Outtakes: Bill James on his work with the Red Sox, steroids, and what makes a successful baseball player

July 17th, 2006 → 7:52 am @

This is the eighth in a series of outtakes done for Feeding the Monster, available in stores now. These interviews with Red Sox special consultant Bill James were conducted over the course of the 2005 season.

On his role with the Red Sox: Well, it can involve anything that involves an issue about the player. Whatever question arises about the player I would try to research. I remember at one point we had some interest in acquiring Adam Piatt from Oakland. Piatt had looked like All-Star material a couple of years earlier, but then had viral meningitis and had more of less lost two seasons. The question arising [was], what are the odds that he can get his career back on track? … First of all, it was hard to find out what the hell had happened to him, but I finally found out that there was a diagnosis of viral meningitis. Well, OK. . .what is “viral meningitis?”

It turns out that both “virus” and “meninges” are very broadly defined terms, with the result that there are hundreds of different diseases, from mumps to West Nile Virus, which can be described as some type of viral meningitis. It’s a clothes-hamper diagnosis. Anyway, what are the odds that a player will come back from some vaguely defined illness like this? I wound up recommending that we try to acquire him and find out. Fortunately we didn’t.

I have little to do with preparing for key series, honestly. That’s [current scout and former video advance scouting coordinator] Galen Carr’s area, and I think he’s extremely good at it, but he knows so much more about it than I do that I would be wary of saying very much. I will say something occasionally if I think it might fit into his presentation.

On the type of work he does for the team: I do more work on my own than responding to requests. I am trying now to create an organized or “formal” structure to grade prospects. In other words, here’s this kid who hit .318 this year at such-and-such a stop in High A ball, he’s a first baseman, he can’t run, he’s 22 years old: what are his chances of being a successful major league player? I have the work 90% done, but, like writing a book, the last 10% of the job will kill you.

I’d say it is 75% [of what I do] is on my own initiative. When I first had the job, Theo said something like, “We need to see you in Boston more often,” which I think was profoundly true. My contract calls for me to come to Boston four times a year, but it just doesn’t do the job. I lose contact with what is happening; I don’t know what the guys are thinking about. I need to be in the office sometimes to talk to people to find out what is bothering them. The longer I am out here [in Kansas] on my own, the harder it is to figure out what I should be working on.

On the impact of the steroid-testing program on evaluating players: The new steroid policy is more of a media focus than a looming factor in analyzing what has happened or is likely to happen. I’m not saying it is nothing; it’s a legitimate concern. If you’re looking at a player whose production has dropped suddenly or has, sometime in the past, accelerated suddenly, you have to be concerned about the possibility that there may have been some steroid use involved.

But on the other hand, you have to worry about 500 other things, too. It could be an injury, or he could have put on weight, or he may have been going through a divorce, or his parents may have been going through a divorce. Stan Musial had an off season in ’59. He attributed it later, in a biography, to the fact that they had a newborn baby who wasn’t a good sleeper, and was keeping him awake nights. You could be dealing with a back injury, or with a player who has just suddenly figured something out, or with a player who has been exploiting some edge that will disappear in another year. It’s not that the steroids aren’t a legitimate factor, it’s just that there are a very wide range of legitimate factors, so that adding one more to the equation doesn’t really change anything very much.

On what makes a successful major league player: It is my general belief that a highly successful player is supported by a “network” or “scaffolding” that must be built up gradually over time. In other words, to play successfully in the major leagues requires a great deal of athletic ability, but also a great deal of knowledge of how the game is played, training habits, self-motivation habits, self-confidence, and a wide variety of skills.

