With so much hype and anticipation surrounding today’s series finale event, I thought folks might enjoy some tid-bits from Sunday’s Salem Red Sox Game Notes.
Vanquishing the Smoke Monster: The Sox regained their early season form in last night’s 2-0 win over Potomac. After an outstanding start that saw the team surge to 14 games over .500 at 21-7, Salem found themselves trapped in a bear cage. Salem won the first seven games in May, but had since lost 10 of their last 14 before Saturday’s triumph.
The Fabian Initiative: Sunday’s rubber match features a unique wrinkle with both starting pitchers possessing the same name. Salem starter Fabian Williamson takes on Potomac’s Robinson Fabian. Williamson has owned the island to this point with a 4-1 record and a 3.35 ERA.
The Others: After having only five roster moves during the first 42 days of the season, the Sox have made five transactions in the last four days. Outfielder Brian Peterson was the first move, added to the Red Sox roster from extended spring training on Thursday. Salem also received pitcher Zach Hammes on Friday, where he made his Carolina League debut. Relief pitcher Jeremey Kehrt was promoted to Portland Friday in order to make a spot start in a doubleheader. Kehrt was received back from the Sea Dogs today. Relief pitcher Mitch Herold was also promoted to Portland today.
Everybody Loves Oscar: Though he hasn’t won the lottery (as far as we know), Oscar Tejeda’s offensive prowess has been “the constant” in Salem’s lineup. Tejeda has notched 18 multi-hit games, including eight three-hit games.
His Name is Jacob: Today, Jacob Danielson will be the “Man in Blue” calling balls and strikes, determining the fate of both teams this afternoon at Lewis-Gale Field.
Pushing the Right Buttons: Fortunately, Kevin Boles hasn’t needed to punch in the right code every 108 minutes, but Salem’s success has been correlated with stealing bases. The Sox are 18-5 when they steal a base this season.
Guys, Where Are We?: Settle down, Charlie. The Salem Red Sox are currently in second place, four games behind the Winston-Salem Dash with 27 games remaining in the first half, including today.
Hurley Can Wait: After an off-day tomorrow, the Sox have three more home games against the Winston-Salem Dash this week before Hurley drives the team out of town for a six-game road trip to Potomac and Lynchburg.
We’re on the air at 4:03 on www.salemsox.com and on Flagship Station NewsTalk 960 WFIR.
I’d love to hear your thoughts on the finale at firstname.lastname@example.org, or you can chime in on twitter at twitter.com/salemredsox and twitter.com/EvanLepler
Until next time, enjoy The End,
Let’s talk, Sox fans!
An important four-game series begins tonight here in Salem as the Red Sox host the Keys. The first half schedule of 70 games will be nearly complete upon its conclusion, and the Carolina League standings show two separate tiers developing in this eight-club circuit. Salem, Frederick, and Winston-Salem have emerged as the “haves,” while the other five teams (Kinston, Myrtle, Potomac, Wilmington, and Lynchburg) are all below .500. After the Dash took two out of three from the Sox this past weekend, Winston has crept to within a game of the Sox.
What a fun weekend it was in Winston-Salem! Two very good teams battling for 27 innings, and the aggregate weekend score was 24-23 in favor of the Dash. It could have transpired differently in numerous instances, particularly if Salem had not gone 0-15 with runners in scoring position in their 4-3 loss on Sunday, but for this one weekend, the Dash were one run better.
After the action on Saturday night, I wandered into the manager’s office, half expecting to find an exasperated, exhausted Kevin Boles following the outrageous 16-13 setback. To my surprise, Boles seemed energized and inspired. Watching the game from the dugout and the third-base coach’s box, he had one of the best seats in the house to a mightily entertaining battle between two quality clubs. He remarked how much fun he had simply watching the two teams compete back-and-forth, trading punches like heavyweights. Even when Winston’s Drew Garcia delivered what appeared to be the knockout barb with his eighth-inning, two-out grand slam, Salem responded with a haymaker of its own by putting the first two runners on in the ninth, yet was unable to muster the four runs they needed to even the score. The game ended in defeat, but not because the Sox lacked sufficient chutzpah.
The ride home last night was easy. Although the bus internet was inconsistent, I was able to keep tabs on Celtics-Cavaliers game four (You can only hope to contain my boy, Rondo!) and catch bits and pieces of the movie (Mr. Baseball, featuring Tom Selleck’s 1992 mustache) that played as Hurley returned us safe and sound to Lewis-Gale Field.
I arrived back to the apartment around 8pm, just in time to catch some of the Sox-Yanks Sunday nighter and begin prep for the upcoming series with Frederick. Or so I thought.
