March 2011

Tommy Hottovy, a new delivery and a new outlook on the game

In 2004, Tommy Hottovy was drafted by the Red Sox in the fourth round of the June draft out of Wichita State University.  The lefty pitched for Lowell that same year, going 0-1, 0.89 ERA in 14 starts.  He pitched only 30.1 IP, since it was his first taste of professional ball, but it was a very promising start.  After spending the entire 2005 campaign with Wilmington (High-A Carolina League), and starting the ’06 season with the Blue Rocks, Hottovy has pitched 66 games for Portland, 26 in Pawtucket and 5 in Lowell (rehab assignment)  In 2008, he was limited to only two starts due to Tommy (not Hottovy) John surgery.  “I felt after my surgery I wasn’t improving, and you get to a point where you hit a crossroads.” said Hottovy.

So what was the solution for 2011? A different arm slot for Hottovy; dropping down is the baseball term for it.  It’s been an amazing and quick transition for the 29-year-old lefty, who his hitting 91 miles-per-hour with his fastball, but his sweeping breaking ball is nasty.  Two days ago, Hottovy fired two scoreless frames, and all four strikeouts were looking.  “I feel very comfortable dropping down, but the important thing is that I’m repeating my delivery.” said Hottovy. “That’s the big thing for pitchers is to feel comfortable.  That can take you a long way.”  I really hope things work out for Hottovy, he’s worked very hard over the years, and he’s never given up.  Hopefully 2011 can be a special one for Hottovy, who will start the season as a member of Portland’s bullpen.

Here’s video of Hottovy –

‘Dogs doubled up by Bowie 8-4! Snow!!!! Please say NO

Fort Myers, FLA – The Sea Dogs received solo homers by Ryan Dent, Tim Federowicz and Jonathan Hee, but dropped Wednesday’s exhibition game, 8-4, to the Bowie Baysox at Boston’s Minor League Complex.  Andrew Miller (video of Miller – made the start for Portland (he’ll begin the season in Pawtucket), allowing three runs over four innings, but recorded six strikeouts.

The Sea Dogs open up the season April 7th against Reading


Miller did not start the Pawtucket game since Alfredo Aceves (Pawtucket’s opening night starter) and Hideki Okajima – (video of Okajima – needed work. Aceves hurled five perfect innings for Pawtucket, and fanned nine.  The PawSox defeated Norfolk 6-1.

Mitch Herold, Miguel Gonzalez and Kyle Fernandes all pitched for Portland, who finish up their exhibition schedule with back-to-back games against New Britain.  The Sea Dogs are home on Opening Night, hosting the Reading Phillies over the weekend.

This was my last day in Ft. Myers, and I can’t believe how fast it went.  I’ve heard some awful rumors about the weather back north, and I’m trying to ignore the weather channel.  I put what my happen in the subject line, and I refuse to say that 4-letter word again.


Could Stephen Fife return to Portland in 2011?


Notable faces at the complex today: Theo Epstein, Bill James, Mike Hazen, Dan Hoard (PawSox broadcaster), Sea Dogs’ beat writer Kevin Thomas and pretty much the entire player development staff for the Red Sox.   I must say, the Red Sox have been so good to me over the seven years I’ve worked in Portland.  Everyone is so friendly and helpful during Spring Training, making it great place to be.

Leaving on a Jet Plane: I’ll be heading back to Portland in the early morning, and I can’t wait for the season to start.  The players are expected to arrive Sunday, but some could trickle in earlier or on Monday morning.






Tuesday Morning from Ft. Myers

For those interested in watching the Red Sox and Astros game tonight, and don’t have NESN, there’s a solution. MLB TV is offering a free trial – Here’s the link –

I will be watching to see if Blake Maxwell gets in the game. Blake has promised to do his patent sprint from the bullpen. I can only imagine Terry Francona’s face after seeing Max climb the hill, nearly out of breath.

This afternoon the Sea Dogs and PawSox are home against Baltimore’s AA and AAA affiliates. Both teams play the Twins in the final two days of the exhibition schedule.

I’ll have more later. Just 8 days until we see you at Hadlock Field, temps could be in the high 50’s.

