Red Sox FSL Update…Yes, they used to have a team

The Boston Red Sox don’t have a Florida State League affiliate.  They did.  But now they don’t.  In fact, the Marauders used to be the Red Sox.  Before the Marauders were purchased by the Pirates and moved to Bradenton for 2010, the franchise operated as the Sarasota Reds.  Before that it was the Sarasota Red Sox.  The affiliation ended following the 2004 season.

Since being in the FSL the Red Sox have bounced out to the Lancaster Jethawks of the California League and now the Salem Red Sox of the Carolina League.  Fortunately for Andrew Miller that means there is no possible way (barring him switching teams) that he could pitch in the Florida State League this summer.

See Miller owns a fairly dubious piece of trivia.  In five professional seasons, Miller has pitched in both the Major Leagues and the FSL every year.  This isn’t a fact but I’m just going to say he’s the only player in Major League history to hold that statistic (I’m sure he’s not). 

A first round pick of the Tigers out of UNC in 2006, Miller has also spent time with the Marlins and threw the Florida State League’s only no-hitter last season with Jupiter.  It wasn’t exactly a pretty affair – six walks in six innings, combining with the bullpen for history.

“It was exciting for the team I guess,” Miller said, “but it’s not nearly as exciting as doing it at a higher level.  It was a little bit of fun.  It’s one of those things you can smile when you look back on.”

Overall pros and cons on playing in the FSL for Miller?  Well he’s pretty similar to other things we’ve heard.  It’s almost like ‘for answer A press this button’ by this point.  As a pro Miller pointed out travel and as a con he mentioned overall smaller crowds than at other levels.

“One of the side effects is that you don’t have too many fans so it’s not like there’s a huge crowd rooting the team on,” Miller said.  “It’s just something you deal with.  It doesn’t matter one way or the other.  In the Florida State League everybody’s working to get better. It’s a very personalized level you’re just kind of concerned with getting yourself better and moving onto the next level.”

The lanky southpaw has battled injury and sometimes ineffectiveness throughout his career, leading to his back and forth journey.  Those issues have caused some to maybe write Miller off.  The pitcher will quickly remind you he’s only 25.

“If I could do it all over again I certainly wouldn’t choose anything different,” Miller said.  “I had incredible experiences and I got to pitch in a pennant race right out of college.  I don’t think you’ll hear too many guys complain about time they’ve spent in the Major Leagues.  I wouldn’t trade it for the world.  Would I say I would have rather thrown 500 innings or 700 innings in the minor leagues before I got called up?  I would say absolutely not.  I’m still 25 years old and I’ve got some time to work out kinks and hopefully I’m doing that right now.”

I’m not pointing this out to ridicule Miller.  Actually, I’m doing it for quite the opposite.  Miller’s had a fine spring and is hoping to make the Red Sox roster.  My point was to try and relate some of what Miller’s had to go through to the Pirates.

The Marauders had two pitchers on their roster last season that got me thinking and were the reason I spoke to Miller in the first place.  Both Tim Alderson and Craig Hansen are trying to regain the magic they once had – Hansen as a 1st round pick by the Sox in 2006 and Alderson a 1st round pick by the Giants.  The former made it to the bigs right out of the BIG EAST and St. Johns.  The latter had great success at A-Advanced ball in his first full season.  Both were in Bradenton last year trying to get that back.

Hansen is returning from injury.  Sidelined all of 2009 and a large chunk of 2010 with Parsonage Turner Syndrome, Hansen sticks out like a sore thumb at minor league camp these days.  There amongst all the hopefuls stands the one-time top prospect trying to retrain his body to throw.  Hansen is the first baseball player to ever come back from the injury that can take anywhere from seven months to five years recovery.

“It feels like I’ve never thrown a baseball in life before,” Hansen said last year when he began his comeback with Bradenton.

Alderson is just trying to regain his spark.  A dominant amateur pitcher and early pro, the lanky righty fell off course the last year and a half or so.  His velocity dipped and his effectiveness dwindled.  ESPN the Magazine even featured him in an article.  In that piece Alderson drops this fairly poignant quote after his high school coach gave him an honest assessment of his current ‘stuff.’

“Everything we’d worked for, everything he developed is gone,” Alderson is quoted as saying.  “It’s hard to look at myself and think, I was a better pitcher when I was 15.”

So with those two guys in mind – indeed very different cases, and for that matter very different from Miller – I was curious as to what the Red Sox arm thought about trying to make a comeback – trying to bounce back and solidify himself.

“I think that’s huge,” Miller said of needing to have confidence.  “Anybody that’s playing professional baseball has the talent to pitch in the Major Leagues but the ones that are most successful are probably the most confident ones – the ones that trust their stuff and believe in their abilities and limit their doubts.  It’s huge.  It’s one of the most important things if not the most important thing.  Otherwise you’re going to go out there and dig yourself a hole.

To be honest with you it’s something that everybody deals with,” Miller continued.  “The ones that succeed are the ones that handle it the best or the ones that fight through it.  We’re not saving lives or anything but it is a hard game and it’s tough.  You’ve gotta block out those negative thoughts and move on and stay positive and attack the hitter.”

VARITEK LOOKS BACK

While I was in the Red Sox clubhouse I figured I wouldn’t waste the opportunity to pick at least on other brain.  Thought it might be neat to see what one of Boston’s stars remembered about his minor league career.  Enter Jason Varitek.

“As bad as some of the bus rides are it’s also fun,” the veteran backstop said.  “Guys having a ball watching a movie to playing cards to playing games to whatever.  You bond over a long period of time.”

Varitek never played A-Advanced ball.  He jumped right to the Double-A Southern League out of Georgia Tech.  He’s played just two games in the minors since his big league debut in 1997.

“I was overmatched, outtalented and humiliated,” Varitek said quite frankly about his early minor league career.  The catcher hit .224 in his maiden voyage for Port City.

“I learned to face adversity right away,” Varitek continued.  “The level of competition day in and day out was different than I had ever seen.  Part of development sometimes is you’re starring down a black hole and you don’t see any light and then all of a sudden some light appears and then some more and some more and some more.  That’s the encouraging thing for anybody is that there’s going to be some light at the end of that tunnel.  You just have to find where it is.”

ERIN ANDREWS NOT HERE

I had a small curiosity with the Red Sox in town.  Would Erin Andrews be on Boston’s pass list?  Essentially would there be a ticket left for her at will call?  She is a Florida native after all.

If you’re now scratching your head in confusion, allow me to start from the top.

Red Sox outfielder Daniel Nava has a small crush on Andrews.  It’s nothing new – been chronicled in USA Today, the Boston Herald etc.  The story first ‘broke’ when Pawtucket Red Sox broadcaster Dan Hoard (one of the best in the biz by the way) posted this picture (scroll down the link) of the PawSox pass list last year.  Turns out Nava’s always left a ticket for the ESPN star just in case she was in town.

Anyways, not that I was expecting Andrews to show up at McKechnie Field, I was kind of excited to see if there was a ticket left for her at will call.  Long story short…there was not.

Till next time,

Joel

 

 

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About Joel Godett
Joel Godett is in his secod year broadcasting Bradenton Marauders baseball. His career has carried him from Syracuse to Buffalo, Roanoke, Cape Cod, Tampa and Bradenton. He is originally from New Jersey and somehow grew up an Atlanta Braves fan.

One Response to Red Sox FSL Update…Yes, they used to have a team

  1. Jason says:

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