PAWTUCKET -- Tommy Hottovy knew that this summer was going to be one of the most memorable times of his life.
He just didn’t expect that his summer would have included 24 days in June as a member of the Boston Red Sox.
The 29-year-old southpaw reliever, whose wife is expecting the couple’s first child next month, also received a ‘first’ earlier this month, when after pitching for nearly eight years in the minor leagues, he finally got the call only a select few players receive in their careers -- a promotion to the big leagues.
The Red Sox brought up Hottovy on June 3 to replace reliever Rich Hill, who suffered a season-ending elbow injury, and in four innings of work that were spread over eight appearances, he struck out two batters and surrendered four hits, three walks, and three runs.
On Tuesday, Hottovy was sent back to Pawtucket to make room on the roster for Franklin Morales, who was completing a rehab stint with the PawSox. But instead of pouting over his demotion, Hottovy was in very good spirits when he recalled his time in ‘The Show’ before Wednesday night’s game.
“It’s one of those things where you can’t really put it into words,” he offered. “You work for a long time to get to the ultimate level in your profession, and for my case, it’s baseball. And all the time -- part of eight years in the minor leagues, arm surgery, the demotions -- just for all that to culminate with being in the big leagues, it’s an unbelievable feeling.”
A fourth-round selection of the Red Sox in the 2004 MLB draft, Hottovy had spent the better part of his career in Double-A Portland. He was a starter until the 2008 season, when after two starts, arm woes forced him to miss the rest of the year and undergo Tommy John surgery.
When he returned to action in the middle of 2009, he did so as a reliever, but over the next season-and-a-half, he again spent the majority of his time with the Sea Dogs before appearing in 26 games with the PawSox toward the end of last season.
At the beginning of this season, Hottovy found himself back in Portland, but he didn’t last there very long. He recorded a 1.93 ERA in eight games before returning to Pawtucket on May 14, and three weeks and six solid appearances later, he was on his way up Route 95 to Boston.
In his first day in the majors, Hottovy also made his first appearance in an 8-6 victory over the Oakland Athletics. With two outs and a runner on base in the sixth inning, he faced one batter, David DeJesus, and got him to ground out to second.
“It was an awesome time, something I’ll never forget,” offered Hottovy, who managed to scrape up 17 tickets for family members and friends who flew up from his hometown in Kansas City to see him pitch. “It’s hard to describe the feeling you get when you’re out there in front of 38,000 people in your first game at Fenway Park. Just everything going on, it was a whirlwind.”
After the series with Oakland came Boston’s three-game series in New York against the rival Yankees, and even though Hottovy was not used in any of the games, he enjoyed his view from the bullpen to baseball’s biggest rivalry.
“Every night, I threw in the bullpen getting ready to come in,” noted Hottovy. “The atmosphere was unbelievable. Obviously, it’s a heated rivalry, so being a part of it instead of watching it on TV, it’s a lot different, so it was exciting. And we obviously went in and swept them, so that was good too.”
When Hottovy was summoned into Red Sox manager Terry Francona’s office to receive the news of his demotion back to Pawtucket, he took the news well and also got some positive words of encouragement from Francona.
“He said he really liked having me there,” remarked Hottovy. “He said I did a really good job; they just had to activate Morales. He told me I did well in the situations I was put into, and he told me to keep working and keep perfecting and getting more consistent with my delivery.”
While his first big-league experience was a great way to start his summer, the birth of his first child promises to only make it more memorable.
“The doctor was saying the baby’s going to be due at the All-Star break, but she went to the doctor today and things may be speeding up,” noted Hottovy. “We’re expecting it at any time here, from now until the All-Star break, so it’s exciting.”
As exciting as his 24 days with the Red Sox, and as exciting as a return trip to the majors, whether it would be sometime over the next couple of months or when big-league rosters expand on Sept. 1.
“It was a lot of fun and I had a blast,” he said of his time in Boston. “I know a lot of the guys liked having me around, and I got to know them really well and pick their brains about a lot of different things. It was an amazing time, and I’m anxious to try to get back there again.”