Young Yaz scores run for O’s in loss to Red Sox
FORT MYERS, Fla. – The Hall of Famer in a Red Sox warmup jersey met the Orioles rookie wearing No. 85 behind the cage during batting practice.
They hugged, sharing an embrace and something else – one of the most recognizable names in baseball history.
A couple hours later, Carl Yastrzemski sat in the stands for another special moment yesterday. His grandson, Mike, played his first major league spring training game and scored a run for Baltimore in an 8-6 loss to Boston.
“It means a lot,” the elder Yastrzemski said. “Just proves that a lot of hard work will take you a long way. He’s worked hard all his life. He wanted to be a player and he put the time and effort into it.”
Carl Yastrzemski spent his whole career in Boston. The younger Yaz was the Orioles’ 14th-round draft pick last June from Vanderbilt. He hit .273 with three homers and 25 RBI in 57 games in short-season Class A.
The 23-year-old entered as a pinch runner in the sixth inning, scored Baltimore’s first run and then played right field.
When he entered the game and was announced, the crowd quickly recognized the name and gave him a warm ovation. A left-handed hitter like his grandfather, Mike was hitless in his one at-bat.
Despite his pedigree, he said he gets no special treatment.
“The coaches all try (to) look at me the same as they look at any other player,” he said. “They don’t take name in the factor. If you can’t play, you’re not going to get the chance. If you’re performing, then you’re going to get up.
“As I’ve grown up and gone through more baseball and the experience, I realized I don’t get treated any differently. Everyone looks at you as a baseball player rather than the name.”
The Red Sox picked him in the 36th round of the 2009 draft when he graduated from St. John’s Prep in Danvers, Mass., but he went to college. He stayed in school when the Mariners took him in the 30th round in 2012, and he graduated last year.
The 74-year-old Yastrzemski thought it was for the best that his grandson didn’t sign with the Red Sox.
“Without a doubt,” he said. “I think if he had signed, there would have been a lot of pressure. He likes Baltimore and he’s with a great organization.”
The 1967 Triple Crown winner has been an annual visitor to Red Sox spring training, usually staying on the back fields to work with the minor leaguers.
After the death of his son – also named Mike – at the age of 43 in 2004, Carl began helping his grandson develop his game.
“I didn’t really start working with him until maybe he was a freshman or sophomore in high school,” he said.
His advice before that: “When he was growing up, Little League and stuff like that, go out, swing the bat, and have fun.”
While it helps to get coaching from an all-time great, the two also have a regular grandfather-grandson relationship, Mike said.
“It’s been great,” he said. “We talk about a lot of other stuff other than (baseball) – fishing, baseball, golf. It’s all good.”
And how does the grandfather view the grandson’s potential?
“I think he has a shot because he has the desire and determination,” Carl said. “That can take you a long way. He’s always worked hard and you can’t rule that out as being a big factor.”
Red Sox: Felix Doubront pitched two scoreless innings, striking out three and giving up a hit.
“This today was pretty simple,” he said. “I was trying to play with my location, throwing first-pitch strikes. Focusing on my mechanics. Go out there and try to get my work done. When you’re throwing strikes, your tempo is a little faster. I’m going out there to throw a strike.”
Orioles: Left-hander Brian Matusz gave up two hits in two shutout innings. He’s likely destined for the bullpen.
“I felt excited to be able to get back out there on the mound again and get started being able to start from the windup,” he said. “I felt like in the first inning I was a bit over-excited and I wasn’t exactly hitting the spots like I wanted to, but overall felt good. I was able to throw all four pitches and fortunately had a good changeup today. That was the key to be able to be successful and get out of two innings.”
Orioles: Matusz and catcher Michael Ohlhman were supposed to travel to Philadelphia today to have warts removed – Matusz from his left middle finger, Ohlman from his right hand. That has been delayed because of the winter storm forecast for the Northeast. … Outfielder Henry Urrutia did not make the trip to Fort Myers because of a sore right shoulder.
Red Sox: Right-hander Jake Peavy, who was scheduled to start today in Bradenton against the Pirates, was scratched after suffering a cut on his left index finger from a new fishing knife on Saturday. Manager John Farrell said Peavy had a procedure yesterday to clean the wound to prevent infection. Peavy will be idle for the next three days, Farrell said, and could be fitted with padding for his glove hand.
Farrell said Peavy’s timetable to start the season may not be affected if he can get back to his throwing program soon. Peavy was delayed slightly at the start of camp by irritation on his right ring finger.
For the record
Mike Napoli hit his first home run of the spring for Boston, a two-run shot in the fourth inning to score David Ortiz, who walked.
Boston minor league first baseman Travis Shaw, whose father, Jeff Shaw, pitched parts of 12 major league seasons from 1990-2001, hit a two-run double in the eighth inning.