Sometimes, in a simple example, a pitcher will develop a new pitch, and take a great step forward in effectiveness, [like] Esteban Loaiza in 2003. But when the player takes that great leap forward, he finds himself in a new role–pitching many more innings than he ever has before, for example, and also being counted on to pitch critical games. In most cases where that happens, the entire structure of the man–his knowledge, his self-confidence, his training habits, etc.–will not support the new level of effectiveness to which the player has been pushed, and this will lead, in most cases, to an inevitable collapse. A player who hasn’t been hitting home runs starts hitting home runs, the pitches that he sees are going to change, and he’s going to have to adjust, so then you’re back to the question we asked before: Does he have the ability to adjust so as to sustain this new level of production? Occasionally this is not true; occasionally there is a player–David Ortiz in 2003–who reaches a new level because he should have been there all along, but something was holding him back.

[With steroids], whether you have steroids involved in it or not, the basic question is the same: Will the entire structure of the man support this level of productivity? Or has the player gotten his production ahead of where it should be? It’s a very tough question in all cases, but it’s essentially the same question with or without steroids.

On developing minor league talent: If you have a Dustin Pedroia, who comes right out of college and takes all those transitions in stride. . .obviously, he has a lot of things going for him beyond talent. But then there is a danger of relying too much on that, and pushing him along until he does fail and you find out what happens there. So the answer there would be, I guess give the player the opportunity to succeed, but hold back as much as you can on the pressure to succeed.

On his public persona: I have been ripped to shreds in some books; I have been praised far beyond my real accomplishments in many others. I don’t get into trying to shape what people write about me.

Post Categories: Bill James & Feeding the Monster Outtakes

Outtakes: Terry Francona on Keith Foulke, Johnny Damon, and Theo Epstein

July 8th, 2006 → 8:19 am @

This is the seventh in a series of outtakes from interviews done for Feeding the Monster, to be published on July 11 by Simon & Schuster. This interview with Terry Francona took place on January 4, 2006, when Francona was recovering from offseason knee surgery. (Theo Epstein was officially re-hired by the Red Sox on January 19.) Read the book for exclusive details on Francona’s hiring following the Red Sox’s collapse in the 2003 playoffs, his take on the 2005 trade deadline controversy with Manny Ramirez, and his reaction to winning the World Series.

On the departure of Theo Epstein: I don’t think I’d say I was nervous or anything, I usually think I tend to believe that things work out for the best and there’s reasons things happened and stuff like that. But not knowing [how the general manager situation would be resolved], I think the word I’d use is unsettling. When there’s change you’re always a bit unsettled, but as far as myself I’ve been around this game a long time and I don’t have trouble getting along with people, so things usually work out.

On former assistant general manager Josh Byrnes, who was named general manager of the Arizona Diamondbacks last fall: Josh was a real stabilizing force in that office. He’s somebody I really looked up to a lot. I say that in past tense. I still do, but he doesn’t work here. He’s a great guy. Great head in his shoulders, and when he spoke he was guaranteed one person was listening and that was me. Then we lost Peter Woodfork [who followed Byrnes to Arizona], who was also down there, so you know you lose three people: Theo obviously, his name was out there because he ran the show, but it was the whole office that worked together. You lose three of the guys down there. That’s tough. From where I sit, I know they’ve taken some shots for hiring Ben [Cherington] and Jed [Hoyer as co-general managers] and the two-headed whatever-you-call-it, but I’m glad they did because I think there’s a lot of stability. Things are getting done like they always have. Those guys all work together and they still are. They’re a couple of guys short right now, which I’m sure is making their man-hours a little bit more, but things are getting done like they always do and I’m comfortable with that.

On the attention that comes with working in Boston: I just think its part of what we deal with here. There’s a lot of passion, there’s a lot of interest. The media, their job, I guess, is to explain to the masses how they view things. How they view things – that’s what it is – it’s how they view things, it’s not necessarily always correct. Sometimes it is, sometimes it isn’t. Sometimes you disagree but that’s how they view it, and that’s their right. And again in a place like Boston where there is a lot of passion and a lot of interest, you can get some interesting articles.

