Saturday, March 30, 2013
Sox media guide, from trivial to sublime
By Gordon Edes
NEW YORK -- The 2013 Red Sox media guide is 588 pages long, and takes an entire offseason -- and more -- to write and assemble, especially when teams are acquiring new players (Mike Carp, hello) as late as March.
There was one Sunday night early this spring when WBZ TV's Dan Roche was filming at the ballpark at midnight, and Leah Tobin, the team's manager of media relations, was still at the Jet, settling in for a couple more hours of work. Similar hours were logged by baseball information specialist Jon Shestakofsky, media relations specialist Abby DeCiccio, media relations coordinator Peter Cohenno, and the team's new director of media relations, Kevin Gregg, who began after the first of the year as replacement for Pam Kenn, who was promoted to senior director of public affairs and did her part before the transition.
There are plenty of other fingerprints on this guide, including the work of four staff photographers, team historian Dick Bresciani, and the inimitable Dr. Charles Steinberg, whose dramatic flair can be spotted in the section entitled "The New Era," which tells the history of this ownership group and the five commitments they made as owners. "Their hunger remains unsated in a quest unabated for a third crown to be carried among the passionate fans of Red Sox Nation." Unsated, unabated. Nice alliteration, there, albeit perhaps a bit much, and while the entry does not identify the author, it sounds like the good Doctor when he's on a roll.
In any event, the information contained in this book -- bios of all the principals, pages and pages of team records and other relevant statistical info -- is something that anyone covering the team consults on a daily basis, and is used in columns, broadcasts, talk shows, blogs, you name it, and often goes uncredited. In addition, the media relations department also produces a daily set of game notes indispensable to the coverage of a game.
Thought it worthwhile to give you a glimpse of behind-the-scenes labors that materialize into stuff you learn about the club, and offer a smorgasbord of 50 facts -- some significant, some not so much -- about these '13 Sox, culled from the media guide.
1. Many Red Sox fans can tell you that the Green Monster is 37 feet high. But did you know the length of the left-field wall is 231 feet, including 3 feet of foul territory?
2. Evidence that the Sox have someone counting everything on Yawkey Way is this item on the team's community service: Sox players made 414 appearances on behalf of the club last season, in addition to the work they may do on their own, and Sox alumni made an additional 276 appearances.
3. Brian O'Halloran, the team's assistant general manager, spent two years in Tbilisi, which is not a little-known outpost in the New York-Penn League but located in the Republic of Georgia, where he studied ethnic conflict. O'Halloran also spent three years in Moscow and is fluent in Russian and Georgian, a language you thought only the Drew brothers were fluent in.
4. With John Farrell as manager in 2011, the Blue Jays were undefeated in 11 extra-inning games at home. The Jays were the first team since 1901 to win at least 10 extra-inning games at home without a loss.
5. Farrell, who was traded along with right-handed pitcher David Carpenter for Sox shortstop Mike Aviles, was part of only six trades involving a manager. That includes the only time one manager was traded for another, 1960, when the Indians sent Joe Gordon to the Tigers for Jimmy Dykes. Another manager traded was Lou Piniella [Seattle to Tampa Bay], who will be throwing out the ceremonial first pitch on Monday.
6. Hitting coach Greg Colbrunn posted a .310 career batting average and .476 slugging percentage as a pinch hitter, the second-highest in both categories since 1974 (250 or more plate appearances).
7. Bench coach Torey Lovullo's last name is pronounced lah-VELL-oh. All this time, I've been saying it wrong. Low-VOO-low. Lovullo's father, Sam, was a producer on "Hee Haw." That's pronounced HEE HAW.
8. Pitching coach Juan Nieves was not only the first pitcher in Milwaukee Brewers history to throw a no-hitter when he no-hit the Orioles in 1987, he also was the first native of Puerto Rico to do so.
9. In the last four seasons, Alfredo Aceves has thrown more relief innings (269 2/3) than any other pitcher, 10 more than runner-up Brandon League.
