WATCH: Harrleson tears into umpire Mark Wegner

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WATCH: Harrleson tears into umpire Mark Wegner

You have to be in your 40s to remember Ken Harrelson's days in Boston as an announcer, and in your 50s to remember him as a Red Sox player. Because I qualify on both counts, this Hawk rant from today -- classic enough to stand on its own -- means a little more to me than it probably will to most of you (courtesy of our friends at CSN Chicago):

The background: Plate umpire Mark Wegner ejected White Sox pitcher Jose Quintana for throwing behind the legs of Tampa Bay's Ben Zobrist, even though no warnings had previously been issued. Wegner apparently felt the pitch was in retaliation for the Rays' Alex Cobb hitting Chicago's A.J. Pierzynski in the shoulder one inning earlier. Normally, the retaliation pitch -- especially if it doesn't hit anyone -- brings the warning; Wegner instead cut right to the chase. (White Sox manager Robin Ventura, incidentally, also got the heave for arguing the call, though not nearly as emotionally as the Hawk.)

Harrelson was the toast of Boston in 1968, when he hit 35 homers and captured the imagination of Red Sox Nation's youth (like me) with his long hair and Nehru jackets and love beads. He was traded the following year, but returned in 1975 as an announcer. And believe it or not -- after ditching a year-long Goober Pyle imitation he attempted when he first arrived -- he was an intelligent, erudite voice of reason, analyzing games as thoroughly as a college professor breaks down the chapter of a novel. He was an absolute joy to listen to.

That sort of analysis is heavy on honesty, and Red Sox management (Haywood Sullivan and Buddy LeRoux at the time) wasn't big on that particular attribute, especially as the '70s turned to the '80s and they were busy doing things like trading Rick Burleson and Fred Lynn for 20 cents on the dollar, and letting Carlton Fisk become a free agent by deliberately mailing his contract two days late. When the White Sox came calling with a big offer to become their lead TV voice, he was encouraged to take it.

And so he did. The job came complete with a pair of pom-poms -- White Sox owner Jerry Reinsdorf didn't mind honesty as long as it was delivered by a cheerleader -- and the Hawk eventually morphed into the frothing-at-the-mouth homer you just heard. Still, it's entertaining . . . and, in a strange way, it reminds me of better times.

Miller callup to Red Sox 'a dream come true' after remarkable journey

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Miller callup to Red Sox 'a dream come true' after remarkable journey

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. - For any player, reaching the big leagues is an accomplishment in its own right. For infielder Mike Miller, summoned by the Red Sox from Pawtucket Monday, the callup couldn't be more improbable.

Start with the fact that Miller, listed officially five-foot-nine, is, in reality, five-foot-six - tops. Add in the fact that he was 11th round pick as a senior from Cal Poly Tech and you begin to understand how much of a longshot Miller is.

Then, add in the fact that injuries conspired to have him miss almost all of 2013 and half of 2014, and Miller's journey is truly a remarkable one.

All of which made it all the more difficult for Miller to keep his emotions under wraps late Sunday night. Miller was riding a bus outside Rochester, N.Y. with the rest of the Pawtucket Red Sox when manager Kevin Boles, sitting a few rows ahead of him on the bus, sent Miller an email informing him that he was going to the big leagues.

But the email contained a caveat from Boles.

"He didn't want to make a big commotion of it on the bus,'' said Miller, "so he told me to keep it quiet and don't show a lot of emotion, but congratulations. It was hard because you've got all your friends on the bus and you want to talk to them about it and share your excitement. But at the same time, you respect the manager's wishes, but there were (corresponding) moves to make and he didn't want it getting out because someone else might not know what's going on.

"It was hard (keep quiet), but you do what you're told.''

Between making phone calls to family members and friends and the natural excitement he felt, Miller got virtually no sleep before a 4:30 a.m. trip to the airport. But sleep could wait on a night like that.

"It's a dream come true,'' said Miller. "I wasn't expecting it -- at all. So to get the opportunity to come up here and play at the highest level is a dream come true. I started my Red Sox career with Mookie Betts in Lowell, so it's cool to catch up to some of those guys and see them a few years later. I'm just really happy and excited to be here.''

Miller's numbers aren't eye-popping at the minor league level. He was .256 with seven doubles in 46 games, and he's not likely to stay with the team past Friday, when the Sox are expecting Brock Holt to return.

