PAWTUCKET – The type of season Ryan Lavarnway is enjoying tends to open the door to possibilities down the road, one being a September call-up.
Right now Lavarnway prefers to let his bat do the talking. The power-hitting catching prospect went 3-for-4 with two home runs Sunday as the Pawtucket Red Sox ended the unofficial first half of the season with a 4-3 win against Buffalo.
“I think playing GM is one of the worst things you can do,” Lavarnway said afterwards. “It’s all about staying disciplined not only at the plate but also off the field. You can’t let your mind wander and think about things you can’t control. I don’t make the decision if or when I get called up. My job is to come out and play baseball for the Pawtucket Red Sox.”
Lavarnway, presently not on the 40-man roster, now has seven homers in 26 games since his June 13 promotion to Triple-A. Sprinkle in his numbers he accumulated with Double-A Portland and Lavarnway tops all Red Sox farmhands with 21 round trippers. With the PawSox the 23-year-old Yale product is hitting .343 with a 1.061 OPS.
Serving as Pawtucket’s designated hitter, Lavarnway eased into his productive day with a double down the left field line in the first inning. He kicked it up a notch when he belted a solo home run into the left-field bullpen leading off the fourth before depositing a two-run shot into the berm an inning later.
“I’m trying to stay disciplined,” said Lavarnway. “This is my third full season and I’ve learned what I can do mentally in order to stay hot.”
Matt Fox, Pawtucket’s lone representative for this Wednesday’s Triple-A All-Star Game in Salt Lake City, Utah, pitched 5 1/3 innings of two-run ball en route to picking up the win, his fifth.
The righty struck out seven while issuing four walks. Fox will depart for Utah on Monday and has his finger's crossed he can provide the International League squad with at least one inning.
Fox will not be alone in Utah as the PawSox are covering the expenses for his father David to fly from Tampa to join him.
“It was really nice of the PawSox to do that so my dad can experience and enjoy this with me. He runs a restaurant so it should be nice for him to get away for a few days,” said Fox, who was an Eastern League all-star in 2009 while with New Britain. “It should be a fun time.”
Randy Williams got out of a two-out, two-on pickle in the ninth to register his fifth save, his second in as many days. Hector Luna blasted his 10th home run, a solo shot in the fourth, as Pawtucket heads into the three-day break a season-best nine games over .500 (50-41). For all the comings and goings that have gone on this season, the PawSox sit just 3 1/2 games in back of first-place Lehigh Valley in the I.L. North. Manager Arnie Beyeler’s club is tied with Gwinnett in the wild-card standings.
“You can’t complain when you’re winning,” said Beyeler after Pawtucket won for the seventh time in nine tries. “In the minor leagues you hope to just hang in the race and be in contention the last couple of weeks of the season so you have something to play for.”
Ryan Kalish vows to return this season. The lingering question still remains when.
The outfield prospect, sidelined since suffering a partial tear in the labrum of his left shoulder in April, continues to be impeded by a strained muscle in his neck that surfaced while rehabbing his shoulder. The discomfort has reached a point that the Red Sox opted to shut Kalish down. The plan is to let the 23-year-old rest while home in New Jersey over the break before being reevaluating on Thursday.
“We’re going to let it calm down to see if we can come back after the All-Star break,” Kalish said. “I’m doing everything in my power to come back as quick as I can. Obviously this is something that we need to take more time with.”
Kalish reportedly went for a second opinion in Pittsburgh last week, the visit confirming the original diagnosis by Boston’s medical staff regarding his neck. While Kalish affirmed that he made a visit to the Steel City, he declined to talk about the specifics of what went on.
“Hopefully we’re moving in the right direction.” Kalish said. “It’s hard when you want to get back so bad.”
“Part of our job was to throw batting practice and hit ground balls to those guys,” recalled Beyeler about one of his primary pre-spring training duties while he was a minor-league coach with the Yankees. When veteran-types started appearing at the club’s minor-league facility in Tampa, the onus fell on Beyeler and several other coaches to be on hand should they want to get a leg up.
One of the “guys” present for extra work was none other than Derek Jeter, the latest member of the 3,000-hit club. Employed by New York from 1997-99, Beyeler recalls Jeter as someone “who always worked hard and was always a pro. Good things happen to good people and he’s done it right. You go out and work with him and see the example he sets. As a coach the hope is that you can pass it on to the younger guys so maybe it helps them out.”
EXTRA BASES: Shortstop prospect Jose Iglesias continues to suffer from concussion-like symptoms after taking a fastball off the helmet a week ago. “Hopefully he can do some things after we come back after the break. He can’t have any tests until he walks around and his head doesn’t hurt,” Beyeler said. “He’s still a little sore and dizzy.” … Felix Doubront is slated to make a relief appearance Monday with Double-A Portland, the Sea Dogs playing a noontime game in New Hampshire. … Buffalo manager Tim Teufel was ejected in the top of the sixth. … Get your tickets now as outfielder Carl Crawford will rehab with the PawSox Friday and Saturday.
Buffalo 000 012 000 – 3-8-0
Pawtucket 000 220 00x – 4-5-0
Dylan Owen, Jack Egbert (6), Dale Thayer (7) and Raul Chavez. Matt Fox, Jason Rice (6), Randy Williams and Luis Exposito. 2B: Jason Botts, Bubba Bell; Ryan Lavarnway. HR: Lavarnway 2.
WP: Fox (5-3). LP: Owen (4-5). Save: Williams (5).