Results tagged ‘ Jim Rice ’

Homestand Recap (7/25-7/31): Honoring and Beating the Best

by Ryan Young

The PawSox closed out July with their best homestand (of at least five games) since 2013. Pawtucket went 6-1, beating two of the top teams in the league, Rochester and Scranton, three times apiece. The PawSox even kept hope alive in the playoff race despite looking up at the toughest division in Triple-A.

And it wasn’t just about beating the best…The PawSox also honored the best with their Inaugural Hall of Fame Induction on Friday, one of the highlights of another eventful summer week at McCoy.

Winning Ways:

The PawSox found several different ways to win their six games last week. In fact three of the games featured come-from-behind victories, while the other three wins came in shutouts.

Brennan Boesch captured Pawtucket’s second straight comeback win to begin the homestand with a walk-off, 11th-inning blast.

Boesch homered again in the third offense-driven win of the week on Saturday, but Chris Marrero had maybe the most impressive jolt of the season. His 20th home run of the season (which at the time tied for the league lead) left the entire ballpark.

Marrero is the first PawSox player to tally 20 home runs in a season since Mauro Gomez had 24 in 2012.


Jantzen Witte also had a great week at the plate for Pawtucket as the third baseman recorded a double in five separate games.

I spoke with Jantzen about his recent success, what stands out about Triple-A and his former teammate at TCU, Cardinals infielder Matt Carpenter.

As you heard me discuss with Jantzen, there has been an incredible amount of roster turnover this season for the PawSox. Witte has stayed on the active roster since he was promoted from Double-A Portland on April 18, but this is a rare example.

In fact, of the 55 players who have been on Pawtucket’s active roster at some point this season, only four have remained on it for the entirety of the season (up to this point): Chris Marrero, Kyle Martin, Roman Mendez and Robby Scott.

Scott and Mendez contributed to the first of three shutouts that the PawSox dealt in a three-game span last week. The pitching staff delivered pair of five-hitters (Wednesday and Friday) and then a one-hitter on Sunday to wrap up the week (Pawtucket’s first nine-inning one-hitter since May 27, 2009.)

Mendez has tossed 19.2 straight scoreless innings.

Heath Hembree closed out all three shutouts, retiring nine of the 10 batters he faced.

Heath Hembree

Hembree has struck out 16 of the 30 Triple-A batters he has faced this season. That’s almost difficult to comprehend.

It was an incredible feat to sweep the RailRiders and shut them out twice in the process. Scranton been swept only one time all season…way back in April. Pawtucket helped Lehigh Valley catch the RailRiders in the IL North standings.

Hall of Fame Night:


Just before the series with Scranton started, we had our Inaugural PawSox Hall of Fame inductions in a terrific pregame ceremony on Friday evening.

Wade Boggs, Jim Rice and the late PawSox owner Ben Mondor made up the first Hall of Fame class. After Boggs, Rice and Ben Mondor’s widow, Madeleine, each spoke, the 2016 Pawtucket team took the field to pay its respects. A IMG_4693ceremonial first pitch from all three honorees followed.

Boggs and Rice then posed for pictures with fans.

Boggs played two full seasons for the PawSox in 1980 and 1981. He missed out on winning the batting title by one at-bat in 1980 before claiming the title the next season. The story of the final day of the 1980 season is incredible and I dug up a couple articles from that day that retell the incredible story:

Boggs Story 1

Boggs Story 2

That is as close to an “unbelievable” end to a batting title race as you will ever hear. Yet, speaking of inconceivable thoughts, I present to you the following sentence from the first article about the future MLB Hall of Famer without comment:

“Boggs knows exactly what obstacles are built into his upward mobility–he’s not fast, hits with no discernible power and is not blessed with great quickness afield.”

Other Guests at McCoy:

Aside from the Hall of Famers, there were several other special guests at McCoy last week.

Red Sox closer Craig Kimbrel made a rehab start (even if he only faced three batters due to a pitch limit) on Saturday. It was one of the quickest rehab stints you will ever see, but it was fun to have him throwing 98 MPH at McCoy.

Mason Williams returned to McCoy but he has been a guest at the ballpark on several occasions throughout his life. The Scranton outfielder grew up in Pawtucket. He played little league in Darlington and frequented McCoy Stadium before he eventually moved to Florida for High School.

