Results tagged ‘ Dustin pedroia ’

Rags and The Bird, 33 Years Ago Today; Brian Johnson an All Star

by Will Flemming

It seems rain follows the PawSox to - and from - Frontier Field

It seems rain follows the PawSox to – and from – Frontier Field

Rain falls on the PawSox caravan home from Rochester after a four-game sweep at Frontier Field.  After dropping four games in which the offense could not get kicked into gear and was outscored 18-4, it’s back to McCoy for a pair of fun nights.  With Daniel Nava joining the club Thursday to begin a rehab assignment, the PawSox – who are in a stretch of 44 games in 45 days – will lean on the energy of the home fans to get back on track.

Speaking of an energized McCoy, today offers a chance to look back at one of the most electrified nights in the history of the venerable ballpark.  July 1, 1982 is a night that will forever be rememebered in the McCoy annals.  The scene: “The Bird” Mark Fidrych, one of the quirkiest characters in the history of the sport, was in the middle of one final comeback attempt.  By that 1982 evening, Fidrych had long established himself as a cult figure.  The Bird broke into the big leagues with Detroit in 1976; after making the club as a non-roster invitee, he won 19 games, was the Rookie of the Year and finished behind only Jim Palmer in the Cy Young voting.  Fidrych earned attention with far more than his win total – he would talk to the baseball, pat down the mound and, in the words of Rico Carty, “tried to hypnotize the hitters.”

Mark Fidrych would groom the mound and speak to the baseball before every start

Mark Fidrych would groom the mound and speak to the baseball before every start

During Spring Training in 1977, The Bird was fooling around in the outfield and crashed into the outfield wall, tearing cartilage in his knee.  As he came back from that malady, he tore his rotator cuff – and that injury would essentially end his career as a viable starting pitcher.  He won six games in 1977 and was named an All Star, but was never the same.  He was released by the Tigers after 1981 and signed a minor league deal with the Red Sox.  Which brought him to McCoy Stadium on the first day of July in 1982.

On the other side stood Dave Righetti, who had just been sent down to Columbus by the New York Yankees.  “Rags”, who had won eight games and pitched to a 2.04 ERA in his rookie year, was mired in a rough patch.  On June 26th, he’d allowed three runs over only three and a third innings.  Two starts prior, he’d walked 8 Red Sox over six innings.

Dave RIghetti saved 252 games and won 82 over a 16-year career

Dave Righetti saved 252 games and won 82 over a 16-year career

Righetti’s role that day heightened the intrigue that swirled around each of The Bird’s starts – and Rags delivered.  But The Bird stole the show.  This excerpt from the New York Times’ coverage of the game wonderfully captures the mood of the day:

In a duel between two pitchers on the comeback trail, Dave Righetti struck out 12 batters in six innings tonight in his first game since the Yankees demoted him to the minor leagues.

But the evening’s honors went to Mark Fidrych, once acclaimed as The Bird of the Detroit Tigers, who pitched nine innings as the Pawtucket Red Sox rallied to defeat the Columbus Clippers, 7-5.

The matchup drew a standing-room crowd of 9,389 into McCoy Stadium, which has 5,830 seats, to watch two former rookies of the year in the American League: Fidrych in 1976 and Righetti in 1981.

Righetti, who was sent to Columbus last Sunday, struck out the first four batters and seven of the first nine. He stayed six innings and left in a 3-3 tie with these statistics: two earned runs, four hits, 12 strikeouts and three walks. ”I felt fine.” the 23-year-old left-hander said. ”I don’t have anything to prove. But I’m not bitter. I was ticked off at first, but after the initial shock, it all wore off.”

After Righetti left, the Red Sox rallied twice and won the game while Fidrych kept pitching out of trouble. After nine innings his first complete game in a year, the 28-year-old right-hander had allowed five runs, 10 hits and five walks and had struck out five.

”I tell you, it feels great to go nine again,” Fidrych said.

Glen Laxton of ABC News was on the scene that night:

By the close of the 1982 season, Fidrych had made 19 starts for the PawSox; he went 6-8 with a 4.98 ERA.  His final comeback attempt would come to a close not long after.  That one final shining moment at McCoy stands as an everlasting memory in the history of our storied ballpark.

As for Righetti, he would make one more start for the Yankees in ’82 before he was moved into the bullpen. He made four relief appearances before he was placed back into the Yanks’ rotation.   He started 31 games in 1983 and pitched to a 3.44 ERA with 14 wins, but would become the Yankees’ full-time closer in 1984.

Over the next 13 seasons with New York, the Giants, A’s, Blue Jays and White Sox, Rags saved 252 games.

