Red Sox

How Red Sox coaches pranked Kyle Hart before summoning him to big leagues

Red Sox

Kyle Hart got called into the manager's office at Pawtucket on Tuesday, and the news wasn't good -- Major League Baseball planned to fine him for not wearing a mask.

Manager Billy McMillon and pitching coaches Shawn Haviland and Paul Abbott waited a beat alongside farm director Ben Crockett. Then they broke the real news.

"I was a little worried at first," Hart said, "but then they told me, you can go pay your fine at Fenway Park tomorrow."

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And so it is that Hart, a 19th-round selection in the 2016 draft, will make his debut on Thursday when he starts the finale of a four-game set with the Rays.

It's the culmination of a journey that began in college at Indiana, where Hart spent five years, his career interrupted by Tommy John surgery. The 6-foot-5 lefty has never lit up radar guns or blown away scouts with his pure stuff, but he has gotten results at every stop along the way, posting a 3.13 ERA in 77 minor league appearances.

"My mindset going into tomorrow is the same as it has been my entire career," Hart said. "Every year, I started a level lower than what I thought I should be at. I thought I should be in Greenville, they started me in extended. I thought I should be in Salem, they started me in Greenville, and so on and so forth. This year I thought maybe I had a chance of starting with the big league team and they put me at the alternate site.

 

"Honestly, I appreciated it, because that's how every year has gone. And every year I've kind of sought out success. I'm comfortable in the position I'm in right now, of being a midseason callup, and kind of fulfilling that need. My mindset is they're giving me an opportunity tomorrow, I need to go pitch to earn another one. That's going to be my mindset as long as I play this game. Hopefully you look back and you've got six, eight, 10 years in this league. Right now I need to go out and earn every single start, opportunity to pitch, whatever it is, every single night."

And guess what? He doesn't owe any fines.

"They told me that I was actually getting fined by Major League Baseball for not wearing my mask. That's kind of a real scenario that's going to happen and probably has happened," Hart said. "Luckily it was just a prank and they were pulling my leg."