PAWTUCKET â If first impressions do indeed count, then Mitch Maier put his best foot forward upon formally introducing himself to PawSox manager Gary DiSarcina.
âHeâs very driven and focused,â was the takeaway DiSarcina had of Pawtucketâs new outfield addition. âI didnât have to ask him to come into the office and go over the signs. He walked right in that first day.â
Upon made abreast of DiSarcinaâs praise, Maier smiled. After spending 10 seasons with the organization that drafted and provided him a chance to play in the major leagues, the 30-year-old has made it a point to get up to speed. The ex-Kansas City Royal made his PawSox last Sunday after opening the season on the disabled list with a left wrist sprain â the result of attempting to make a driving catch during Grapefruit League action.
âI was playing left field in Sarasota [spring training home to Baltimore] and the glove got caught in the grass and rolled up underneath me,â Maier explained while pointing to spots on his left wrist that not long ago were tender. âObviously (the PawSox) had played a bunch of games already and I wanted to get everything I needed so I could go out there and contribute.â
Maier had a sense that his time in Kansas City was drawing to a close last July upon getting designated for assignment. He spent the balance of the season in Triple-A Omaha and requested free agency in early October. By the end of the month, he found a serious taker in the Red Sox.
As one chapter ended â a former first-round selection, Maier appeared in 360 games with the Royals spanning six seasons â he was eager to begin anew and ingratiate himself with a new cast of baseball types.
âThere was part of me that said, âHey, thereâs 29 other teams that I know nothing about,ââ Maier said. âIt was an exciting offseason where I could actually pick where I wanted to go. I did enjoy my time in Kansas City, but at the same time I was excited about a new opportunityâ
When spring training got underway, Maier was seen essentially as a depth piece with the ability to play all three outfield positions. He was batting .346 at the time of his wrist setback.
âObviously my goal was make the (Red Sox) out of camp, but with the injury coming with two weeks remaining in spring training, I knew that I wasnât going to be healthy in time,â said Maier. âJust because I didnât break with the team from Day 1 doesnât change my goals. Iâm going to help (the PawSox) while Iâm here, but I signed here because I want to play in Boston.â
After endearing himself to his new skipper, Maier set out to carve out a favorable niche with his PawSox teammates. On the same day he was activated, he sent the McCoy Stadium paying customers home happy after blasting a walk-off three-run home run in the 11th inning against Rochester.
Maierâs fourth game with Pawtucket took place Wednesday night. Though he finished hitless in four plate appearances, he drew a walk and scored a run as part of a 6-1 win over Lehigh Valley. His 0-for-3 showing lowered his average from .455 to .357.
âMy objective is to do something daily to help the team win ballgames,â said Maier, sounding like a ballplayer who takes pride in serving as the consummate professional.
Added DiSarcina, âHeâs an independent worker. You love having him around, but sooner or later, you know heâs going to get plucked to go up there and help out. Heâs definitely big-league depth.â
In a heartfelt gesture that epitomizes the generous spirit of the PawSox, the players sported official Boston Red Sox caps on Wednesday. The team will repeat the act for Thursdayâs contest.
All caps will be autographed by the player and placed on www.pawsox.com to be auctioned later this week. All of the proceeds from the caps will go to One Fund Boston, a fund set up by Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick and Boston Mayor Thomas Menino to raise money for families most affected by the attacks at the Boston Marathon on Monday.
âI got a message from (Pawtucket director of media relations) Bill Wanless on my way in that they were going to do this over the next two days,â said DiSarcina. âItâs a great idea by the front office.â
In addition, the proceeds from Wednesday and Thursdayâs PawSox Charitable Foundation 50/50 raffle at McCoy will also be donated to One Fund Boston.