PAWTUCKET – It was akin to the calm before the storm Tuesday afternoon inside the PawSox clubhouse.
Some 24 hours before Wednesday’s 4 p.m. Eastern Time non-waiver trading deadline, Pawtucket took the field for batting practice. There was perfect attendance as Will Middlebrooks and Xander Bogaerts – two names that have swirled amidst the trade winds in recent days – joined the rest of their Triple-A teammates in heading back inside for a cool, air-conditioned sequester.
“We’re trying to keep every day the same, having them come in here and do their routine,” noted Pawtucket manager Gary DiSarcina when asked if he’s felt the need to address the Red Sox-laced rumors that will build to a crescendo shortly after Pawtucket and Norfolk complete Wednesday’s noontime start. “I don’t want to sit here and bring guys in every time a rumor starts circulating and ease their minds. They’re professionals, especially at this level (Triple A). These guys should be old enough that rumors are rumors.
“If I start talking about them, it starts giving credence to the rumors. I could spend all day squashing rumors about Xander, Will, Jackie (Bradley Jr.), (Allen) Webster and (Rubby) De La Rosa, but honestly we would be here all day,” DiSarcina continued.
To DiSarcina, the anxiety that can percolate during this juncture of the baseball calendar can actually work to a player’s advantage.
“Some guys use it as motivation. They hear their name and feel good about themselves and that helps them play better,” noted DiSarcina. “To others, it’s just rumors.”
One PawSox who has enjoyed seeing his name in bright lights, being linked to this guy or that guy, is Bogaerts. It’s understandable given his age (20), which in turn lends itself to innocence.
“If anything Xander’s been real loose. He’s been playing with an instinctive passion out there,” said DiSarcina. “It’s almost like he’s enjoying it.”
Speaking to Bogaerts, he came across as someone who has a good understanding about the outbreak of baseball gossip that grabs hold of the sport as July winds down.
“I'm here to play baseball, that's all there is,” said the PawSox shortstop. “No one expects to get moved, but anything can happen at anytime.”
The PawSox are living proof that a player can be on the move at any time come July 31. In 2008, then-manager Ron Johnson signaled for outfielder Brandon Moss to meet him. Moss was one of the players sent to Pittsburgh as part of the three-team deal that sent Manny Ramirez to the Los Angeles Dodgers and Jason Bay to Boston.
Two years ago, Lars Anderson was pulled from a game at McCoy Stadium and informed that he was his way to his hometown Oakland A’s in exchange for pitcher Rich Harden.
The deal fell through when Harden flunked his physical and Anderson was in the lineup the next day for Pawtucket.
The 2012 deadline saw Anderson on the move again. This time, the deal with the Indians went through with knuckleballer Steven Wright making one start for Double-A Portland before joining Pawtucket for its Governors’ Cup run. Speaking of Portland, several members of the 2013 PawSox were inside the locker at Hadlock Field on July 31, 2011 – the day catcher Tim Federowicz and pitcher Stephen Fife were shipped to the Dodgers.
“It’s a great time to be a baseball player. You have a chance to play in the big leagues and the goal is to get there,” said DiSarcina about one side of the trade deadline that typically doesn’t get mentioned. “Whether it’s with this team or not or it’s the Cliff Lee trade or Jake Peavy trade or whatever, you want to see players play instinctive and free.
“That’s why it’s important to stress that somebody is always watching you,”DiSarcina added. “Whether it’s our guys internally watching you or scouts or the other team, you’ve always got to remember to play hard. At the same time, I think they understand that they’re playing for an organization that’s not afraid to make a trade.”
All will be revealed by 4 p.m. Wednesday afternoon.
“Especially for the homegrown guys Xander and Jackie and some of the high-profile prospects, there might be a sigh of relief. They don’t want to play for the Phillies or the White Sox,” said DiSarcina. “But for everyone else, they can still get traded.”
Follow Brendan McGair on Twitter @BWMcGair03