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Legends On Deck

Notes From Red Sox Camp: Missing Monica

 

Matt Wieters

Matt Wieters wearing shirt honoring Monica  (Photo Courtesy of MASN)

This past Saturday marked an anniversary that was far too personal for me to write about that day, so i’m trying to put my thoughts down about it now.

On February 28th, 2014 I was preparing for our Boston Red Sox spring training game against the Minnesota Twins, when ten minutes before the National Anthem I was informed that Monica Barlow, Director of Media Relations for the Baltimore Orioles had passed away after a long battle with lung cancer.

I’m not really sure how I got through the game that day. My mind was racing in a hundred different directions. In addition to being a colleague in the baseball industry and one of the sport’s truly great employees, Monica was a close personal friend and someone I was proud to know. Several days later Baltimore made their first spring appearance at jetBlue Park and all those emotions returned.

On the first anniversary of Monica’s passing, the Orioles wore shirts honoring her during their workout and also at Sunday’s intrasquad game. Baltimore pitcher Chris Tillman still wears an orange wristband with her name on it. I think about her often especially on game days,and never start scoring a baseball game without first writing her initials in my scorebook.

MB scorebook

Rest in peace, my friend, you were the best…

In Red Sox news, there is anticipation around camp for the start of spring games on Tuesday when Northeastern University and Boston College play seven inning games against essentially two separate Boston squads.

Boston College has been in Port Charlotte, Florida since last Friday, playing several different universities including Nebraska-Omaha, North Dakota State, Kansas and Villanova.

BC is coached by former Red Sox minor league infielder Mike Gambino. One of the Eagles two team captains is infielder Blake Butera. Butera’s father Barry Sr. was also an ex-Red Sox minor leaguer who played three years in Class AAA Pawtucket. Barry Jr. played for BC from 2007-2009 and was drafted by the Houston Astros.

A number of both BC and Northeastern players who currently are in professional baseball have played in the annual spring games against the Red Sox. Northeastern’s Adam Ottavino is a Colorado Rockies pitcher and BC’s Anthony Melchionda is an infielder in the Cardinals system. BC lefthander Andrew Chin was drafted by the New York Yankees in the 15th round of last June’s draft.

The Minnesota Twins inaugurate their renovated stadium in Fort Myers with a game Wednesday night versus the University of Minnesota. The Golden Gophers come off a three game weekend sweep over Florida Gulf Coast University, alma mater of White Sox lefthander Chris Sale, a native of Lakeland, Florida.

rusney castillo to hit

Rusney Castillo (photo by Barbara Boxleitner)

Most of the buzz in Sox camp now centers around the outfield situation. Boston manager John Farrell announced early in camp that if healthy, Shane Victorino will be the Red Sox starting center fielder. Hanley Ramirez has already been penciled in as the team’s left fielder, which leaves a three player competition for the centerfield job between Rusney Castillo, Mookie Betts and Jackie Bradley, Jr.

Castillo signed a seven year, 72.5 million dollar contract and seems to have the inside track, despite Betts playing 37 games there last season. Bradley Jr., who started opening day in center in 2013 and played 127 games for Boston last year is regarded by many as the team’s best defensive outfielder.

Also around baseball, righthanded pitcher Mike Nesseth was added to the Phillies major league spring camp on Sunday. The Dodgers signed former Brewers righty Mike Adams, and ex-Milwaukee and St. Louis closer John Axford was recalled to the Rockies active major league spring roster.

Also on Sunday, Outfielder Dayan Viciedo was acquired by the Toronto Blue Jays after his release last month by the White Sox, and Colorado placed ex-Angels righthander Tyler Chatwood on the 60 day disabled list.

Chatwood continues to recover after last July’s Tommy John surgery.

Brian Mullen

Brian is a Boston native and art school student who took a summer job with a baseball team and never left. He has been employed by the Boston Red Sox in one capacity or another since 1982. He also follows and blogs college basketball. Follow him on Twitter @BostonBrian2015