Red Sox

Hottovy sent down but hungry to taste MLB again

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Hottovy sent down but hungry to taste MLB again

By Jessica Camerato
CSNNE.com Follow @JCameratoNBA
Tommy Hottovy had waited seven years for this opportunity. On June 3 he made his Major League debut with the Boston Red Sox, 169 Minor League appearances after he was drafted by the organization in 2004.

Less than a month later, the left handed relievers first -- and long-anticipated -- stint in the big leagues came to an end when he was optioned to Triple-A Pawtucket as Bobby Jenks and Franklin Morales were activated from the 15-day disabled list. He pitched a total of four innings over six games with a 6.75 ERA (3 ER, 0 HR, 2 SO) out of the Red Sox bullpen.

Im really hungry now that Ive had a taste, Hottovy told CSNNE.com in a telephone interview on Tuesday. I still have that fire to go out and improve myself and to continue to stay mentally aware of what got me here, but now you have that hunger to actually be back there and compete and do the things that I want to be doing.

I feel like it makes me a better pitcher, I know what I need to work on, I know what makes me successful, and I know what I need to continue to do to make myself better. Im always going to have that fire and Im going to be wanting to get back there as soon and as often as I can.

Hottovys first call up to the Red Sox lasted just over three weeks, but it was more than enough time for him to experience the life he had been dreaming of for 29 years. He recently took a look back at some of his favorite Minor League moments and shared how different they are in the Majors.

Home Sweet Home On the Road: Hottovys first home as a professional baseball player was a dorm room at UMass-Lowell during his rookie season with the Single-A Lowell Spinners. He brought one bag of clothes to last the entire summer and lived on campus without a car -- or a real closet. Its almost like summer camp, but it was fun, he told CSNNE back on June 7.

Once he was called up the Red Sox, Hottovy stayed in a Boston-area hotel while also keeping his apartment in Pawtucket, commuting to Rhode Island when the schedule permitted. When it came time to travel for road games, Hottovy was in awe of the places he stayed.

I actually have a closet, I have a TV and all that fun stuff, he smiled. The hotels that we stay in, especially on the road, its just unbelievable. Theyre the nicest hotels Ive stayed in. Its just really cool how even this year, I started in Double-A and youre staying in -- nothing against the hotels we were at -- but theyre just normal hotel rooms. Now youre in suites in the middle of New York City and in downtown Toronto. Its crazy.

"Without question, my view in New York City was unbelievable. And I didnt see it at first. When we got there, it was an off-day so we were all going to dinner. I threw my stuff in my room and didnt even look outside and went to dinner. I came back and got ready for bed and I was lying there and thought I should check it out. I was on the 21st floor and I opened my window. It was just amazing.
Flying in Luxury (with Chik-fil-A): It once took Hottovy 13 hours to travel 400 miles from Portland, Maine to Trenton, New Jersey after a blown bus tire nearly delayed his second start with the Sea Dogs. We pulled in for a 7 oclock start at 6:30, he recalled back on June 7.

There were still long plane rides in the Majors -- travel is just part of the game -- but flying with the Red Sox was nothing like the bus rides he had taken before.

Dont get me wrong, well still have days where you get in at four in the morning, but everything is expedited, he explained. Your game is done, youre going through security, youre getting on the plane, youre gone, whereas there was a lot more waiting around before and a lot longer trips. But when you fly everywhere its nice and you have your own private section of seats so you dont have to share seats with anybody.

I didnt know what to expect the first time I got on the plane. It was just cool because my version of a plane has been just a regular commercial airline. This is a big airplane but the rules are completely different. Its pretty neat. You can just pick whatever you want to eat, order off the menu, its just crazy. The chicken parm we had was pretty good. They have everything, like chicken burritos, we had Chik-fil-A one day. Even that, I love Chick-fil-As.

Add Toronto to the List: Hottovy had seen hundreds of cities as he made his way to Boston. Prior to his call-up, Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, Portland, Maine, and Akron, Ohio (yes, there is a LeBron James story behind it) were atop his list of favorites.

Being in the Majors gave Hottovy the opportunity to play outside of the United States and add another city to his list. And as he traveled to new places, he had the chance to bond with his new teammates.

I would have to say Toronto was my favorite city because I had never really been to Canada, he said. I had been to New York City and it was fun, but it was really hot too so I didnt really get to see a whole lot. But Toronto was really neat. I just liked the atmosphere there and how the city was built up. You dont have a whole lot of time to sightsee or anything, so our sightseeing is really from the airport to the hotel or the field to the hotel. But it was neat. I really liked how it was set up and the stadium was pretty cool.