Williams made his debut as a player at McCoy in May of last season before he was called up to the Yankees later in the month. From what we can tell, he’s the first Pawtucket-born player to make the big leagues. Unfortunately, a shoulder injury derailed his season. Williams finally made his way back to the RailRiders last month and I asked him about coming to McCoy as a kid.


Sadly, Williams injured his ankle later that day. Hopefully he’ll return to the RailRiders and then to the Bronx in short order.

We also had thousands of guests (also known as fans) at McCoy throughout the week. One lucky group got an appearance from Deven Marrero, who took pictures, signed autographs and gave out some advice.

Other Notes and Thoughts:

Soccer Stars

Puerto Ricans Christian Vazquez and Henry Ramos have bonded off the field. In fact, Ramos’ daughter is Vazquez’s goddaughter. The two are frequently seen playing soccer with a cast of other PawSox. (Pictured below, the duo is joined by Rusney Castillo, Ali Solis, Roenis Elias and William Cuevas.)

On the baseball field, Vazquez has shown more power at the plate lately but his offensive game is still a work in progress. The Pawtucket catcher has eliminated a leg kick that he used earlier in the season, simplifying his batting stance so he uses his hands more.

From Further Down on the Farm

Andrew Benintendi, Yoan Moncada and Mauricio Dubon all made their way from Salem to Portland this season. And, of course, Benintendi just made the jump all the way to the big leagues.

I asked Red Sox Minor League Hitting Coordinator, Greg Norton, about the prospects when he was at McCoy last week.


Boston decided not to deal away any of its top hitting prospects this Trading Deadline, but the team did make on deal on Monday:

Lights Out

As Josh detailed in our last post, Pat Light was traded for pitcher Fernando Abad on Monday. He is so great to work (and a pretty darn good closer as well) with and we wish him all the best in the Twins organization.


He had quite the debut for Rochester against the PawSox this week.


The lights turn back on at McCoy tomorrow, as we begin a six-game homestand with a pair of postgame fireworks shows. We hope to see you there or speak to you on the PawSox Radio Network.

PawSox Face Some Big-Name Orioles in Sarasota

by Josh Maurer

Oftentimes during spring training, when established Major League players want to get in some extra work on the mound or take extra at-bats to work on some things at the plate they go take part in one of the minor league games.  On Monday, Will chronicled how David Ortiz and Junichi Tazawa (and others) played in the PawSox game at JetBlue.

Tuesday afternoon when the PawSox headed north to Sarasota to take on the Norfolk Tides (Orioles Triple-A affiliate), they ran into some important pieces of the Baltimore  big-league roster in a game played at the Buck O’Neill Complex at Twin Lakes Park (about a 15-minute drive from the Os spring home Ed Smith Stadium).

outside of Buck O'Neill complex

The Buck O’Neill Complex is a bit of a drive away from the Orioles MLB spring training home in Sarasota

Ubaldo Jimenez pitched 5 2/3 shutout innings against a lineup that feature PawSox infielder Sean Coyle, among others. Baltimore catcher Matt Wieters, infidlers Chris Davis and Pedro Alvarez and outfielder Hyun Soo Kim all batted against a Pawtucket pitching staff that included William Cuevas and Edwin Escobar.

Will and I were fortunate enough to be at the contest in Sarasota, and here is a photo/video recap of the afternoon:

Jimenez pitches closeup

Ubaldo Jimenez and his familiar funky delivery started the game for the Norfolk team.

Ubaldo Jimenez pitches

Jimenez shut out the PawSox for 5 2/3 innings on Tuesday afternoon.

Sean Coyle on deck

Sean Coyle was in the lineup playing 2nd base for Pawtucket against the Tides.

Ron Johnson on back field

Former PawSox manager and current Norfolk Tides skipper Ron Johnson presided over the festivities for the Orioles side.

Pedro Alvarez and Kim

Several big-name Orioles played big roles in the contest on Tuesday, including Hyun Soo Kim and Pedro Alvarez.

Chris Davis batting

Chris Davis takes a cut in the middle innings against PawSox reliever Mike Augliera.

Edwin Escobar, a man who has spent a large portion of the past two seasons pitching for the PawSox, entered the game in the middle innings and got to face both Davis and Wieters.  Here is a video clip of Escobar retiring Davis on a fielder’s choice:

And here is Wieters lining a single to right against Edwin in the same inning:

-We have been very fortunate to get the opportunity to interview some great guests during our time in Fort Myers this spring.  On Monday, I sat down with new Red Sox pitching ace David Price and talked about, among other topics, his impressions of Henry Owens and Brian Johnson.