On the 2004 offseason versus the 2005 offseason: Well, it is a more normal winter. Last year wasn’t normal for anybody. Everybody was making appearances and talking about how good we were and it was a big love-fest. This is a little bit more normal. Last winter was a little more fun. Winning brings that. This has been a unique winter here for us, a lot of things have happened: Theo and Johnny Damon and all kind of things happened. So, like you said, anything that happens here is big news, and when it is big news it’s real big news.

On Johnny Damon going to the Yankees: You know what, you know it’s a possibility that a guy can leave, because he’s a free agent he has that right. It’s hard because I don’t think I hid the fact of how much I respected and liked Johnny, but there comes a point when ownership…that’s why I really try to almost stay out of it, because it’s not my money. And you start talking about 40, 50, 60 million dollars – holy smokes. That’s up to ownership and front office to make those decisions. I’m allowed my opinion but I’ll tell you, when you start talking about those kind of millions of dollars, I don’t want to hold ownership or front office hostage by saying things, that’s just not right. The reason these guys have gotten to where they are in life is because they know how to do business. So, you got to sit back and respect that a little bit.

On Keith Foulke: I don’t think [his 2005 season] had anything to do with focus. Foulke comes in to spring training and his knee hurts. That’s not focus. He threw a lot of innings in the playoffs [in 2004]. Sometimes guys maybe achieved some things maybe their bodies really shouldn’t allow them to achieve. And they pay the price. And Foulke was unbelievable. We don’t win [the World Series] without him. It was unreal. He didn’t get the most valuable player, but it was as valuable a contribution as you could find. He was unbelievable. Our whole bullpen was fantastic. It was incredible. It was awesome. Striking out Tony Clark [to end Game Six of the American League Championship Series in Yankee Stadium]: It was awesome.

Post Categories: 2004 Playoffs & Feeding the Monster Outtakes & Red Sox & Sports Reporters & Terry Francona & Theo Epstein

Outtakes: Nomar Garciaparra on his Achilles injury, the 2004 season, and the Red Sox winning the World Series

July 6th, 2006 → 8:18 am @

This is the sixth in a series of outtakes from interviews done for Feeding the Monster, to be published on July 11 by Simon & Schuster. It is the last of three outtakes from this interview with Nomar Garciaparra, which was conducted in Austin, Texas on October 28, 2005.

On the rumors about his Achilles injury: When I heard how I got hurt playing soccer, it was insulting to me because it attacked my integrity. And some of the other stuff I have heard was insulting to my integrity. The stories that I heard that I was like, ‘What?’ When I heard that one, ‘You got hurt playing soccer,’ I actually heard that one after I was traded and the funny thing was that was the year, that year and the year before I didn’t kick the soccer ball around. I was like, ‘Why would you bring up soccer, because of my wife? Now is it getting personal? Why that?’ It’s just so far from the truth. I played the first two/three games of spring training, and what really happened with my Achilles and everything, when I got hurt—I assume a lot of responsibility for this because I was vague, and I’m not going to deny that—but I got hit there, and no one saw it, I was taking a ground ball. It didn’t bother me till three or four days later. I could have been other stuff. All I know is it flared up. This is how it happened. I’m not going to lie. Did that really cause it, maybe it did and maybe it didn’t. So I asked the doctor, ‘Can this happen?’ Because it didn’t flare up or bother me until later. And the doctor was like, ‘It can.’ When you’ve got a thousand people asking you what happened to you, ‘Well it could be this. Maybe it is, maybe it isn’t.’ I don’t know what to tell them.

