PAWTUCKET — For members of the PawSox family with Massachusetts blood running through their veins, the horrific and tragic events that marred the Boston Marathon hit particularly hard.
“It’s a special day for race fans and baseball fans; there’s a (Boston Bruins) game at night. It’s a great time for the town,” explained manager Gary DiSarcina, a native of Malden, Mass. and current resident of Plymouth. “When you least expect it, that’s when these things happen.”
Added outfielder Alex Hassan, who grew up in Milton, Mass.: “Normally, it’s a very unique and special day. What happened Monday was really unfortunate and something you hate to see no matter where you’re from. ”
As fate would have it, DiSarcina spent part of his Monday explaining to his high-school aged son, Gary Jr., the fine particulars of why a baseball game at Fenway Park is able to take place simultaneously while thousands of runners pound Boston’s pavement. Once his Patriots’ Day lesson was complete, the PawSox skipper began developing knots in his stomach.
Whenever tragedy strikes, the first reaction is to check in with loved ones. DiSarcina’s daughter, Carlee, was on bus ride that was scheduled to dock at South Station not long after mayhem erupted on Boylston Street. Naturally, the skipper’s mind was elsewhere as the PawSox went through pre-game exercises.
“We were frantically texting between myself, my wife and her aunt. (Carlee) was crying and didn’t know what to do; she was supposed to take the T [Boston’s commuter rail system] to Braintree before it was closed down,” DiSarcina said. “For me personally, it was a little distracting at the beginning of the game, but finally my son came in and found out that she was okay.”
Family-wise, everyone is doing fine, according to Hassan. His tenor changed the moment he began talking about someone who he knew was directly affected by the bombing.
“He was in surgery (Monday) … he was a spectator watching his father run,” he said. “I’m sad that stuff like this happens. It’s just inhumane and there’s not a whole lot you can do about it other than keep the victims and their families in your thoughts and prayers.”
Like most pitchers who get called up, the trajectory that Steven Wright found himself on was conducive to things breaking favorably. The fact the knuckleballer was summoned Tuesday following the Red Sox placing closer Joel Hanrahan on the disabled list is a testament to staying the course.
“He’s worked very hard. To be going up to the big leagues for the first time, I know it was a thrill for him,” said Pawtucket pitching coach Rich Sauveur. “It’s a big accomplishment, but that’s not his ultimate goal. I know he’s going to be pitching out of the bullpen, which is tough for a knuckleballer, but if he throws the ball like he did (with the PawSox), he should be fine.”
To that end, Sauveur was asked to compare and contrast Wright’s current position to Charlie Zink, another PawSox butterfly specialist who was named the International League’s top pitcher in 2008. That season represented the high point of Zink’s career as he never pitched in another big-league game following his Boston debut on August 12, 2008.
“They are two totally different people. Not to put Charlie down, but I think their goals are totally different,” Sauveur explained. “I love Charlie, but he was happy just to get there. Steven is not going to be happy getting there. He wants to stay.”
After Tuesday’s 8-6 loss to Lehigh Valley, Jose Iglesias followed PawSox hitting coach Dave Joppie to the indoor batting cages adjacent to the home clubhouse. Iglesias was wearing flip-flops, though such particulars weren’t about to prevent Joppie from getting some sort of point across.
Iglesias finds himself in the midst of a 2-for-17 slump since connecting for a homer during his second at-bat last of last Thursday’s game. Within the struggles lies a ray of good news – the shortstop has managed to draw walks in three straight games prior to Tuesday’s 1-for-5 showing, one that helped raise his season average from .143 to .158.
“He doesn’t have a ton of good results as far as the average side of things, but he’s got a couple of walks and has been able to manage the strike zone,” DiSarcina pointed out. “He’s kind of all over the place right now. I don’t know if it’s the adjustment of coming down and reality has hit him that he’s in Triple A, but he’s not in the big leagues. He’s fighting through the letdown of not being where he wants to be, but this is where he is. He’s going to have to grind out his at-bats and get back to a solid approach.”