.  One pitch here, another pitch there can decide a game.  So I would certainly attribute the recent slide to a bit of bad luck.  Who knows, maybe things even out and the squad wins its next four extra inning games.

Louisville Slugger Field

Louisville Slugger Field in Louisville, KY

The PawSox continue their trip out west with three more games in Louisville over Memorial Day weekend.  Here are a few notes to get you ready for a holiday weekend:

-OF Quintin Berry has now reached base safely in 19 straight games played (beginning on 4/26).  The longest on-base streak in the IL this season is 22 games.  Berry should continue to man the leadoff spot in the PawSox order in the near future.

Berry gives high fives

Quintin Berry is on a 19-game on-base streak as of Friday

-INF/OF Allen Craig went 3-for-4 with two walks on Thursday night.  He has hit safely in 6 of the 8 games he has played since being optioned to the PawSox (and has multiple hits in 4 of those 8).  Craig’s batting average is currently .306 (11-for-36) with 4 doubles.

-The Red Sox announced on Wednesday that they had acquired hard-throwing reliever John Cornely from the Braves and optioned him to Pawtucket.  We will see when Cornely will join his new team.  Here are the vitals on Cornely from the PawSox game notes:

Acquired by BOS from Atlanta for cash considerations on 5/20 and optioned to PAW (Atlanta had DFA’d him on 5/19 to create 40-man spot for Nick Masset)…Appeared in 12 games for Triple-A Gwinnett, going 2-2 with 1 save and a 4.42 ERA (18.1 IP, 15 H, 10 R, 7 BB, 24 K)…Was promoted to Atlanta on 4/24, then made MLB debut on 4/29 vs. WAS and allowed 4R in 1IP (3H, 1BB, 1 K) and was optioned back to GWN on 4/30.

2014: Spent season with Double-A Mississippi and appeared in 46 games, going 7-3 with 7 saves and a 2.49 ERA (68.2 IP, 45 H, 19 R, 34 BB, 71 K…Held opponents to a .186 batting average, second best among Southern League relievers.

cornely with braves

John Cornely should join the PawSox bullpen sometime in the next few days

-Welcome back to Jeff Bianchi.  The utilityman, who missed 21 games on the DL with a shoulder injury, was activated at the beginning of the current road trip and has hit extremely well.  In 4 games since returning, Bianchi is 6-for-12 with 3 walks and 3 RBI.

-In case you missed it, former Red Sox outfielder Trot Nixon was at McCoy Stadium last weekend and I had a chance to sit down with him for a few minutes on the PawSox Insider show.  Here is that interview:

The PawSox will start Keith Couch on Friday night at Louisville Slugger Field against MLB-rehabbing Manny Parra for the Bats.  On Saturday Eddie Rodriguez gets the ball for manager Kevin Boles, while the trip concludes on Sunday night with Brian Johnson on the mound.

Happy Memorial Day weekend everyone!  Have fun and be safe, hope to talk to you on the radio from Louisville.

Josh M

Meet The New Guys!

by Josh Maurer

Hi everyone, I hope you’ve had a great week.  The PawSox have thus far, going 3-1 during the first four of a seven-game homestand.  Kevin Boles’ squad took two of three from Indianapolis, then won the first in a four-game set with Columbus on Thursday night.

The team is back holding the best record in the IL (21-14) and has matched its largest lead in the division to date (2.0 games ahead of Rochester, 18-15).  Things are looking good despite some recent roster turnover that was precipitated by player movement up to Boston.

Over the past week the squad lost Matt Barnes, Jackie Bradley, Jr. and Steven Wright to the big leagues in addition to Noe Ramirez to the disabled list.  With these changes to the squad, I thought it would be a good time to introduce you to some newcomers to Pawtucket.

Taking the place of those four players were two position players coming from Boston- Allen Craig and Luis Jimenez (reportedly), along with two relievers promoted from Portland – Dayan Diaz and Jonathan Aro.  Without further ado, here’s a quick primer on each new guy:

Allen Craig in batters box

Allen Craig has played in 3 straight games for Pawtucket this week.

Allen Craig – OF/1B: We start with the guy you are certainly most familiar with, one of the best hitters in the National League from 2011-2013 while slugging for the Cardinals.  Craig batted over .300 in each of those three seasons while also earning a reputation as one of the best hitters with runners in scoring position in the game.  Here are the notes from the PawSox game notes on Craig:

2015: Has started 3 straight games since joining team (5/12-pres), hit safely in all 3…Hit RBI double in 1st PAW at-bat 5/12 v IND…Optioned from BOS on 5/10, joined team on 5/12…Was batting .135 in 24 G (7-52) w Boston 1 HR, 2 RBI and 17 K at time of option to Triple-A…Started games in LF, RF, 1B, DH with Boston.

2014: Hit .215 (99-for-461) with 20 2B, 1 3B, 8 HR, and 46 RBI in 126 games between the Cardinals and Red Sox…Acquired by BOS at non-waiver trade deadline. Began the season with 97 games for STL, hitting .237 (87-for-367).

