Pawtucket Red Sox pitcher Allen Webster, shown delivering a pitch during Thursday night's season opener at McCoy Stadium, will be among the eight players who will receive his World Series championship ring today at Fenway Park. PHOTO BY ERNEST A. BROWN
PAWTUCKET â If eight PawSox players show up late to McCoy Stadium this afternoon, donât fret. Their potential tardiness has already been taken under advisement.
âIt will be okay,â smiled manager Kevin Boles. âOpportunities like this donât come around too often, so youâve got to take advantage of them.â
What Boles was hinting at was the World Series ring ceremony thatâs on deck at Fenway Park and how a number of his charges â call them the âelite eightâ â are being afforded the opportunity to be presented their shiny hardware in person. The list of fortunate PawSox includes Drake Britton, Rubby De La Rosa, Brayan Villarreal, Allen Webster, Alex Wilson, Ryan Lavarnway, Brock Holt and Brandon Snyder.
Holt mentioned that he and his PawSox teammates received word that a). they will get to step out of home dugout after hearing that name announced, b). shake hands with Bostonâs ownership trio of John Henry, Tom Werner and Larry Lucchino and c). admire the new piece of jewelry while standing along the first-base line just as spring training drew to a close.
âI didnât know what they were going to do with us, but itâs pretty neat that theyâre allowing us to do that,â said Holt, Pawtucketâs starting shortstop for Thursdayâs season opener. âRaquel (Ferreira, Bostonâs Senior Director of Minor League Operations) told me so itâs pretty cool.â
Added Snyder, âAny chance you have to celebrate something like that, itâs definitely an honor. Itâs special and I know weâre all excited.â
When the Red Sox captured the World Series in 2007, then-farm director Mike Hazen brought the rings to Pawtucket so that Jeff Bailey and his fellow PawSox recipients could receive them before the McCoy Stadium faithful. For this particular go-around, the franchise is including everyone. It doesnât matter if you appeared in one game in relief like Villarreal or 18 games, which represents Brittonâs total with the 2013 Boston ballclub.
âTo go up there for the last half of the year and be able to walk away with a World Series ring, itâs a big honor,â stated Britton.
âWe all expected that they were going to send them down because weâre not part of that team,â said Snyder. âFor them to reach out and letting us come be part of it is a nice gesture.â
Since many of the aforementioned ring honorees live around these parts, theyâll have to wake up a tad earlier than normal in an effort to beat the Boston traffic. Once the pageantry is complete and the attention shifts to the action between the white lines âŠ that will serve as the playerâs cue to return to Pawtucket.
As enjoyable as Friday afternoon figures to be, thereâs a game on tap at McCoy on Friday night. Still, Boles wants his guys to enjoy the moment because after all, they are links to something memorable.
âFor them to be part of that experience, they helped us get there. I think itâs fitting and itâs going to be neat to watch them line up,â said Boles. âItâs nice that Boston is doing that.â
Jason Varitek was at the ballpark Thursday, dressed in baseball attire and on the field during batting practice. Now years removed from his last big-league game, the former Red Sox catcher and captain finds himself these days serving as a special assistant to general manager Ben Cherington.
With Pawtucketâs roster featuring three catchers in Lavarnway, Dan Butler and Christian Vazquez, Varitek could end up spending quite a bit of time at McCoy this season. Varitek actually appeared in 24 games for the PawSox, 20 coming after he was traded from Seattle to Boston in 1997.
According Boles, Varitek visited Portland quite a bit last season and will be in Pawtucket through the weekend. It appears that Varitek is a big fan of Vazquez, regarded as the top defensive catcher in the Red Soxâs minor-league system.
âHeâs terrific. I got the chance to speak with him earlier and heâs always got insights,â said Boles, who met with the media following batting practice. âHe does a great job with our guys. Not only with the catching, but also as far as handling a staff. I think thatâs the biggest plus that he brings to the table. His career speaks for itself and heâs a great example. Itâs right in front for these guys.â
Follow Brendan McGair on Twitter @BWMcGair03
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