Bedard: The pitcher that almost wasn't

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Bedard: The pitcher that almost wasn't

By Jessica Camerato
CSNNE.com Follow @JCameratoNBA

With two games left in the regular season and the wild card on the line, the Boston Red Sox turned to Erik Bedard on Tuesday night against the Baltimore Orioles. The 32-year-old took the mound with his characteristically calm demeanor, just like he had been doing this all his life.

The truth is, though, Bedard didnt begin playing baseball until he was a teenager and, after only a few years, his career nearly came to an end after high school.

One phone call transformed the future of a computer science student into the Red Sox starting pitcher in a critical September win.

Canada is a hockey country. Bedard knew the popularity of the sport when he began playing softball at a young age in Navan, Ontario and switched to baseball as a teen. He also knew there were no high school teams to play and landing a professional career would be a challenge with the lack of recruiting in his town.

The only fans at his games, he said, were the parents.

Bedard didnt take to hockey the way he took to baseball growing up. He played it recreationally -- Every little town has an outdoor rink, he told CSNNE.com -- but baseball was a more feasible option. Besides, he loved pitching.

Baseball was fun, said Bedard, whose father worked as an elevator mechanic and mother did administrative work for a Senate member. Hockey was too expensive, so baseball was pretty cheap. If you want to play hockey competitively, its a lot of money. The equipment is super expensive.

Bedard played summer league ball through high school. College was the next natural step, and he enrolled at La Cit collgiale in Ottawa to study computers. At that time computers had boomed, he explained.

While his love for baseball was still there, the opportunities to play professionally were not.

I didnt give it up, it was over, he said. Youve got to move on after a while. I live in Canada. If it was a hockey thing I would have kept going because theres a lot of scouts at home for hockey, theres a lot of teams, and theres a lot of leagues. Baseball, after 18, its just mens league. You just go drink beer and play mens league (laughs) . . . Go to school, get a job like normal people.

Bedard settled into the college life. In his first fall semester, though, he received intriguing news from a friend. There was be a chance to play baseball again in Norwalk, Connecticut.

The guy that owns the this baseball facility at home, his son went to Norwalk Community College, he said. The coach from that college called the facility and asked if he had a catcher. One of my good friends was a catcher and he told me about it. I said, Just ask the coach if I can go throw a bullpen. If he likes it, Ill consider playing there. If he doesnt, it doesnt really matter. Ill just go there for fun.

I tried out and he said, If you want, you can come play.

That trip to New England began a seven-year major-league career. The Baltimore Orioles selected Bedard in the sixth round of the 1999 amateur draft. Three years later, he made his Major League Debut with the Os and made a permanent spot for himself in 2004.

Bedard was traded to the Seattle Mariners in 2008 and, after more than three seasons on the West Coast, he was dealt to the Boston Red Sox in July.

I just feel fortunate and lucky that I made it where I have, he said. When I was young, it was a dream, but I never thought I would get to where Im at. So Im really fortunate and I try not to take it for granted.

Now a starting pitcher in one of the biggest markets in baseball, Bedard isnt one to showboat under the bright lights of Fenway Park. He is more concerned with letting his play do the talking rather than making a name for himself in the media.

I just got taught by my dad, everything you do act like youve done it before, he said. And thats what Ive been doing my whole life. You always have some guys that think theyre better than other people and I just didnt want people to think that. Ive always been humble. Thatll never change.

What he does hope will change, however, are the results at the end of the season. After spending many years on the losing side, he looks forward to experiencing victory with the Red Sox.

Its always fun to succeed and have everybody behind you, he said. Especially being in a team game, seeing everybodys faces after you win and everybodys happy. When we were in Baltimore and Seattle we always lost, so this is way better.

Jessica Camerato is on Twitter at http:twitter.com!JCameratoNBA.

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Angels score three after overturned call, beat Red Sox, 4-2

Angels score three after overturned call, beat Red Sox, 4-2

BOSTON -- The Los Angeles Angels benefited from a fairly-new rule and relied on an old-fashioned type save to beat the Boston Red Sox.

Parker Bridwell pitched a solid 6 2/3 innings and Los Angeles scored three runs after its challenge overturned an inning-ending double play in the second, leading the Angels to a 4-2 win over the Red Sox on Sunday.

Bridwell (2-0) gave up two runs and seven hits, striking out four without issuing a walk.

Yusmeiro Petit pitched two scoreless innings for his first save.

"I don't care if it's old-fashioned or it's cutting edge, we need them," Angels manager Mike Scioscia. "We need guys to hold leads. Most closers are primarily the one-inning guys that are in that bubble."

Ben Revere had three singles and Kaleb Cowart drove in two runs for Los Angeles, which won two of three against the Red Sox for its fifth series win in the last six.

Doug Fister (0-1) lost his Red Sox debut, giving up three runs and seven hits in six-plus innings. He was signed by Boston on Friday after being released by the Angels.

Mitch Moreland and Jackie Bradley Jr. each hit a solo homer for the Red Sox, who lost their second straight at Fenway Park after winning 10 of the previous 12. Boston remained tied with New York atop the AL East.

Bridwell was Fister's teammate at Triple-A Salt Lake before he was let go.

"That's weird," Bridwell said. "I was in the same clubhouse with him a week-and-a-half ago or whatever and we were talking pitching. I was asking him certain things he did along the game, and the next thing you know we're starting against each other on the big-league level."

After the challenge overturned Danny Espinosa's 3-6-3 double play, Los Angeles got to Fister.

"That's modern-day baseball," Scioscia said.

Fister was pleased by his first start with Boston, and 200th of his career.

"Overall, it wasn't a bad day," he said. "They just put together some timely hits and took advantage of well-placed baseballs. That's what good clubs do and that's what they did today."

Espinosa was credited with a fielder's choice and RBI after the review. Cowart followed with an RBI double and Juan Gratetrol had a run-scoring single.

"He's a bang-bang play from a scoreless outing," Red Sox manager John Farrell said.

Moreland homered over the Angels' bullpen in the bottom half. Bradley Jr. hit his into the center-field bleachers in the fifth.

TRAINER'S ROOM

Angels: Scioscia said LHP Tyler Skaggs was scratched from a scheduled rehab start in the Arizona League on Saturday night with soreness in his oblique and abdominal area.

Red Sox: Farrell said ace lefty David Price has a middle finger-nail issue on his pitching hand, but "is expected" to make his next scheduled start. ... LHP Eduardo Rodriguez, on the 10-day DL with a right knee subluxation, will make a rehab start for Double-A Portland on Thursday after he felt fine following a 68-pitch bullpen session on Saturday.

ROSTER MOVE

The Angels recalled infielder Cowart from Triple-A Salt Lake before the game and optioned RHP Eduardo Paredes there before the game.

INSPIRATIONAL MESSAGE

The Red Sox put a message on the center-field board, wishing NESN analyst Jerry Remy: "Best of Luck, Jerry, on your surgery tomorrow!"

The crowd gave him a huge ovation when he was shown on the scoreboard. The popular former Red Sox second baseman (1978-84) waved.

He is being treated for cancer for the fifth time.

NICE PERFORMANCE

Nine-year-old Shea Braceland from Westfield, Mass., got a long and loud ovation when she completed a flawless rendition of the national anthem.

UP NEXT

Angels: Ricky Nolasco (2-9, 5.23 ERA) is set to face Dodgers LHP Rich Hill (4-3, 4.73) when the teams open a two-game series at Dodger Stadium on Monday. Nolasco has lost his last seven decisions.

Red Sox: LHP Chris Sale (9-3, 2.85) is in line to work against Minnesota RHP Jose Berrios (7-1, 2.67) when the teams open a four-game series in Fenway Monday. Sale leads the majors with 146 strikeouts.