Fidrych’s life came to an unexpected end on April 13, 2009 while working on his dump truck at home in Worcester.  But his memory will forever burn bright in the minds of fans in Detroit, Pawtucket and many towns in between.

If there is one man on the current PawSox roster that is the diametric opposite of The Bird, it’s Brian Johnson – who was named an International League All Star today.  Brian is all business on the mound; the instant he receives the ball from the catcher, he wants to fire home.  Johnson doesn’t talk to the baseball – he pounds the strike zone with it.  Brian does not hypnotize hitters with hystrionics – be carves them up with command of four above average offerings.

Johnson was an easy All Star choice: he’s 8-5 with a 2.68 ERA, has struck out 76 and walked only 24 over 80 innings. BJ was lifted after throwing only five pitches in his last start in Rochester; just before the first game of a doubleheader, Brian’s stomach began to act up.  The PawSox considered scratching Johnson – who spent the opening game of the twinbill on his back in the clubhouse – but the lefthander wanted to give it a go.  Afer the third pitch in the first inning, Johnson started to wobble and had to step off the mound.  He walked Argenis Diaz on four pitches.  After ball one to James Beresford, Johnson knew he was done.  Food poisoning had taken over, and Brian had difficulty even seeing straight.  Bob Kipper and Miguel Gonzalez raced out of the dugout and took the baseball; the PawSox had Dalier Hinojosa – who normally stays in the dugout until at least the third inning – out in the ‘pen from the outset, knowing they might need him.

Johnson has thrown on the side and remains on schedule to make his next start on Saturday in Syracuse.

Some other news before the PawSox welcome Scranton to McCoy for a brief two-game set:

The Sox spent Canada Day in Toronto.  Rick Porcello did not have much fun.

Gordon Edes thinks the Sox should sit Porcello down until after the All Star break. 

Jen McCaffrey chronicles Carl Willis’ return to Toronto, the city where he first joined the Sox.

Dustin Pedroia is slated to take BP today in Toronto.

Sox’ owner John Henry indicated the club may be willing to take on more payroll, and asserted that Boston “responds to reason rather than pressure.

Today is the first day of the International Signing period, and the Sox have already signed two.  Here’s a profile on the pair from Sox Prospects. 

We’ve got fireworks tonight and tomorrow – come out and celebrate Independence Day with the PawSox.

Josh and I will talk to you on the pregame show at 6:00,


Reports: Pedro Ciriaco to the Red Sox

According to multiple media reports, in addition to the Red Sox official game notes and Bobby Valentine on WEEI, PawSox infielder, and mid-season All-Star, Pedro Ciriaco has been called up Boston.

It should be noted that the Red Sox have not sent out an official release about Ciriaco. That said, he has been seen in the Red Sox clubhouse while Dustin Pedroia has been seen wearing a cast on his right thumb.

Of the PawSox four mid-season All-Stars, Ciriaco would mark the third called up to Boston over the last four days. Catcher Ryan Lavarnway would be the lone All-Star remaining on the roster with Ciriaco joining Justin Germano and Mauro Gomez in Boston.

Ciriaco played the World Team in the 2010 XM All-Star Futures Game as a member of the Diamondbacks’ farm system. (Kelly O’Connor)

The super-utility Ciriaco has played second base, shortstop, and third base for Pawtucket while hitting .301 over 64 games. Earlier this year, the 26-year-old experienced a career best 16-game hitting streak and has been the PawSox leadoff hitter for much of the season.

“He’s picked us up big time,” PawSox manager Arnie Beyeler said of Ciriaco. “He’s really had a fabulous year and is a lot of fun to watch play. He can beat you in a lot of ways, and he’s a great kid and works hard everyday.”

Ciriaco has spent parts of the last two seasons in the Big Leagues with Pittsburgh and made his Major League debut on September 8, 2010 against Atlanta. That day he went 1-for-1 as a pinch-hitter and, interestingly enough, played with Justin Thomas, Argenis Diaz, and Brandon Moss – all former Red Sox farmhands.

In 31 Major League games, Ciriaco has hit .333 (10-for-33) with three doubles, two triples, and seven runs batted in.



Gomez Called Up, Gets First Big League Start

If such an award existed, Mauro Gomez would have a strong case for PawSox mid-season MVP. Among International League batters, he ranks second in average (.311), is tied for third in homers (19), is third in RBI (55), leads in extra-base hits (46), is tied for first in doubles (26), and is second in total bases (172).

Yesterday afternoon the first-year Red Sox farmhand received the good news that he had been called up to Boston for the second time this year. Not only is he now with the Red Sox, tonight in Oakland he will make his first Big League start, playing third base.

