Notes from the BoSox Club Luncheon - May 28, 2019

BoSox Club president Jim Parker opened the luncheon at the Hotel Commonwealth in Kenmore Square by introducing our military guests, all three of whom are serving in the United States Marine Corps.

Head table guests, in addition to three esteemed Board members of the club, included John McDonald of the 2013 Boston Red Sox, broadcaster Jim Rosenhaus with the Cleveland Indians, Will Flemming of WEEI, and Red Sox pitcher Nathan Eovaldi.

Poet Laureate Dick Flavin was asked to provide a "few words of wisdom" and graced us with a poem about Dustin Pedroia, who just the day before had announced an indefinite suspension of his efforts to rehabilitate his knee to get back into playing shape. All are aware of the intensity with which Dustin Pedroia has always approached challenges; taking a break at this time could well be the best approach toward the possibility of returning to the field of play.

Jim Parker requested a moment of silence for former Red Sox player Bill Buckner, who died on May 28. Buckner drove in over 100 runs for the Red Sox in the back-to-back seasons of 1985 and 1986.

Members and guests then lined up for autographs.

Will Flemming served as MC for the program, beginning by saying that working with Joe Castiglione on Red Sox broadcasts over WEEI radio has been a real treat for him.

He quickly introduced Nathan Eovaldi, so that the Red Sox pitcher could get back to the ballpark and continue rehabbing his elbow. Will said that he noticed a number of members checking out Nate's right elbow. Nate said that he hoped to be back and pitching in 2-3 weeks. It's been tough sitting on the sidelines, he said.

Will talked about Eovaldi's performance in last year's World Series, calling it one of the truly great moment is Red Sox history Eovaldi had been planning to start Game Four against the Dodgers in Los Angeles. After 11 innings of Game Three, however, he was asked to work an inning, and he retired the Dodgers 1-2-3. The Red Sox then scored a run in the top of the 12th. He hoped to wrap things up and still be able to start the following day. A walk, an error, and then a single, and the Dodgers had tied the game again. The game went to 18 innings, Eovaldi giving up any hope of getting a start, and ended up working six innings, allowing a total of three base hits. He gave it all he had.  Unfortunately, the third hit was a walkoff home run for Max Muncy, and the Dodgers won the game. But immediately afterward, as the Red Sox players were in the clubhouse, manager Alex Cora called everyone together, told them how historic the game had been, and how appreciative he was of the job Nathan Eovaldi had done. The team gave the pitcher a spontaneous ovation. "It felt like we have won the game," Nathan told us.

And indeed, the Red Sox went out and won the next two games, and had their fourth world championship in the last 15 years.

Nathan Eovaldi signed a new contract with the Red Sox over the winter. Will Fleming asked him if the appreciation shown him by his teammates and the fans in Boston had played into his decision to stay. He said he had such a good feeling about the team, and there is no doubt it helped him decide.

He also talked about how pitching coaches Dana LeVangie and Brian Bannister (and Christian Vasquez) work with data during bullpen sessions. The analytic data they provide can start giving him feedback within the first 10 pitches of a bullpen session, rather than having to wait 40 pitches or so, until the session was over.

Will asked him why pitchers take so long between pitches? He didn't really have an answer other than to reflect just a bit on the battle between batter and pitcher.

Who is the toughest batter he faces in the American League? A lot of the Yankees, he said, mentioning Aaron Judge by name.

What did Pedroia mean to the 2018 championship Red Sox? He had only appeared in three games and was not able to contribute on the field, but – Eovaldi said he had a major influence on that team. "He's funny" – which made a difference.  And he helped everyone keep focused. He works so hard to try and get back in the field that he was always an inspiration.

How has being a World Series champion affected Eovaldi's life?  "I get notice a lot more," he said lightheartedly, adding that he definitely has tried not to change much.

Jim Rosenhaus was then introduced and there was some discussion about the 2019 Cleveland Indians. "It's been a struggle," he said. First Francisco Lindor went down with an injury. Jason Kipnis has been hurt. Two pitchers have had serious injuries, with Corey Kluber having suffered a broken arm. "It's been a very challenging season."

Jim talked about Trevor Bauer – "Trevor being Trevor."  He said of Bauer, "He delves into every possible way to get better. He speaks his mind, on Twitter and otherwise. He has some good ideas, and the Indians have implemented some of the things they work on.

Will suggested fans watch the way Bauer warms up for a game.

Asked about manager Terry Francona, Jim said, "He's changed our franchise. He's turned it around. He's done great work. He keeps it loose." Francona – still very popular in Boston – recently signed a new contract with Cleveland through 2022. He was asked if it was a lifetime contact. He replied, "I hope not!"

Jim then brought up John McDonald, who he had known in years gone by when McDonald was with the Indians. John is from Connecticut, his father a diehard Yankees fan.

John offered his own story about Dustin Pedroia, remembering the first time he met him, in the Red Sox clubhouse. Pedroia came up to him and said, "Hey, if you're not here to help us win a world championship, don't come in tomorrow."

Killing time during the playoffs, there was a "Red Sox vs. Boston" intrasquad game. As a defensive specialist, he often had the role of playing short right field (simulating a shift) when David Ortiz was up, taking hits away from Big Papi.

McDonald had a 16-year major-league career, from 1999 through 2014. He played for nine different teams and told us about one time he was even trade for himself!

In 2013, he plated for five different teams, but it was with the Red Sox that he wound up. He is currently working for the Indians as a defensive coordinator.

Board member Scott Cyr then ran the raffle. One lucky young fan won three different items. It was a good day for him.

--by Bill Nowlin

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