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Boston Red Sox Pitchers Tim Wakefield and Clay Buchholz 2011 Jimmy Fund Co-Captains

BOSTON — Today, Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and the Jimmy Fund announce that Boston Red Sox pitchers Tim Wakefield and Clay Buchholz will continue as Jimmy Fund Co-Captains for the 2011 season. Their first assignment is to be this year’s Spokesplayers for the Jimmy Fund’s Rally Against Cancer.

Buchholz was the 2010 Rally Against Cancer spokesplayer in addition to being Jimmy Fund Co-Captain last year. Wakefield, a strong supporter of the Jimmy Fund for many years, was also a Co-Captain last year, and will be a Spokesplayer for the Rally Against Cancer for the first time this year. Wakefield and Buchholz join the ranks of past Rally Against Cancer Spokesplayers, including Jon Lester, Dustin Pedroia, Kevin Youkilis, and Trot Nixon.

As Jimmy Fund Co-Captains, the two pitchers will be ambassadors for the Jimmy Fund to raise awareness and build support for cancer care and research at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute. They will also lend their support to Jimmy Fund events, visit adult and pediatric clinics, thank donors, and more.

Now in its sixth year, Rally Against Cancer encourages Red Sox fans to partner with their companies and schools, and encourage co-workers, classmates, and friends, to each contribute $5 or more to the Jimmy Fund. In exchange, they “Dress for Sox-cess” by wearing Boston Red Sox gear to work or school on Friday, 08 April, when the Sox take on the New York Yankees at Fenway Park for their home opener. The top fundraising company and school (K-12, college or university) are each eligible for a visit from Wakefield or Buchholz, if located within two-hour travel distance from Boston.

This year’s event adds a new twist: up for grabs are two Wild Card visits. Each team that raises $5,000 or more is eligible to win one of two visits from Wakefield or Buchholz (see full contest rules at RallyAgainstCancer.org).

In five years, Rally Against Cancer has raised $1.9 million to support the fight against cancer at Dana-Farber. This year, the program hopes to raise $500,000. For more information about Rally, please visit www.RallyAgainstCancer.org.

The Jimmy Fund supports Boston’s Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, helping to raise funds for adult and pediatric cancer care and research and improve the chances of survival for cancer patients around the world. It is an official charity of the Boston Red Sox, as well as the official charity of the Massachusetts Chiefs of Police Association, the Pan-Massachusetts Challenge, and the Variety Children’s Charity of New England. Since 1948, the generosity of millions of people has helped the Jimmy Fund (www.jimmyfund.org) save countless lives and reduce the burden of cancer.

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Boston Red Sox Pitcher Clay Buchholz Rallies Against Cancer with the Jimmy Fund

Buchholz announced today as fifth spokesplayer for annual fundraiser

BOSTON – Today, Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and the Jimmy Fund announced that Boston Red Sox pitcher Clay Buchholz is the fifth honorary Rally Against Cancer Spokesplayer. He joins the ranks of past Red Sox spokesplayers Jon Lester, Trot Nixon, Dustin Pedroia, and Kevin Youkilis.

Now in its fifth year, Rally Against Cancer encourages Red Sox fans to partner with their companies and schools, as well as their co-workers, classmates, and friends, to each contribute $5 or more to the Jimmy Fund. In exchange, they have the opportunity to wear Red Sox gear to work or school on Rally Day, Tuesday, April 6, when the Sox take on the New York Yankees at Fenway Park. The top fundraising company, school (K-12), and college or university are each eligible for a visit from Buchholz, if located within two-hour travel distance from Boston.

In four years, the Rally has raised $1.6 million in support of the fight against cancer at Dana-Farber. This year, the program hopes to raise $600,000. Buchholz will talk about his participation in the Rally at an upcoming press conference during spring training in Fort Myers, FL.

For more information about the Rally, please visit www.rallyagainstcancer.org.

Founded in 1948, the Jimmy Fund is an official charity of the Boston Red Sox, supporting the fight against cancer at Boston’s Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, helping to raise the chances of survival for children and adults with cancer around the world. Unrestricted support from the Jimmy Fund is an integral part of Mission Possible: The Dana-Farber Campaign to Conquer Cancer, a $1 billion capital campaign to accelerate cancer research, speed development of lifesaving therapies, and expand the Institute’s signature patient and family-centered care.