2013: Set career highs in games (134), AB (508), hits (160), 3B (2), RBI (97), BB (40), and OBP (.373)… Made 1st career All-Star Game. Led the majors with a .454 AVG (59-for-130) with RISP while ranking T-3rd in MLB with 83 RBI with RISP…Was the 3rd-highest AVG with RISP since data began being tracked in 1974, trailing only George Brett (.469, 1980) and Tony Gwynn (.459, 1997).

2012: Ranked 6th among NL leaders in AVG (.307), 5th in SLG (.522), and T-15th in RBI (92)…Led the team in SLG despite being limited to 119 games due to 2 trips to the DL. Led MLB with a .400 AVG (50-for-125) with RISP…Finished the season with 92 RBI in 119 games for an NL-leading 5.1 AB/RBI.

Personal: Acquired by the Red Sox on 7/31 with RHP Joe Kelly in exchange for RHP John Lackey, minor league LHP Corey Littrell, and cash considerations. Attended the University of California at Berkeley, drafted by STL in the 8th Round of 2006 Draft…Was named to the Academic First Team All-Pac 10 Team.

Dominican Republic's Luis Jimenez hits a double off Puerto Rico's starting pitcher Giancarlo Alvarado in the fifth inning of their game during the Caribbean Baseball Series in Hermosillo, Mexico, Saturday, Feb. 2, 2013. (AP Photo/Andres Leighton)

Luis Jimenez has been a power source throughout his Minor League career (mostly in the Angels system)

Luis Jimenez – 3B: Jimenez has yet to join the PawSox, but has reportedly cleared waivers after being designated for assignment by the Red Sox earlier in the week (to create a roster spot for Shane Victorino).  When he does join Pawtucket, Jimenez should provide a nice burst of power to the lineup.  Check out his recent seasons in Triple-A with the Angels organization, again for the PawSox game notes:

2015: Designated for assignment by BOS on 5/11…Played in 1 G with BOS (5/6 vs. TB), going 0-for-1…Designated for assignment by MIL on 5/2, claimed off waivers by BOS on 5/3…Made opening day roster for MIL, played in 15 games, batting 1-for-15 with 1 BB.

2014: Spent the majority of season with Triple-A Salt Lake City, where he hit .286 with 34 2B, 3 3B, 21 HR, and 76 RBI in 117 games…Led Salt Lake in hits (134) and doubles (34, also 3rd in PCL)…Played in 18 games for LAA and batted .162 (6-for-37) with 2 doubles and 2 RBI.

2013: Played in 34 games with LAA, starting 30 of those, and batted .260 with 0 HR and 5 RBI…Made MLB debut on 4/12 vs. Houston…Played in 48 games with Triple-A Salt Lake City (.284, 4 HR, 42 RBI)…Missed 2 months (6/16-8/10) with right shoulder injury.

2012: Batted .309 with 16 HR, 85 RBI and 17 SB in 122 games at Triple-A Salt Lake City…Led the team in batting average, doubles (38) and RBI.

Personal: Claimed off waivers by Boston from Milwaukee on May 3, 2015…Originally signed by LA of Anaheim on August 22, 2005 from Santo Domingo in the Domincan Republic…Is married to Kelli…Nickname is “Lucho”.

dayan diaz portland

Dayan Diaz was having a great start to the season with Portland before being promoted to Pawtucket this week

Dayan Diaz -RHP: Diaz, a hard-throwing reliever, was promoted from Portland on Monday.  After spending many years in the Cubs and Astros systems, he signed with Boston before last season and has made a steady climb up the ranks.  Now, Diaz is finally getting his first taste of Triple-A baseball.  Check out his information from the game notes:

2015: Pitched 2.1 scoreless innings in PAW debut 5/12 vs. IND w.3 K (was also Triple-A debut)…Promoted from POR on 5/11…with POR: 9 app, 0-0, 2 SV, 1.15 ERA (15.2 IP, 7 H, 2 R, 2BB, 17 K)… Scoreless in 7 of 9 outings…5 outings from April 19-May 5: 10.1 IP, 4 H, 0 R, BB, 10 SO…Season-high 2.1 perfect on May 5th at Binghamton…

2014: Went a combined 2-2, 1.80 ERA (10 ER/50.0 IP) in 35 games between Portland and High-A Salem, making his debut in the Red Sox system…Fanned 56 batters on the season, compiling a 10.1 strikeouts-per-9-innings…Converted 7 of 8 save chances between Salem and Portland…Promoted to the Sea Dogs on July 11th and went scoreless in 9 of 11 appearances, going 2-1. 2.76 ERA…

2013: Signed by the Cubs as a minor league free agent on 1/19. Started the season on the DL from 4/4-7/2. Had a 3.00 ERA (7 ER/21.0 IP) in 13 games while making stops at the Rookie-level Arizona League Cubs, High-A Daytona, and Double-A Tennessee. Signed by the Red Sox as a minor league free agent on 12/5.