But the Sox needed another infielder to get back to a four-man bench, and Miller was the consensus choice. For however long his callup lasts, he'll enjoy it, especially considering what he's overcome.

"You're not a bonus baby,'' he said. "But at the same time, you just go out and compete. When you're on the field, you don't think anybody is better than you. It doesn't matter what round they were (selected) or whether they're a high school guy or (drafted as a) junior or senior. So when you put the cleats on, you play to the best of your ability and see where that takes you.''

The injuries in 2013 (torn quad) and 2014 (broken hammate bone) only fueled his desire.

"There were some tough moments, some frustration over not being able to play,'' he said. "Not being able to control things (was tough). But it also teaches you some things about patience and there's that appreciation that when you are healthy, make sure you go out and play hard every day. If you take the right mindset, you learn from it and get better.''

Miller can play all over the infield. He played shortstop in college, but has mostly played third and second in the minors.

"I've been acclimated to all three,'' said Miller. "I work hard with our instructors to understand all the nuances of all the positions, so I'm comfortable at any of them. Wherever I get the chance to play, I just want to help the team win that night.''

For however long it lasts, Miller will savor it.

"I couldn't ask for a better feeling,'' said Miller. "There are some odds against you -- senior, smaller guy, not a big-time college program. So I've had kind of fight my whole career to keep moving, keep moving. To get here is a really good feeling.''

 

Holt (concussion) still not symptom-free, target weekend series vs. Angels

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Holt (concussion) still not symptom-free, target weekend series vs. Angels

ST. PETERSBURG, FL. - Brock Holt's return to the Red Sox is going to have to wait a little longer.

The Sox had held out some hope that Holt might be ready to rejoin the club here for the start of a three-game series. But Holt, who is recovering from a concussion suffered in early May, is still not symptom-free while on a rehab assignment at Triple A Pawtucket.

The target now is for Holt to return Friday when the Red Sox begin a homestand that will take them up to the All-Star break.

"He'll come off and hopefully join us for the weekend series with the Angels,'' said John Farrell. "(He had a) good day (Sunday), but just didn't feel like he's ready to take that next step, so we have to respect that. He'll get full number of at-bats (Tuesday) and Wednesday, before we get back home.''

Farrell said Holt is still experiencing some post-concussion symptoms as he plays in games.

"This is a very unique (case),'' said Farrell. "We've talked a lot about his form of a concussion and we felt like the best way for him to be capable of being back with us is to push forward and stress the intensity, the level of play. Because the symptoms aren't going to go away just by sitting around. This is a matter of being active and being aggressive with it, so hopefully everything calibrates within his system. That's the recommendation of the medical staff.''

Farrell said Holt continues to feel some imbalance and light dizziness.

"There are those slight, disoriented feelings that's we working through,'' Farrell said. ''We're talking about the inner ear speaking to the brain and that's only going to continue to improve but stressing it -- not by sitting back. The fact that he was set out on a rehab assignment with some of those symptoms was part of overall recommendation.

"I wish we could say this is a straight-line end result from a timing standpoint, but we're seeing that it's not.''

 

Monday's Red Sox-Rays lineups: Sox hope to extend Tampa Bay's misery

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Monday's Red Sox-Rays lineups: Sox hope to extend Tampa Bay's misery

The Red Sox may be stumbling through the month of June, but they're flying high compared to their opponent tonight.

The Sox are in St. Petersburg, Fla., to take on the free-falling Rays, losers of 11 straight. They'll be sending Eduardo Rodriguez to the mound in hopes of continuing Tampa Bay's misery, at least for the next three games.

The lineups:

RED SOX
Mookie Betts RF
Dustin Pedroia 2B
Xander Bogaerts SS
David Ortiz DH
Hanley Ramirez 1B
Jackie Bradley Jr. CF
Bryce Brentz LF
Sandy Leon C
Marco Hernandez 3B
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Eduardo Rodriguez P

RAYS
Logan Forsythe 2B
Tim Beckham SS
Evan Longoria 3B
Logan Morrison 1B
Desmond Jennings CF
Oswaldo Arcia RF
Taylor Motter LF
Nick Franklin DH
Curt Casali C
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Blake Snell P