Tuesday morning Will caught up with PawSox Hall of Famer-to-be Jim Rice, and chatted with the Red Sox great about his impressions of the current Boston outfield situation.

Finally, here is a video interview with Red Sox reliever Noe Ramirez, who has had a strong spring and is in the mix for a big-league bullpen spot to start the season (especially after the injury to Carson Smith on Monday).

-Earlier on Tuesday back at the JetBlue Complex, Rick Porcello threw a bullpen session with Pawtucket pitching coach Bob Kipper standing in the batter’s box as a “dummy” hitter.

Porcello pitches to Kipper

Bob Kipper standing in the batter’s box as he worked with Rick Porcello during a bullpen session on Tuesday morning – good form!

Porcello is expected to pitch on Wednesday during the PawSox game on the backfields.  We will bring you a recap of his outing, as well as the rest of the game information, tomorrow afternoon here on “45 Miles From Fenway.”

Thanks so much for reading, we will talk to you again on Wednesday from The Fort!

Josh M

Hernandez and Travis Making Waves

Sure, it’s only the second week of Spring Training.  But day after day, two unlikely names are making some of the biggest headlines in Red Sox camp: Marco Hernandez and Sam Travis.  Every time they get in a Grapefruit League game (which is to say, every time the Red Sox have taken the field thus far), those two have made noise.  This afternoon in Bradenton, the pair combined to produce the Sox’ final run: after Hernandez doubled to lead off the ninth, Travis singled him home.  It marked the sixth time Marco has crossed home plate, and the sixth RBI for Travis (which leads the Red Sox thus far in Florida; Hernandez is second on the club with four driven in).

Marco Spring

Marco Hernandez has been a revelation in camp 

Before the Sox’ game against Tampa yesterday, John Farrell was asked about Hernandez’s development at the plate.  “Any time you’ve got a left-handed hitting middle infielder seemingly their value just immediately is more,” Farrell said.  The skipper also commented on the increased power Hernandez has displayed over the past two seasons (he had 30 doubles and nine homer between Portland and Pawtucket a year ago) and praised Marco’s ability to “impact the baseball.”   Hernandez – who was the player-to-be-named-later when the Red Sox’ sent Felix Droubont to Chicago – may well have begun a transition from an interesting prospect to being regarded as a kind of player the Red Sox could depend upon for years to come.  A natural shortstop, Hernandez played second in Pawtucket a year ago (Deven Marrero maintained a firm grip on the shortstop role), and Farrell said he believes that Hernandez has sometimes been guilty of trying to prove too much on the defensive side.  With the bat, meanwhile, he is six for his first nine with four doubles and a video-game OPS of 1.838.  It’s only a week, but if you ask me, Red Sox fans could look back on this month as the first chapter in the emergence of a budding star. With Brock Holt and Travis Shaw squarely above Hernandez on the infield depth chart, it is safe to assume that he will start the year in Pawtucket; if he continues on his current development path, he may not stay there long.

Sam Travis, meanwhile, is in the midst of a yearlong burst.  The Red Sox’ reigning Minor League Offensive player of the year, Travis led the organization in a host of categories last season – and has picked up right where he left off.  And he’s impressing the Sox brass with his makeup, too: almost every time I ask someone in camp about Travis, “gamer” or some variant comes up.  People see the former second round pick from Indiana as a flat-out ballplayer – a kid who competes in every single at-bat, and seems to be getting better right before their eyes.   Since I arrived in Fort Myers, I have seen four of his at-bats – and he has squared up the baseball in every single one of them.

Sam and Shaw

Fans can be forgiven if they are confused about these two, both of whom have been on a tear in the Grapefruit League. Courtesy: The Boston Globe 

Josh and I were thrilled to do the first of five broadcasts yesterday at JetBlue; here’s a highlight of Josh’s call when David Ortiz logged his first hit and RBI of the Spring:

I will be back on the air Thursday for David Price’s Red Sox debut against the Twins at 1:05; Josh (who has UMass basketball duties) will be back and we will be together for the games on the 17th, 18th and 24th.

Between now and first pitch on Thursday, buckle up for a barrage of content.  We’ve lined up conversations with Kevin Boles, Ben Crockett, Brian Johnson and plenty of other big names.  After all, JetBlue Park is the kind of place that you can see Luis Tiant driving Jim Rice around in a golf cart…so you never know who we might grab.

