Red Sox director of player development Ben Crockett tried to be as coy as possible when he called Garin Cecchini.
“He kind of tricked me,” Cecchini said.
The Sox had just tucked the Rays in, 7-1, Saturday night, and Crockett asked his high-wattage prospect one straight question.
“Did you see the game?” he said.
Cecchini gave him a straight answer, topped with a nice compliment.
“Yeah,” Cecchini said. “I saw the game. You guys did really well.”
Then Crockett dropped the marching orders on Cecchini.
He told him, “Yeah, well, meet us in the clubhouse at 8 [a.m. Sunday].”
Cecchini couldn’t hide his eagerness.
“I’ll be there about 4,” he said.
In advance of Sunday’s game against the Rays at Fenway Park, the Sox called up the 23-year-old third baseman from Pawtucket, where he was hitting .278 with seven doubles, one homer, and 21 RBIs, because they had to move Brock Holt across the infield to first base with Mike Carp out of the lineup. Carp has a fractured right foot, something that was revealed after Boston’s 4-0 win over Tampa Bay, and is headed to the disabled list.
The Sox already had called up homegrown prospect Alex Hassan Friday to add depth.
On Sunday, the two made their major league debuts (the first time two Sox have made their debuts in the same game since Greg Blosser and Jeff McNeely in 1993), but it was under very different circumstances.
Hassan was in the starting lineup in right field. Cecchini was thrown into the mix when Dustin Pedroia was ejected after the fourth inning for complaining about a 2-1 pitch that he felt was outside.
They both ended up leaving their mark on the victory, each notching their first major league hit.
Hassan went 1 for 3 with a walk and scored a run. Cecchini went 1 for 2 with an RBI double in the seventh. They became the first Sox duo to make their debuts and record hits on the same day since Steve Dillard and Andy Merchant in 1975.
“It’s a dream come true, really,” said Cecchini.
Hassan and Cecchini have been roommates all season in Pawtucket. When Hassan came up in the seventh two batters after Cecchini’s double, Cecchini said, “I was rooting for him.” Hassan drew a walk.
When Hassan roped a single in the fourth inning, the Milton native got an extended ovation from a crowd that knew his story as a BC High grad who had worked his way up through the Sox system. He would score four batters later on Holt’s double.
“This certainly was a dream of mine,” Hassan said. “It was a relief certainly to get a hit. Initially it was a relief, then I was focused on scoring a run.”
With shortstop Stephen Drew having completed his minor league assignment in advance of rejoining the team Monday in Cleveland, it was likely only a one-day cameo for Cecchini, one of the Red Sox’ hottest prospects. But his early arrival at Fenway Sunday morning left an immediate impression with manager John Farrell.
His eagerness to get to the ballpark was obvious, Farrell said.
“I think he slept here overnight,” the manager said before the game. “He was here at 7 in the morning. He’s ready to go. He’s really a breath of fresh air. He loves the game and loves everything about it. He’ll always bring some added energy and life when he’s here.”
Knowing that a move could be coming, Cecchini said, “I haven’t got much sleep in the past couple of days, so it’s good.”
Around the time Cecchini was waking up, his parents flew in from Savannah, Ga., he said.
“It’s clichéd, but I’m just trying to live this day,” Cecchini said before his debut. “It’s a big day for me and my family and I’m excited to be here.”
To make room for him, the Sox sent righthanded reliever Alex Wilson, who threw two innings Saturday night, to Pawtucket.
When plate umpire D.J. Reyburn initially made the strike call on a 2-1 fastball from the Rays’ Erik Bedard that was well off the plate, Pedroia made sure to let Reyburn know he disagreed.
“No it’s not,” Pedroia said as soon as Reyburn made the call in the third inning.
Then he went on with his at-bat, fouling off another pitch before catching some tough luck on a hard-hit ground out to shortstop.
But apparently, the pitch was still irking Pedroia after David Ortiz struck out to end the inning, and between frames, Pedroia still had words for Reyburn.
Those words ultimately led to Pedroia’s ejection.
“Basically, I was coming out for the next inning and he was staring over at me and I said, ‘That’s not a strike,’ and he threw me out,” Pedroia said. “That happens. I was obviously frustrated because at that point in the game, you have at-bats with guys in scoring position and, obviously, one pitch can change the at-bat. So, it happens.”
Pedroia said he didn’t expect the hook to come so quickly.
“I never try to show the umpires up,” Pedroia said. “When I disagree with a pitch at the time, I try to put my head down so people can’t tell if I’m talking to him or whatever. It happens.”
Farrell came out to talk to Reyburn and defend Pedroia.
“He had a pitcher’s strike zone,” Farrell said. “Dustin took exception to the second strike in that particular at-bat, probably said one too many things when he came back for defense the following inning, and spent the rest of the day in the clubhouse.”
Pedroia’s season-high 19-game on-base streak ended with him going hitless in two at-bats.
Fit for return
Drew went 1 for 3 with a double in the last game of his minor league assignment with Pawtucket.
Farrell said he isn’t concerned about how Drew will fit in with the Sox having gotten into a groove over the past week.
“When Stephen comes to us, we’ve said many times, he’s coming back to play shortstop for us,” Farrell said. “He gives us another very good major league player on our roster. But, evident by putting Brock Holt at first base today, we’re going to find ways to keep him on the field.”
Drew hit .253 with 13 home runs, 67 RBIs, and a .333 on-base percentage a year ago for the Sox.
“He’s just going to add depth,” said outfielder Jonny Gomes. “You can’t have enough depth. He can move around, he can start and get one of these guys off the bench. It’s going to bring another bat in and it’s going to bring some more defense. So I’m excited to have him.”
First baseman Mike Napoli (dislocated left ring finger) is scheduled to go through a simulated game on Monday in Cleveland, spend the next three to four days taking live batting practice, and is expected to return from the 15-day disabled list by Sunday, Farrell said. “He feels like he’s turning the corner with a lot of the ailments he was dealing with,” the manager said . . . Righthander Clay Buchholz will throw a simulated game Monday . . . Lefthander Felix Doubront has thrown two bullpen sessions, but there is no planned date for a rehab assignment, Farrell said . . . Third baseman Will Middlebrooks is regaining full range of motion in his fractured right index finger and will begin baseball activities soon, Farrell said.