Yes, third base.

Gomez made his Major League debut on May 13 of this year at Fenway Park against Cleveland. Overall, he appeared in two games finishing 0-for-2. (Kelly O’Connor)

A position he hasn’t played since 2009 when he was a member of the Rangers’ High-A Bakersfield club, Gomez gets the start because of soreness in Dustin Pedroia’s right thumb. With Pedroia out of the lineup tonight, and Will Middlebrooks struggling with a hamstring injury, Nick Punto will start at second base, Gomez at third.

Once he finds someone’s glove to borrow, this should be a July 4th worth remembering for Gomez.



My guess is Gomez looked something like this when he found out that he’d be going back to the Major Leagues. (Kelly O’Connor)

Marking My Calendar

Now that I’ve gone 48 hours without meeting another member of Pawtucket’s finest, I can begin to set my sights on some upcoming events surrounding the PawSox that I’m looking forward to.

1. Baseball Writers Association of America Dinner

This will be a first for me and I can’t wait to take it all in.  The Baseball Writers Association of America, which has chapters in each Major League city, was formed in 1908 to work with baseball officials to improve working conditions for writers at the nation’s big league ballparks.

On January 19, the 73rd annual Boston Baseball Writers Dinner will be held at the Westin Copley Place Hotel in Boston.  The Red Sox award recipients include:

  • Jacoby Ellsbury — Thomas A. Yawkey Memorial Award (Red Sox MVP)
  • Alfredo Aceves — Red Sox Pitcher of the Year, Unsung Hero Award
  • Jonathan Papelbon — Red Sox Fireman of the Year
  • Dustin Pedroia — Jackie Jenson Award (Spirit and determination)
  • Josh Reddick — Harry Agganis Memorial Award (Red Sox Rookie of the Year)
  • Jarrod Saltalamacchia — Tommy McCarthy Memorial Good Guy Award
  • Ryan Lavarnway  — Greg Montalbano Memorial Minor League Award
  • Ken Ryan — Former Boston Red Sox Player Award
  • Tommy Hottovy — Lou Gorman Award (Passion and Persistence)

Others being honored that I have interest in include Texas Rangers’ GM Jon Daniels and former St. Louis Cardinals manager Tony La Russa.

I’ll be sure to take plenty of photos and dedicate a blog post following the event.

2. Hot Stove League Party at McCoy Stadium

On Friday, January 13th from 6:00 p.m. – 9:00 p.m. the PawSox will hold the 35th Annual Pawtucket Red Sox Hot Stove League Party at McCoy Stadium.  I’ll be in attendance and hope to see you there as well.  This event is FREE to the public and will be held inside the hallowed confines of the McCoy clubhouse and batting tunnels. No RSVP is necessary.

PawSox manager Arnie Beyeler will give fans a preview of what the 2012 club will look like. Several PawSox players and top Red Sox prospects like RHP Alex Wilson, C Luis Exposito, OF Alex Hassan, and RHP Brandon Duckworth are expected to attend the party and will be available for photos and autographs.

Food and drinks will be served.

3. Media Day at McCoy Stadium

Unlike the Hot Stove Party, this event in early April is not open to the public.  Local Rhode Island and Boston media will descend on McCoy Stadium and will have their first chance to meet the 2012 PawSox players and staff.

If the weather is nice all the players will be dressed in their home whites and will be interviewed on the field.  If we get rain, the event will move inside the clubhouse.  No matter the weather, I’ll get plenty of pictures and post them here on the blog.

4. PawSox Welcome Home Luncheon

Now an annual tradition created by team president Mike Tamburro, the Welcome Home Luncheon is open to the public and will be held the day before Opening Day on April 4.  The site will be announced soon.

The event, which is largely put together by the Northern Rhode Island Chamber of Commerce, will run from approximately noon – 1:30 p.m. and will feature all of the PawSox players, manager Arnie Beyeler, and a featured speaker that has not yet been announced.

Information about the event can be found on our website next month, but tickets can only be purchased through the Chamber.

5. Spring Training

I saved the best for last.  I’ll have the great opportunity to get a first-hand look at JetBlue Park, the new $78 million Fenway South complex.

Two instantly recognizable features at the new ballpark are the Green Monster and manual scoreboard – the exact one that was once at Fenway Park. It was replaced before the 2001 season and held in storage in South Dakota (where else?).

I’ll be in Fort Myers for a week near the middle or end of March and promise to not spend all my time at the beach.  I’ll be outfitted with a digital audio recorder and a Flip video camera to gather plenty of interviews to share both on here and at

Mark your calendars, Opening Day is exactly three months (91 days) away.



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