The community rallied around the kids from the Savin Hill Little League when heartless thieves stole $5,000 worth of equipment from a storage locker in Dorchester’s McConnell Park over the winter.
Donations poured in to help the league have its season. But what went unreported at the time was the generosity of five Red Sox players.
When Jon Lester heard about the situation, he organized a group of teammates to help out. Lester, Ryan Dempster, John Lackey, Dustin Pedroia, and Jarrod Saltalamacchia each sent a personal check to the league in early May.
“There was no fanfare, nobody came to the field and made a presentation. They did it very quietly,” league treasurer Mike McCann said on Friday. “It was huge. It was a very big chunk. Their donations put us in a position where we can do things for the kids we weren’t able to before.”
Savin Hill Little League has 15 teams and close to 200 players from one of Boston’s most disadvantaged neighborhoods. No player is turned away for financial reasons.
“We start every year behind the eight-ball financially as it is,” McCann said. “We usually need to beg, borrow, or steal to have a season. Once that locker was pillaged, we were really in trouble. They took whatever was decent.”
The charitable foundation started by former Red Sox player Kevin Youkilis helped the league out in the days after the theft was discovered, paying for new bats, balls, and catcher’s equipment.
When Lester, Dempster, Lackey, Pedroia, and Saltalamacchia added their contributions, the league was back on solid financial ground.
“It’s really cool the way it all came together,” McCann said. “These kind of things really go a long way in helping the kids.”
The Red Sox players deflected credit on Friday.
“Jon told us what happened,” Dempster said. “I’m just glad the kids were able to have their season and it ended up working out.”
Said Lackey: “Felt bad for those kids. We all played when we were that age, too.”
Lester hopes to start
Lester, who left his start Thursday night with a sore right hip, is expected to make his next scheduled start. That would be on Wednesday against the San Diego Padres.
The Sox are off Monday, so Lester would get an extra day of rest.
“He feels improved, so we’re considering today similar to any other Day 1 following a start. He does get the advantage of an extra day of rest this next time though. We fully expect him to be on the mound against San Diego next week,” manager John Farrell said.
Lester had allowed two runs on three hits through seven innings, his best performance in weeks. After giving up two singles in the eighth inning, he slipped on the mound and jammed his hip.
Lester felt better shortly after the game. The lefthander mentioned having hip pain in the past. But Farrell doesn’t feel it’s a major problem.
“Based on all the maintenance work he currently does and the strength exams he goes through, range of motion is good,” the manager said. “There’s nothing that is glaring. There are times when, if the stride direction is a little across his body, he’ll pinch it. I can’t say that there’s the need for some kind of intervention to correct something that’s damaged. That’s not the case.
“The one thing I want to be clear here is that we’re not dealing with a damage situation. He has something that will rear its head every now and then and we’ll move on.”
Clay Buchholz, who was shut down for a few days to rest his sore shoulder, will start playing catch again Saturday or Sunday. “He’s feeling improved,” Farrell said. “This is a prescribed time period to not throw. Everything is pointing towards this weekend to initiate that.” . . . Lefthander Franklin Morales, on the disabled list with a strained pectoral muscle, played catch with head athletic trainer Rick Jameyson. He won’t be back any time soon but the Sox wanted to get him throwing again . . . Daniel Bard, who has not pitched for Double A Portland since May 15, has recovered from what the Red Sox said was an abdominal strain. He could pitch in a game soon.
Two picks signed
The Red Sox signed 16th-round draft pick Jalen Williams, a high school righthander from Opelousas, La. He accepted a $150,000 bonus to give up a football scholarship to Nicholls State. The Sox also signed outfielder Joseph Monge, their 17th-round pick . . . Red Sox players were filling out All-Star ballots before the game. The vote of the players helps determine the ultimate makeup of the rosters . . . Jose Iglesias reached 50 hits in 118 at-bats, the quickest for a rookie in a single season since rookie status was set in 1958, according to the Elias Sports Bureau. Tony Oliva of the Twins got to 50 hits in 119 at-bats in 1964 . . . Saturday will be Pan-Mass Challenge Day at Fenway. Area cancer survivors and PMC cyclists will ride around the warning track in a pregame ceremony that will mark the team’s 11th year as sponsors. The 190-mile Challenge is Aug. 3-4 and will feature 5,500 cyclists. Their goal is to raise $38 million for patient care and research at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute. Stacey Lucchino, Sue Farrell, and Tiffany Ortiz will be among those on hand along with former Patriots player Joe Andruzzi, a cancer survivor and former PMC participant.