ACQUIRED: Signed by the Red Sox as a minor league free agent on December 5, 2013.

PERSONAL: Signed by Chicago Cubs as a minor league free agent on January 19, 2013…Originally signed by the Houston Astros as an international free agent in October, 2005, spent 6 seasons (’06-’08, ’10-’12) in Astros system (never pitched higher than Low-A).

jonathan aro with greenville

Jonathan Aro has made a meteoric rise up the Red Sox farm system over the past 12 months.

Jonathan Aro -RHP: Aro has sped through the Red Sox organization over the past two years, moving from Low-A Greenville at this time in 2014 all the way to Pawtucket in short order.  The native of the Dominican Republic has yet to make his Triple-A debut.  Read more about him here:

2015: Promoted to PAW on 5/14…Appeared in 8 games with Portland (all in relief) and went 3-2 with a 2.82 ERA (22.1 IP, 15 H, 12 R, 7 ER, 8 BB, 19 K)…Held opponents to a .181 batting average.

2014: Split the season between Single-A Greenville and High-A Salem, where he combined to go 3-3 with 8 saves and a 2.16 ERA in 32 appearances (1 start)…spent the majority of the campaign with Greenville, where he made 25 relief appearances (1-3, 7 saves, 2.27 ERA)…Was named a South Atlantic League mid-season All-Star and the Red Sox Minor League Pitcher of the Month for April…Promoted to Salem on 7/29 and made 7 appearances (2-0, save, 1.80 ERA).

2013: Spent the season with Short-A Lowell and went 5-3 with 3 saves and a 2.14 ERA in 15 appearances (1 start)…Posted the 2nd-lowest ERA on the team (min. 50 IP)…Limited opponents to 2 ER or fewer in all 15 appearances.

ACQUIRED: Signed by the Red Sox as an international free agent on June 6th, 2011 from La Vega in the Dominican Republic.

So there you have it; four new players joining the team during the current homestand.  Thus far the results have been very good, especially for Craig (4-for-10, BB in 3 games played) which is a great sign for Boston.

In case you missed it, I recently sat down with Manager Kevin Boles for a “State of the Union” conversation on PawSox Insider as we reached the one-month mark of the season.  We covered lots of topics, including the current and possible future roles of Blake Swihart and Matt Barnes in the big leagues.  You can hear the entire interview below:

Henry Owens takes the mound on Friday night looking to bounce back from a rough outing last Sunday against this same Columbus team.  Hope to see you at McCoy; if not our radio pregame coverage begins at 6:50pm.

Henry Owens pitching

Henry Owens takes the mound at McCoy on Friday night

Happy Friday!

Josh M

A Slice of Heaven in the Heartland

by Will Flemming (@WillFlemming)

The PawSox completed their first swing through the West Division on Sunday, a 3-3 roadtrip to Toledo and Columbus.  Along the way, the Sox saw three huge pieces (Jackie Bradley, Jr., Matt Barnes and Steven Wright) promoted to Boston, witnessed Travis Shaw make his Major League debut in Toronto and took their first look at two of the crown jewel ballparks in the International League.  In many ways, Huntington Park in Columbus embodies the vision of the PawSox new ownership group and Baseball Rhode Island.  A spectacular stadium in the heart of downtown Columbus, Huntington Park has become a cornerstone in a revitalized commercial district and provides the people of Ohio’s capital with breathtaking and affordable entertainment.   In this edition of 45 Miles from Fenway, we will look back at the week gone by and bring you a 360-degree tour of the marvelous home of the Clippers.

Let’s begin with my favorite moment of the week.  It’s 4:00 on Wednesday afternoon, and we are sitting on the bus outside Fifth Third Field in Toledo (another gorgeous monument to the wonder of modern, downtown ballparks).  I’m one bite into my first ever chili dog from Tony Packo’s, a Toledo institution.  How I missed these dogs in all my trips to Toledo with Indianapolis is beyond me, but I am in Josh’s debt for introducing me to these:

It is impossible to make a better chili dog than Tony Packo's

It is impossible to make a better chili dog than Tony Packo’s

Everyone is on the bus except for one man – the manager, Kevin Boles.  The skipper boards the bus and calls to Travis Shaw.  A murmur percolates through the bus; “Is he?” “Do you think?” “Hope you packed your passport!”  A moment later, Travis returns to the bus and calmly breaks the news: “I’m going to Toronto.”  David Ortiz had lost his appeal and would miss Friday night’s game at the Rogers Center, and Shaw was being brought to the big leagues to play first base in the series opener.  He had indeed brought his passport, and he was off to realize a lifelong dream.  Travis was 0-for-3 with a walk in his big-league debut on May 8 and rejoined the club the next day in Columbus – which is 30 miles from his hometown of Washington Courthouse, Ohio.  We chatted with Travis the afternoon he returned; here’s what he had to say not 24 hours after his first MLB game:

Travis had spearheaded the three-game sweep in Toledo with six RBIs and a three-run, opposite-field home run…. there’s something about Shaw in the Buckeye State.

