Results tagged ‘ PawSox ’

Ryan Lavarnway Talks Catching and Home Runs

After not hitting a home run since his first at bat in Spring Training, Ryan Lavarnway has gone deep in back-to-back nights, one of wich went to the opposite field. With last night’s game locked at 0-0, if it wasn’t for his ninth inning bomb to left, the PawSox and Chiefs might still be playing.

Prior to yesterday’s game I spoke with Ryan on the PawSox pre-game show about his first home run and how he felt he was progressing defensively.

Although it’s always fun to talk about the long ball, I was most interested in asking Ryan about his work behind the plate. Thanks to his system-leading 32 home runs last year, no one doubts what he can do with a bat in his hands.

“Catching is something that I take a lot of pride in and that I’ve put a lot of work in to the last couple years,” Ryan told me. “Being known as a complete player is something that I’m striving towards and that I think I’m getting close to people recognizing.”

In 10 games behind the plate, Lavarnway has allowed one passed ball and has thrown out an impressive 4-of-7 base stealers (57%). On Monday night, Syracuse had the tying run at second base with one out in the bottom of the ninth. When Lavarnway had to smother a Junichi Tazawa pitch in the dirt, the runner at second bolted to third. Ryan threw a dart to Will Middlebrooks who tagged the runner out two feet shy of the bag.

I hope you enjoy listening to Lavarnway talk about hitting and catching. Tonight is Game 3 in Syracuse with first pitch scheduled for 6:00. We’ll be on-air with the pre-game show at 5:45.

Talk with you then,



With home runs in back-to-back nights, Lavarnway is now hitting .231 with 4 RBIs. He leads the PawSox with 10 walks and has already been intentionally walked three times. (Kelly O'Connor)

Goodbye, Ft. Myers

My first Spring Training was a blast.  I saw nine different games, met some terrific people, and learned a lot. I’m timing things right because this morning it’s raining for the first time all week.

Yesterday I went to the PawSox game at the Twins’ facility with my friend Mike Antonellis, the “Voice of the Portland Sea Dogs.” Here are some pics from yesterday’s game.

Former PawSox and Red Sox player, Aaron Bates. Now with the Twins, Aaron was the first player I ever covered to get called up to the big leagues.

Aaron talking with Mike after the game.

Red Sox outfield prospect Alex Hassan playing in his first minor league game since being sent down from big league camp.

Billy Buckner, no relation to Bill Buckner, pitched yesterday for the PawSox. The 28-year-old has appeared in 36 major league games (21 starts) since 2007 with Kansas City and Arizona.

Jeremy Kehrt appeared in seven games (two starts) for the PawSox last year.  The righty pitched for Scottsdale in the prospect-driven Arizona Fall League this past off-season.

The PawSox fell to Rochester 6-2 yesterday with Kehrt getting the start, pitching two innings, and suffering the loss. Both of Pawtucket’s runs came on RBI groundouts in the fifth inning. The only real offensive highlight was a sixth-inning triple by J.C. Linares to right-center. The ground shook when he slid into third base.

This will do it for me from beautiful Ft. Myers.  Today is a camp day for the PawSox (no games), but tomorrow they’ll host Rochester at 1:00 p.m. EST. My broadcast partner Steve Hyder will be down here for a week starting  tomorrow and will have lots of coverage on his blog which can be read here.

Thanks for your terrific readership this week – it’s been a privilege writing for you each day. I’m sure Spring Training 2013 will be even better, but before then, I’m counting down the 11 days until Opening Day 2012 on April 5th at McCoy Stadium.

Hope to see you there.



PawSox Fans Interview Manager Arnie Beyeler

A short while ago, PawSox fans on Facebook and Twitter submitted questions to our very own Pete Sachs in an off-season edition of “Ask Arnie.”  Because of his question, Gregory Levinsky won four tickets to the double-header on April 7 thanks to our 125 Tickets in 125 Days promotion. We’ll make sure to keep the Ask Arnie feature going throughout the season.  Thank you to all of the fans who submitted questions.

PawSox Fans: Do you evaluate yourself as a manager by the success of your teams? Or by the success of individual players making it to the major leagues?

