CHICAGO — Red Sox reliever Matt Barnes lives in Newtown, Conn., not far from where Sandy Hook Elementary School once stood.
His wife, Chelsea, is a physical therapist who has treated people in town who were in the school on Dec. 14, 2012, when 26 people were murdered, 20 of them children,
So the subject of school-age children again falling victim to senseless gun violence resonates with Barnes personally.
When the latest school shooting claimed 21 victims in Texas on Tuesday, Barnes turned to Instagram and reposted passionate comments made by Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Conn) and Golden State Warriors coach Steve Kerr calling for stricter gun control.
“Something has to be done,” Barnes said Wednesday before the Red Sox played the White Sox. “At what level that is, I don’t have the answer to that. But whether it’s at the federal, state, or local level, something has to be done.”
Barnes feels schools should have better security and that background checks be more thorough for gun buyers.
“That the people who own guns are law-abiding citizens who are mentally stable is very important,” he said. “What Connecticut did after Sandy Hook drastically changed the landscape of gun ownership. There’s a way to protect the Second Amendment in an appropriate and safe manner.”
Barnes was 22 when the Sandy Hook massacre occurred in 2012. He was at UConn visiting his brother when the terrible news broke.
“I knew a lot of the people involved,” Barnes said. “The house I grew up in was 15 minutes away from there.”
Within baseball, it’s rare when a player, manager or coach speaks out about a politically charged issue. But Barnes felt he needed to give his opinion.
“This one hit really close to home for me,” he said. “It’s terrifying what is happening. It’s sad. There have to be bipartisan steps everyone can agree on.
“I told my wife that this time it seems like a lot more people are being vocal about this.”
Cora mourns friend
Alex Cora opened his pre-game remarks with condolences for former Red Sox pitcher Jose Santiago on the unexpected death of his son, Arnold, earlier in the day.
“Palillito” Santiago, 47, was a media personality in Puerto Rico who often had Cora as a guest on his podcast along with former All-Star Carlos Baerga.
Cora and Santiago were former Connie Mack teammates and good friends.
“We’re devastated,” Cora said. “Jose’s part of the [Red Sox] family and it’s been a tough day in that regard.”
Jose Santiago, 81, pitched for the Sox from 1966-70. He was 12-4 with five saves and a 3.59 ERA in 50 games for the 1967 Impossible Dream team.
Santiago started Games 1 and 4 in the World Series against the Cardinals, twice losing against Bob Gibson.
Arnold Santiago, an infielder, played in the minor leagues from 1994-2000.
Winckowski on deck
It’s not official, but Cora acknowledged the Sox have lined up righthander Josh Winckowski to start the second game of Saturday’s doubleheader against Baltimore at Fenway Park.
“Most likely it’s going to be him,” Cora said.
Winckowski, 23, has a 3.13 ERA in seven starts for Triple-A Worcester. He was one of the five players the Red Sox received in the three-team trade that sent Andrew Benintendi to the Royals in 2021.
“Stuff is really good. Stuff is a lot better than last year,” Cora said. “He’s aggressive; he’s not afraid. He has a lot of confidence.”
Winckowski is part of a group of promising starters in the organization that also includes 23-year-old Brayan Bello, 23-year-old Bryan Mata, 25-year-old lefthander Brandon Walter and 20-year-old Wikelman Gonzalez.
“I think we’re deeper in that aspect,” Cora said. “If you look around, that’s something I noticed last year in spring training and this year of course with the guys that we have . . . Stuff-wise we’re way more ahead than ‘18 and ‘19 to be honest with you.”
Trevor Story drove in four runs and struck out four times in Tuesday’s 16-3 victory. He was only the seventh player to do that since 2000. The last was Baltimore’s Austin Hays in 2019 when he drove in five runs and struck out four times against Toronto on Sept. 23 . . . Through Tuesday, J.D. Martinez had hit safely in 22 of 23 games at 40 of 95 (.421) with 16 extra-base hits and 15 RBIs. “I thought I was washed up?” he said after going 4 for 5 with a walk . . . The Sox had the majors with 96 doubles through Tuesday and were tied with the Dodgers for most extra-base hits with 139.