The PawSox were swept in the series in Columbus – the middle game of which was as wild as you will ever see, featuring three ejections, a controversial sacrifice fly that tied the game and a walk-off loss in the 10th.  Before that crazy affair, I sat down for an extended conversation with Rich Gedman, the PawSox hitting coach.  Rich is a bit of a philosopher, and he touched on a wide range of fascinating topics:

We taped that interview inside Huntington Park, which is on the short list for best ballparks in the IL.  It sits at the end of Nationwide Boulevard in the heart of a rejuvenated neighborhhod.  The walk down the tree-lined boulevard from the hotel to the yard displays a perfect marriage between city and ballpark.   The Arena District, as it is called, bustles with activity before, during and after games.

The entrance to the Arena District, chock full of bars and restaurants

The entrance to the Arena District, chock full of bars and restaurants

Along the boulevard, a swath of local businesses are thriving.  Every day, you walk past people enjoying all the the District has to offer:

Hours before the game people are buzzing around the ballpark

Hours before the game people are buzzing around the ballpark

On the approach to the ballpark, fans are greeted by a tribute to Harold Cooper, a Columbus institution and the namesake for the Clippers’ erstwhile home:

Harold Cooper, the father of baseball in Columbus

Harold Cooper, the father of baseball in Columbus

The sightlines inside Huntington Park are breathtaking.  The view from behind home plate in the broadcast position showcases the downtown skyline; you can close your eyes and imagine the buildings of Providence towering above the Seekonk River:

One of the better views anywhere in baseball

One of the better views anywhere in baseball

Directly behind home plate, fans gather in the best bar in the league.  Flat screen TVs, a full bar and an uninterrupted view of the park beckon:

Right behind home plate in CBus  - what a setup

Right behind home plate in CBus – what a setup

One thing I love about Huntington Park: the open-air concourses throughout.  Fans can walk the concourse and when the mood strikes, sidle up to a vendor without missing a second of the action:

Hot dogs, popcorn, peanuts, and a view of the field at all times

Hot dogs, popcorn, peanuts, and a view of the field at all times

As in most new ballparks, both outfield corners offer fabulous group picnic areas.  On all three nights, the corners teemed with birthday parties, bachelorette parties and corporate outings throughout these wonderful alcoves:

Birthday party? Bachelorette Party? They've got you covered

Birthday party? Bachelorette Party? They’ve got you covered

Off in the distance, you can see one of the unique features of HP – within the brick building behind left field, the Clippers have built out a restaurant/bar and their Team Store.  These offer yet another distinctive vantage point:

Quite a spot to shop for Clippers gear

Quite a spot to shop for Clippers gear

High above the left field wall, a restaurant in a building that brings the Warehouse at Camden Yards to mind

High above the left field wall, a restaurant in a building that brings the Warehouse at Camden Yards to mind

Throughout the open-air concourses in Columbus, the Clips pay homage to their history and many of their great players:

A nod to the Clippers of years gone by

A nod to the Clippers of years gone by

From field level, you get a true sense of the enormity of the downtown skyline and can bask in all of Huntington Park’s glory:

Kevin Boles had this view for three May days

Kevin Boles had this view for three May days

I said this on the air and meant it:  every PawSox fan owes it to themselves to visit Huntington Park.   Mariano Rivera and Jorge Posada didn’t play at Huntington Park, but their spirit is celebrated there.  There is an energy inside Huntington Park – an electricity that is emanates through the thousands of fans who walk through its doors every night.  They experience affordable, entertaining baseball in a yard that feels as big-league as any park anywhere.   Hours before the first pitch and hours after, they pour into local business. They turn a three-hour ballgame into an entire evening with friends; every minute we spent there was a treat, too.

Westward Ho! PawSox Hit The Road

by Josh Maurer

After enjoying their first scheduled off-day of the season, the Pawtucket squad is heading to Ohio for a six-game trip at Toledo and Columbus.  This continues a stretch that began last weekend in which the team will play 23 consecutive games out of their division.

Toledo Park

A view of Fifth Third Field in Toledo, OH from my hotel room straight across the street!

Perhaps its a good time for a change of scenery for the PawSox.  While the team just completed a 4-3 homestand and still sits at 15-10 overall, the offense has sputtered for the past two weeks.

Over the last 15 games (beginning on Sunday April 19th) Pawtucket is hitting just .201 (88-438) and is averaging just 2.9 runs per game (43 total runs).  The team has only scored more than four runs in one of those 15 games and only collected more than six hits in four.