Arnie Beyeler: I like to measure success with both. The priority is getting players to the next level – no matter which level that may be. That’s what it’s all about in the big picture, but I think winning is also a big part of a player’s development.  Players learn how to win by playing the game the right way.

PSF:    How much notice does a Triple-A team get when a player is called up?

AB:     If the player is a starting pitcher or a young position player, sometimes they get a few days notice.  However, the majority of the time they get told after a game and immediately leave to meet their new team whether in Boston or on the road the next day.

PSF:    Which PawSox player(s) have the best chance to make the leap this season from good to great? Who is a dark horse this season to shine in Pawtucket that fans may not know about?

AB:     That’s not a fair question for me to answer because we think all our guys have the opportunity to play in Boston in the future.  With their help, it’s our job as development guys to make them better.  Sure, some are closer than others, or may fill a need at the next level better, but we have a very talented group that we feel are just waiting their turn to get the opportunity to succeed up there.

Beyler returns to Pawtucket in 2012 for his second season as the PawSox manager. (Kelly O'Connor)

PSF:    How much different is the process of strength and conditioning for your players now compared to 10 or 15 years ago?

AB:     Keeping fit has turned into a year round job due to all the money available at the major league level.  Players can’t sit home and expect to keep their jobs anymore without getting stronger and better in the off-season. It’s very competitive at every level and as a result we ask a lot out of these guys. 

For example, players lift weights throughout the season on a consistent basis depending on our travel schedule and their roles on the team.  Pitchers lift the day after they throw and starters have a strict four-day workout routine between starts. It’s a little tougher with relievers since they could pitch any night.  Position players do the organizational shoulder strengthening program at least twice a week and are expected to do an upper and lower body workout at least once per week. With our travel schedule that can be tough to accomplish. Keep in mind, all of this is on top of their daily work on the field (fielding, batting practice, etc.).

PSF:    What are your impressions of the brand new JetBlue Park?

AB:     The sight of the complex is very impressive.  One of the differences between JetBlue and Fenway are the seats in the middle of the green monster with a net in front of them. The dimensions are the same: Pesky’s pole and how the wall jets straight back behind it, the deep triangle in center field, the bullpen nook in right-center and the angles down third base line. 

PSF:    Were you very familiar with Bobby Valentine before he took the Red Sox managerial job? How much are you looking forward to working with him this spring?

AB:     Bobby Valentine has been a much respected figure in baseball for quite a while so I am familiar with that aspect of him.  Prior to Spring Training, I had never met him or worked with him.  His enthusiasm is contagious and he’s proving to be a great teacher of the game.  He’s been extremely energetic and detailed oriented in his first couple of weeks down here and is very hands on in everything we do on each field with all the players.

So there you have it, the first “Ask Arnie” of 2012.  Feel free to email or tweet me anytime with a question you’d like us to ask him while I’m in Ft. Myers March 18-25.  Thank you again to Pete Sachs with the PawSox for coordinating all of the questions.  

I’m off to record PawSox Insider with Steve Hyder.  On this week’s show we’ll have International League President Randy Mobley, New York Yankees’ Beat Writer for the Wall Street Journal, Dan Barbarisi, and Chris Mellen of  You can listen to the show on Saturday at 2:00 p.m. on 920 WHJJ.



New Jersey’s Green Monster

Ahhh, Saturday.  My clever wife buttered me up this morning by cooking me a pancake breakfast, only to then summon me to curtain-hanging-duty.  So, yes, by taking a blog-break, I’m risking my marriage for you, my loyal reader.

You might remember my video interview with Red Sox prospect Alex Hassan earlier this winter. Among other things, he talked about how he built a replica Fenway Park in his backyard.  The image below might not be an exact replica, but one New Jersey resident sure is a Sox fan.

Ever wonder how a baseball is made?  Here’s a great video my parents found and shared with me.  It’s a little surprising to me that despite modern technology, every major league baseball is still hand-stitched.


Thank you to my three latest subscribers: vteyes, carlosoli, and marlyneg. You can subscribe by by typing in your email address in the top-right hand corner of this page and clicking “subscribe.”

Back to the curtains.  Hopefully I’ll be rewarded for my work with a Chipotle burrito for lunch.