Sea Dogs take exhibition tilt; 4-3 over Montgomery

(Ft. Myers, FL) – Ronald Bermudez drove in the winning run with a fielder’s choice in the eighth inning, snapping a 3-3 tie, and giving the Portland Sea Dogs a 4-3 win over the Montgomery Biscuits (Tampa Rays affiliate) on Tuesday afternoon at Boston’s minor league complex.  Former Sea Dog Tommy Hottovy was dominant in two innings of work, yielding two baserunners (walk and single) and fanning four (all looking). Dennis Neuman earned the win, pitching two frames on one hit, one run, one walk and one strikeout.  South African native Justin Erasmus notched the save with a scoreless ninth.

Below is a summary of today’s Portland lineup

Position Players

Che-Hsuan Lin CF   (1-for-2, RBI and stolen base)
Bermudez CF (0-for-2, GWRBI)

Oscar Tejeda 2B (0-for-4, 2 SO)

Will Middlebrooks 3B (0-for-2, 2 SO)
Ryan Dent  SS  (1-for-2, 1B)

Ryan Lavarnway C/DH (0-for-2, BB)

Tim Federowicz DH/C (0-for-3, 2 SO)

Chih-Hsien Chiang Extra Hitter (1-for-1, 1B, 2 BB, RS)

Vlad Frias SS/3B  (2-for-3, 2B, 1B, run scored)

Jason Place LF/CF (0-for-3, RBI ground out)

Mitch Dening RF (1-for-3, 1B, RS, nice diving catch)

Moko Moanaroa 1B (2-for-3, RBI, 2B, 1B)


Hottovy (2 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 ER, BB, 4 SO)

Tommy Hottovy (in the background #47) going over mechanics with Sea Dogs' pitching coach Bob Kipper


Charlis Burdie (2 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 2 BB, 2 SO)

Will Latimer (2 IP, 0 H, 2 R, ER, 3 BB, 3 SO)

Neuman (2 IP, H, 1 R, 1 ER, BB, SO)

Erasmus (IP, 0 R)





*Updated News… is reporting that the Red Sox have denied the trade of Daniel Turpen to Colorado…I’ll have a feature on Tommy Hottovy within the next couple of days…Portland plays Bowie on Wednesday, New Britain on Thursday and Friday to close out their exhibition schedule.


Sea Dogs and PawSox play at 1:00 PM…Poll Question!

9:37 AM – Good Morning from Ft. Myers, where the rain has stopped, with temperatures expected to hit the high 80’s.  Due to rain yesterday all minor league games were cancelled, but workouts were held at the Minor League Complex.  

Yesterday I caught up with former Sea Dog Chris Province.  Last year Province began his first year in the Twins’ system, and could land in Triple-A Rochester to start 2011.  That team could also feature Ray Chang and Jeff Bailey.

Blake Maxwell is among the handful of minor leaguers that will travel with the big league club to Houston.  Maxwell has worked so hard over the past few years, and this is a terrific opportunity for the former 40th round pick in the 2005 draft.  And if you were wondering, it was 1200 picks before Maxwell where Craig Hansen was selected –  Blake is still in the Red Sox system.  When Boston drafted Hansen, most experts deemed him the Red Sox closer, and a Hall-of-Famer.  Okay, well maybe not the second one.

This afternoon the Sea Dogs and PawSox will host Tampa’s affiliates at Boston’s minor league complex.  Below is my continued poll from last night.  Enjoy your morning, I’ll have more updates later.

Polls for you to answer…Full Monday wrap-up

11:02 PM – Our blogs this season were converted to Word Press, and I absolutely love it.  I’ve been playing around with all the options, and now we can do polls.  Here’s a sample for all of you to answer.

1:33 PM – All minor league exhibition games were cancelled this morning due to wet grounds.  The heavy rain cleared out at 9:00 am, but the fields were deemed unplayable.  Per Peter Abraham of the Boston Globe: John Lackey threw 74 pitches over five innings in a simulated game at the Player Development Complex.
Facing Carl Crawford, Kevin Youkilis and assorted minor leaguers, Lackey looked solid.