Like I said, [the confusion surrounding the injury] is my fault as well. I’m not saying that I didn’t make mistakes along the way. I’m not here to tell you I didn’t. But either way, it flared up and it flared up really bad. It was so painful, so swollen, it was so bad, I couldn’t walk. I was in a boot. I was stubborn. I didn’t want crutches. And that is what I dealt with that year. It sucked. What I did learn about the injury, if you know anything about tendonitis at all, it’s inflammation of the tendon and the tendon is throbbing. It’s hurting. It’s painful, and it can gets so swollen it can eventually pop. You really have to calm that down for a few reasons: one for reduced pain, two to strengthen the area. If it gets weak, it’s just going to give. And the thing about the Achilles is, there is not much blood flow in that area of the body and the only way to get the inflammation out is with blood. Not much I could do in that area so it took me a while to come back and for it to calm down, to deal with that so it wouldn’t snap because if it snaps you’re done. And I’m also thinking about my free agent year, you know, ‘It doesn’t look like they’ll want me back.’ What was I going to do?

On the 2004 season: Throughout the year, that is another thing that hurt me was hearing that I was faking it, faking the injury. Those are the things that I don’t understand exactly. And in my free agent year….I’m not sticking it to the Red Sox, I’m not sticking it to anybody, my teammates, my fans, myself, those are the people I care about the most, I’m not sticking it to them. I mean the stuff you hear. I wouldn’t do this in the free agent year. If I could play, I could play. So when I was finally able to comeback, I played.

On the Red Sox’s World Series win: I was happy, elated, excited. It was a little bit hard, sure. Absolutely. I wanted to be there with them. But they made me feel like I was with them. Guys on the team called me throughout it. Trot, Tek, JD, ‘Hey guys, you’re winning, keep going.’ They’d call and say, ‘Nommie, did you see that?’ I didn’t watch the World Series but I heard…I didn’t sit there and watch it. But I followed it and I followed them, Trot, all the boys.

I was happy for the city, I was happy for those people. The whole time I was there, I said I wanted them to win a World Series. I was part of that championship season. For forty of them, I was a part about that. And my teammates knew that. It was great. Getting the call from them, and then me calling them back, it meant the world to me. I hope I just gave you the facts. I’m not here to bash anyone. I’m not one to say this guy’s this way. This is the first time I have said how it really happened. You can see through the media the half-truths. That’s why I’m here now. Because you hear it, I’m not one to point the finger. I don’t know how someone interprets it. They said they do respect me and that’s all I ask. And all I have ever given the media is that respect in return. And it may not have been easy maybe difficult, but at the very least I hope I was respectful at all times.

Post Categories: Feeding the Monster Outtakes & Nomar Garciaparra & Red Sox

Outtakes: Curt Schilling on Fenway, Boston fans, and winning the World Series

July 4th, 2006 → 11:51 pm @

This the fifth in a series of outtakes from interviews done for Feeding the Monster, to be published on July 11 by Simon & Schuster. This interview with Curt Schilling was conducted in the Red Sox dugout on September 28, 2005. Read the book for exclusive details on how Schilling ended up having emergency surgery in October 2004, his reaction to his 2005 season, and Pedro Martinez’s response to Schilling’s arrival in Boston.

On whether he thought he’d end up in Boston: I went into [the 2003 offseason] thinking and feeling like I was a free agent with a contract, which gave me a lot of leverage, because we were both extremely happy in Arizona. But I had known for an extended period of time that that was my final season in Arizona, just based on the contractual situation and things that had been said by [Diamondbacks owner] Mr. [Jerry] Colangelo and the front office there. I knew I was probably going to be the odd man out, and when we started to think about what we were going to do, that season I was injured for a lot of the year on and off, so we started to look around, and the two things we wanted weren’t exclusive.

We wanted to go somewhere that we were familiar with and comfortable with, and we wanted to be on a contending ballclub for the remaining years of my career. I went into this knowing that this was going to be the last contract for me. The two teams that kind of jumped out at us were the Phillies and the Yankees. It became obvious very early on that the Phillies were not interested on a personal level, that that wasn’t going to work out. Because through back channels, I made it very clear to them that I’d go there for a lot less than I actually ended up signing for, for a lot shorter period of time. We wanted to go back to what we thought was home. I think there were a lot of personal issues between people that were in the organizations and myself that just weren’t going to work out.