Former PaxSox Manager Introduced in Norfolk

It’s a beautiful Saturday morning here in Massachusetts, but I’m guessing thousands of Red Sox fans will be locked up inside staring into their computer screens today.  Why?  2012 single game Red Sox tickets go on sale today at 10:00 a.m. ET, and from what my father-in-law tells me, this can be an all day adventure that takes place in an “online waiting room.”

On Friday, former PawSox manager Ron Johnson was formally introduced as the new skipper for the Norfolk Tides (Triple-A, Baltimore).  Johnson, 55, will be in his first year in the Orioles’ organization after spending the previous 12 seasons in the Red Sox system.

He served as Boston’s first base coach the previous two seasons after managing the PawSox in 2005-2009. Johnson has served as a minor league manager for 18 seasons in the Royals (1992-99) and Red Sox systems (2000-09), posting a career record of 1,261-1,262.

Johnson’s contract was not renewed by Boston following the 2011 season.

Johnson takes over for Gary Allenson who is being reassigned to another part of the organization after managing the Tides for parts of five seasons. If you’re one of thousands with time to kill today while waiting on Red Sox tickets, I highly recommend investing a few minutes in the video below.  It features Johnson’s predecessor, Allenson, and you may never see a manger ejected in such dramatic style.

Believe me, it’s worth your time.

All the best to RJ in Norfolk.  Although I’ve never met him, I’ve heard nothing but good things about him as a manager and as a person.  I’m sure we’ll get him on-air for a pre-game show interview when the PawSox and Tides meet up during the season.


Six Degrees of Cody Ross

Professional baseball is a pretty small world.  With thousands of players and coaches stationed in the dugouts of the Independent Leagues all the way up to the bigs, connecting one player or manager to another in the major or minor leagues is a little like playing Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon.

With that in mind, it’s no surprise that we can connect newly signed outfielder Cody Ross to both the Red Sox and the PawSox.

  • Ross played in 124 games in 2003 as a member of the Toledo Mud Hens – nine against the PawSox.
  • In those nine games he hit .266 (8-for-30)
  • In that same season, Kevin Youkilis appeared in 32 games for Pawtucket as a 24-year-old and hit .165.
  • Freddy Sanchez played every infield position for the PawSox that year except first base.
  • Although he went on to only play in 32 games for the Red Sox, Sanchez shared the San Francisco Giants’ clubhouse with Ross from 2010-11.
  • Larry Parish, Ross’ manager in Toledo, enjoyed a 15-year major league career that spanned 1,891 games.  52 of those games where played for the Red Sox where he hit .259 while suiting up at first base and designated hitter.
  • In 2003, Ross played in 15 games for the Louisville Bats, none against the PawSox.  However, he was managed by a member of the Red Sox Hall of Fame: Rick Burleson.  An Eastern League All-Star right here in Pawtucket in 1972, Burleson played in 292 games for the PawSox from 1972-74 before spending seven seasons in Boston where he was, among other things, an All-Star, a Gold Glove winner, and a back-to-back winner of the Thomas A. Yawkey Award as the Red Sox Most Valuable Player.
  • Although Ross grew up in New Mexico, his grandmother lived in Cranston, Rhode Island and was a season ticket holder for the PawSox in the 80s.
  • (I might have made that last one up).

Everything else is true, however.  So as you can see, Ross was practically destined to play for the Red Sox and will hopefully be a nice addition.  Now, if you’ll excuse me, I need to call his grandmother and see if she wants to renew her season ticket order.


PawSox 2012 Coaching Staff

Over the weekend the Boston Red Sox formally announced their 2012 minor league coaching staff.  The Sox have added three new individuals for assignment in the 2012 field staff alignment, most notably Gerald Perry as the hitting coach here in Pawtucket.

In a situation that resembles Terry Francona and Bobby Valentine switching offices, Perry is part of an identical exchange with Chili Davis.  

Perry, the Oakland A’s hitting coach in 2011, was not resigned at the end of the season and was thus on the open market.  Who did Oakland replace him with?  2011 PawSox hitting coach, Chili Davis.  Who replaces Davis in Pawtucket?  Gerald Perry, of course.

And around and around we go.