Jonathan Papelbon (21 pitches) and Daniel Bard (13) each pitched an inning.

Crawford and Youkilis each had nine at-bats.

10:45 AM – Most of  the weather in Florida featured thunderstorms, lightning and heavy raining during the early morning, but the temps should reach in the mid 80’s.  The Red Sox scratched John Lackey from his scheduled start in Dunedin, due to the rain, but he’s expected to pitch in a minor league today.  I’m not sure who he is pitching for, but I can tell you that Portland and Pawtucket are playing at the Twins’ complex – so there’s a chance I could get some photos of Lackey.

Last night I had dinner with a couple of former Sea Dogs: Iggy Suarez (infielder and fan favorite) and Brad Pearson (Sea Dogs trainer, now the Red Sox Minor League Medical Director).

View of Ft. Myers Beach

It was pretty nice being perched up on the second floor of a very popular restaurant on the beach (Beached Whale, weird name), and have seven flat screen TV’s about 15 feet away.  I can only imagine watching football during the December in shorts, and 90 degree-heat.

Yesterday was a camp day for the Red Sox Minor Leaguers, but the main attraction was Jon Lester, who pitched five innings in a intra-squad game.  Lester allowed five runs (four earned) over five innings.  Not sure why people even keep track of these stats, he was throwing a lot of fastballs on 0-2 counts, but did snap over some beautiful curve balls.  Lester starts opening day for Boston in Texas this Friday.  Jason Varitek caught Lester, and had about five at-bats.  One of the thrills of the start was watching Luis Exposito park a towering homer over the right-field fence.  It was a blast, and got both dugouts going.

Present catcher, but maybe future?

There was another occasion when Lester yelled out Kalish’s name after Ryan got a hit off him.  I don’t think it was pronounced right, oh, Happy Birthday Ryan!

I’ll have some more reports around 4ish – but you can follow me on twitter at seadogsradio.

Video and Photos

Yes this is a blog, but fans love photos and video…Enjoy

Lester’s appearance –

Photos from Day 2 –

Former Sea Dog Jon Lester in his final tuneup

The Red Sox Minor League Complex had a camp day on Sunday, and Jon Lester pitched in a 5-inning intra-squad game, his final appearance before the start of the regular season.

Lester pitched five innings, allowing 9 hits, 5 runs (4 earned), 0 walks and 5 strikeouts. Former Sea Dog Luis Exposito hit a solo-homer off Lester, a deep drive to straight away right field.  Jason Varitek was behind the plate for all five innings, but I missed most of his at-bats.

I’ll add some video of Lester later on.

Chance to chat with a few players: Kris Johnson is coming off shoulder tendinitis, and has pitched once in the past five days.  Also met Kris’s dad, great guy.  Sea Dogs’ pitching coach Bob Kipper said Stephen Fife threw the ball well today.  Fife took part in a four-inning intra-squad game on field two.  “He was much better after the first inning,” said Kipper.  “Looked locked in and ready to go.”

After the intra-squad games I made my through the locker room of the Minor League Complex and bumped into some former Sea Dogs, who I haven’t seen in years.  Zach Daeges is still rehabbing and hopes to play soon.  I feel like I only bumped into outfielders: Daeges, Daniel Nava, Josh Reddick, Ryan Kalish and Che-Hsuan Lin.  Ryan Khoury had his right (picture on the left – Varitek and Lester begin the day) leg wrapped but he’s fine.

With Lester pitching, there was a small media crowd huddled in the shade.  They’ve been down here longer than me, so they’re use to the son.  Scott Lauber, who writes for the Boston Herald, was the beat writer in Binghamton back in 2005.  Nick Cafardo (Boston Globe) and Ian Browne (Red were also in attendance.

I’ll have some more photos and media later on.

Heading out soon

Just a quick post to let everyone know I’ll be heading to the Red Sox Minor League complex this morning. At 10:30 AM, Jon Lester is scheduled to pitch in one of the intra-squad games. I heard some rumblings yesterday that there will be three intra-squad games going on.

