Blaine Boyer has spent parts of 11 seasons in the majors, five with Atlanta, two with Arizona, and one each with Minnesota, New York (Mets), St. Louis, San Diego, Milwaukee, and now Boston.
He was signed to a minor league contract in April by Dave Dombrowski, who was looking for bullpen help. Boyer has proven to be a serviceable middle reliever for the Red Sox, but what Dombrowski also got was a man with quite a story off the field.
Deeply devoted to his faith, Boyer hooked up with Adam LaRoche, who also played briefly with the Red Sox in 2009. LaRoche was about to go into his tumultuous, and ultimately final, spring training with the White Sox in 2016.
Boyer and LaRoche got involved with an organization whose goal was to stop the sex trafficking of young girls in overseas brothels. Although Boyer can’t speak of what he and LaRoche helped accomplish, their work continues. Boyer said he and LaRoche, who is retired from playing, will continue this work “for the rest of our lives.”
Nobody on the outside is aware of how dangerous their work is, but it’s so sensitive that neither Boyer nor LaRoche can speak about it publicly.
“We can’t really ever discuss certain details when it pertains to people and the interaction we have,” Boyer said. “That’s at a bigger level than what we are able to handle. But in the specific situation with Thailand, a lot of good came out of that. A lot of clarity came to us from an outside perspective. We did a whole boatload of introspection on where we fit in that field. We settled on one group in particular called the DeliverFund, and it’s an unbelievable group of individuals who work specifically here in America. The two founders are Nic [McKinley] and Jeremy [Mahugh]. One of them is an ex-CIA operative and ex-Navy SEAL. They take the tools they learn fighting terrorism and they brought that stuff here to hunt down traffickers.”
The DeliverFund’s mission statement reads: “We partner with law enforcement to provide the additional data and intelligence that they need to do their jobs: to save lives and rescue those unable to find a way out on their own. We are law enforcement’s biggest supporter and we advocate on their behalf by outlining strategic intelligence opportunities increasing their success rate in rescuing victims and arresting traffickers.”
Boyer has been involved both in the field and as a fund-raiser.
“I’m trying to learn as much as I can to be able to go do stuff in the field with these guys and network as much as I can to get people involved with what they’re doing and how they’re doing it,” said Boyer. “From a financial point of view we try to help out as much as we can but also get them out in front of people that are willing to see and might want to helping out financially. That’s a key role. But then we go do stuff in the offseason.
“It’s a scary, nasty, disgusting world and you can’t help but do all you can do to fight it. There’s a lot of stuff we’re not allowed to speak to. Adam is fortunate in that he’s trying to tackle this thing full time, so I have a lot of catching up to do. I’m trying to do all I can.”
Boyer became involved in the process through his church.
“Once you see something that’s so horrific you can’t forget about it, you can’t turn your back on it. Now we’re in it for the rest of our lives,” he said.
Boyer said his wife and family are behind him in this work.
“They understand it,” he said. “When God places something in front of you there’s no choice but to pursue it. Adam and his family and my family both feel it’s something God brought before us.”
Boyer retired from baseball in 2012. He said, “I was over it. I had had enough.”
“At that point we were going to have our second child and I didn’t want to be away and in and out,” he continued. “I wanted our lives to be normal. So, I was done. I went into real estate and loved it, but [former Red Sox righthander] Paul Byrd, a good friend, said, ‘You don’t want to be 55 or 60 years old and think you have something left.’ It got my wheels turning. I called [Royals general manager] Dayton Moore and he brought me into camp. I went to Japan and played there. I went to San Diego, Milwaukee, Minnesota, and now I’m here [in Boston].”
And it appears he’s in it for as long as any team will have him.
“As long as I’m throwing like I’m throwing, I’ll stay in it,” Boyer said. “I still have a lot of juice in the arm. I don’t want to take anything for granted. My kids love watching me play. My oldest, [6-year-old] Levi, loves to play. He was on the Red Sox, and for him to see me on the real Red Sox is just a lot of fun. This whole thing is a whole family event.”