They say hitting is contagious, and right now it seems much of the PawSox roster is in a bit of an offensive funk.  Rusney Castillo (0-for-11 since returning from DL), Travis Shaw (4-for-35 in his last ten games), Garin Cecchini (3-for-27 since returning from DL) and Deven Marrero (1-for-16 in his last five games) are a few big names who have struggled recently.

Marrero swinging

Deven Marrero is one of the PawSox hitters hoping to turn around some recent struggles at the plate

Of course, the loss of catcher Blake Swihart to the big leagues took away the team’s most productive offensive player to this point.  Swihart was 10th in the IL in hitting (.338) at the time of his promotion, and in his final seven games with the PawSox he went 9-for-22 (.409) with six walks.

Still, with the talent on the Pawtucket roster you have to figure this lineup will start producing more runs and hits in short order.  Perhaps a journey to some hitter-friendly parks in the West Division will be just the remedy for the hitters.

Here are a few other notes to get you ready for the series at Toledo:

-Don’t look now, but Pawtucket’s batting order has continued its constant state of flux that we saw for the entire season in 2014.  Manager Kevin Boles has already used 25 unique starting lineups in the first 25 games (counting batters 1-9 in the order, regardless of defensive position). Last season the squad used 150 unique lineups in its 153 games.

Boles bundled in dugout

Manager Kevin Boles continues to mix and match his lineup cards this season

Matt Spring has done a great job with the bat thus far this season.  After missing the first week on the disabled list, the veteran has started 12 of the team’s 16 games since.  He has collected at least one hit in 11 of his 12 games played (including a current six-game hitting streak).

-Veteran lefty Dana Eveland is doing a great job in a multi-inning bullpen role.  Eveland has not allowed a run over his last eight innings, spanning a total of five appearances.  I chatted with him for this past week’s PawSox Insider show.  I found it interesting that Dana says at this point in his career he would rather be a left-handed specialist.  Check out the full interview below:

Eveland handshake w. Swihart

Dana Eveland has been sharp in the bullpen for the PawSox in his first year with the club

Henry Owens is on the mound tonight for the PawSox.  Radio broadcast coverage begins at 6:15, first pitch from Toledo is slated for 6:30pm.  Talk to you tonight, and a Feliz Cinco de Mayo a todos!

Josh M

Pitching Changes A-Plenty, Rusney Returns!

by Josh Maurer

Happy Wednesday everyone!  The PawSox have won back-to-back games at McCoy against Syracuse and are back with the best record in the International League at 13-7.  The squad continues to win despite some serious roster turnover over the past few days.

With the announcement that relievers Tommy Layne and Dalier Hinojosa have been promoted to Boston on Wednesday, the PawSox pitching staff has seen five players called up to the Majors in the past five days.  Overall six players have been promoted since Saturday.

mattbarnes2

Matt Barnes was optioned back to Pawtucket on Sunday after pitching two scoreless innings for Boston Saturday in Baltimore

Matt Barnes (Saturday), Heath Hembree (Sunday), Steven Wright (Monday) preceded Layne and Hinojosa, who is making his first foray to the big leagues.  Hinojosa allowed three runs in his first appearance this season, then pitched three straight scoreless outings of exactly two innings from April 15-24th.

It was only a one-day stint with Boston for Barnes, Hembree and Wright as each hurler was promptly optioned back to the PawSox the following day (Barnes and Hembree are back active, Wright should be on Thursday).  We’ll see how long Layne and Hinojosa can stick in the Red Sox bullpen – one that could certainly use some fresh arms.

Steven Wright pitch2

Steven Wright should be back in the PawSox rotation in the next few days

It was also just a one-day stay with the big league club for Jackie Bradley, Jr., who was recalled on Tuesday and optioned back Wednesday afternoon.  Jackie has played so well early in the season – both offensively and of course with his glove – but John Farrell said he would only be used as a reserve in Boston.  It makes sense to have him in Pawtucket playing every day.

There is some more good news for the PawSox outfield, as Rusney Castillo has been activated off the disabled list.  The electrifying native of Cuba had missed the previous 17 games after injuring his right shoulder during the third game of the season in Lehigh Valley.  Castillo adds some serious thump to the order.

Rusney Castillo in dugout in jacket

Rusney Castillo is expected to be back in the lineup for the PawSox on Wednesday night

The PawSox have welcomed several newcomers this week.  Relievers Jess Todd and Robby Scott joined in time to help lead the PawSox to a 4-1 win over Syracuse on Tuesday night.  Todd made a spot start (his first since 2008!) and threw four scoreless innings, while Scott made a trip for Portland in the morning and then earned a win at McCoy with three innings of one-run ball.


Jonathan Roof, a veteran utilityman who had been in Portland to begin the season, came before the start of the homestand and made his PawSox debut on Monday night.  He made a very nice defensive play at second base to help the team to a 3-1 victory.

Finally, Kevin Boles’ squad has lost two players to the disabled list in the past two days. Valuable reliever Noe Ramirez has been placed on the DL Wednesday (retroactive to April 27th) with tightness in his back. Utilityman Jeff Bianchi went on the DL Tuesday with a left shoulder problem.