Upon walking into the apartment, I discovered a note that my cable wiring had been upgraded in the week that I was away. Little did I know that ‘upgraded’ was actually code for ‘you no longer have functional tv or internet.’ Nothing like being gone for a week to arrive home to a stone-age apartment (I define stone-age as lacking the basic essentials like wireless internet and Joe Morgan’s unpredictable commentary). I was forced to simply do laundry, chat on the phone, strum the guitar a bit, and retire with no knowledge of the Sox-Yanks final score. (Boston won 9-3, bringing Red Sox Nation’s panic level down to a 9.4.)
I’ve been told that the tv/internet malfunction will be corrected by the time I return home following tonight’s Red Sox-Keys series opener. I’m slightly skeptical, though hopefully I’ll be able to view the midnight showing of “Who’s Line Is It Anyway” before bed tonight. Is there anything like a good game of ‘Questions, Only” to wrap up the day? Is there? What kind of question is that anyway? I don’t know. (I just lost.)
This past week, I had the privilege of meeting some family members of the 2010 Salem Sox. Peter Hissey’s older brother, Dave, joined me for a couple amusing innings on the radio in Wilmington on Tuesday, while Anthony Rizzo’s father, John, spent the middle innings on Friday night in Winston telling engaging stories and providing often hilarious color commentary. Both conversations were a blast, and hopefully the listeners had as much fun as I did.
With another week-long road trip on the horizon beginning on Friday, Salem spends the next four nights here at Lewis-Gale Field, looking for some revenge against a Keys club that took two of three from the Sox back at Harry Grove Stadium in April. The action begins tonight at 7:05.
The broadcast begins at 7:03 on www.salemsox.com and Flagship Station NewsTalk 960 WFIR here in the Roanoke Valley.
It’d be great to hear from you! You can e-mail me at email@example.com
Until next time, enjoy the baseball,
Let’s talk, Sox fans!
I very much appreciate the kind feedback I received on the initial post (http://salemsox.mlblogs.com/archives/2010/05/the-unlikely-journey-of-caleb-clay.html). Please take a gander if you have not seen it yet and learn about the Red Sox righty named Clay who is still waiting for his chance to throw a no-hitter at Fenway.
It is tough to contextualize what this Salem team is in the process of achieving, for the most part, because it is May 6 and the future is not yet determined. However, if this team can continue the trend and pace it has set, there is something special in store for the Roanoke Valley’s Red Sox Nation this summer.
At 19-7, the Salem Sox are the only team in minor league baseball playing for their 20th win of the season tonight as they seek a sweep of the Wilmington Blue Rocks. On the surface, that is a pretty cool fact, but the reality of the accomplishment is that there’s nothing all that sweet about being the spring champs of a summer game. And I think this team realizes that.
While observing batting practice before yesterday’s 11-3 triumph, it struck me how locked in this team appeared to be, not because they have been winning, but because they have been indoctrinated to act in a business-like manner every single day. Every position player took his BP session seriously and with the same approach and demeanor he has had since Opening Day.
The level-headedness of baseball players is perhaps the most common trait that fans fail to recognize enough. So often, one will assume that a team’s mood is up because of a win or down because of a loss. But in reality, the most successful ballplayers pursue stability and grind every single day at the park regardless of a previous performance.
After Ubaldo Jimenez through the first no-hitter in Colorado Rockies history on April 17, he was seen jogging multiple miles in downtown Atlanta at sunrise the very next morning, a story eloquently told by former big league catcher Brent Maine on his baseball blog (http://brentmayne.com/todays-tip-trust-the-process/). He wrote:
It’s been said many times before, baseball is a game of failure. It’s built into the game. If you base your enjoyment and self-worth on how well you do, you’re in for one hell of a roller coaster ride. And just like a roller coaster, it’s fun once, but riding one over and over again will make you flat out sick.
Good players recognize and avoid this trap for the most part. They learn that lasting success and longevity come from trust in a process. In other words, they evaluate a day on how well they focused, did they get their work done, was their routine crisp. Not did they throw a no-hitter or get 4 hits. Results come and go but a good process lasts.
I’m not a big fan of riding roller coasters even once, but you get the point. And so do the Salem Red Sox. And that’s why I see good things ahead for this current group.
Salem Red Sox baseball begins at 6:35 tonight here at Frawley Stadium in Wilmington. Hope you can join us on our Flagship Station: Newstalk 960 WFIR or on www.salemsox.com
It’d be great to hear from you! You can reach me at firstname.lastname@example.org
Until next time, enjoy the baseball,
Let’s talk, Sox fans!
