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PAWTUCKET â€” If eight PawSox players show up late to McCoy Stadium this afternoon, donâ€™t fret. Their potential tardiness has already been taken under advisement.
â€śIt will be okay,â€ť smiled manager Kevin Boles. â€śOpportunities like this donâ€™t come around too often, so youâ€™ve got to take advantage of them.â€ť
What Boles was hinting at was the World Series ring ceremony thatâ€™s on deck at Fenway Park and how a number of his charges â€“ call them the â€śelite eightâ€ť â€“ are being afforded the opportunity to be presented their shiny hardware in person. The list of fortunate PawSox includes Drake Britton, Rubby De La Rosa, Brayan Villarreal, Allen Webster, Alex Wilson, Ryan Lavarnway, Brock Holt and Brandon Snyder.
Holt mentioned that he and his PawSox teammates received word that a). they will get to step out of home dugout after hearing that name announced, b). shake hands with Bostonâ€™s ownership trio of John Henry, Tom Werner and Larry Lucchino and c). admire the new piece of jewelry while standing along the first-base line just as spring training drew to a close.
â€śI didnâ€™t know what they were going to do with us, but itâ€™s pretty neat that theyâ€™re allowing us to do that,â€ť said Holt, Pawtucketâ€™s starting shortstop for Thursdayâ€™s season opener. â€śRaquel (Ferreira, Bostonâ€™s Senior Director of Minor League Operations) told me so itâ€™s pretty cool.â€ť
Added Snyder, â€śAny chance you have to celebrate something like that, itâ€™s definitely an honor. Itâ€™s special and I know weâ€™re all excited.â€ť
When the Red Sox captured the World Series in 2007, then-farm director Mike Hazen brought the rings to Pawtucket so that Jeff Bailey and his fellow PawSox recipients could receive them before the McCoy Stadium faithful. For this particular go-around, the franchise is including everyone. It doesnâ€™t matter if you appeared in one game in relief like Villarreal or 18 games, which represents Brittonâ€™s total with the 2013 Boston ballclub.
â€śTo go up there for the last half of the year and be able to walk away with a World Series ring, itâ€™s a big honor,â€ť stated Britton.
â€śWe all expected that they were going to send them down because weâ€™re not part of that team,â€ť said Snyder. â€śFor them to reach out and letting us come be part of it is a nice gesture.â€ť
Since many of the aforementioned ring honorees live around these parts, theyâ€™ll have to wake up a tad earlier than normal in an effort to beat the Boston traffic. Once the pageantry is complete and the attention shifts to the action between the white lines â€¦ that will serve as the playerâ€™s cue to return to Pawtucket.
As enjoyable as Friday afternoon figures to be, thereâ€™s a game on tap at McCoy on Friday night. Still, Boles wants his guys to enjoy the moment because after all, they are links to something memorable.
â€śFor them to be part of that experience, they helped us get there. I think itâ€™s fitting and itâ€™s going to be neat to watch them line up,â€ť said Boles. â€śItâ€™s nice that Boston is doing that.â€ť
Jason Varitek was at the ballpark Thursday, dressed in baseball attire and on the field during batting practice. Now years removed from his last big-league game, the former Red Sox catcher and captain finds himself these days serving as a special assistant to general manager Ben Cherington.
With Pawtucketâ€™s roster featuring three catchers in Lavarnway, Dan Butler and Christian Vazquez, Varitek could end up spending quite a bit of time at McCoy this season. Varitek actually appeared in 24 games for the PawSox, 20 coming after he was traded from Seattle to Boston in 1997.
According Boles, Varitek visited Portland quite a bit last season and will be in Pawtucket through the weekend. It appears that Varitek is a big fan of Vazquez, regarded as the top defensive catcher in the Red Soxâ€™s minor-league system.
â€śHeâ€™s terrific. I got the chance to speak with him earlier and heâ€™s always got insights,â€ť said Boles, who met with the media following batting practice. â€śHe does a great job with our guys. Not only with the catching, but also as far as handling a staff. I think thatâ€™s the biggest plus that he brings to the table. His career speaks for itself and heâ€™s a great example. Itâ€™s right in front for these guys.â€ť
Follow Brendan McGair on Twitter @BWMcGair03