Until tomorrow morning from the Fort,


JetBlue Park Retired Numbers Courtyard

Just because I’m back in Rhode Island doesn’t mean I can’t still write about my time in Ft. Myers. One of my favorite features of the the new ballpark is the Retired Numbers Courtyard outside “Gate E.” I took some photos of the display before I left and wanted to make sure you had a chance to see them.

Joe Cronin

Carl Yastrzemski

Johnny Pesky

Jackie Robinson

Ted Williams

Bobby Doerr

Carlton Fisk

Jim Rice

Flower Bed Next to the Numbers

Outside “Gate E”

My broadcast partner Steve Hyder is now in Ft. Myers for the entire week. You can check out Steve’s updates by reading his blog.



PawSox & Red Sox News on National Pancake Day

When I was a senior in college, I purchased the first hot dog sold at the new Busch Stadium in St. Louis and sold it for $300 on eBay – seriously. Although my $296.50 profit was impressive, it was nothing compared to the woman currently auctioning off a “rare President George Washington Chicken McNugget.”  Never mind that this delicious delicacy has been in her freezer for three years, what’s important is that it currently has 57 bids and is up to $4,350.  Since I know you’re curious, here is the actual eBay auction page.

Assuming you haven’t stopped reading because you’re suddenly craving McDonalds, we can move on to baseball.

  • Little known fact: Tek was a member of the 1992 U.S. Olympic team (Globe Staff Photo / Barry Chin)

    There haven’t been many captains in major league baseball history other than Jason Varitek.  As you no doubt have heard, the two-time World Series champion will officially announce his retirement on Thursday in Fort Myers.  Although his future role has not been disclosed, word is that he is expected to remain with the organization in some capacity.  “Tek” suited up for the Sox from 1997-2011.  During that time he hit .256 with 193 home runs and 757 RBIs. In the 103 -year history of the Red Sox, only Hall of Famers Carl Yastrzemski (23 seasons), Ted Williams (19) and Jim Rice (16) had longer playing careers  without suiting up for another team.

  • The Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Yankees, an International League North Division foe of the PawSox, will play every game on the road this season because of renovations to their home ballpark, PNC Field.  Lackawanna County is in the middle of negotiating the sale of the team and which has cause a bit of a hold-up in the ballpark renovation process.  No sale, no renovation.  The end of the story is that there’s a chance the SWB Yankees could be on the move.
  • Over the Monster did a nice interview today with Jason Parks of Baseball Prospectus and asked him his thoughts on PawSox catcher Ryan Lavarnway.
“I’m not sure about the bat; legit pop, but can he make enough contact for it to matter? Once the book gets written on his weaknesses at the plate, major league pitching will be able to manipulate those weaknesses for their own gain. I think you can attack Lavarnway up and in and dare him to generate enough bat speed to beat you. If he does, tip the cap and try another approach. But I’d dare him to hit quality velocity around the letters, especially if you can bust him inside. I don’t think he has the bat speed to handle it.”  Read the rest of the article here.
  • As one fan suggested on Twitter early this morning, how great would a Varitek/Tim Wakefield first pitch be on Opening Day at Fenway Park this year?
  • A total of 87,253 fans registered for the approximately1,000 available tickets in lottery for opening night at the new Marlins Park
  • Thank you to my latest subscriber, dentalguy.  Although that’s a bit of a nerdy name, nerdy is a good thing when you make more money than everyone else.  You can be just as cool as dental guy by typing your email address into the empty box in the top-right corner of this screen and clicking “Subscribe.”  It’s so easy, even a dentist can do it.
  • One thing every dentist loves is sugary maple syrup.  That means every dentist should love today, National Pancake Day.  Eat up!

PawSox Insider: Joey Mac and Ben Crockett dentalguy

Mike Tamburro on Joining the IL HOF

Earlier this week the International League announced that PawSox team president Mike Tamburro has been inducted into the IL Hall of Fame.

Tamburro joins Ben Mondor, the late owner of the PawSox, Joe Morgan, the former PawSox manager, Jim Rice, the former PawSox outfielder who is the last player to win the IL Triple Crown (in 1974), and Wade Boggs, the former PawSox third baseman who won the IL batting title in 1981, as members of the Pawtucket Red Sox in the IL Hall of Fame. Mike will be inducted in special ceremonies prior to a PawSox home game at McCoy Stadium this season.

I recently had a chance to sit down with Mike and chat with him about joining the Hall of Fame and how things have changed since he joined the club in 1977.  -AG