This is Evan Lepler, radio broadcaster for the Salem Red Sox, and starting today, I hope to make this blog my second voice throughout the season. It has existed with fairly infrequent updates for nearly a year, but I was recently reminded that there are so many untold nuggets from life on the road in Minor League Baseball that deserve to be shared. I hope you will enjoy the collections of anecdotes, random facts, game highlights, bad jokes, and other trivial minutiae that I’ll aim to throw out there on a regular basis, starting now.
The impetus for this blog’s rejuvenation was inspired by a current Salem pitcher who knows that life has a strange way of bringing opportunity in unanticipated ways. To examine how one singular event, often times an occurrence that you had nothing at all to do with, can significantly alter the rest of your life is a reminder that the roads we travel are special and serendipity should not be taken for granted.
Quarterbacks Tom Brady and Kurt Warner probably would have some appreciation for the path that Caleb Clay has traversed to arrive on the Salem Red Sox 2010 roster. Clay, a righthanded pitcher from Cullman, Alabama, would most certainly not be a Carolina League starter if not for an injury to a high school teammate early in his senior season. Ironically enough, the turning point event occurred in a Carolina League Ballpark, at Myrtle Beach’s BB&T Coastal Field.
Clay was a super center-fielder for Cullman High School’s baseball squad that was competing in an early-season tournament in Myrtle Beach when the #2 starting pitcher, a lad named Blake Huddleston, was injured in the second inning. The coach needed someone to fill in, and that someone was Clay. With one scout in attendance, the skinny righty flashed glimpses of raw, unknown, and untapped potential. The relief outing went well and Clay finished the game, but could not have had any idea that his path had forever changed. It turned out that Huddleston needed Tommy John surgery and was done for the season, and his spot on the mound belonged to Clay.
The word quickly got out, for the next time Clay pitched, there was a pack of radar-gun toting scouts ready to see him throw. As an unpolished arm, he compiled top notch numbers throughout the remainder of his senior season (10-1 record, 1.29 ERA, 112 strikeouts in 86 innings) and left numerous scouts in awe. Remember, he was the fill-in #2 starter on his high school team. The #1 starter, a lefty named Zak Ivey went 16-1, was all-state, and now plays at Southern Polytechnic U. in Marietta, Georgia, an NAIA school that is unlikely to lead him to the Big Leagues. And Huddleston ended up making a complete recovery from the TJ surgery and now is one of the top pitchers for UAB.
But when the June 2006 baseball draft rolled around, the Boston Red Sox made Clay the 44th overall selection in the draft as a supplemental first round choice as a pitcher. It was a craft that he had rarely if ever contemplated before, and he was about to become a wealthy 18-year-old because of his natural ability to pitch. He signed for more than three-quarters of a million dollars and passed up the college scholarship he had accepted back as a high school junior.
Where would he be today if his teammate has not been hurt that day in Myrtle Beach?
“I’d probably be playing outfield at Auburn,” Clay said, referring to the SEC program for which his father had run track and he had supported as a fan throughout his youth.
But unlike the TV show “Lost,” there is no parallel alternative reality for Clay to see how it might have turned out differently.
Instead, he is now thriving as a minor league pitcher in the Boston organization that is not light on talent. Like the teammate who opened his door to pitching, Clay also endured Tommy John surgery (performed by the world famous Dr. James Andrews) in 2007 that limited his chances to pitch in that year and the next, but following a very solid 2009 in Greenville, he says his arm is now feeling better than ever. On Monday evening in Wilmington, Clay may have completed the best pitching performance of his life, needing just 59 pitches to complete six scoreless innings against the Blue Rocks, surrendering only one hit and no walks. His command has been almost flawless in 2010, with only one walk issued in 25.2 innings pitched, and the Red Sox have won every single game that he has appeared in.
Caleb Clay will return to Myrtle Beach with the Salem Red Sox on May 14, and one can imagine what kind of memories will stir when he walks back on that field. BB&T Coastal Field will always be the setting for the moment that shifted his life path. If he continues to improve, refine his natural skill, and plug away here in the minors, that path could eventually lead to Fenway Park.
Today, Caleb shared some other great stories from his initial days on the mound as a high school senior, but I need to save some content for my other voice. I hope you join me tonight at 6:35 for game three in Wilmington as Salem seeks its fifth straight win and looks to climb their record to a spectacular 12 games above .500. The broadcast can be heard in the Roanoke Valley on NewsTalk 960 WFIR and online at www.salemsox.com.
I’d love to hear from you! You can e-mail me at email@example.com
Until next time, enjoy the baseball,