Got all that?  Good!

If you didn’t get to listen over the weekend, check out my interview with International League President Randy Mobley in which we discussed at length the new pace of play regulations in Triple-A baseball:

Also, a heads up for those of you who live in Central Mass: our PawSox broadcasts on Charter TV 3 are scheduled to begin on Thursday afternoon with a 12:00 matinee against Syracuse.  Check out the complete schedule of games that Charter will air this season right here.

Game three of the seven-game homestand is scheduled for Wednesday night at 6:15 as the PawSox try to take three in a row from visiting Syracuse.  It will be Henry Owens’ fourth start of the season, and he’ll look to improve upon some command issues he has battled over the first three.  Owens has not walked fewer than four batters in a start thus far in 2015.

Henry Owens pitching

Henry Owens is on the bump for the PawSox on Wednesday night

Looking forward to speaking to you on the radio at 6:00pm tonight!

Josh M

A Split in The Electric City

by Will Flemming (@WillFlemming)

In 1880, the Dickson Locomotive Corporation in Scranton, PA illuminated its facility with electric lights.  Six years later, the coal-mining hub built the first network of electric streetcars anywhere in the country, leading the Baptist minister David Spencer to dub Scranton “the Electric City.”

Scranton - It's Electric

In the years since, Scranton has watched the coal industry ebb and flow, and the eastern Pennsylvania town has gained notoriety as the fictional home of “The Office.” Over the last four days, the Pawtucket Red Sox did not go on any paper sales calls with Michael Scott – but they did spend their share of time at the sparkling PNC Field, the renovated home of the Scranton RailRiders.

The PawSox split four games over the last three days after the opener was snowed out.  The series saw another dominant start from Eddie Rodriguez, a three-hit game from Blake Swihart and more impressive contributions from Humberto Quintero.  Garin Cecchini returned off the Disabled List and hit the ball extremely hard three times on Sunday.  You can listen to Humberto’s third big-fly this week below:

Sox manager John Farrell told reporters that Rusney Castillo may DH for Pawtucket as early as Wednesday, according to the Boston Globe’s Pete Abraham:

Given that the PawSox saw the promotion of both Matt Barnes and Heath Hembree to Boston throughout the weekend and that they played their third doubleheader in less than two weeks, the club has to feel fine about splitting the four-game set.

Throughout this 2015 season, we are going to take you on virtual tours of many of the new ballparks in the International League.  With a new yard on the horizon for the PawSox, we’ll highlight some of the wonderful features in parks around the circuit.  From dugout suites to party decks to polished club seating, the International League has vaulted the fan experience into the 21st century.

PNC Field was renovated throughout the 2013 season; the seating capacity was reduced to 10,000 fans.  The revamped seating bowl offers fans a far more intimate setting, improved sightlines and better access to the game.

Fewer seats mean better sightlines in Scranton.

Fewer seats mean better sightlines in Scranton.

The RailRiders built bars in both outfield corners.  As you’ll see in later posts from places like Durham and Indianapolis, these terraced bars are a fantastic option for fans: full service bars and restaurants just atop the outfield wall offer a unique and entertaining perspective.

Fans get food and beers hand delivered - a few feet away from the rightfielder.

Fans get food and beers hand delivered – a few feet away from the rightfielder.

Throughout the concourse, PNC Field offers fans a wide range of concessions options; they’ve got all the basics from hot dogs to hamburgers, but adventurous patrons can indulge in gyros, steak-covered fries (a Josh Maurer favorite as you can see below) and local barbeque.

Decadent food options delight fans and broadcasters alike

Decadent food options delight fans and broadcasters alike

After a chocolate milkshake from a local creamery, I was able to roll myself up to the Mohegan Sun Club level.  Fans find a dedicated entryway:

The entryway is nice....

The entryway is nice….

But it’s only once the elevator doors open upstairs that they see the real prize:

Flat screens, granite countertops and a VIP feel welcome you to the Club level

Flat screens, granite countertops and a VIP feel welcome you to the Club level

On Saturday night, fans took in the ‘Riders game, NBA and NHL playoffs and the Yankees/Mets game with a cold drink in hand at this spectacular bar.  Behind the bar, an expansive restaurant beckons:

club restaurant

The corridors of the entire ballpark are decorated with wonderful Yankees’ memorabilia.  These high-end finishes give PNC Field a truly big-league feel:

Joe D, Yogi and The Mick - the history of the Yankees is everywhere

Joe D, Yogi and The Mick – the history of the Yankees is everywhere

The suites themselves are polished and sparkle.  Indoor/Outdoor seating options, customizable menus and waitress service accompany these luxurious boxes:

A bevy of menu options are just one of the many amenities in PNC's suites

A bevy of menu options are just one of the many amenities in PNC’s suites

And when in the suites, the ‘fridge is never far away:

You never have to go far to find food and drink

You never have to go far to find food and drink

Ten steps away from a personal bar, you can find yourself in some of the best seats in the house:

It's hard to find a better seat than these

It’s hard to find a better seat than these

At the end of the suite level, PNC boasts a massive party deck:party deck

In case it’s cold, the ‘Riders have you covered with heaters built into the deck’s roof:

On a cold night in Scranton, they've got you covered (and heated).

