PAWTUCKET — September is a pretty key month on Major League Baseball’s calendar. Not only does the playoff push reach frenzied levels, but the ninth month of the year also signifies the expansion of rosters, going from 25 to a maximum of 40 players.
For a number of Pawtucket Red Sox players, their season won’t end when the 2018 International League regular season concludes on Labor Day. For those deemed worthy by the Boston brass, they will be granted permission to make the trip up I-95 and join an outfit that has its sights set on big October plans.
PawSox manager Kevin Boles says that preliminary discussions regarding who might be Boston-bound have been held. In the same breath, Boles made it clear that such dialogue is no different than what typically takes place throughout the season. The only difference now is that Sept. 1 is on the horizon – two weeks from this coming Saturday to be exact.
Where it gets interesting is trying to match up Boston’s needs with looking at Pawtucket’s roster as currently constructed. Boles calls this point of the minor-league season the third instance where the outside noise might prove too enticing to ignore. The temptation to look ahead to September might be there, yet it’s best to refrain from putting oneself in someone else’s shoes.
“Don’t try to play mini general manager. Don’t get distracted,” Boles said after his PawSox fell to Norfolk, 8-3, before a Wednesday afternoon crowd of 7,724 at McCoy Stadium. “Another trap that some players fall into is they ration their effort and save something for the end instead of going out and playing and emptying the tank.”
Per Boles, the other two instances when players tend to act differently is at the season’s onset – either when they don’t make the major-league squad coming out of spring training or get down sent early – and around the trade deadline. The best way to handle external noise is to remember the time-tested adage of controlling what you can control.
“You need to focus on what you’re doing on a daily basis. It’s that simple,” Boles said. “Keep it simple and take care of what you can control and that’s your effort and your play.”
As of Wednesday, Pawtucket’s roster included 10 players on Boston’s 40-man roster. The breakdown features seven pitchers (William Cuevas, Justin Haley, Brandon Workman, Bobby Poyner, Chandler Shepherd, Marcus Walden, and Robby Scott) and three position players (Sam Travis, Tzu-Wei Lin, and Tony Renda).
Just because you’re on the 40-man roster doesn’t mean one should get comfortable with the idea that you might be soaking up the big-league atmosphere in September.
“Don’t try and figure out what their needs are. You have to perform, but there has to be a need. What’s going on in that major-league clubhouse this year is special. It has to be an addition that helps that club,” Boles said. “In order to be called up to that club … it’s a special thing and we appreciate that. We want to make sure the guys who they end up choosing at the end of the year, they complement that group. They’re a bonus and help that club win more games.”
EXTRA BASES: Cuevas was forced to exit Wednesday’s game after taking a liner back up the middle to begin the sixth inning. The right-hander left the field with the assistance of PawSox trainer Eric Valazquez. After the game, Boles said suffered a knee contusion but should be fine to make his next scheduled start. … Cuevas was tagged for four runs on nine hits in five-plus innings. All four of those runs came off the bat of Norfolk outfielder Mike Yastrzemski, who belted a grand slam in the second inning. The grandson of Red Sox legend Carl Yastrzemski, young Mike added a two-run home run in the ninth, much to the delight of his cheering section. “The force is strong with him,” Boles said about Yaz’s grandson after his six-RBI performance. “He’s a good looking player. His grandfather would definitely be proud of him today.” … Outfielder Kyle Wren wasn’t in Wednesday’s lineup after fouling a pitch off his knee during Game 1 of Tuesday’s doubleheader. Boles said Wren should be back in the lineup relatively soon. … Offensively for Pawtucket, Tzu-Wei Lin (3-for-5, triple and 2 RBIs) notched his 28th multi-hit game with the PawSox while Rusney Castillo went 2-for-4 with one RBI. The two-time International League All-Star leads the league in average (.325) and hits (139). … Matthew Gorst surrendered his first earned runs since May 13 when he was pitching for High-A Salem as Norfolk scored twice off him in the seventh inning. The Tides then loaded the bases on a pair of bloop singles and a groundball in the frame, and a run-producing groundout and an RBI infield chopper stretched the visiting team’s lead to 6-1. … It’ll be a big day at McCoy today. For just one contest, the PawSox will take the field as the Pawtucket Hot Wieners. The 7:05 p.m. first pitch that will see the locals send Josh D. Smith (7-5, 3.16) to the mound against Durham. The game will also be televised on NESN. … The PawSox will have to make a move to get catcher Dan Butler back on the roster after Wednesday’s news that he cleared waivers and was outrighted back to Triple-A.
Follow Brendan McGair on Twitter @BWMcGair03