Valentine on Fenway: 'It's the baseball Land of Oz'

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Valentine on Fenway: 'It's the baseball Land of Oz'

BOSTON Although he grew up in Connecticut, Bobby Valentine never went to Fenway Park as a kid. But that didnt diminish his appreciation for the ancient ballpark, celebrating its 100th anniversary today.

The park has at least a life, Valentine said. It has a magic to it.Its the baseball Land of Oz. People dream of this place.

I would say that this ballpark has created as many memories for people in this area and around the world as any venue in the world. And today I think there will be a memory created for me and everybody else whos here today. Im looking forward to it.

Im not sure I remember the first time I became aware of it, probably too long ago. But it was always there. I had Little League mates and high school mates who were huge Red Sox fans and always talked about Fenway. My uncle John was a huge red sox fan. It was always in the conversation, I would think. I never got to come here. I only saw one major league game as a kid. But it was in the conversation for sure.

With the Yankees, the descendants of the Highlanders who played that game against the Red Sox in 1912, at Fenway for todays game, affects the ambience. But the scores of Red Sox alumni on hand for the game is what makes it special, Valentine said.

The schedule makers must have known. I dont believe in coincidence, he said. I think it adds to the day of course, or takes away from the day, Im not sure. What adds to the day is so many of the ex-players are here. I saw 50 guys yesterday that I havent seen in umpteen years, and Ill see another 100 or so this afternoon. I think thats amazingly special.

I didnt look at the list. I should just go in and look at the list because there are some guys that knew me but I didnt know them when I knew them, or however you say that. Didnt recognize them. Oh, you are? Holy geez. Yeah. And we played together. They have a little advantage on me because theyve been in the post office lately and seen the most wanted photo of me. So its a little easier for them.

The Sox will wear 1912 replica uniforms, with no names or numbers on the backs.

"Havent put in on yet. I think theyre cool. And Ill see calves of players that Ive never seen before," Valentine said. "The hats are interesting, they take a little getting used to."

Valentine was at Fenway for the free open house on Thursday. The Sox estimated more the 53,000 people attended.

It wasnt billed as come and get Dustins autograph, Valentine said. It was billed as come to the park and its open for you to feel. Thats what I took from it. People were buying souvenirs of the ballpark. Its just different, not getting the autograph or the photograph of the player or the cracked bat. And I stayed around a while. I was amazed. I know theres probably a better word to describe what it was but I dont know what it is.

Top prospect Yoan Moncada will join Red Sox on Friday

Top prospect Yoan Moncada will join Red Sox on Friday

BOSTON - The Boston Red Sox have announced they will call up top prospect Yoan Moncada when rosters expand from the current 25-man limit.

Earlier Wednesday, Farrell wouldn't officially confirm the imminent promotion but hinted that the Red Sox appeared ready to call up their top prospect.

Farrell first noted that the Red Sox "need better production'' at third base, where both Travis Shaw and Aaron Hill have struggled mightily at the position.

Moncada, a natural second baseman, was shifted to third base earlier this month at Double A Portland. Moncada has a slash line of .285/.388/.547 with 11 homers and 27 RBI in 44 games.

Asked specifically about the potential of a call-up for Moncada, Farrell said: "We've talked about Yoan. And not just as a pinch-runner. It's an exciting young player, an extremely talented guy. There's all positive reviews and evaluations of him.

"When that major league experience is going to initiate, time will tell that. But in terms of playing the position of third base [in the big leagues], that conversation has been had.''

Previously, the Red Sox had resisted bringing Moncada to the big leagues, worried that he wouldn't be in the lineup often enough to continue his development. The Sox didn't want him to miss out on additional experience in the minors by playing only part-time in the majors.

But now that the minor league seasons are about to end -- Portland finishes Labor Day -- there's nothing in the minors for Moncada to miss.

"This is a different scenario than if it were July or early August,'' said Farrell. "The minor league season ends [soon], so is there benefit to him just being here? The answer to that is yes. Do you weigh playing 'X' number of games per week versus what he could be doing at Portland or Pawtucket? Well, that goes away [with the minor league regular seasons end].

"So, again, by all accounts, there's nothing but positives that could come out of experience here -- if that were to happen.''

 Moncada's promotion is similar to the one experience by Xander Bogaerts in 2013, who was brought up in the final week of August 2013 and remained with the club all the way through the end of the team's World Series run that fall, taking playing time from struggling third baseman Will Middlebrooks.

 "For those who have been around this team for a number of years,'' said Farrell, "teams that have had success have always had an injection of young players late in the season that have helped carry the team through the postseason. I think Yoan would be in a similar category to when Pedey [Dustin Pedroia], when Jake [Jacoby Ellsbury] came into the picture. And Andrew (Benintendi) is already here, so I wouldn't separate [Moncada] out from that at all.

"In fact, he's a direct comparison [to those cases].’’

Farrell agreed that the arrival of a young, highly-touted player can inject some energy into a team in the throes of a pennant race.

"Absolutely, there is,'' said Farrell. "You've got a newness element. You've got, likely, above-average speed. You've got athleticism. You've got the unknown across the field on how does a given [opposing] team attack a given guy.

"In the cases we've talked about, it has been beneficial to us for the young player to come up. They find a way to contribute in a meaningful role. "

Without saying that Moncada's promotion was a definite,  he said "there's a lot [of positives]going for it.''

Farrell also acknowledged that the Sox held internal discussions about how Moncada would be utilized, given that the switch-hitter has been far more productive from the left side of the plate.

"We've talked about what's strong side, how do you look to best ease him in, so to speak,'' said Farrell. "We thought that with Benintendi, how do we best ease him in. Well, he blew the doors off of that one [with his early success]. So, if it happens, and if begins here soon, you'll all be aware.''

Farrell said the reports of Moncada's transition to third base have been encouraging despite three errors in his first nine games there.

"He's shown good range, an above-average arm,'' said Farrell. "Where there will be ongoing work and continued development, just as there was at second base, is the ball hit straight at him. That's just pure technique and fundamental positioning with hands and feet.

"But as far as range to his glove side, moving to third base, that seemingly has not been that big of a challenge for him.''