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

Are Red Sox entering spring training with fewer questions than ever?

Are Red Sox entering spring training with fewer questions than ever?

BOSTON -- Every year it seems like there are major issues or question marks to start spring training where the answers are up in the air.

In 2015, the Red Sox lacked an ace, had Hanley Ramirez moving to left field and Pablo Sandoval coming to town.

In 2016, Ramirez was moving back to the infield, but at a new position, and his bat was in question. Sandoval was coming off a year where he couldn’t hit his weight (he hit .245 and he last weighed in at 255 pounds). How would the starting rotation look after David Price?

This year, there seem to be three questions, but in a way, they’ve already been answered.

How will the Red Sox make up for David Ortiz’s absence?

Well, for one, the Red Sox have three Cy Young-caliber starting pitchers (Price, Chris Sale and Rick Porcello) in their rotation.

And two, Hanley Ramirez is coming off a career year with his highest career output in RBI (111) and second-highest home run total (30). And while Mitch Moreland isn’t the greatest hitter, he’s good for 20 or more home runs. Plus, it seems he’s holding a spot for a certain Red Sox prospect who’s bouncing back well from an injury.

 

Will Sandoval earn the starting third base job back?

The weight loss is a good sign, not only for the physical reasons, but it shows he’s mentally committed to being better.

However, that doesn’t guarantee he gets his job back.

“I’m not going to say [third base] resolved itself,” John Farrell told CSNNE.com, “but you know Panda’s done a very good job of committing to get himself in better shape and we’re looking forward to seeing that play to in spring training.”

Even if Panda can’t put it all together, Farrell told reporters before Thursday’s BBWAA dinner, both Brock Holt and Josh Rutledge would be competing for the job as well.

Holt as plan B -- in the infield? Who wouldn’t take that?

Who’s going to start at catcher?

Sandy Leon, Christian Vazquez and Blake Swihart each have their pros an cons.

Leon did it all last year, but went from hitting .383 in his first 39 games to .242 in his last 39.

Vazquez has Ivan Rodriguez-esque abilities behind the plate, but couldn’t keep the staff under control last year and cannot hit.

Swihart, who turns 25 April 3, is the youngest of the three, has the most potential at the plate, but is far and away the worst of the three defensively at the most important defensive position -- excluding pitcher -- on the field.

They all have their drawbacks, but they’ve all shown at some point why they can be the Red Sox starting catcher in the present and future.

Everywhere else, the Red Sox seem to be in a comfortable position as pitchers and catchers reporting to camp draws ever nearer.

“I think the fact that we’ve got veteran players that have done a great job in staying healthy [and] young players that are getting more establishing in their return, we’re in a pretty good place in terms of the overall status of our position player group,” Farrell told CSNNE.com.

And it seems some players are confident in the team’s options as they ready for camp.

“We’re looking good in a lot of areas,” shortstop Xander Bogaerts told CSNNE.com. “Especially the pitching staff, [since] we just got Chris Sale one of the best in the game.”

“Pablo’s definitely going to bounce back, especially with the weight he’s lost."

Francona, Epstein receive grand ovations at BBWAA dinner

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Francona, Epstein receive grand ovations at BBWAA dinner

BOSTON -- “I didn’t feel that love after I made a pitching change in the sixth inning,” Terry Francona said after a 45-second standing ovation from Boston fans upon receiving the MLB Manager of the Year award from the BBWAA Thursday.

It’s without question the love for Francona runs deep in the city. Why wouldn’t it? He was the leader in breaking the 86-year old curse, and wound up winning another World Series title for Boston three years later.

Actually, he was more of a co-leader, working alongside the same person who won the MLB Executive of the Year honors from the BBWAA for 2016.

Theo Epstein -- who received an ovation 17 seconds shorter than Francona, but who’s counting -- reminisced about the Red Sox ownership group that took a chance on a young kid who wasn’t necessarily the ideal candidate to take over as GM of a team, but now that’s helped him build the Chicago Cubs into a winning franchise and establish a great working environment.

This October marks 13 years since the ’04 championship, 10 years since ’07 and six years since the pair left Boston. Without question they’ve left their mark on the city and forever changed Red Sox baseball.

And while the fans showed their undying gratitude for Francona with an ovation almost as long as his acceptance speech, the Indians manager recognized the favor the current Red Sox brass has done for him.

“I’d like to thank Dave Dombrowski and the Red Sox for getting Chris Sale the hell out of the Central Division,” Francona said.