We had a day game and had a pitchers dinner there. Pitchers dinners are really fun. Its a way for us guys to kind of get away from the field and still be able to keep that camaraderie and stuff. Its a lot of fun and we have a good time and definitely enjoy it.

Back with Old Friends: Hottovy made his Major League debut in relief of Clay Buchholz. Four years earlier, the two had been the first and second starting pitchers in the Sea Dogs rotation. Hottovy, who was sidelined with elbow tendonitis during the season Buchholz got called up to the Red Sox, always looked at Buchholzs success as motivation.

When I see a guy I played with play in the big leagues, that gives me hope and faith that Im here, I can do it too, he recently told CSNNE.

So when he made it to Fenway Park, Buchholz was glad to see his former teammate back in the same clubhouse.

Its awesome, Hottovy said of playing again with Buchholz. I played with a lot of these guys before, whether it was Mike Cameron rehabbing with us last year in Pawtucket or (Kevin) Youkilis rehabbing with us in 2004 when I was in Lowell. So Ive played with these guys for parts of years, but its not the same as being here. When youre here, youre a part of something bigger. Its pretty cool.

"Clay told me good job and congratulations on the first outing. Again, hes a guy that we pitched together and you just tried to learn from each other. You pick up on things on what works for some guys doesnt work for other guys, and you just try to piece together whats going to work for you. He was excited to see me here and be able to come in and pitch.
Real-Life Inspiration: Throughout the course of his career, Hottovy has met countless fans from all over the country. There are two, in fact, he met in the stands during a Wilmington Blue Rocks game that he still keeps in touch with today.

Its amazing the people you meet through the experiences over the years, he said on June 7.

Once Hottovy donned a Red Sox uniform, there were fans who not only congratulated him on his accomplishment, but also shared how he inspired them to pursue their goals as well.

The fans here are awesome, he said of Boston. I had some people the other day who came up to me and said congratulations. They were longtime Sea Dogs fans so they had seen me a ton. They just said it was awesome. They were really excited. They said its exciting for them because it kind of gives them a story that gives them hope for things, just not giving up and keep trying.

That was pretty, pretty cool. Im just getting really good feedback from everybody. Its just really nice. You meet so many people playing this game, fans, other players, guys you played with, played against, coaches, your fraternity is huge so you get to meet a lot of cool people.

Jessica Camerato is on Twitter at http:twitter.com!JCameratoNBA

Red Sox can be thankful for a successful past and a bright future

Red Sox can be thankful for a successful past and a bright future

For the glass-is-half-full folks, there are those back-to-back Eastern Division titles. For the glass-is-half-empty folks, well, there are those two first-round playoff ousters (though both their conquerers made it to the World Series, and one of them won it). But, here on Thanksgiving night, there's plenty for Red Sox Nation to be thankful for, starting with . . . 


YOUR GOOD HEALTH

We know you don’t need the Red Sox to know you how important the most basic elements of life are. But sometimes, the typical fantasy land of baseball can grab our attention. The death of 17-year-old Sox prospect Daniel Flores (above) this month from complications because of cancer didn’t take away only a potentially great baseball career. It took away a beloved, hard-working young person from the people who loved him. He had just made millions of dollars in July for his talent on the field, but what does such a windfall matter compared to one’s health? His cancer was both rare and fast-moving, per the Boston Globe.

MOOKIE, JACKIE, XANDER, BENINTENDI, DEVERS

The kids deserve some love. They probably won’t be together on the Red Sox forever. Heck, the group could get broken up this winter. But while any of the Killer B’s (plus a D) remain on the Sox, there should be a sense of optimism. Two straight 93-win seasons may have resulted in a first-round exit, and 2017 didn’t meet expectations for some individual performances. But you know what? The youths are still damn good, and there’s time for them to show us they can be even better.

INSANELY GOOD PITCHERS IN CHRIS SALE AND CRAIG KIMBREL

Neither hogs the spotlight once the game ends or says too much. Sale doesn’t even have Twitter. But the righty closer and lefty starter both do two things exceedingly well: make batters swing and miss, and prevent runs. When both pitch, your seat at the park may well be worth the price of admission. (But we won’t ask what you paid for those seats.) Sale didn’t take down Pedro Martinez’s Sox single-season strikeout record this year, finishing with five fewer than Martinez’s 313 in 1999. But he could have done it. And with a little more rest next year, one can envision him plowing his way through playoff opponents too.

