A Press Pass to the PawSox: Interviewing Machado, Meredith, and Pedroia

Yesterday, on the 22nd, I had the opportunity to attend a Pawtucket Red Sox game on a press pass, using MVN’s credentials. MVN has been well-represented at Pawtucket this year as Gary Jacobs of Sox on Deck goes to every single Pawtucket home game on a MVN press pass. After I got my press pass and entered the clubhouse, I saw Kevin Youkilis sitting at a table, jawing with other teammates and playing cards. As a matter of fact, cardplaying is big in the clubhouse. Dustin Pedroia, Alejandro Machado, and many others joined in card playing later on. Crosswords are also a popular facet of the clubhouse.

I hung around the clubhouse and the dugout for quite a while, and I got a total of three interviews before we had to leave the clubhouse. These interviews are below, but as for the game, Mark Malaska pitched stupendously – six innings, nine strikeouts. Pitching coach Mike Griffin noted that what Malaska was really able to do was use his breaking ball as strikes to finish off hitters.

There were two very interesting things during the game that occured. On was in the top eighth, when Kevin Youkilis caught a foul popup with one out and no-one on. He threw the ball into the stands, thinking it was three outs. He got some razzing from the crowd (who loves him – YOUUUUUUUUUUUUUUK) and from his teammates. Good thing a runner wasn’t on base.

In the top sixth, Dustin Pedroia fielded a swinging bunt that Dave Berg (playing first) had dove for and missed. Malaska and Berg converged on first to field Pedroia’s flip, but there was no one at first when Pedroia flipped, so it hit off the runner and Pedroia caught it on the rebound. Mental error by Pedroia aside, that’s one hell of a play – tossing it to first, hitting the batter, and catching it on the rebound.

I was part of the season high in attendance – a tidy 11,678. It was also the second highest in franchise history, so that’s quite a turnout! To read more about the game, simply click here (you can read quotes by Trot Nixon there and also by Mike Scandura here, who was also at the game).

A couple other interesting things is that George Lombard, despite a .254/.342/.464 line (his average was higher earlier) has been hitting seventh all season long. With his speed and OBP, you would think he would be second.

After the game, Ron Johnson, the manager of the PawSox, slapped a sign on his door. “MEDIA PEOPLE: I managed my ass off tonight! Let’s have a little respect!” Us media people were fixtated on Trot Nixon and his press conference. I couldn’t think of a question during Nixon’s press conference, everyone covered their bases. For the Ron Johnson conference, I only asked one question, which had to do with Alejandro Machado, who was acquired for a player to be named later when Jim Bowden of the Washington Nationals designated him for assignment, to get the 1235893455rd toolsy outfielder onto the roster. Machado is hitting .311/.372/.394 on the year, and has a chance to be called up in September. I can see him assuming the Lou Merloni highway next year (which Kevin Youkilis has done this year) before becoming the fulltime utility infielder in two years. He has very good speed and fielding.

I asked about Machado because he took a ball off his finger while trying to attempt a bunt on Friday. People assumed he’d be fine, but he had yet to play, so I asked for the status on Machado. Johnson said, “he has a pinched finger, from when he tried to bunt. He took batting practice today. He felt a hundred percent better but he’s still a little sore so he was in the starting lineup. But we were still a little uncomfortable with it, so if we skip one more day, I really think he’ll be back out there tomorrow.”

I was able to speak to Machado, Pedroia, and Meredith.

Machado was the friendliest of them all, and I’ve become a fan. He seems to be friendly to everyone, and was quite happy to give an interview. He seems like he would fit in perfectly in the clubhouse, with the David Ortiz and Manny Ramirez section. They weren’t long, in-depth interviews, but still…

What have you thought about the Red Sox organization?

Well, it’s a really, really nice organization, as I have been in and they treat me and the fans – everybody’s really good over here. It’s been very special. It’s great here, and I really enjoy being part of this organization, and I don’t change nothing. It’s really good, they were champions last year.

Are there any players on this team that you think have a really good shot at becoming a big name?

Yeah, we’ve got really good players here, and we hope all of us, you know, will be starting in the major leagues.

If I remember correctly, weren’t you called up to Boston earlier this year but never activated? How was that?

It was great, really good.

Were you able to sit in the dugout during the game?

No, I just went to the clubhouse. That was really fun.

Do you think it is possible you might go up in a month? Like, in September?

You never know, I hope so.

Your former club is doing pretty well this year.

They’re doing great, they have good players.

Did it come as a surprise when the Red Sox claimed you?

Yeah, it was a big surprise [rest of answer lost to loud music]

Dustin Pedroia seemed in a hurry, but stopped by to answer a few questions. He confirmed what I had heard from other sources – he loves cliches.

I’ve been wondering about your time in Pawtucket. You’ve come a long way.

Yeah, it’s been fun being here. I’m excited to keep going with the season and finish up strong.

I keep hearing that a lot of Red Sox fans want you in Boston next year to play second base. Do you think you have a real shot that that?

I hope so. I mean, I don’t know, I just go out there and play hard and hopefully it will become true.

Cla Meredith was a fantastic interview and I learned quite a bit from him in the two questions I asked him. During the interview, he was visibly frustrated with the subject he was talking about, and you can hear that frustration in the words he speaked. I found this very encouraging, because he has the “bulldog” mentality and I can’t wait to see him next year in a Red Sox uniform.

Did you realize that we could have six homegrown players on the roster next year? Pedroia, Craig Hansen, Jon Papelbon, Manny Delcarmen, and Meredith. Anyways:

I was just wondering what you thought of your time up in Boston.

Well, Boston is a good town. I was dissapointed that I didn’t do nearly what I was capable of. And it was dissapointing and at the same time you have to stay realistic, don’t beat yourself up about it and I think, um, whether I went up there and stuffed it up everybody’s ass, or I struggled a little bit like I did I think it’s gonna help me for when I go back next time.

Anything you’re working on while you’re here?

Just, uh, just command. When I started the season, I threw one pitch, a sinking fastball, I didn’t have anything else that I really trusted. I started throwing a slider that I had confidence in, now I’m working on a changeup, so I got two now and maybe by the the end of the season I’ll have three that I can bring to spring training next year. You need three good pitches.

Pictures are below. Back to your regularly scheduled Red Sox programming tomorrow…

Alejandro Machado, The Bat and Helmet rack of the PawSox, Fans try to get autographs, Malaska shines, Manny Delcarmen is interviewed by a TV station, McCoy Stadium, The stadium again, The outside of the Pressbox, Trot Nixon at bat, The pressbox from inside, Nixon interviewed, Lockers of Shawn Wooten, Kelly Shoppach, Dustin Pedroia, and Mark Malaska, Youk at bat