High school baseball players in New England understand there are two phases to their season â€“ chilly and warm. April is usually rainy and cool until the final week of the month. Players must deal with the conditions and try to persevere, knowing the warmth of May is eventually going to arrive.
With the temperature climbing to 76 degrees on Sunday, thereâ€™s a hint that warmer weather is right around the corner. Thatâ€™s good because the division races are starting to take shape and some of this weekâ€™s games are pretty interesting.
PAWTUCKET â€“ The Pawtucket Red Sox â€“ as well as Boston â€“ now holds its collective breath regarding the left shoulder of outfield prospect Ryan Kalish.
Kalish make a diving grab to his left to rob Syracuseâ€™s Michael Aubrey of a surefire base hit in the second inning of Thursdayâ€™s 14-0 matinee massacre of the Chiefs. Replays showed that the center fielder jammed his shoulder as he hit the turf and rolled over. Teammates quickly huddled around their fallen comrade as Kalish remained on the ground for several minutes.
By the time the PawSox return home a week from Saturday, April will all but be a memory. With that in mind, here are some early-season observations/thoughts about the local club.
Josh Reddick saw his miserable start at the plate last season cost him a chance to get up to Boston far sooner than as a September call-up. As his batting average plummeted to unimaginable depths â€“ it stood at .189 on May 30 â€“ Reddick watched as Daniel Nava and Ryan Kalish were summoned to the big leagues.
PROVIDENCE â€” When youâ€™re on a roll like Lincoln High, things just seem to fall into place.
The Lions did their best work in the latter innings Thursday, scoring three runs apiece in the sixth and seventh innings to best La Salle Academy, 8-5. At 7-0, Lincoln stands tall amongst the Division I-North hierarchy. In fact, the Lions are one of just two teams in the league to sport such a glittering mark, North Kingstown being the other.
PAWTUCKET â€” For most of his first five seasons in the Red Sox system, Felix Doubront was buoyed by a starting pitcherâ€™s mentality. The 23-year-old was accustomed to taking the ball once every five days, only to spend the down time between starts preparing for his next turn.
PAWTUCKET â€“ The Pawtucket Red Sox are on the type of roll that has not been seen in these parts in quite some time.
True, the PawSox won eight straight games last August, but the team was far removed from playoff contention at that point. The winning streak Pawtucket currently enjoys â€“ itâ€™s now five games after Tuesdayâ€™s well-executed 3-1 win against Syracuse â€“ lends credence to the idea that the 2011 season could be different from last couple of campaigns, which saw the locals spend most of the summer playing out the string.
PAWTUCKET â€“ Theo Murray wasnâ€™t completely sure what he was going to get out of Chris Messier, his starting pitcher for Tuesdayâ€™s game against Shea. The reason for concern on the part of the Tolman head coach seems justified, especially since Messier was forced to leave his last start with arm soreness.
For the second time in as many days, a signed PC recruit has been relieved of his commitment.
Tuesday saw new Providence College coach Ed Cooley grant Kyan Anderson, a 5-foot-11 point guard from Fort Worth, Texas, his release of his signed letter-of-intent. The release of Anderson and Markus Crider, the second member of ex-coach Keno Davisâ€™ incoming class for 2011, means the Friars as of this moment have zero incoming freshmen for next season.
PAWTUCKET â€” Rich Hill could have been sulking and pouting on Monday afternoon after learning the news that fellow southpaw Hideki Okajima -- not he -- was called up to the Boston Red Sox and added to the clubâ€™s bullpen.
After all, Hill had been lights out in his four appearances with the Pawtucket Red Sox, striking out 11 batters, recording a save, and yielding just five hits, two walks, and no earned runs in his 8 2/3 innings of work.