10. Reliever Andrew Bailey has not hit a batter in 176 career appearances, the longest streak by an American League pitcher at the beginning of his career since Tom Ferrick went 192 games from April 19, 1941 to July 3, 1949.
11. Meanwhile, outfielder Daniel Nava has been hit by a pitch 17 times in his first 148 games. No Sox player has been plunked more times in the first 148 games since at least 1916. Ouch.
12. Daniel Bard made 192 relief appearances before he made his first start. That's the most ever by a Sox pitcher before starting a game. The only Sox relievers to come out of the pen in each of their first 192 relief appearances were Manny Delcarmen, Dick Radatz, Hideki Okajima and Sparky Lyle.
13. Jackie Bradley Jr. impressed Baseball America. In assessing the talent in the Class A Carolina League in 2012, BA said JBJ was the league's most exciting player, best defensive outfielder, best batting prospect, and best baserunner. The publication also said JBJ had the best outfield arm and the best strike zone judgment. No word on where he ranked on the Carolina League's best-dressed list.
14. In 2005, Clay Buchholz was selected with the draft pick the Red Sox received when Pedro Martinez left the Sox and signed as a free agent with the New York Mets. So far, Buchholz is 46-32 with a 3.92 ERA in 107 starts. After leaving the Sox, Pedro was 37-24 with a 3.86 ERA in 88 starts for the Mets and Phillies.
15. Ryan Dempster and former Sox pitcher Derek Lowe are the only active pitchers with at least 100 career wins and at least 85 saves.
16. Before Felix Doubront, the last Red Sox left-hander 24 or younger to strike out at least 167 batters was Babe Ruth, in 1916.
17. With Stephen Drew added to the roster, 11 sets of brothers have played for the Sox. How many can you name? [Answers below]
18. Jacoby Ellsbury, who has made just 5 errors in 1,381 total chances, has a .996 career fielding percentage. That's the best ever by a major league outfielder with at least 1,000 total chances.
19. Jonny Gomes has the initials, AW, tattooed on his right biceps, in memory of a boyhood friend, Adam Westcott, who was killed in a car accident in which the 16-year-old Gomes was sitting next to him.
20. Left-handed hitters batted just .135 (14-for-104) against new closer Joel Hanrahan last season. That was third-lowest in the major leagues among pitchers who faced a minimum of 120 batters.
21. Shortstop Jose Iglesias is only the second Sox player ever whose last name begins with the letter I. Daryl Irvine, a pitcher of modest ability who appeared in a total of 41 games from 1990-92, was the first.
22. John Lackey did not learn to pitch until 1998, the year after he graduated from high school. An All-State first baseman, Lackey was converted to pitcher in the Kansas Jayhawks Summer League.
23. Jon Lester has induced 107 double plays since 2008, second most by any AL pitcher behind only King Felix Hernandez (121).
24. Will Middlebrooks joined Enos Slaughter as the only players ever to have an extra-base hit in each of their first five games.
25. Lefty Andrew Miller limited lefty hitters to a .149 average (13-for-87), lowest by a Sox lefty since at least 1974. The only Sox lefties with a better opponents' batting average than Miller (.194 overall) were Marty McDermott in 1950 (.183) and Ken Brett in 1970 (.187).
26. Franklin Morales gave up just one home run to a left-handed hitter last season, Curtis Granderson of the Yankees. Eight of the 11 home runs Morales gave up last season were hit by Yankees.
27. Reliever Clayton Mortensen is the highest June draft pick in the history of Gonzaga. He was taken 36th overall as a first-round sandwich pick by the Cardinals in 2007.
28. Mike Napoli is the only catcher ever to reach double figures in home runs in each of his first seven seasons in the majors (minimum 60 games caught). That streak ends in 2013; the Sox are playing him at first base.
29. David Ortiz is tied with Ted Williams for most multi-home run games with the Red Sox (37). Only Albert Pujols (42) has had more multi-homer games in the last 10 seasons.
