PAWTUCKET â For members of the PawSox family with Massachusetts blood running through their veins, the horrific and tragic events that marred the Boston Marathon hit particularly hard.
âItâs a special day for race fans and baseball fans; thereâs a (Boston Bruins) game at night. Itâs a great time for the town,â explained manager Gary DiSarcina, a native of Malden, Mass. and current resident of Plymouth. âWhen you least expect it, thatâs when these things happen.â
Added outfielder Alex Hassan, who grew up in Milton, Mass.: âNormally, itâs a very unique and special day. What happened Monday was really unfortunate and something you hate to see no matter where youâre from. â
As fate would have it, DiSarcina spent part of his Monday explaining to his high-school aged son, Gary Jr., the fine particulars of why a baseball game at Fenway Park is able to take place simultaneously while thousands of runners pound Bostonâs pavement. Once his Patriotsâ Day lesson was complete, the PawSox skipper began developing knots in his stomach.
Whenever tragedy strikes, the first reaction is to check in with loved ones. DiSarcinaâs daughter, Carlee, was on bus ride that was scheduled to dock at South Station not long after mayhem erupted on Boylston Street. Naturally, the skipperâs mind was elsewhere as the PawSox went through pre-game exercises.
âWe were frantically texting between myself, my wife and her aunt. (Carlee) was crying and didnât know what to do; she was supposed to take the T [Bostonâs commuter rail system] to Braintree before it was closed down,â DiSarcina said. âFor me personally, it was a little distracting at the beginning of the game, but finally my son came in and found out that she was okay.â
Family-wise, everyone is doing fine, according to Hassan. His tenor changed the moment he began talking about someone who he knew was directly affected by the bombing.
âHe was in surgery (Monday) âŠ he was a spectator watching his father run,â he said. âIâm sad that stuff like this happens. Itâs just inhumane and thereâs not a whole lot you can do about it other than keep the victims and their families in your thoughts and prayers.â
Like most pitchers who get called up, the trajectory that Steven Wright found himself on was conducive to things breaking favorably. The fact the knuckleballer was summoned Tuesday following the Red Sox placing closer Joel Hanrahan on the disabled list is a testament to staying the course.
âHeâs worked very hard. To be going up to the big leagues for the first time, I know it was a thrill for him,â said Pawtucket pitching coach Rich Sauveur. âItâs a big accomplishment, but thatâs not his ultimate goal. I know heâs going to be pitching out of the bullpen, which is tough for a knuckleballer, but if he throws the ball like he did (with the PawSox), he should be fine.â
To that end, Sauveur was asked to compare and contrast Wrightâs current position to Charlie Zink, another PawSox butterfly specialist who was named the International Leagueâs top pitcher in 2008. That season represented the high point of Zinkâs career as he never pitched in another big-league game following his Boston debut on August 12, 2008.
âThey are two totally different people. Not to put Charlie down, but I think their goals are totally different,â Sauveur explained. âI love Charlie, but he was happy just to get there. Steven is not going to be happy getting there. He wants to stay.â
After Tuesdayâs 8-6 loss to Lehigh Valley, Jose Iglesias followed PawSox hitting coach Dave Joppie to the indoor batting cages adjacent to the home clubhouse. Iglesias was wearing flip-flops, though such particulars werenât about to prevent Joppie from getting some sort of point across.
Iglesias finds himself in the midst of a 2-for-17 slump since connecting for a homer during his second at-bat last of last Thursdayâs game. Within the struggles lies a ray of good news â the shortstop has managed to draw walks in three straight games prior to Tuesdayâs 1-for-5 showing, one that helped raise his season average from .143 to .158.
âHe doesnât have a ton of good results as far as the average side of things, but heâs got a couple of walks and has been able to manage the strike zone,â DiSarcina pointed out. âHeâs kind of all over the place right now. I donât know if itâs the adjustment of coming down and reality has hit him that heâs in Triple A, but heâs not in the big leagues. Heâs fighting through the letdown of not being where he wants to be, but this is where he is. Heâs going to have to grind out his at-bats and get back to a solid approach.â