On a cold night in Scranton, they’ve got you covered (and heated).

On my walk back down to the clubhouse, Joe D offered one last smile:

On the way to 56, Dimaggio tied Wee Willie Keeler's 44-game streak

On the way to 56, Dimaggio tied Wee Willie Keeler’s 44-game streak

Even the Yankee Clipper would like the clubhouses in Scranton; big-league stall lockers for every player, with the batting cages immediately adjacent:

An expansive clubhouse welcomes players to Scranton

An expansive clubhouse welcomes players to Scranton

All in all, PNC is a great place for fans to watch a ballgame – and for ballplayers to compete in one.

Josh and I look forward to talking to you from McCoy tomorrow night at 6:00 P.M.  First pitch slated for 6:15, and we’ve got a fabulous pitching matchup between Brian Johnson and Syracuse’s A.J. Cole.

Until the pregame show on WHJJ and the PawSox Radio Network, I wish you a goodnight from somewhere on Highway 84.

Where Are They Now; Catching Up On Some 2014 PawSox

by Josh Maurer

As the PawSox get ready to begin their four-game series at Scranton/Wilkes-Barre one day later than expected because of a “snow out” on Thursday night, I thought we would take a look at where some of the members of the 2014 Governors Cup championship team have moved to since the title was clinched last September.

There was a large amount of turnover at the upper levels of the Red Sox minor league system last off-season.  Some of that can be attributed to the normal course of veteran Triple-A players looking for better opportunities with different organizations, but a lot of the turnover came in the form of trades made to provide immediate help to the big league club.

So without further ado – here’s a glimpse at the new surroundings for a good number of 2014 PawSox players.  Let’s start with those who were either traded or claimed off of waivers by a different organization.  These are listed in no particular order.

Alex Hassan: Round Rock Express (Triple-A, Texas Rangers) (waviers)

Alex Hassan

Hassan had quite the eventful off-season.  He was originally claimed off of waivers by Oakland on November 11, 2014.  One month later the Orioles claimed him, but then the As claimed him back at the beginning of spring training.  Finally it was the Rangers who claimed Hassan off of waivers at the end of March.  He is still on their 40-man, but has played the season in Triple A (in 12 games Hassan is batting .233/0/7).

Ryan Lavarnway: Baltimore Orioles (waviers)

Lavarnway

Lavarnway had a similar off-season path to that of Hassan.  He was claimed off waivers three times in December; first by the Dodgers, then by the Cubs and finally by the Orioles where he has found a home.  He made the Baltimore opening-day roster as the back-up catcher and in four games played is 1-for-13.

Carlos Rivero: Tacoma Rainiers (Triple-A, Seattle Mariners) (waviers)

rivero

Rivero was claimed by Seattle off waivers in November 2014.  He was waived again a month later, cleared, and signed back with the Mariners on a minor league deal in December.  In 14 games with Tacoma thus far he is is off to a hot start, batting .319/2/8.

Dan Butler: Syracuse Chiefs (Washington Nationals) (trade)

Butler_PawSoxChiefs812014JillianSouza_0408

Butler was traded to Washington in January for LHP Danny Rosenbaum (who is currently on the PawSox DL).  He had been designated for assignment one week earlier, so the Red Sox worked out a deal to get something in return for the popular catcher.  While still on the Nationals 40-man, Butler is back in the IL currently playing with Syracuse (8 games played, .214/0/5).  We should see him in Pawtucket next week.

Drake Britton: Iowa Cubs (Chicago Cubs) (waviers)

Britton1_PawSoxBulls6292014JillianSouza_5639

Britton was claimed off waivers by the Cubs in February, then outrighted to Triple-A Iowa at the end of spring training.  The lefty has appeared in four MiLB games so far and gone 1-2 with a 4.26 ERA.

Rubby De La Rosa: Arizona Diamondbacks (trade)

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Rubby was traded (with Allen Webster) back in November in the deal that brought the Red Sox Wade Miley.  De La Rosa made the starting rotation for Arizona to begin the season, and in three starts has gone 2-1 with a 6.00 ERA (18 IP, 23 H, 13 R).

Allen Webster: Reno Aces (Arizona Diamondbacks) (trade)

Webster_PawSoxRochester4232014JillianSouza_4417

Webster was also part of the November deal that brought the Red Sox Wade Miley (with De La Rosa).   Unfortunately, Allen did not make the big league rotation coming out of spring training and then struggled through his first two starts at Triple-A (0-1, 7.0 IP, 17 H, 15 R).  He was recently placed on the Reno disabled list.

