Fenway 'Futures' day to showcase Sox youngsters
Frederick Ellis Dashiell Jr. | 8/6/2008, 5:04 a.m.
Fenway Park will host the third annual “Futures at Fenway” minor-league doubleheader this Saturday, giving youngsters in the Boston Red Sox organization an opportunity to shine on one of baseball’s biggest stages.
The Lowell Spinners, the Red Sox’ affiliate in short-season Single-A ball, will take on the Hudson Valley Renegades from the Tampa Bay Rays’ organization in the first half of this year’s twin bill. The Triple-A Pawtucket Red Sox will take on the Charlotte Knights, the Chicago White Sox’ affiliate, in the nightcap.
Thirty-two current major leaguers played in the first two “Futures” days, including Boston pitcher Justin Masterson, who was a member of the Spinners just two years ago.
During a meeting last week with Boston media, Lowell manager and former big-leaguer Gary DiSarcina said his team was excited about playing in Fenway.
“Last year’s walk-off win was the high point of the year for the Spinners,” said DiSarcina. “As we exited the field to board our bus, we were greeted by hundreds of fans giving us high-fives and cheering us on.”
The players also said they were looking forward to the fan support.
“[I’m] a little nervous, but I can’t wait to get out on the field,” said Spinners outfielder Mitch Dening.
Lowell pitcher Stephen Fife cited Masterson’s rise to the majors as a source of inspiration.
“I’m excited to play, knowing that Justin played here two years ago,” said Fife. “It shows it’s possible to make the jump to the next level.”
Pawtucket manager Ron Johnson said he feels these games are great for his team because they allow new players to gain important experience playing in front of a large crowd.
“[You] don’t realize how close you are to the major leagues until you play in a game like this,” said PawSox catcher Dusty Brown, who played in the “Futures” game last year.
The big stage is a welcome change, according to Pawtucket pitcher Jose Vaquedano.
“These games are great for minor leaguers to see a large stadium instead of the smaller ones they usually play in,” he said.
The players were not the only beneficiaries. The doubleheader features “family-friendly” prices on both concessions and admission. Fenway Franks, sodas, popcorn, candy and cotton candy will be discounted $1 for the doubleheader, and tickets range from $5 to $30, with one ticket good for admission to both games.
There will also be “child-friendly” activities such as on-field mascot races and a rock-climbing wall in Fenway’s main concourse.
The park will open at 10:05 a.m. on Saturday. First pitch in the first game is slated for 12:05 p.m. For more information, visit www.redsox.com.