ALEX CORA'S NEW DIRECTION

A first-time manager’s not a sure thing, but as Sox owner John Henry noted, there was a feeling it was time for a change. It’s a little early to be thinking ahead to a New Year’s resolution, but a manager who better connects with his players and brings a different vibe to the day-to-day scene is reason to feel the Sox are following the right road map. Plus, if nothing else, Cora took that awesome picture walking toward Fenway.

A CHRISTMAS SHOPPING SPREE MAY BE AROUND THE CORNER

We don’t want to be too materialistic. But Uncle Dave Dombrowski couldn’t let you buy everything you wanted last year. The credit card companies needed him to step back for a year. Now he’s ready to spend. He might not close down Bloomingdale’s for the day for you to do your private shopping, but if you need a couple great jackets to complete your look, it sounds like he’s ready to get you some designer threads. He probably feels there won’t be too many chances to have a moment like this with you, at this stage of your life, and he wants to make the most of it.

NBC SPORTS BOSTON SCHEDULE

 

Why the Red Sox should sign not one but two relievers

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Why the Red Sox should sign not one but two relievers

BOSTON — There is a world outside of Giancarlo Stanton. 

Stanton, at this point, simply doesn’t appear likely to end up in Boston. That should feel obvious to those following along, and so should this: it can change. 

But there are other pursuits. Besides their search for a bat or two, the Red Sox have been actively pursuing left-handed relief options. Sox president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski is a fast mover, but this year’s market has not been.

MORE RED SOX:

Robbie Ross Jr. and Fernando Abad are both free agents, leaving Robby Scott as the lone incumbent southpaw from last season's primary group. Brian Johnson is bound for the pen, with Roenis Elias as a depth option too.  Still, even if Johnson’s transition pans out, the Sox still have an opening for a late-inning reliever with the departure of free agent Addison Reed. 

Reed is a righty, but between Matt Barnes, Joe Kelly, Heath Hembree, Carson Smith, and Craig Kimbrel, the Sox have more right-handed choices than left. Coming back from surgery, Tyler Thornburg, should be in the mix eventually too, but it's difficult to expect too much from him.

What the Red Sox should do: sign one of each for the bullpen, one righty, and one lefty. And then trade a righty or two. Turn some of that mishmash into an addition elsewhere. Be creative. 

Because inevitably, come midseason, the Sox will want to add another bullpen arm if they sign just one now. Why wait until you have to give up prospect capital when you can just add the piece you want now?

Go get a near-sure thing such as Pat Neshek, a veteran who walks no one and still strikeouts a bunch. At 37 with an outgoing personality, Neshek also brings leadership to a team that is looking for some. He walked just six guys in 62 innings last season. Entering his 12th season in the majors, he’s looking for his first ring.

All these top of the market relievers may be handsomely paid. But relievers are still something of a bargain compared to position players and starting pitchers. One of the key words for this winter should be creativity. If there’s value to be had in the reliever market, capitalize on it. 

Comeback kid Mike Minor, Jake McGee and Tony Watson headline the crop of free agent lefties available. Brad Hand of the Padres could also be had by trade but his market isn’t moving too quickly (and he won’t come cheaply).

Minor, 29, who posted a 2.55 ERA in 2017 after health issues kept him out of the majors in 2015-16, is expected to be paid handsomely. He is also open to the idea of potentially starting if a team is interested in him doing so. The Royals reportedly could give him that shot.

McGee’s American League East experience could be appealing.

He's 31 and had a 3.61 ERA with the Rockies in 2017 and has a 3.15 ERA lifetime. He’s not quite the strikeout pitcher he was earlier in his career — he had an 11.6 K/9 in 2015 — but a 9.1 K/9 is still very strong, particularly when coupled with just 0.6 homers allowed per nine.

For what it’s worth: McGee has also dominated the Red Sox, who have a .125 average, .190 on-base percentage and .192 slugging against him in 117 regular-season plate appearances. 

McGee throws a mid-90s fastball with a low-80s slider. He can operate up in the zone, and he actually has been even more effective against righties than lefties in his career, including in 2017. McGee’s been a closer, too, with 44 career saves.

The Sox had the second-best bullpen in the majors by ERA in 2017, at 3.07. Yet, come the postseason, there wasn’t a sense of great confidence or even a clear shape to the pecking order behind one of the absolute best relievers in the game, Kimbrel.