Photo Credit: SI
A continuation of players who have drifted through the Boston baseball landscape. Some were quite memorable and others quite forgettable.
There is a certain excitement of anticipation when a young pitcher fresh from call-up makes a start. This season we saw it with Jalen Beeks and the moment was forgettable. In 2004 I attended a game against Baltimore at Fenway Park when a 21-year-old left-hander Abe Alvarez took the mound. The results were Beeks like and Abe was quickly dispatched to the minors.
Alvarez returned to Boston in 2005 and 2006, but that was it for his major league career. Just four games, 10.1 innings pitched and an 11.32 ERA. Alvarez didn’t do much in the minors, either, with an AAA record over four seasons of 24-24 and a 5.14 ERA. His career closed out in Italy (3-8, 2.96) in 2009. Alvarez returned to college (Long Beach State) and earned his degree. Now he is a high school baseball coach.
Charlie Zink is a one and done player. Zink – a right-handed knuckleballer – made his lone appearance – in 2008. As bad as Beeks and Alvarez were Zink was a disaster allowing eight earned runs on 11 hits in just 4.2 innings. In that 2004 season Zink was outstanding at Pawtucket (14-6, 2.84) and winning the International League pitcher MVP, but the following season lost 15 games for the PawSox.
Zink had been signed by the Red Sox upon a recommendation of Luis Tiant who had coached Zink in college. Zink also received tutoring from Tim Wakefield, but Zink never found the success of Wakefield or Steven Wright. Eventually, Zink made the baseball rounds signing with the Cardinals and then the Twins. His career ended in 2011 in independent league baseball.
The Red Sox needed Doug Mirabelli back and that meant my next two selections left Boston for the Padres. Cla Meredith and Daniel Bard – both righties – and both had promise. Meredith only appeared in three games for the Red Sox but had a nice MLB career with San Diego and Baltimore.
The quirky sidearmer Meredith played six seasons and appeared in 286 MLB games all in relief. I 2007 Meredith took the mound 80 times for the Padres and 73 times the next season. His only MLB save came with Baltimore in 2010 – his last season. Claiborne is now a firefighter.
Bard was expected to close for Boston as he was being groomed to replace Jonathan Papelbon. What Bard was noted for is his lively fastball that occasionally broke 100 MPH. In 2011 the results were promising as Bard pitched in 73 games with a 1-2 record and 9.2 K/9. But trouble was on the horizon with a 3.6 BB/9.
They call it the Steve Blass Disease when a pitcher suddenly can’t find the plate. Bard brought it to another level topping out in the Texas organization when assigned to Hickory (A). The stat line is almost beyond comprehension: Four games, 0.2 innings pitched, nine walks, seven hit batters, no hits allowed and 175.50 ERA. Bard’s 13.50 WHIP and 121.5 BB/9 are Guinness material.
Bard moved on to the Mets and St. Louis with similar painful results. The plate was postage stamp sized for Bard and one game last season for the Mets Rookie League team had Bard walking five in 0.2 innings. Bard is now a franchise mentor with the Diamondbacks organization.