Anthony Ranaudo: Round Rock Express (Texas Rangers) (trade)

IMG_1802

Ranaudo, the IL’s Pitcher of the Year last season, was traded to the Rangers in January for lefty reliever Robbie Ross.  The big right-hander did not make the Texas season-opening starting rotation, but he has been called up to make one start for the big league team on April 14th against the Angels.  Unfortunately he gave up six runs in 1.2 innings pitched and was optioned right back to Triple-A.  With Round Rock he has only allowed one run in 10.0 innings over two starts.

Alex Wilson: Detroit Tigers (trade)

Wilson_PawSoxSyracuse472014JillianSouza_8081

Wilson was included in the Red Sox December deal with Detroit that netted Boston Rick Porcello.  After starting the season in Triple-A Toledo, the righty has just been called up to Detroit.  In four relief appearances with the Mud Hens, Wilson went 1-0 with three saves and did not allow a run in 5.1 innings pitched.

Now let’s look at some other key members of last season’s Governors Cup championship team who left the Red Sox organization as free agents.  Again, no particular order here.

IMG_9131

Corey Brown (right), Justin Henry (center) and Mike McCoy (left) have all moved on from Pawtucket this season

Corey Brown: Durham Bulls (Tampa Bay Rays)

Brown led the PawSox with 17 home runs last season.  He signed as a free agent with the Rays this off-season and has been playing in the IL again with Durham.  In eight games thus far Brown is 5-for-32 with one home run.

Derrik Gibson: Bowie Baysox (Baltimore Orioles)

Gibson_PawSoxClippers832014JillianSouza_0227

Gibson played the final two months of the season last year as a super utilityman for the PawSox.  He signed with the Orioles in the off-season and is playing in Double-A Bowie.  Thus far in 13 games played, Gibson is batting .250/0/5.

Mike McCoy: El Paso Chihuahuas (San Diego Padres)

IMG_1064

McCoy was the veritable “swiss army knife” player for the PawSox last season, playing all over the diamond defensively and providing leadership in the clubhouse.  He signed with the Padres in the off-season and is hitting .171 thus far in 11 games with Triple-A El Paso.

John Ely: Colorado Springs Sky Sox (Milwaukee Brewers)

john ely

Ely was a valuable member of the PawSox bullpen in 2014.  He signed as a free agent with Milwaukee in the off-season and has been pitching in Triple-A Colorado Springs as a starting pitcher.  After making two starts and allowing eight runs in 7.2 innings pitched, Ely went on the disabled list.

Ryan Verdugo: Nashville Sounds (Oakland As)

Verdugo helped the PawSox pitching staff as a long reliever and fill-in starter during the final two months of last season.  He signed with Oakland in the off-season and has been pitching in a similar role with Triple-A Nashville thus far in 2015.  In three outings (one start), Verdugo is 1-1 with a 3.27 ERA.

Brandon Snyder: Southern Maryland Blue Crabs (Independent)

Snyder, a big power-hitting infielder, was injured and played only two months at the beginning of the 2014 season.  He has caught on with Southern Maryland in the Atlantic League.

Rich Hill: Syracuse Chiefs (Washington Nationals)

The Massachusetts native Hill pitched the first three months of last season in the bullpen for the PawSox, then opted out of his contract for a big league deal with the Angels in July.  He has bounced around since, but has landed in the Nationals organization to begin 2015 and is back in the IL pitching for Syracuse.  He has only allowed one earned run in six innings over his first five appearances this season.

Finally, here are some 2014 PawSox players who are no longer active in the game at the beginning of this season.

Justin Henry, Coach (Greenville Drive, Red Sox Single-A)

justin henry

Henry was a popular member of the PawSox for the past two seasons.  He has retired from playing and is now a coach in the Red Sox organization at Low-A Greenville.  I am confident he will move up the ladder in the coaching ranks quickly.

Ryan Roberts: not playing

IMG_1451

Roberts was the regular second-baseman for the PawSox for most of last season.  The Tatman was in spring training with the Royals but was released in late March.  He does not appear to have caught on with another organization as yet.

Jose Valdez: not playing

The veteran Valdez was on the mound for many key outs during the Governors Cup playoffs last season, including the final out in the 13th inning of Game 4 in Durham.  From what I can tell, Valdez is not playing in 2015.

Chris Hernandez: not playing

chris hernandez

The southpaw Hernandez pitched for the PawSox in various roles for most of the last three seasons.  He was released by the Red Sox at the end of spring training and does not appear to have caught on with any other organization as yet.

So there you have it.  Pretty interesting to see where these guys have landed, no?

Will Flemming and I will talk to you from PNC Field in Moosic, PA tonight at 6:50 for pregame coverage.  Henry Owens is on the mound for the PawSox with first pitch scheduled for 7:05pm. Happy Friday!

Josh M

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