Boyer now sees the game as fun, where before he saw it as a business. He said joining the Red Sox has been a dream come true, and in fact he said that “most players in the major leagues, whether they would admit it or not, would love to play for the Red Sox. It’s a top-notch organization.”
DUCKS ON THE POND
These Yankees stars are unsigned
Supposedly, it’s just the way things are done in New York. But as of now, Yankees manager Joe Girardi and GM Brian Cashman are lame ducks. They’re in the final years of their contracts, and evidently it’s not a big deal.
“I’ve been to this point a few times now,” Cashman said. “It’s just not unusual. It’s not something you can spend a lot of time thinking about. When the time comes, hopefully things will be taken care of, but it’s not something I talk a lot about.”
Girardi and Cashman are front-runners for manager and executive of the year, respectively. Cashman set out to rebuild the Yankees and his timetable is at least a year ahead of schedule.
Cashman got rid of the old — Alex Rodriguez, Carlos Beltran, Mark Teixeira, and Brian McCann, and ushered in the new — Aaron Judge, Gary Sanchez, Greg Bird, and Luis Severino. The results have been astounding, producing a rookie of the year/MVP candidate in Judge, a lights-out starter in Severino, and a catcher in Sanchez who hit 20 homers in 201 at-bats last season.
The Yankees have been in first place in the American League East since the end of April. The young guys have blended well with veterans such as Jacoby Ellsbury (now out with a concussion), Brett Gardner, Didi Gregorius, Starlin Castro, and Matt Holliday to form a very tough lineup.
“Our players have performed at a high level,“ Cashman said. “Is it more than we expected? I don’t know about that. Did I ever envision that Aaron would have more All-Star votes than Mike Trout? No, I can’t say I envisioned that.”
And Girardi might be doing his best managing job.
He has never gotten credit for the job he has done because big-market managers never do. But once the Yankees sold off pieces and he had to bring along young players, he garnered a lot of respect. He’s had to navigate closer Aroldis Chapman being out for more than a month.
If he and Cashman, now in his 20th year as Yankees GM, could have picked the best year to have the team perform this way, their contract year wasn’t a bad choice.
In the biggest market in baseball, Girardi and Cashman have probably not been paid as much as they deserve. Andrew Friedman earns more than $7 million a year with the Dodgers. Theo Epstein is baseball’s highest-paid executive at $10 million per year, and his manager with the Cubs, Joe Maddon, makes about $7 million a year. Cashman and Girardi are each in the $4 million range.
Apropos of nothing
1. Strange that David Price thought he got “blown up” by the media after he made comments in a column by Dan Shaughnessy last week. The media actually has been good to Price. He’s gotten “blown up” by people on Twitter, and talk-show hosts and callers. He should know the difference. If any athlete has a problem with a media member or something that has been written or said, he should have it out with that person and not blow up the entire media. That’s unfair.
2. Here’s where I stand on instant replay: My first preference would be to get rid of it altogether, but understanding that’s not realistic I’d get rid of central command in New York, and take challenges away from managers and allow umpires to review any play they deem close.
3. I’m always amazed when I see Tommy Giordano, who is still scouting for the Braves at age 91. “T-Bone” is now in his 70th year in baseball. He was instrumental in the Orioles drafting Cal Ripken Jr., and when he worked for the Indians he recommended drafting Manny Ramirez.
4. This is where “defensive runs saved” loses me: Xander Bogaerts is a minus-9 this season? No way. Bogaerts has played a very good shortstop for the Red Sox. If you hadn’t seen the numbers you’d never guess his score was that low, when you consider 0 is average.
5. Local singer/songwriter Howie Newman has composed a new song based on the career minor league home run champion called “The Ballad of Mike Hessman.” Listen to it on howienewman.com. Hessman hit 433 minor league homers.
6. An interesting product is starting to infiltrate baseball. It’s called WHOOP, which measures physiological changes in athletes over time. It’s a device worn on the field and currently used by the Astros and Yankees. The company is located on Boylston Street, not far from Yawkey Way, and the Red Sox have just started to do their research on the product.