Should Baseball Have Instant Replay?

Should baseball institute instant replay for disputed calls on the field? The rash of missed or disputed home run calls this week has only intensified the argument for bringing baseball into the twenty-first century and more in-line with its football and hockey brethren. It isn’t a question of the abilities of the crew in blue; it takes unparalleled focus to handle an intense nine-inning contest that may last well over three hours. More so, the sole purpose would be to give umpires a fifth, unbiased view of the play to ensure that there would be little doubt left on the field.

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End Of An Era: Trot Nixon Heads To Cleveland

After 13 seasons with the Red Sox organization, free agent outfielder Trot Nixon, who was not offered arbitration by the team in December, signed a one-year deal worth $3 million to start fresh in Cleveland and will wear number 33 with the Indians. Drafted out of high school by the Red Sox in 1993, Nixon was known for his hard-nose style of play, noted by the batting helmet he often wore that was covered in dirt and pine tar; although not as flashy as some of his teammates, he earned the respect of the Boston faithful and the distinction of being one of the team’s original “Dirt Dogs.”

After two quick cups of coffee, his first full season with the Red Sox came in 1999; early on, it appeared as though he would return to the minors when he started out of the gate barely hitting above .100. However, he recovered well enough to finish with a .270 batting average, 15 home runs, and 52 RBI. In ten seasons with Boston, Nixon batted .278, hit 133 home runs, and drove in 523 runs while managing a .366 on-base percentage. He also became a master of Fenway’s often-tricky right field and managed a .984 fielding percentage in that position for most of his time in Boston.

Among his highlights with the Red Sox included a two-run home run in the top of the ninth at Yankee Stadium on 30 May 2000 in a duel between then-teammate Pedro Martinez and ex-Red Sox pitcher Roger Clemens; those two runs were the difference in an eventual 2-0 win for Boston. He also drove home the final two runs for Boston in the deciding Game Four of the 2004 World Series on a two-out double off the right field wall at Busch Stadium in St. Louis in the top of the third inning to give Boston a 3-0 lead. Those also proved to be the last runs scored by either team in that game as the Red Sox swept the Cardinals for the team’s first championship title in 86 years. For the series, Nixon batted .357 and drove in three runs after spending most of the regular season nursing injuries.

With Boston expected to announce the signing of outfielder J.D. Drew in the near future, Nixon’s departure was not unexpected, given that he would likely end up sharing a bench role with Wily Mo Pena, eight years his junior and also seen as a back-up first baseman to Kevin Youkilis.

2005 Season Preview

It’s almost with sad reserve that we open the 2005 season after Red Sox fans enjoyed the fruits of a successful 2004 campaign. Yes, Boston will often be referred to as the defending World Series champions this season but, for all intent and purpose, last season’s amazing accomplishment doesn’t count for anything in this year’s standings. Still, with renewed enthusiasm, this team is looking to realize something even more astounding: repeating as champions for the first time since the Red Sox won back-to-back titles in 1915 and 1916. The team returns looking pretty much the same as last season’s squad, even with a few additions and subtractions, so how will this season compare to last? Hopefully we answer some of those questions here.

How much with the loss of Derek Lowe and Pedro Martinez hurt?

Both guys played key roles in the 2004 post-season; Lowe was the winning pitcher in all three series-clinching games and Martinez dazzled in his only World Series appearance. They also combined to win 30 games during the regular season and both stayed healthy for the entire season. Only time will tell if Matt Clement, Wade Miller, and David Wells will be able to combine their efforts to repeat, but we have to remember that the Sox also have one of the best lineups at the plate. While the win totals were impressive, both Lowe and Martinez had their earned-run averages jump considerably, combining for a 4.59 ERA. Lowe’s 5.42 ERA was almost three runs higher than his stellar 2002 campaign numbers, and Martinez’s 3.90 ERA was almost double his Red Sox career average. The point is that, barring an unlikely drop-off in production at the plate, the Sox will continue to win, even with these two wearing different uniforms this season.

Should we be concerned with Curt Schilling missing the opener?