And then with the Yankees situation, we let it be known that that was one of the teams we were interested in. Boston wasn’t a team that we were even contemplating, because I didn’t know anything about them. I didn’t know anything the organization, I didn’t know anything about the people here.

On Fenway’s reputation as being a bad park for fly-ball pitchers: Well, that wasn’t even a top-of-the-rung factor. That was something that just added to the negatives. I’d played here and knew it was an incredible atmosphere to pitch in, but it was not something that offered a lot for me.

On why he decided to consider Boston: When Tito [Francona] ended up getting interviewed for this job, it became someplace that I was interested in. It all happened, literally, in a span of about 12 hours. My wife had a fundraiser at our house, and Mr. Colangelo and [general manager Joe] Mr. Garagiola were both there, and this was, I think, the day I’d heard that Tito had been interviewed for the job. And I felt like if Tito interviewed for a job, he was going to get it. And I went to Joe and I told Joe that I would probably contemplate or consider coming to Boston. I know that within five minutes, he told Jerry, and within five minutes after that, Jerry came to me and told me he might have a deal. My impression was that Boston had talked to Arizona and had a preliminary deal on the table in case they became a team I was interested in, and when that happened it happened very quickly.

On the experience of pitching in Fenway: First of all, I was prepared, to a degree, for what this was like, but I wasn’t prepared for what it really was. The first thing that I kind of, that took me not by surprise, but was more than I expected was the level of the personal relationship that these fans have with the players. If you are a member of this franchise, you’re a member of their families. There was so much hype and excitement, and I was excited to think that coming here could have that kind of effect on people. I think in the end, coming here, the final piece of the puzzle was that Boston presented me, on a personal level, was a challenge that no place else can offer. Philly had won [the World Series]. In New York you were supposed to win. Boston had never won [since 1918], and to come here and be a part of something that could change that was incredibly attractive to me. From day one, it was nice. It was everything I had hoped it would be, atmosphere-wise and more.

On what’s changed for the Red Sox after winning the World Series: You can take the same 25 guys from one year to the next, and things are going to change. The atmosphere is going to change, because people change. Everything changes: the dynamics in the clubhouse. We all have families. We all live real lives. Teammates go through divorces, teammates get married, teammates have kids—those are life-changing experiences, and people change because of them. So regardless of whether you’ve turned over a whole roster or have 25 of the same guys, the dynamics are going to be totally different each year. The difference here is that there’s so much scrutiny, so much media, that every change is addressed and dissected to the umpteenth degree. It’s monotonous, and things are made out to be a much bigger deal here outside the clubhouse than they are inside the clubhouse.

On the press coverage in Philadelphia compared to the coverage in Boston: One of the differences is that in Philadelphia, the media is so negative. It is such a negative place. There are some negative people here, but the years I spent in Philly, there was such a deep resentment for the front office and the team that fans were not going to support the team just to show the ownership and the team a thing or two. That’s not the case here.

Post Categories: Curt Schilling & Feeding the Monster Outtakes & Red Sox

Outtakes: Nomar Garciaparra on being traded to the Cubs

June 25th, 2006 → 11:16 pm @

This is the fourth in a series of outtakes from interviews done for Feeding the Monster, to be published on July 11 by Simon & Schuster. It is the second of three outtakes from this interview with Nomar Garciaparra, which was conducted in Austin, Texas on October 28, 2005. Read the book for exclusive details on Garciaparra’s career with the Red Sox, his reaction to the July 1, 2004 game against the Yankees, and the contract negotiations that began in spring training 2003 and ended on July 31, 2004.

