(Portland ME) The stars were out Monday night at Hadlock Field.
How often do you see a major leaguer at an Eastern League (AA) game?
Not often. Well, on this night the Red Sox had TWO players rehabbing there……..catcher Christian Vazquez and pitcher Eduardo Rodriguez.
I was familiar close-up with both Boston players. I had seen Christian a few years ago working his way up via Portland. Eduardo had done a rehab at Portland earlier this season and I was on hand.
You not only had the major leaguers, but you also had the first-place New Hampshire Fisher Cats in the house. I had already been to Manchester (NH) a couple of times this season to see that talented team.
There was a very large Monday night crowd in the park. You knew why the “extra’s” had come when loud ovations greeted announcements regarding Christian and Eduardo. The normal reaction to players? None.
The setting was coolish at 7PM after a hot day.
There were celebrations pregame for women in sports. One of those honored was Kate Hall of Casco (ME). There was a story about her in the Bridgton News several weeks ago. She is a national track star hoping to make it to the next Olympics. I heard the name, connected the dots and got a picture of her….I hope!.
The Fisher Cats have clinched the playoffs while the Sea Dogs have clinched the basement. On this night it was as if the roles were reversed as Portland hit early and often on their way to a 12-6 win.
Christian drove in three runs while Eduardo pitched four scoreless innings. Eduardo had hoped to go six innings but too many long counts prevented it. (He said as much afterwards, according to the newspaper coverage.) I probably could have been in that news conference if I had chased it.
Extra cameramen were at the park. I knew that with lessening light I would forfeit action shots. My goal was close-up shots and dugout shots.
I shifted to the New Hampshire side after several innings and found a good spot although I was sitting instead of standing. A ground ball did come my way and was close. You roll the dice when you put yourself (intentionally) in the line of fire.
I got more pictures of Bo Bichette. Last year he excelled in A ball (top hitter in the minors) and this year, as a 20-year-old, has continued to star. The New Hampshire shortstop leads the EL in hits, doubles, and several other categories. He starts for Toronto next year or the year after, in my opinion.
Two other top talents at NH are Harold Ramirez (top EL batting average) and Cavan Biggio ( EL home run leader). It interested me that Cavan (normally a 2nd baseman) was in right field for this one.
I also took more pictures of Bobby Dalbec. He is one of Boston’s top prospects. He has been at three levels this season and is tied for the lead in the minors in homers.
There always will be a Slugger section in my coverage of Sea Dogs’ games. The big guy was out of uniform. I can’t describe what he was wearing and why but at one point he was dancing with an umpire! Needless to imagine, Slugger was outrun by yet another youngster. Slugger got into a great starting stance, but it didn’t help. His opponent was fast and knew what he was doing. By the time second was crossed, Slugger was destined for second and that was where he finished.
Another day for me at a great park. Portland’s home season ends Thursday. Where did the spring/summer go?
New Hampshire has qualified for the EL playoffs. I might venture to New Hampshire for one of those games.
Thanks again to Chris Cameron for letting me into Hadlock and onto the field. I greatly enjoy my time there.
(All of the pictures above and below should enlarge considerably if you click on them.)