After a four-day hiatus for the All-Star break, the last-place-but-still-lingering Red Sox resume their season tonight in Anaheim when they begin a seven-game road trip.
It’s an important, perhaps season-defining stretch for the 42-47 Red Sox, who are 6.5 games out of first place in the American League East.
The games should make for some compelling television on NESN. But a familiar voice won’t be there to describe the action.
NESN Red Sox play-by-play announcer Don Orsillo’s in-season break begins tonight. He will miss seven games – four against the Angels, then three against the Astros.
He’ll return to the booth when the Red Sox return home to face the Tigers next Friday. Josh Maurer, who is in his second season as the play-by-play voice for the Triple A Pawtucket Red Sox, will fill in for Orsillo.
NESN implemented the in-season break for its broadcasters last year. Orsillo, in his 15th season with the Red Sox, has said in the past he prefers to work the entire schedule, in part out of fear of missing something important or memorable on a night off.
Last season, Orsillo took his break from July 11-19, which accounted for three games before the All-Star break and two after.
A NESN spokesman explained last year upon implementation of the policy that it is to keep their broadcasters fresh. Color analyst Jerry Remy will also have a break later in the season. NESN has also given in-season breaks to producers and directors.
But the break also serves another purpose for the network. A week off here for its broadcasters means they must work a week outside of baseball season, which is unusual given their grueling schedule from April through at least September.
NESN also noted last year that other regional sports networks give their broadcasters in-season breaks. That is true, but there’s a catch. The only other RSN I found that definitely gives in-season breaks to its baseball broadcasters is Minnesota.
Joseph Maar, who implemented the policy at NESN as its Vice President of Programming & Production/Executive Producer, was involved with implementing it at Fox Sports Minnesota when he worked there for five years.