On baseball management: If you lose the guy and then if you say anything great about him then why did you let him go? You should watch who knocks on our door and watch the death threats we get. That’s happened to all these guys—every single one—and when you are in that position and you are supposed to be focused on baseball and you are trying to block this out because all the stuff that is said about you. Probably the biggest problem [for players] was they got no support from the organization. And you see Mo [Vaughn], it was the same thing, and at the end with Roger [Clemens]. If you look, as a player, when you know you were getting all that heat from the media that’s one sided, that any little thing can be taken and run with, it sounded like all of those years when I read about it, when I read [Ted Williams’s] book as well, when I read about other players, when I talked to other players, people were just looking for support from your team. You want them to speak on your behalf, to eliminate some of that stuff. And a lot of times when they finally ask the management about you, and a lot of times its at the end of your contract, so they’re going, ‘Well I’m on the verge of negotiating with the guy and I can’t blow you up’ because if they blow you up so much they have to pay for it.

On whether he wanted to leave Boston: My fiancée at the time, we bought a home that year. I bought two apartments at this new building downtown, two places combined as one, spent over three million dollars on this place. I was like—and this is the discussion between us two, not that I ever let this out—’Well, at least we know we got the 15 million, four-year deal [that Garciaparra rejected before the 2003 season]. We are so close [to coming to an agreement] that even if we don’t get [more money], we are going to sign for that. So we might as well commit to this home.’ Because my wife and I are, shoot, we’re gonna be here for a while so let’s build our home. We are going to make a home here. So we purchased it and we were gung ho, and no one knew, it was just something we did. We didn’t want anybody to know, even though I can’t do anything in that city, I can’t go outside. I am showing my cards when I’m still trying to negotiate with the Red Sox. I knew it was going to come out anyway because I know you can’t do anything in that city without it coming out, so I’m thinking, even if it does come out, boy I’m really just showing my cards. But I’m like, ‘Whatever—I’m happy with this. That is fine, ok. I don’t want to go. I want to be here.’

On his reaction to being traded: It sucked. And then that night I got a phone call from Larry Lucchino. That was the last person I wanted to talk to. He called me that night in the hotel, and said ‘Hey Nomar, how are you doing?’ And I’m going, ‘I feel great. Just fine, I don’t want to talk to you right now, I’ve got a hundred phone calls and it’s all over.’ All my friends are going, ‘What’s going on?’ And I’m calling my family. And it sucks because I can’t call my wife because we are in different time zones. And I have to pack and now I gotta figure where I’m going tomorrow, because I have to play in Chicago. And there are just a million emotions going on and I don’t want to talk to the people who just got rid of me, who just changed my life in an instant. That’s what it felt like.

Post Categories: Baseball & Feeding the Monster Outtakes & Larry Lucchino & Nomar Garciaparra

Outtakes: Nomar Garciaparra sounds off on Boston

June 19th, 2006 → 11:18 pm @

This is the third in a series of outtakes from interviews done for Feeding the Monster, to be published on July 11 by Simon & Schuster. This will be the first of three outtakes from this interview with Nomar Garciaparra, which was conducted in Austin, Texas on October 28, 2005. This year, Garciaparra’s first with the Los Angeles Dodgers, the recently converted first baseman is hitting .355 with 8 home runs and 42 RBIs. Read the book for exclusive details on Garciaparra’s career with the Red Sox, his reaction to the July 1, 2004 game against the Yankees, and the contract negotiations that resulted in his being traded to the Chicago Cubs.

On being a superstar in Boston: I don’t know if you’ve ever read a book by Ted Williams. It was called My Turn At Bat and it’s really just his own words. It was written back in 1969, right before he was a manager for the Washington Senators. If you read that, it’s funny what he went through. He never said anything [in his book] about the ownership. It was more about all the stuff that was being said about him [in the media] and the reception he got [from the fans]. It happened to Ted who was probably the most, the greatest person there is. I knew Ted personally. He was the biggest icon in that city. He is a hero to me. But he had to endure that and went through it–the best ever. Jim Rice had to deal with it. You’ve got Roger Clemens, Mo Vaughn, all these guys who are the heros to every single person there, to the fans and they endear themselves and throw themselves into the community. But then on the last stretch, it’s different. It’s the same thing. It’s the same thing with Ted, Jim Rice. It happened with Mo. It happened to Roger.