30. David Ortiz has 10 grand slams at Fenway, including one he hit while with the Twins. Only Willie McCovey (11 in Candlestick Park) and Lou Gehrig (11 in the old Yankee Stadium) have hit more in one venue.
31. With 349 walks and 329 strikeouts, Dustin Pedroia is just one of four active big leaguers with more walks than strikeouts. The others are Albert Pujols (1,027 BB, 780 K), Joe Mauer (555, 475) and Todd Helton (1,295, 1,088).
32. Dustin Pedroia has four seasons of 20 or more steals, the most by a Sox player in the live-ball era (post-1920).
33. Over the last four seasons, catcher David Ross has the best catcher's ERA (3.33) in the majors. Ross also has thrown out 37.5 percent of baserunners attempting to steal over the last eight seasons, a success rate second only to Yadier Molina (40 percent) in that span.
34. With 25 home runs, Jarrod Saltalamacchia became the first catcher to lead the Sox in home runs since Carlton Fisk in 1973.
35. Junichi Tazawa had an ERA of 1.43 and a strikeout/walk ratio of 9.0 (45 K, 5 BB). He is only the third AL pitcher ever to post an ERA under 1.50 and have at K/BB ratio of at least 9 (minimum 20 innings). Dennis Eckersley (1990) and Mariano Rivera (2008) are the others.
36. Since shifting to the bullpen in 2010, Koji Uehara leads all major leaguers with a 10.8 strikeout-to-walk ratio (183 K/17 BB).
37. Koji Uehara's career 0.77 WHIP (walks plus hits per innings pitched) in relief is the lowest in major league history (minimum 500 batters faced). Uehara posted a 0.72 WHIP or lower in consecutive seasons (0.72 in 2011, 0.64 in 2012), just the second big leaguer ever to accomplish the feat along with Dennis Eckersley in 1989 and 1990.
38. In 2007, Shane Victorino posted his third quadruple-double, reaching double figures in doubles, triples, home runs and stolen bases.
39. The last time the Sox lost 90 games was 1966. The next season, they won 92 games, won the AL pennant and lost the World Series in seven games to the Cardinals. Oddsmakers had rated them 100-1 before the season.
40. The Sox were 42-37 on July 1. From Aug. 1 on, they were 16-42, a .276 winning percentage that was the worst in the majors.
41. The Sox scored three or fewer runs in 23 of their last 32 games.
42. Thirteen different relievers won a game for the Sox, the most since at least 1915.
43. The Sox used a record 11 center fielders, and matched a club record with 16 outfielders.
44. Last August's trade of Adrian Gonzalez et al was only the fourth made by the Sox involving 9 or more players. The biggest trade in club history, in terms of number of players, was the 10-player swap between the Sox and Brewers on Oct. 10, 1971, in which the Sox gave up Jim Lonborg, Ken Brett, Billy Conigliaro, Joe Lahoud, George Scott and Don Pavletich and received Tommy Harper, Marty Pattin, Lew Krause, and Pat Skrable in return.
45. The Sox were 46-44 when David Ortiz went on the DL on July 17. They went 23-49 (.318) thereafter.
46. Dustin Pedroia became the first Sox player to reach 1,000 hits and 100 steals in his first seven seasons.
47. The Sox were outscored 126-87 in the first inning last season.
48. The Sox used a club-record 56 players in 2012.
49. The Sox on-base percentage of .315 was the team's lowest since 1968 (.313).
50. The Sox placed 27 players on the DL a total of 34 times, costing the team 1,495 games.
Sox brother combinations:
Barrett, Marty and Tommy
Carlyle, Roy and Cleo
Conigliaro, Tony and Billy
Drew, J.D. and Stephen
Ferrell, Rick and Wes
Gaston, Alex and Milt
Heving, Johnnie and Joe
Hughes, Long Tom and Ed
Johnson, Roy and Bob
Martinez, Pedro and Ramon
Sadowski, Ed and Bob