BOSTON â€” Thereâ€™s bringing a player up to speed after heâ€™s been out for a lengthy stretch due to injury. Then thereâ€™s the term that Angels manager Mike Scioscia used in describing the heightened state of urgency Chris Iannetta finds himself in after missing 2 1/2 months with a broken bone in his right hand.
â€śYou can study and simulate stuff all you want, but when you get behind the plate, youâ€™re like that jockey on a saddle,â€ť Scioscia explained prior to Tuesdayâ€™s Red Sox-Angels game at Fenway Park. â€śThatâ€™s the feeling you need and thatâ€™s where Chris needs the time in order to come together.â€ť
CENTRAL FALLS â€” On the morning of Tuesday, July 16, Central Falls High head football coach Mo Jackson walked into his new classroom 107 at Calcutt Middle School and looked out a window bordering the courtyard.
His first thought: What courtyard?
â€śI was doing some summer programs, and I wanted to get the room ready for the kids,â€ť admitted Jackson, who discovered since school year's end that he would be a new teacher's assistant and behavioral specialist at Calcutt. â€śI popped open the window, and I couldn't see anything. It looked like a jungle. I thought, 'My God, what happened to it?'
PAWTUCKET â€” If the Washington Nationalsâ€™ decision to pose an innings limit on ace pitcher Stephen Strasburg was debated and haggled over in a court of law, itâ€™s quite possible the rendering would be a hung jury.
Such a case involving a high-profile player and a playoff-starved franchise that has October baseball in its sights poses a provoking conundrum that can be argued and debated from both sides of the equation.
On one hand, Washington can be viewed as looking to protect the investment they have in Strasburg, a star at age 24 who underwent Tommy John surgery nearly two years ago.
PAWTUCKET â€” Daniel Bard admits thereâ€™s somewhat of a weight of his shoulders, knowing that regardless of how heâ€™s fared with the Pawtucket Red Sox â€“ 7.45 ERA in 28 appearances â€“ he remains very much on Bostonâ€™s radar.
Asked to respond to an item in Sundayâ€™s Boston Herald in which an anonymous Red Sox source clarified that he will pitch again for the big-league team in 2012, Bard took the occasion to explain how he can use the remaining few weeks in Pawtucketâ€™s season to his advantage.
PAWTUCKET â€“ Who better to clarify any myths regarding the perceived toxic environment that is the Red Sox clubhouse than a player who spent a hearty amount of time inside the ropes?
Ladies and gentlemen, we give you Darnell McDonald, the former part-time Boston outfielder whose access to the team was short-circuited upon getting designated for assignment in late June. Fortunately for this particular exercise, McDonald is seen as the perfect go-to guy to set the record straight in a Red Sox season that has taken on the tenor of a soap opera in terms of firestorms and drama.
PAWTUCKET â€“ At this point, you have to feel for Daniel Bard.
The Red Sox can point to the fact that Bard was not touched for an earned run in his inning of work Thursday night, but make no mistake: it was another tough night at the office for the struggling reliever. In case youâ€™re just joining us, Bardâ€™s latest attempt to get back on track provided a nice, tucked-in capsule of what has plagued the reliever during his two-plus month stint with the Pawtucket Red Sox.
PAWTUCKET â€” If Daisuke Matsuzaka made what he dubbed a â€śsmall mechanical adjustmentâ€ť prior to taking the mound for the fifth inning Wednesday night, itâ€™s news to both PawSox pitching coach Rich Sauveur and catcher Dan Butler.
â€śWhatever tweak he made, he made on his own,â€ť stated Sauveur on Thursday, one day after Matsuzaka delivered what could be coined a mixed bag of an outing.
There was good Matsuzaka â€“ four scoreless innings in which he retired 12 of 13 Scranton batters â€“ following by bad Matsuzaka, the damage pertaining to the five runs (four earned) he yielded in the fifth.
WOONSOCKET â€” Barbara Dixon will never forget the first-ever Blackstone River Valley Greenway Challenge, held in late September of 2001.
In fact, she and other organizers questioned whether they'd be able to take care of the logistics in time.
â€śThis is how bizarre it was that first year,â€ť noted Dixon, who works closely with the John H. Chafee Blackstone River Valley National Heritage Corridor Commission, located at the old train station near Main Street.
PAWTUCKET â€“ The Elizabeth Beisel Welcome Home Tour made a stop at McCoy Stadium Wednesday evening, as the North Kingstown native and Olympic medalist threw out the first pitch and signed autographs at the ballparkâ€™s Cox Fan Center.
Standing on the field in her Team USA jacket and a PawSox cap, Beisel was presented a Pawtucket team jacket by General Manager Lou Schweichheimer and infielder Tony Thomas, who took the occasion to tweet the following after catching the ceremonial toss: â€śNot a bad arm for a swimmer; thanks for keeping it close so I could catch it!â€ť
PAWTUCKET â€” Stop if youâ€™ve heard this before, but PawSox pitching coach Rich Sauveur feels that embattled reliever Daniel Bard is closer than the numbers suggest.
Sauveur provided words of reassurance on Wednesday afternoon, one day after Bard had a devil of a time locating the strike zone. You probably know the grizzly numbers by now, but here they are again: On his way to recording one out Tuesday night against Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, Bard walked four and allowed two runs. Just 10 of the 27 pitches he recorded were strikes.