The new job for Davis reunites him with former San Francisco Giants teammate, and current Oakland manager, Bob Melvin.   A three-time All-Star, Davis had a career batting average of .274, while belting 350 home runs and batted in 1,372 runs.  Despite a 19-year major league career, the Jamaican-born 52-year-old is relatively inexperienced as a coach:

2003-04: Australian National Team Hitting Coach
2010: Dodgers’ Instructional League Hitting Coach
2011: PawSox Hitting Coach

Perry is a familiar face around McCoy Stadium, previously spending four seasons in the Boston organization as a minor league hitting coach with Single-A Michigan (1997) and Pawtucket (1998 and 2010), and was the club’s minor league hitting coordinator in 1999.


Perry enters his 29th season in professional baseball after being selected by the Atlanta Braves in the 11th Round of the 1978 draft.  A 13-year major leaguer and 1988 National League All-Star, Perry’s career was spent predominately at first base.  The video above is Perry with our very own Steve Hyder at Media Day in 2010.  Below is the complete minor league field staff list for this upcoming season.  -AG

Pawtucket (Triple-A, International League)
Manager: Arnie Beyeler
Pitching Coach: Rich Sauveur
Hitting Coach:
Gerald Perry
Athletic Trainer: Jon Jochim

Portland (Double-A, Eastern League)
Kevin Boles
Pitching Coach:
Bob Kipper
Hitting Coach:
Dave Joppie
Athletic Trainer:
Brandon Henry – Begins his first year with Portland after spending the last two seasons as athletic trainer for Salem. He enters his sixth season with the organization having also served as athletic trainer for Greenville (2009) and Lowell (2008-07).

Salem (High-A, Carolina League)
Billy McMillon – Will serve as Salem’s manager after skippering at Greenville from 2010-11. He led the Drive to the South Atlantic League Championship Series in his 2010 managerial debut.
Pitching Coach: Kevin Walker
Hitting Coach:
Rich Gedman – Joins Salem after serving last season as hitting coach for Lowell in his first coaching position in affiliated ball.
Athletic Trainer: David Herrera – Moves to Salem from Greenville, where he was the Drive’s athletic trainer from 2010-11. He also held that position for Lowell (2009) and the GCL Red Sox (2008).

Greenville (Single-A, South Atlantic League)
Carlos Febles – Moves to Greenville after making his managerial debut with Lowell in 2011. He was Salem’s hitting coach from 2009-10 and held the same role for Single-A Lancaster in 2008.
Pitching Coach: Dick Such
Hitting Coach:
Darren Fenster – Joins Greenville in his affiliated coaching debut after spending six seasons on the Rutgers University baseball staff, including three as an assistant coach (2009-11). He also served as an assistant coach for the Cape Cod Baseball League’s Orleans Cardinals in 2008. Selected by Kansas City in the 12th round of the 2000 First-Year Player Draft, Fenster spent five seasons in the Royals minor league system and was named a Carolina League All-Star in 2002 and 2004.
Athletic Trainer: Mauricio Elizondo - Enters his fifth season in the Red Sox organization and his first as athletic trainer with Greenville. He previously served as athletic trainer for Lowell (2010-11) after joining the system as an intern with the GCL Red Sox (2008-09).

Lowell (Short-A, New York-Penn League)
Manager: Bruce Crabbe – Returns to Lowell after serving as Salem’s manager in 2011. This will be his third season at the helm of the Spinners (also 2006 and 2010).
Pitching Coach: Paul Abbott
Hitting Coach: Nelson Paulino – Joins Lowell as hitting coach after serving in the same capacity for the Dominican Summer League Red Sox over five seasons from 2001-02 and 2008-11.
Athletic Trainer: TBA

Gulf Coast (Rookie, Gulf Coast League)
George Lombard
Pitching Coach:
Goose Gregson
Pitching Coach:
Walter Miranda
Dave Tomlin
Hitting Coach:
U.L. Washington
Noah Hall – Makes his coaching debut after playing parts of 13 seasons as an outfielder in affiliated minor league baseball from 1996-2009. He also played parts of five seasons in independent leagues (2001, 2007 and 2009-11).