The Red Sox are in Sarasota this afternoon to take on the Orioles. Nate Spears is starting at second base, and is approaching 60 at-bats this spring with Boston. I wouldn’t be surprised to see him get called up at some point during the season. He’s playing everything this spring, and it makes you think he’d be the first player called up in a pinch. He deserves it, what a great guy, who had a tremendous year in Portland last season.

What a thrill it was for me last night to sit in-between Jon Rish and Joe Castiglione for a few innings. Joe gave myself and the Sea Dogs a nice plug on the air.

I’ll have more information later, and hopefully some audio from Lester.

Notes from Minor League Spring Training: Sea Dogs lose a tough one

The Sea Dogs and Pawtucket Red Sox both played their exhibition games at the Twins’ complex this afternoon.  Pawtucket didn’t fare too well, and had to see Jim Thome bat pretty much every inning against them.  I swear, every time I turned over to see the PawSox game, Thome was making his turn around first base.

Portland was trailing 9-3, but scored six runs over two innings (7 & 8), and suffered a 10-9 loss to the New Britain Rock Cats.   The game was tied at nine, heading into the eighth inning, but Chris Cates scored the game-winning run on a missed catch at first base by pitcher Will Latimer.  Portland scored five runs in the eighth inning on a solo-blast by Jonathan Hee and a grand slam from Jorge Padron.  The homer by Pardon was an absolute bomb, and drew the “oh’s and ah’s from the bench, including most of the Pawtucket players.   There game finished when Portland was in the seventh inning, so they had to wait a bit before heading back to the minor league complex.  It’s nice having the Twins complex in the same city – makes it fun to travel and watch a game from a different location.

The Sea Dogs got off to a good start, scoring twice in the first inning off righty Steve Hirschfield.  With two outs, Will Middlebrooks singled and Ryan Lavarnway hit a monster homer over the fence in left-center field.  If your eyes were closed, you could tell from the crack of the bat that the ball was crushed.

Notes from Portland game: Alex Wilson struggled a bit over three innings, allowing four runs on seven hits.  “That was my worse outing of the spring, ” said Wilson. “I  just felt a little off.”  Wilson also added that it’s good to get those bad outings out-of-the-way in spring training…Oscar Tejeda started at second base and double twice.  Tim Federowicz caught the entire game, and added three hits.  Jason Place played left and centerfield, going 1-for-4 with a run-scoring double.  There were about five balls misplayed in the outfield due to the tough sun.  The wind was blowing out, but temps were in the mid 80’s all day.

I ran into: Tony Thomas Sr, who was watching his son Tony play for Pawtucket.  Thomas was acquired by Boston in the Robert Coello trade.  “My son has played in a championship game for the last four years, and I hope he does again,” said Thomas…Spent time with Arnie Beyeler, who is looking forward to managing the Pawtucket Red Sox this season.  Beyeler’s first day on the job was yesterday, after spending the entire spring with the big league team.  Sea Dogs’ hitting coach Dave Joppie is having a lot of fun this spring, and is looking forward to Portland.  Dave is a lot of fun to be around, but he owes me a couple of pre-game radio interviews – hope you’re reading Dave!  Sea Dogs’ manager Kevin Boles has trimmed down a lot, and credits the success to P90x.   I also chatted quickly with Lars Anderson, Ryan Kalish, Kyle Weiland, Luis Exposito, Mark Wagner and Bubba Bell.  Every time I see Wagner, its giddee up.”  We’re both huge Seinfeld fans.  As I was leaving the minor game, I had a chance to catch up with Ray Chang, who is trying to make Minnesota’s Triple-A team.  Chang had 20 at-bats in big league camp.  He went 0-for-2 in the Double-A game.  Former Sea Dog Jeff Bailey played for Triple-A Rochester.

A True Class Act: Red Sox broadcaster Jon Rish has been so great to me the past two years, and invited me in the booth before the game.  Jon does a terrific job on the air, and is broadcasting his final game at the City of Palms Park.  Next year the Red Sox move into a new location.

On Sunday: A camp day for Red Sox minor leagues.  There is a possibility of a few intra-squad games, and we could see Jon Lester pitch in one of them…I’ll have a full report tomorrow from the Fort.