Last Wednesday marked the first Lou Gehrig Day throughout Major League Baseball. And because the Red Sox were on the road at the time, they held a ceremony prior to Tuesday night’s series opener against the Astros at Fenway Park, honoring those who have lost their lives to ALS.
The list included former Boston College baseball player Pete Frates, who helped spearhead the Ice Bucket Challenge back in 2014. The challenge helped to raise millions of dollars for the fight against ALS. Frates died in 2019 at the age of 34.
During the pregame ceremony, the Sox first welcomed Becky Mourey from the ALS Association’s Massachusetts and Rhode Island chapter. Mourey is an advocate who was diagnosed last year.
The Sox then recognized Nancy Poon, a former elementary school teacher with ALS, as well as the family of David Machado, who died in 2018 after a 18-month fight with the disease. The Sox also honored Tara O’Brien, who was diagnosed last January, and Michelle Strojny, who began her fight with the disease at 46. Kevin Goeller, a former youth sports coach who was diagnosed in 2012, and Tucker Wood, an ex-nursery school teacher who was diagnosed in 2016, were also recognized.
Lastly, the Sox honored the Frates family. Pete Frates’s 7-year-old daughter, Lucy, threw out the ceremonial first pitch to Christian Vázquez.
The Red Sox will also raise funds for ALS by selling limited-edition hats that read “Strike out ALS.” In the center of the hat is Frates’s No. 3, with his name above it. Proceeds from the sale of the hats will benefit the Chelsea Jewish Lifecare Center’s Leonard Florence Center.
Plawecki exits early
Vázquez was scheduled to get his second offday in a row Tuesday, but once backup catcher Kevin Plawecki left the game with a jaw contusion in the fourth inning, the Sox were forced to use Vázquez behind the dish. Plawecki went to block a ball, but it hit his facemask, causing the injury.
The goal was to get Vázquez an extended breather.
“It was a tough weekend in New York behind the plate and he’ll benefit from two days,” said manager Alex Cora. “As you know, he’s been scuffling offensively. So kind of like [Kiké Hernández] last week, just to see the game from a different perspective.”
Vázquez was 3 for 12 in the sweep of the Yankees, including a 2-for-4 night on Saturday. Overall, he’s hitting .251 this year with a .292 on-base percentage. Vázquez has just three homers this year, his last coming May 19 against the Blue Jays. His OPS hasn’t been above .700 since May 10.
Plawecki at catcher presented a separate issue. Teams have been aggressive on the basepaths against the Sox. Vázquez has had a disappointing season in that category, throwing out would-be base stealers at just a 17 percent clip, the lowest mark of his career.
In 51 games, runners are 19 for 23 in stolen base attempts against Vázquez. Plawecki entered Tuesday even worse, and runners were 16 for 18 against him in just 19 games. The Marlins, for example, swiped three bags off Plawecki on Monday.
“Yesterday [against the Marlins] they probably had something on us,” Cora said regarding Plawecki. “But overall the last three or four throws have been a lot better than early in the season. It’s not a concern, to be honest with you. In a one-run game we’ll probably use Christian, but we’ve been very pleased with the way [Plawecki has] been catching, the way he’s been calling the games, and his at-bats have been amazing.”
Vázquez went 1 for 3 in the Red Sox’ 7-1 loss to the Astros Tuesday. Plawecki was 1 for 1 with a single.
Martinez in lineup
J.D. Martinez was in the lineup, as the designated hitter, for the first time since Friday against the Yankees. Martinez jammed his left wrist while sliding into second base in that game. Martinez went 1 for 4 Tuesday … Alex Verdugo (offday) was out of the lineup Tuesday ... The Astros activated outfielder Michael Brantley (right hamstring strain) from the injured list. Brantley hit sixth in the order and played left field. The Astros placed infielder Aledmys Diaz on the injured list with a fractured left hand.