VIDEO: Talking with Alex Hassan & Luis Exposito

Below are two more video interviews I was able to get (along with my trusty camera man, Matt), during last Friday’s PawSox Media Luncheon.

Alex Hassan – OF

A Milton, Ma. native, Alex has enjoyed a productive offseason after suiting up in the prospect driven Arizona Fall League where he played for Scottsdale under PawSox manager Arnie Beyeler. If for no other reason, you should click play to learn about his backyard as a kid.

Luis Exposito – C

After spending all of 2011 with the PawSox, Exposito will return to Pawtucket to begin 2012. Learn what he’s aiming to improve upon this year and how being bilingual helps him catch.

Tonight I’ll be attending the Boston Baseball Writers Dinner at the The Westin Copley Place Hotel in Boston. I’ll be sure to take some pics and post them on the blog tomorrow. My plan is to then post my final two interviews with Arnie Beyeler and Red Sox Director of Player Development Ben Crockett on Saturday.


VIDEO: Meet Alex Wilson & Brandon Duckworth

I had a great time last Friday during our Media Luncheon here at McCoy Stadium and had a chance to catch up with a number of the invitees. As promised, I’ll be posting those video interviews here on the blog this week and today we begin with two of the best guys you’ll meet in the minor leagues:

RHP – Alex Wilson

The 2011 Red Sox Minor League Pitcher of the Year talks about his late season call up to Pawtucket and what it was like working the 5 a.m. shift at Lowe’s Hardware in College Station, Tx. during the offseason.

RHP – Brandon Duckworth

Duckworth, who spent all of 2011 with the PawSox, describes what it’s like to be the veteran in the clubhouse and how he’s learned this offseason that being a mom is the hardest job anyone can ever have.

As you can see, both are great guys and terrific interviews. In the next coming days I’ll be posting my interviews with Alex Hassan, Luis Exposito, Arnie Beyeler, and Ben Crockett.


Hot Stove Party Invitees – Brandon Duckworth

You’re invited this Friday, January 13th to the 35th Annual Pawtucket Red Sox Hot Stove League Party at McCoy Stadium.  This FREE event is open to the public and gives our great fans a chance to get autographs and photos with some terrific Red Sox prospects.  I’ll profile each player scheduled to appear Friday on the blog this week leading up to the event.

Today we continue with RHP Brandon Duckworth.

Ht.: 6-2      Wt.: 215      Age: 35     Hometown: Salt Lake City, UT    Signed: Philadelphia, 1997

Elsa/Getty Images

We all know how valuable a veteran presence is in a minor league (or major league) clubhouse, and that’s exactly what you get with Duckworth.  An eight-year major league veteran, the righty has appeared in 134 career major league games (84 starts) with three different teams (Philadelphia, Houston, and Kansas City).  Also of note, he was part of the November 3, 2003 trade that bought All-Star closer Billy Wagner to Philadelphia.

His big league debut came back on August 7, 2001 in a 7-3 win over the Padres.  Overall, Duckworth has gone 23-34, 5.28 ERA in the majors, last pitching with Kansas City in 2008 when he started seven games.   Since ’08, he’s pitched for three different Triple-A clubs: Omaha (Kansas City), Lehigh Valley (Philadelphia), and Pawtucket.

Last season with the PawSox Duckworth put up solid numbers going 8-6, 3.97 in 22 games (21 starts).  He strung together a four game winning streak from July 14 – 29 where he allowed five runs over 23 1/3 innings (1.93 ERA).  For those efforts he won International League Pitcher of the Week.

Interestingly enough, there are only four players from the state of Utah with more major league experience than Duckworth.  At the top of the list is former Red Sox pitcher Bruce Hurst with 15 years of experience (1980-94).  In nine seasons with the Sox, Hurst went 88-73, 4.23 ERA and was inducted into the Red Sox Hall of Fame in 2004.

One thing Duckworth can say he’s had that not many other major leaguers have experienced is his own cheering section.  During his time in the City of Brotherly Love, this section was known as the Duck Pond.  It was so popular that when he was re-signed by the Phillies in 2010, there was a Facebook group created to bring the Duck Pond to Coca-Cola Park in Lehigh Valley where he was pitching.

Should be fun meeting Brandon this Friday night at McCoy.  Hope to see you there.





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