Updates on nine
1. Rafael Devers, 3B, Red Sox — No scout I’ve come across has said a bad word about Devers’s offensive potential. They use phrases such as “middle of the order hitter” and “sweet stroke” and “can’t miss.” But where they pause is his defense. One scout recently described him as rough at third base and that he’ll likely have to move to first. Of course, unless he improves as Wade Boggs did at this stage of his development.
2. CC Sabathia, LHP, Yankees — Nobody really knows what will happen to Sabathia after this season, when his massive contract runs out. The Yankees are leaving the door open for a CC return, considering he’s pitched well and resurrected his career and he’s considered a leader, something the Yankees will need as they continue to get younger.
3. L.J. Mazzilli, 2B, Mets — The former UConn star seems to be on the verge of carving out a much sought-after super utility role with the Mets. Here’s something very impressive about Mazzilli, who is the son of former major league player and manager Lee Mazzilli: After being promoted to Triple A this year and watching his playing time diminish, he asked Mets officials if he could go back to Double A so he could play more. It takes a lot of courage for a kid to say he should go back a level.
4. Jason Vargas, LHP, Royals — With Jose Quintana ineffective, Vargas has become the pitcher most asked about in trade discussions, according to a major league source. Right behind him is Oakland’s Sonny Gray. The Orioles need to come up with one of these two. Gray would be more costly in terms of prospects needed to acquire him. The feeling is that teams in need will have to step up well ahead of the trade deadline to land either.
5. Bud Selig, former commissioner — Selig will turn 83 on July 30, the day he’s inducted into the Hall of Fame. Selig has kept busy teaching sports management courses at Marquette, the University of Wisconsin, and Arizona State. He’s currently working on his memoirs, and helping him is former Red Sox executive vice president Dr. Charles Steinberg, who worked for Selig after working for the Dodgers. Steinberg is now the president of the Pawtucket Red Sox.
6. Adrian Beltre, 3B, Rangers — Just one of those injury-filled seasons for Beltre, who entering Saturday was just 48 hits shy of 3,000 and had been limited to seven games while recovering from a calf issue. Beltre, who had a sensational season with the Red Sox in 2010 but was not re-signed so the team could pursue Adrian Gonzalez and shift Kevin Youkilis to third, is headed to Cooperstown when he retires. Beltre also has hit 446 home runs and driven in 1,577 runs. He has earned four All-Star nods and won five Gold Gloves.
7. Wily Mo Pena, OF/1B, Chiba Lotte Marines — Pena, who was acquired by the Red Sox from the Reds for Bronson Arroyo on March 20, 2006, has signed with Chiba Lotte, extending his career. Pena played for Rakuten in 2015 and tried to make it back with the Indians this year in spring training, but he was cut on March 30.
8. Alex Cobb, RHP, Rays — The Rays will listen on one of their starting pitchers, and it appears that Cobb is that pitcher. The Boston-born Cobb will be a free agent after this season. Cobb (5-5) beat Oakland on Friday night, lowering his ERA to 4.29. A lot of scouts were expected to be on hand to watch him.
9. Edinson Volquez, RHP, Marlins — Volquez is signed for next season at $13 million. It wouldn’t be a steep price for a contending team looking for a middle-of-the-rotation starter. The Marlins may soon be in fire-sale mode. Volquez’s name hasn’t really been out there until now, but fresh off a no-hitter he’s started to push himself in that Vargas-Gray-Jaime Garcia group of availables.
From the Bill Chuck files — “Last season, the Oakland A’s hit 67 homers at home, ranked 14th in the AL and 26th overall. Through Wednesday’s games, the A’s had 54 home homers, the most in the majors (the Red Sox had 16, the fewest in the majors).” . . . Happy birthday, Brock Holt (29), Bill Selby (47), and John Doherty (50).
Mining for gold
Baseball’s 52nd amateur draft begins Monday. If history is any guide, there won’t be a lot of future Hall of Famers taken in the first round. Since the draft began in 1965, only 12 Hall of Famers were taken in the first round, and only Ken Griffey Jr. was an overall top pick. The first-rounders who made it to Cooperstown: