Hottovy sent down but hungry to taste MLB again

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Hottovy sent down but hungry to taste MLB again

By Jessica Camerato
CSNNE.com Follow @JCameratoNBA
Tommy Hottovy had waited seven years for this opportunity. On June 3 he made his Major League debut with the Boston Red Sox, 169 Minor League appearances after he was drafted by the organization in 2004.

Less than a month later, the left handed relievers first -- and long-anticipated -- stint in the big leagues came to an end when he was optioned to Triple-A Pawtucket as Bobby Jenks and Franklin Morales were activated from the 15-day disabled list. He pitched a total of four innings over six games with a 6.75 ERA (3 ER, 0 HR, 2 SO) out of the Red Sox bullpen.

Im really hungry now that Ive had a taste, Hottovy told CSNNE.com in a telephone interview on Tuesday. I still have that fire to go out and improve myself and to continue to stay mentally aware of what got me here, but now you have that hunger to actually be back there and compete and do the things that I want to be doing.

I feel like it makes me a better pitcher, I know what I need to work on, I know what makes me successful, and I know what I need to continue to do to make myself better. Im always going to have that fire and Im going to be wanting to get back there as soon and as often as I can.

Hottovys first call up to the Red Sox lasted just over three weeks, but it was more than enough time for him to experience the life he had been dreaming of for 29 years. He recently took a look back at some of his favorite Minor League moments and shared how different they are in the Majors.

Home Sweet Home On the Road: Hottovys first home as a professional baseball player was a dorm room at UMass-Lowell during his rookie season with the Single-A Lowell Spinners. He brought one bag of clothes to last the entire summer and lived on campus without a car -- or a real closet. Its almost like summer camp, but it was fun, he told CSNNE back on June 7.

Once he was called up the Red Sox, Hottovy stayed in a Boston-area hotel while also keeping his apartment in Pawtucket, commuting to Rhode Island when the schedule permitted. When it came time to travel for road games, Hottovy was in awe of the places he stayed.

I actually have a closet, I have a TV and all that fun stuff, he smiled. The hotels that we stay in, especially on the road, its just unbelievable. Theyre the nicest hotels Ive stayed in. Its just really cool how even this year, I started in Double-A and youre staying in -- nothing against the hotels we were at -- but theyre just normal hotel rooms. Now youre in suites in the middle of New York City and in downtown Toronto. Its crazy.

"Without question, my view in New York City was unbelievable. And I didnt see it at first. When we got there, it was an off-day so we were all going to dinner. I threw my stuff in my room and didnt even look outside and went to dinner. I came back and got ready for bed and I was lying there and thought I should check it out. I was on the 21st floor and I opened my window. It was just amazing.
Flying in Luxury (with Chik-fil-A): It once took Hottovy 13 hours to travel 400 miles from Portland, Maine to Trenton, New Jersey after a blown bus tire nearly delayed his second start with the Sea Dogs. We pulled in for a 7 oclock start at 6:30, he recalled back on June 7.

There were still long plane rides in the Majors -- travel is just part of the game -- but flying with the Red Sox was nothing like the bus rides he had taken before.

Dont get me wrong, well still have days where you get in at four in the morning, but everything is expedited, he explained. Your game is done, youre going through security, youre getting on the plane, youre gone, whereas there was a lot more waiting around before and a lot longer trips. But when you fly everywhere its nice and you have your own private section of seats so you dont have to share seats with anybody.

I didnt know what to expect the first time I got on the plane. It was just cool because my version of a plane has been just a regular commercial airline. This is a big airplane but the rules are completely different. Its pretty neat. You can just pick whatever you want to eat, order off the menu, its just crazy. The chicken parm we had was pretty good. They have everything, like chicken burritos, we had Chik-fil-A one day. Even that, I love Chick-fil-As.

Add Toronto to the List: Hottovy had seen hundreds of cities as he made his way to Boston. Prior to his call-up, Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, Portland, Maine, and Akron, Ohio (yes, there is a LeBron James story behind it) were atop his list of favorites.

Being in the Majors gave Hottovy the opportunity to play outside of the United States and add another city to his list. And as he traveled to new places, he had the chance to bond with his new teammates.

I would have to say Toronto was my favorite city because I had never really been to Canada, he said. I had been to New York City and it was fun, but it was really hot too so I didnt really get to see a whole lot. But Toronto was really neat. I just liked the atmosphere there and how the city was built up. You dont have a whole lot of time to sightsee or anything, so our sightseeing is really from the airport to the hotel or the field to the hotel. But it was neat. I really liked how it was set up and the stadium was pretty cool.

We had a day game and had a pitchers dinner there. Pitchers dinners are really fun. Its a way for us guys to kind of get away from the field and still be able to keep that camaraderie and stuff. Its a lot of fun and we have a good time and definitely enjoy it.

Back with Old Friends: Hottovy made his Major League debut in relief of Clay Buchholz. Four years earlier, the two had been the first and second starting pitchers in the Sea Dogs rotation. Hottovy, who was sidelined with elbow tendonitis during the season Buchholz got called up to the Red Sox, always looked at Buchholzs success as motivation.

When I see a guy I played with play in the big leagues, that gives me hope and faith that Im here, I can do it too, he recently told CSNNE.

So when he made it to Fenway Park, Buchholz was glad to see his former teammate back in the same clubhouse.

Its awesome, Hottovy said of playing again with Buchholz. I played with a lot of these guys before, whether it was Mike Cameron rehabbing with us last year in Pawtucket or (Kevin) Youkilis rehabbing with us in 2004 when I was in Lowell. So Ive played with these guys for parts of years, but its not the same as being here. When youre here, youre a part of something bigger. Its pretty cool.

"Clay told me good job and congratulations on the first outing. Again, hes a guy that we pitched together and you just tried to learn from each other. You pick up on things on what works for some guys doesnt work for other guys, and you just try to piece together whats going to work for you. He was excited to see me here and be able to come in and pitch.
Real-Life Inspiration: Throughout the course of his career, Hottovy has met countless fans from all over the country. There are two, in fact, he met in the stands during a Wilmington Blue Rocks game that he still keeps in touch with today.

Its amazing the people you meet through the experiences over the years, he said on June 7.

Once Hottovy donned a Red Sox uniform, there were fans who not only congratulated him on his accomplishment, but also shared how he inspired them to pursue their goals as well.

The fans here are awesome, he said of Boston. I had some people the other day who came up to me and said congratulations. They were longtime Sea Dogs fans so they had seen me a ton. They just said it was awesome. They were really excited. They said its exciting for them because it kind of gives them a story that gives them hope for things, just not giving up and keep trying.

That was pretty, pretty cool. Im just getting really good feedback from everybody. Its just really nice. You meet so many people playing this game, fans, other players, guys you played with, played against, coaches, your fraternity is huge so you get to meet a lot of cool people.

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

Drellich: Bogaerts should start season in second half of lineup

Drellich: Bogaerts should start season in second half of lineup

The Red Sox need to let their lineup sort itself out a bit, and really, need to see how one core player in particular fares: Xander Bogaerts. 
 
Until then, Red Sox manager John Farrell should try to alternate right- and left-handed hitters as much as possible against right-handed pitching
 
If Thursday’s Grapefruit League lineup indeed winds up as a preview for the regular season, Farrell’s on the right track.
 
1. Dustin Pedroia 2B
2. Andrew Benintendi LF
3. Mookie Betts RF
4. Hanley Ramirez DH
5. Mitch Moreland 1B
6. Xander Bogaerts SS
7. Jackie Bradley Jr. CF
8. Pablo Sandoval 3B
9. Blake Swihart C
 
Sandy Leon or Christian Vazquez should be at catcher normally, rather than Swihart. (If Leon shows he can in fact hit again, the Sox could also decide to put Jackie Bradley Jr. in the nine-hole.)
 
"Maybe a first look at our lineup," manager John Farrell told reporters in Florida. "I'm not saying this is Opening Day, but this is potential for one on Opening Day. And just to get everybody back in the rhythm. We've kind of fragmented because of the WBC and because of travel and bouncing around the state. To get our camp finally together, I think we're all looking forward to these last remaining games."
 
Betts is the best all-around producer the Red Sox have. He should be in the three-hole, despite chatter than Andrew Benintendi might be a fit.
 
But Bogaerts’ success will determine a lot of the flexibility available to Farrell. (Yes, everybody has to be healthy for the above statement to be true. And remember, lineups are important, but probably not as important as we’ve all been raised to believe). 

If Bogaerts plays like he did in the first half, when he batted .329 en route to an All-Star appearance, he could easily slide into the three-hole, and push Betts into the second or fourth spot. Or even leadoff.
 
If Bogaerts is the .253 hitter he was after the All-Star break, well, the second half of the lineup is where he belongs. 
 
Bogaerts is, ultimately, better than he showed as both he and the season wore down. But let him establish himself in a groove before you start loading up the top of the lineup with right-handed hitters, thereby giving opposing managers a clear path for righty relievers.
 
(The Red Sox could pinch hit Chris Young at any time, but you’re usually not taking out one of your best players just for a platoon advantage.)
 
And from another perspective, you almost need Bogaerts in the second half of the lineup. Because what else is there?
 
Say the Sox load all four right-handed hitters at the top.
 
1. Pedroia
2. Bogaerts
3. Betts
4. Ramirez 
 
That’s awesome. Then what? Benintendi and cross your fingers? Benintendi seems as sure a thing as any sophomore — well, technically a rookie — can be. But still.
 
This is where Moreland and Sandoval represent other X-factors. All spring, there’s been talk of how Fenway Park and a use-all-fields approach will benefit Moreland. That may be so — but to what extent? How much better can he reasonably be? The Sox are internally encouraged.
 
As it stands now, however, there’s no obvious choice to protect Ramirez, considering Moreland is coming off a season where he had a .293 on-base percentage against righties.
 
And with Sandoval, whether he’s anything more than a wet napkin vs. left-handed pitching is to be seen. There’s reason to believe he can handle right-handed pitchers at least adequately, so he'll get the start — but he could be the first guy pinch hit for nightly.
 

According to Fortune, Theo's the greatest . . . in the world, not just baseball

According to Fortune, Theo's the greatest . . . in the world, not just baseball

Apparently, the Red Sox couldn’t hold onto the best leader in the world. And the best leader in the world has no idea how to housebreak his puppy.

Cubs president of baseball operations Theo Epstein was given the top spot on a list of “The World’s 50 Greatest Leaders," published by Fortune on Thursday morning.

The potential for silly takeaways from Epstein’s placement on the list -- and his response to it in a text to ESPN’s Buster Olney -- are amusing, if not astounding.

Wait, Epstein doesn’t think baseball is the most important thing in the world?

"Um, I can't even get my dog to stop peeing in the house," Epstein told Olney. "That is ridiculous. The whole thing is patently ridiculous. It's baseball -- a pastime involving a lot of chance. If [Ben] Zobrist’s ball is three inches farther off the line, I'm on the hot seat for a failed five-year plan. And I'm not even the best leader in our organization; our players are."

Zobrist, of course, had the go-ahead hit in the 10th inning of Game 7 of the World Series against the Indians.

As Fortune described it, the list of leaders is meant to include those “transforming the world and inspiring others to do the same” across business, government, philanthropy and the arts.

Epstein certainly did help transform the baseball world.

“In the fall of 2016, as partisan distrust and division reached abysmal depths, fascination with the Chicago Cubs became that all-too-rare phenomenon that united America,” his blurb on the list begins.

That’s fair. But, if you scroll down the list: Pope Francis is No. 3. Angela Merkel is No. 10 and LeBron James is No. 11.