I mean, Mo Vaughn was a wonderful person. I love Mo. I love this man. He was a role model, this guy. He was never late, he played everyday, even in the worst pain, he talked to me everyday I was there. He was available because he thought maybe that would help. He gave back to the community. This guy is awesome. So he went to a strip joint. What does that have to do with him as person, as a ball player, what he represents? I think actions speak louder than words at times, and if you’re getting that action, that has nothing to do with Mo Vaughn as a ball player and as a person. He encompassed it all, and Roger did the same thing. So when they left, that made you scratch your head. Now Mo is gone, Pedro, myself, maybe Manny.

On the difference between playing in Boston and other cities: It’s just the only thing that’s there is in Boston. It’s just the Red Sox. I always joke about it cause I grew up in LA. You ask somebody in LA, ‘What do you want to do today? Do you want to go to the beach? Do you want the movie? Do you want to go the baseball game?’ And the person will think about it. You ask a person in Boston, ‘What do you want to do? Do you want to go down to the North End, do you want to see a movie, or do you want to go to a Red Sox game?’ ‘You got tickets?’ I mean its like, ‘You have to ask? You are giving me a choice? What, are you crazy?’ That’s the mentality. That’s just the way it is. Which I thought is great—it’s awesome. I think the same way. If you ask me what do I think, I mean I’m playing! What do you want to do, play baseball or see a movie, I want to play baseball. In a city where people thought the same way I did, it was great.

On the differences between the Boston media and the Chicago media: I think that in general—and this isn’t a knock on the media—in general, I think a lot of times the media, and we see it all over society, the media is more interested in the story than the truths so to speak. They have to get a story no matter what it is. But in Chicago there’s a different mentality. They are so supportive of the Cubs, they are just wonderful fans. It’s just different. I don’t know you might have to ask the media about that, but like I said, from reading stuff and history, it’s always been there in Boston.

Post Categories: Feeding the Monster Outtakes & Nomar Garciaparra & Red Sox

Outtakes: Jonathan Papelbon learns the importance of tipping the bellman

June 16th, 2006 → 12:38 am @

This is the second in a series of outtakes from interviews done for Feeding the Monster, to be published on July 11 by Simon & Schuster. This interview with Jonathan Papelbon was conducted in the Red Sox clubhouse on September 6, 2005. This year, Papelbon is 1-1 with an American League-leading 20 saves and a 0.28 ERA.

On the differences between the minors and the bigs: Well for me, I knew what I had going at the minor-league level and I knew I was ready to come to the big-league level. But it’s a matter of really learning how the big-league level works and at the same time, coming here and helping to compete to win the pennant race. That’s what it’s all about. Because up here, it’s all about winning. In the minor leagues, it’s all about development, production, stuff like that. Up here, it’s all about winning, period. That’s what I’m here to do, and that’s what I’ve come to realize: that’s all I’m here to do.

On the intensity of playing with the Red Sox: No, I wouldn’t say it’s been overwhelming at all. The game hasn’t been overwhelming. The game hasn’t changed on me a whole lot. I think the thing that has changed is getting used to the traveling—you know, checking your bags with the bell captain, which I’ve never done before. Just things like that, things outside the game like getting to the field. When we were flying from Kansas City, I didn’t know to leave my bags, so I took them with me to the park thinking I’m going to put them on the flight. I didn’t realize the bell captain takes them. And everyone’s like, “This is is big-leagues, you don’t carry your bags here! If somebody sees you carrying your bags they think you work for the team.” That was pretty much the moment where I was like, “All right. I’m really here.”

On playing in Boston: I love it. I love playing here, I love the atmosphere. I grew up playing college ball in this type of atmosphere where you’re expected to win, and I thrive off of it. And right now, I’m just riding the wave and doing everything I possibly can to help the team.

Post Categories: Big League Perks & Feeding the Monster Outtakes & Jonathan Papelbon & Red Sox