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By BRENDAN McGAIR
PAWTUCKET -- From the PawSox:
PAWSOX 2014 ROSTER RECAP â€“ The Pawtucket Red Sox Opening Night Roster is highlighted by 8 players who at one point last season were members of the 2013 World Series Champion Boston Red Sox. Those elite eight will receive their World Series rings prior to Bostonâ€™s home-opener this Friday afternoon at Fenway Park. They are pitchers Drake Britton, Rubby De La Rosa, Brayan Villarreal, Allen Webster, Alex Wilson, catcher Ryan Lavarnway, and infielders Brock Holt & Brandon Snyder.
Each of those 8 players also spent significant time with the PawSox last season and will be joined on Opening Night at McCoy by several other returning PawSox players from last seasonâ€™s IL North Champs. Pitchers Chris Hernandez, Jeremy Kehrt, Anthony Ranaudo; catchers Dan Butler & Christian Vazquez; infielders Justin Henry & Heiker Meneses, and outfielders Bryce Brentz & Alex Hassan all were contributors to a PawSox team that reached the Governorsâ€™ Cup Finals for the second straight season. Starting pitcher Matt Barnes, who begins the season on the DL, was also a member of the 2013 PawSox.
The top young position prospect making his PawSox and Triple-A debut is 22-year-old 3B Garin Cecchini, who led all of minor league baseball with a .443 on-base pct. last season between Salem (A) and Portland (AA). Cecchini (chick-KEE-nee) had the highest batting average in the Red Sox system last year (.322). He will be joined by 24-year-old outfielder Peter Hissey who will also be making his Triple-A debut after spending all of last season with Portland.
There are several impressive newcomers to the organization on the PawSox Opening Night Roster led by veteran relievers lefty Tommy Layne, who had a 2.84 ERA over parts of the past two seasons with San Diego, and righty Chris Resop, who has appeared in 235 big leagues games with Florida, the Angels, Atlanta, Pittsburgh, and Oakland. Dalier Hinojosa, who has pitched in Cuba for the last nine years, and Milton, MA native Rich Hill, who spent all of last season working out of the Cleveland bullpen after three years split between Pawtucket and Boston from 2010-2012, round out the PawSox pitching staff. Former LA Dodger John Ely begins the year on the PawSox DL as he comes back from Tommy John surgery one year ago.
Two other newcomers complete the list of PawSox position players as INF Mike McCoy, who played with Buffalo last season after three consecutive years as a member of the Toronto Blue Jays, and OF Corey Brown, the former Syracuse Chief (44 HR the past two seasons) and Washington Nationals outfielder will make their Pawtucket debuts in 2014.
New PawSox manager Kevin Boles, who has had many of the current PawSox players while managing Double-A Portland the past three seasons, becomes the fifth Pawtucket skipper in the past six years following Ron Johnson, Torey Lovullo, Arnie Beyeler, and Gary DiSarcina who all left for coaching jobs in the Major Leagues. Pitching coach Rich Sauveur returns for his seventh season (the longest tenure of any PawSox pitching coach) while hitting coach Dave Joppie is back for his second season. The PawSox have added another coach in 2014 as Bruce Crabbe, manager of Lowell (short-season A) the past two years, joins the PawSox staff. Trainer Jon Jochim begins his fifth season with the PawSox and his 12th year as an athletic trainer in the Red Sox organization. He is joined by assistant trainer Josh Elleman and new strength & conditioning coach Kyle Marandino who are both making their debuts on the PawSox staff.
Pawtucket opens the season this Thursday night at McCoy Stadium when they host the Lehigh Valley IronPigs at 7:05 pm.
Follow Brendan McGair on Twitter @BWMcGair03