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Hot Stove on a Cold Night

Friday, January 13, 2012 – McCoy Stadium, Pawtucket

PawSox Hot Stove League Party

On Friday night it was time for an annual tradition, the Pawtucket Red Sox’ Hot Stove League Party.  The free event gives fans a chance to meet some of the top prospects in the organization, ask questions, and get autographs.  In the past few years it’s been held on a Saturday morning, but this time it was on a Friday night, which I found a lot more inconvenient.  My friends weren’t able to bring their kids because of all their after-school activities and sports, and I had to battle Friday evening traffic on Route 95, but I’m glad I was able to make it.  With fewer people in attendance it was certainly easier to navigate than the crowded Saturdays of years past.

Alex Wilson is one of the Red Sox' top pitching prospects. He spent most of last season in Double A, with a call-up to Triple A in August. He pitched well at both levels, and the Red Sox named him their minor league pitcher of the year.

Alex Wilson is one of the Red Sox' top pitching prospects. He spent most of last season in Double A, with a call-up to Triple A in August. He pitched well at both levels, and the Red Sox named him their minor league pitcher of the year.

It was a cold, blustery night, but baseball season was in full swing at McCoy Stadium.  (I joked that usually this event is held on the coldest morning of the year, but now they had somehow managed to find the coldest night of the year.)  My first stop was the batting tunnel, where the batting cages and workout equipment were moved out of the way.  Catcher Luis Exposito and pitchers Brandon Duckworth and Alex Wilson answered questions from fans in a session hosted by PawSox radio announcer Steve Hyder.  One fan asked each player what position he’d like to play if he could pick a different one.  Exposito said he’d like to be a pitcher, and Wilson said he’d be a centerfielder (”I’d have to be faster, but I could still throw people out.”)  Duckworth laughed and said, “DH.”  After the Q & A session, we were able to get autographs from all three players.  I had them sign a photo I had taken at a PawSox game a couple of years ago.

Luis Exposito and Brandon Duckworth sign autographs for fans. Exposito spent the whole 2011 season in Triple A after working his way up through the Red Sox organization.  Duckworth has seen time in the majors with the Phillies, Astros, and Royals before signing with the Red Sox last spring.

Luis Exposito and Brandon Duckworth sign autographs for fans. Exposito spent the whole 2011 season in Triple A after working his way up through the Red Sox organization. Duckworth has seen time in the majors with the Phillies, Astros, and Royals before signing with the Red Sox last spring.

When I was done in the batting tunnel, I went into the home clubhouse, where PawSox manager Arnie Beyeler and outfielder Alex Hassan were autographing.  After going through that line, I stuck around for their Q & A session, in which we learned that Hassan’s favorite players growing up in Milton, MA, were Manny Ramirez, Nomar Garciaparra, and Pedro Martinez.  (This made me feel old, since they’re players I rooted for as an adult, but I felt a little better later when I realized that I’m only a couple of years older than the journeyman Duckworth.)  Beyeler was asked about coaching third, a task performed by minor league managers.  He said he definitely hears about it from fans when a runner is thrown out at the plate, but that he also hears about it when he holds a runner at third, and that either way he’s just happy that the fans care enough to holler.

Alex Hassan's .404 OBP while playing in Double A Portland last year led all Red Sox minor leaguers in that category.

Alex Hassan's .404 OBP while playing in Double A Portland last year led all Red Sox minor leaguers in that category.

When the Q & A finished up, I headed into the visitors’ clubhouse, where the private restroom in the manager’s office had been designated as a ladies’ room, and then grabbed some chips and soda.  I stopped for a free hot dog out in the concourse, and then browsed through the many displays of photos and memorabilia that line the walls of the hallway on my way out.

Baseball signed by Dave Stapleton, who was the International League MVP in 1979.

Baseball signed by Dave Stapleton, who was the International League MVP in 1979.

2 Responses to “Hot Stove on a Cold Night”

  1. Mike - January 16th, 2012

    Kinda stinks we couldn’t join you this year…Alex Hassan has become one of Ryan’s favorite players.

  2. RedSoxDiehard - January 17th, 2012

    Mine too! Hopefully he will make the PawSox this year and you guys can see more of him.

    P.S. I thought of Ryan when I saw the team’s mailboxes. Most of the cubbies were not labeled, but I saw a few names… including the immortal Kyle Weiland. If he’s still getting mail there, it’s seriously lost!

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