With only 35 days remaining before Red Sox pitchers and catchers convene in Fort Myers, Fla., the flames of the baseball hot stove are close to being extinguished, but not before the Jimmy Fund hosted the ninth annual New Stars for Young Stars at Jillian’s across from Fenway Park on Saturday.
Some of those pitchers and catchers were on hand, including free agent signee A.J. Pierzynski, who is looking forward to getting to work with his new club.
“I know so many of these guys,” said Pierzynski, who will be entering his 17th major league season. “I can’t wait. It’s a dream come true to be able to play for the Red Sox and be able to have a staff like that.”
Pierzynski, who has averaged 125 games behind the plate over the last 13 seasons, feels he got to know the Red Sox’ pitching staff a little better while covering the World Series for Fox last season, but ultimately he knows that getting on the same page with the pitchers means getting down to business on the diamond.
“I just need to get out on the field with them, get in the bullpen, sit down, talk to them, and get to know them more,” said Pierzynski, 37. “There’s nothing that replaces the experience of being in a game situation and seeing how they handle different things that arise.”
One of the pitchers who will be looking to benefit from Pierzynski’s experience is 24-year-old righthander Rubby De La Rosa, as he tries to make a case for a spot on the Sox’ loaded staff.
“[Pierzynski] is an amazing catcher,” De La Rosa said. “[A catcher] can make you do great things. They are always positive and pushing you.’’
Another of those pitchers, 24-year-old lefthander Drake Britton, will be looking to build on the momentum that allowed him to go from Double A to the majors last season.
“I want to stay on track,” said Britton, who made 18 appearances for Boston. “I don’t want to get consumed with anything outside that doesn’t have to do with baseball. I want to be focused, have fun, and win another World Series. I’m excited for this year.”
Top catching prospect Blake Swihart, who will participate in the organization’s Rookie Development Program this week, was just as eager to get back on the diamond, but was fully engaged in the Jimmy Fund event.
“I love coming up to Boston,” said Swihart, 21. “I love seeing these kids smile and have fun. They give me energy . . . it’s pretty cool watching them have fun.”
Attendees were given the opportunity to meet the players and get autographs, while participating in bowling contests and memorabilia auctions.
“It’s impossible to say no to something like this,” said Pierzynski. “Any time you have an opportunity to do things for kids, it’s always paramount.”
To date, more than $221,000 has been raised through New Stars for Young Stars, with all proceeds going to the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and the Jimmy Fund.