If you believe Schilling, the only reason that he is heading to the DL to start the season is because he needs another week or so to work on his mechanics. His infamous ankle, which was surgically repaired last November nearly a week after the World Series ended, is not the problem; it has fully healed and trainers gave him the green light early enough in spring training that he would otherwise be in the Bronx next Sunday night to open the season for Boston. Luckily, the Sox have enough off days during the first two weeks of the season to go with a four-man rotation and Schilling should be available before the schedule becomes more demanding.

Has Edgar Renteria stabilized the shortstop position?

Renteria should cement himself in that position for many years to come, especially given that the Sox signed him to a four-year contract at $10 million per season. He is a year younger than fellow Colombian Orlando Cabrera, whom he replaces in the Red Sox lineup and a couple years younger than Nomar Garciaparra, who seemed to be a permanent fixture in Boston until last year. Like Cabrera, he is a Gold Glove winner and has flashed the leather many times this spring, already winning over the hearts of Red Sox fans. He also adds more punch in the lineup, with a lifetime batting average of .289 and 10 or more home runs each season over the last six years. Prospect Hanley Ramirez, who impressed coaches and the front office this spring, waits in the wings in Portland but don’t be surprised if he’s never seen in Boston, so long as Renteria performs as expected.

What more can we expect from David Ortiz this season?

There is just so much beauty in that man’s swing, it almost brings a tear to my eye. Looking at his statistics from last season through the regular season and into the playoffs, it’s just amazing what he has done since the Sox picked him off waivers from Minnesota. Last year, “Big Papi” amassed 41 home runs and 139 RBI, spending more than three-quarters of the time in the DH role, and his post-season heroics earned him MVP honors in the American League Championship Series. This spring, it’s evident that his powerful stroke has not diminished, even if he’s taken off a few pounds during the off-season. Terry Francona expects to use him as the everyday DH, so there’s no reason that he can’t continue to compile the numbers that make jaws drop everywhere.

Who will be the surprise of the season?

Jay Payton grabbed headlines when he was traded to Boston in December for Dave Roberts, but perhaps overlooked in that deal was the acquisition of infielder Ramon Vazquez. The four-year veteran from Puerto Rico, who has averaged 78 games in that time, plays all four infield positions and sports a .979 fielding percentage. Remember how valuable Pokey Reese was for Boston last season? Perhaps he might not get as many opportunities as Pokey, who took advantage of Nomar’s absence for the first half of the season, but he should prove valuable as a late-inning defensive replacement. Plus, when one of the veterans needs an off-day to recover from aches and pains, Vazquez should prove adequate with a .262 lifetime average.

Will Adam Stern remain with Boston for the entire season?

Being a Rule V pick-up, Stern would be shipped back to the Atlanta Braves if the Sox are unable to find a permanent place for him on the major league roster. Unfortunately, there are five Red Sox outfielders in front of him: Manny Ramirez, Johnny Damon, Trot Nixon, Payton, and Kevin Millar. Adam Hyzdu has already been sent packing this spring for that very reason. Barring an injury to one of the fore mentioned players, Boston will not jump through hoops to retain his services, so expect him back with Atlanta by mid-summer.

Isn’t Francona deserving of an extension now?

Francona managed in his first year at the Red Sox helm to win a World Series championship, something that no Boston manager had done since Ed Barrow, also in his first season as manager, in 1918. To some, that would seem like reason enough to sign him to a new contract right now; however, the Red Sox front office is not going to rush to get him guaranteed for anything past the current length of their agreement with him, at least through this season. Should his fortunes continue, then it’s possible that he would be granted an extension after that, as well as a statue right next to Ted Williams‘s, but both Francona and the Sox are content to let sleeping dogs lie for now.

Will they or won’t they?

It bears repeating that all roads to the championship will lead through New York and the Yankees spent the winter reloading the arsenal as usual. However, the Red Sox are just as strong themselves and should be able to rise to the challenge once more. Winning the division has become inconsequential thanks to the Wild Card draw; Boston should do well enough again to earn at least that prize and make the playoffs. As long as they play to their potential and Francona continues to make smart coaching decisions, the Red Sox should get another chance to meet a National League opponent in late October for all the marbles.