Hottovy's wild ride to the big leagues

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Hottovy's wild ride to the big leagues

By JessicaCamerato
CSNNE.com

Boston Red Sox reliever Tommy Hottovy had pitched in 169 games over eight seasons before making his major-league debut one month shy of his 30th birthday last Friday against the Oakland Athletics. Over the years he had traveled thousands of miles, faced hundreds of batters, and made countless memories in his journey to Fenway Park. He shared some of his favorite moments with CSNNE.com.

Back on Campus: Hottovy played college baseball at Wichita State University and found himself back on campus after being drafted by the Red Sox in 2004. Hottovy lived in the dorms at UMass-Lowell during his first season with the Spinners. But unlike his time in college, he couldnt load up the car for this trip to the minors.

Lowell is great and the people are great, but it almost took me back a couple of years because I went to a big baseball program in college, Hottovy said. In Lowell, youre staying in the dorms, youre walking to the field, you dont have a car. Its almost like summer camp, but it was fun. UMass-Lowell dorms, there were no frills, you dont have anything. You bring two bags with you and thats it. I think they had chests, but we didnt even have any clothes to put in there because they fly you out and say, Youve got to bring a baseball bag and a clothes bag for June, July and August.' I brought one or two pairs of shoes, two pairs of jeans, two pairs of shorts, and as many shirts as I could fit in there. And I did have my laptop.

A Bus Ride of Errors: Portland, Maine is just under 400 miles away from Trenton, New Jersey. So when the Sea Dogs left in the wee hours of the morning, they should have arrived in plenty of time for an evening game. But a blown tire led to a 13-hour bus ride -- and a memorable experience for Hottovy.

Without question, the craziest bus ride was when I got called up to Double-A, he recalled. It was my second start and we were traveling to Trenton from Portland. The game was at 7 p.m. that night. We left at 5 in the morning and got about halfway there and blew a tire on the highway. So were stranded on the side of the highway and Im watching my watch -- its 2 oclock, 3 oclock, 4 oclock - and were still an hour-and-a-half away. We see its getting close and the guys not done with the tires, so we all got our bags from under the bus and get our uniforms. Everybody gets changed on the bus. We pulled in for a 7 oclock start at 6:30. Its my second start in Double-A and Im in uniform, getting off the bus at 6:30, havent stretched, just go out and try to get loose for a few minutes. (Pauses) I gave up eight runs in five innings (laughs). That was for me the craziest, but in the minor leagues, you cant even describe all the bus rides you have to take.
Brush with LeBron . . . Well, Almost: Hottovys travels have taken him to minor league cities all over the country. Myrtle Beach, South Carolina and Portland, Maine are at the top of his list, along with . . . Akron, Ohio? Its not exactly a coastal hotspot, but Hottovy had fun whenever he played there.

Parts of Akron, Ohio are pretty cool, he said. We would have games in Akron and the owner of the Sea Dogs would put on team dinners there at this sports bar. Everybody had 40 to eat, so we were like, What if we have a burger? Can we have the rest of it to spend on whatever we want? They said yes, so were there and were having a blast. LeBron James was having a party at their VIP room that weekend, and this was a Thursday, and they had to dip into some of the stuff they had saved for him. The owner was laughing about it, like youre drinking LeBrons whatever. It was pretty funny.

Knew Right Away about Clay: In 2007, Clay Buchholz and Hottovy were the first and second starting pitchers in the Portland Sea Dogs rotation. Their seasons would quickly go in different directions, though. Hottovy began struggling with tendonitis and was shut down for three weeks in July. The following month, Buchholz made his big-league debut. Rather than get discouraged, Hottovy used Buchholzs success as motivation to keep striving. On Friday night he made his Red Sox debut pitching in relief of a game Buchholz started.

We were the number one and two starters, Hottovy said. You could tell right away that he was going to be good. I mean, you just know. To me, thats encouraging. Some guys look at it like, I wish I could be there. But 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. I want to prove that I can.

From Fans to Lifelong Friends: When Hottovy began talking to two fans during a game with the Wilmington (DE) Blue Rocks, he had no idea that conversation would lead to a lifelong friendship.

When I was starting in the minor leagues, we would all sit up in the stands, he recalled. One day I was up in the stands in 2005 or 2006, I was charting and this older lady was sitting next to me with her granddaughter. It was her granddaughters first game she had ever been to. Im talking to her, explaining stuff and showing her how it works. After the game, I ran down and got her a ball and took it up to her. I thought that was the end of it. Well, that lady wrote in to the organization saying how awesome it was that I took the time out to talk to her and her granddaughter. Since then, her and her granddaughter, whos 15 now, theyve seen me pitch probably 20 times. Were really good friends now. They email me all the time, call me all the time. Theyve seen me play quite a bit when we go places like the Reading (PA) Phillies. Its crazy -- its amazing the people you meet through the experiences over the years.

Jessica Camerato is on Twitter athttp:twitter.comjcameratoNBAShe can bereached at jessicacamerato@gmail.com.

McAdam: Will this be Clay Buchholz's last start?

McAdam: Will this be Clay Buchholz's last start?

With Wright and Rodriguez set to return, Sean McAdam joins SNC to discuss whether Tuesday’s game against the Rays will be the last start for Clay Buchholz.

Quotes, notes and stars: Buchholz hopes he's made a case to stay in rotation

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Quotes, notes and stars: Buchholz hopes he's made a case to stay in rotation

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. -- Quotes, notes and stars from the Red Sox' 2-1 win over Tampa Bay Rays.

 

QUOTES:

"I didn't know I could really do that.'' - Mookie Betts, who marveled at his throw from the right field corner which nailed Kevin Kiermaier -- attempting to stretch a double into a triple -- at third in the eighth inning.

"He's playing a huge role for us right now. He's stepped in, he's built his arm strength and given us almost 13 very strong innings the last two outings.'' - John Farrell on Clay Buchholz.

"I don't know that we ever lost faith in the talent of Clay. He was in a rut for quite some time. . . But the jolt that he's given us from the spot starts he's made, he's kept us rolling.'' - Farrell on Buchholz.

"You'd have to ask John about that. I have no idea. I've tried to make the most of (the opportunity) and if a decision has to be made, make it a hard one.'' - Buchholz, when asked if he's made a case to stay in the rotation.

 

NOTES:

* The Red Sox improved to a season-best 17 games over .500

* The win was just the fourth for the Red Sox this season when scoring two or one runs.

* The win was the first for Clay Buchholz as a starter since May 9.

* David Ortiz moved into sixth place on the Red Sox' all-time hit list, passing Bobby Doerr with 2.043 hits.

* Ortiz extended his hitting streak to 10 games and has reached base in 16 straight.

* Andrew Benintendi recorded his eighth multi-hit game, the first Red Sox player to do so in his first 20 games since Jacoby Ellsbury in 2007

* Mookie Betts recorded his 10th outdield assist, placing him third among major league right fielders.

* Craig Kimbrel has a 1.08 ERA in save situations this year and 6.06 in non-save situations.

* Kimbrel has recorded a save in each of his last five appearances.

 

STARS:

1) Clay Buchholz

To say that this was Buchholz's best start of the season is to damn with faint praise, since there haven't been many good ones. But this was very good: 6 1/3 innings, one run on five hits with a season-high nine strikeouts.

2) Mookie Betts

Betts has only been a pro outfielder for a little more than two years, but that didn't look to be the case when he fired a strike from the right field corner to cut down a baserunner at third with one out in the eighth inning.

3) Craig Kimbrel

Kimbrel was dominant in the ninth, protecting a one-run lead with two strikeouts and a soft lineout to left.