Members of 2004 Sox play major role in pregame ceremonies
Three Boston institutions took leading roles in the ceremonies before Game 2 of the World Series on Wednesday night: The Boston Pops, the 2004 Red Sox, and Jerry Remy.
The national anthem was performed by the Tanglewood Chorus and the Boston Symphony Children’s Chorus, all under the direction of Keith Lockhart.
Then eight members of the curse-breaking 2004 World Series champions took the field to an ovation from the crowd. Team captain Jason Varitek was first, followed by Alan Embree, Keith Foulke, Kevin Millar, and Tim Wakefield.
Dodgers manager Dave Roberts, who was member of that team, also was introduced and jogged over to hug his former teammates to the cheers of the crowd. Roberts tipped his hat to the fans before going back to the dugout.
When Pedro Martinez and David Ortiz popped out of the dugout, the cheers grew even louder. The group then threw out first pitches to members of this season’s team.
Conspicuous by his absence was Curt Schilling , one of the heroes of that team and still a Massachusetts resident.
Schilling is now a commentator for Breitbart News, the right-wing media company, and has voiced a number of controversial political views. But the team said his absence was not related to that according to the Sox.
“We did not reach out to him,” a team executive said. “But it is not out of spite. It was originally just going to be Pedro and David and Wake and Millar, but we heard from a few others and they are included.”
Schilling could not be reached for comment.
After the 2004 players were feted, Jajuan Julian, a senior at Edward M. Kennedy High School and a member of the Boys & Girls Clubs of Boston, delivered the game ball to the mound accompanied by Remy.
The long-time NESN announcer, who is again battling lung cancer, received a loud cheer from the crowd and responded with a wave.
Get some sleep
The Red Sox were not scheduled to travel to Los Angeles immediately after the game, deciding instead to spend the night in their own beds and leave early Thursday afternoon.
The Sox also will not use their workout time at Dodger Stadium on the off day other than to have a few pitchers stay on their throwing programs.
Game 3 is Friday at 8:09 p.m. Eastern time.
Manager Alex Cora talked over the decision with the medical staff and they decided there was more advantage in flying on Thursday.
“It just makes sense,” he said. “Get your rest here and get there in plenty of time.”
Cora, Mookie Betts, and other players plan to attend the Lakers game on Thursday night.
The choice at third
Eduardo Nunez, who belted a three-run homer in Game 1, was out of the lineup against a lefthander again, Cora preferring Rafael Devers. But he does plan to start Nunez against lefthander Rich Hill in Game 4.
The Sox believe Nunez can better handle Hill’s curveball.
Cora was impressed with Nunez’s professionalism on Tuesday, how he put aside his disappointment at not being in the starting lineup and was ready when his opportunity came.
It was a point he made to the other position players at their daily pregame meeting.
“I’m happy for him,” Cora said. “We put the team in front of everybody and he understood.”
In an interview room setting, players often give diplomatic answers to avoid making any waves. So credit to Brock Holt for being honest when asked to compare Cora with former manager John Farrell.
“For me personally, it’s communication,” Holt said. “Being able to know what’s going on, what’s going through his head, when we’re playing, when we’re not playing, certain situations where we might come in during the game. It just makes it so much easier as a team to go out and perform. There wasn’t a whole lot of communication in the past.
“And just kind of the vibe that he brings, the looseness. Not being too far removed from playing himself, he understands the game is hard. And he believes in us. I just think the overall vibe that he brings to the team, to the clubhouse, is so positive that it’s easy for us to go out and kind of do what we’ve been doing.”
When Betts stole second base in Game 1, it triggered a promotion for fans. Now anyone who visits Taco Bell on Nov. 1 from 2-6 p.m. can receive a free Doritos Locos Taco.
You won’t find Holt in line.
“I haven’t eaten Taco Bell in probably 10 years. I’ll probably stay away from the free taco. I’ll let everyone else get it,” Holt said after the game.
“I would have to take my son [to Chipotle]. He loves Chipotle. He crushes it. He’s 2 years old and eats a whole Chipotle bowl by himself. I’d have to give him my free Chipotle. But Taco Bell, I’m going to pretty much stay away from Taco Bell. I could end up on a toilet all night. “
Holt did not back away on Wednesday.
“That’s just my opinion. I’m sure a lot of other people love it,” he said.
“I deleted Twitter, I’m sure if I had Twitter I would hear something . . . I apologize to Taco Bell. I’m sure a lot of people will get their free tacos, though.”
Packs a punch
As the Red Sox advanced through the playoffs, Cora’s popularity in Puerto Rico has climbed even higher.
“My phone every night let’s me know,” he said. “Yeah, it’s been incredible. I’ve tried to stay away from social media and all the stuff that I usually do, but just for the right reasons. I’ve got to get sleep.”
One of Cora’s friends told him the atmosphere for playoff games has been like when one of Puerto Rico’s championship boxers has a big fight.
“Saturday night in Puerto Rico when Miguel [Cotto] was fighting it stops. Same with [Felix] Trinidad and [Wilfred] Benitez and all those guys, we love boxing,” Cora said. “Someone said the other day, that feeling was in my hometown. It meant a lot.”
J.D. Martinez, who twisted his right ankle when he slipped on second base after a double in Game 1, was back in the starting lineup but appeared to have trouble running. That could affect his ability to play the outfield in Los Angeles with no DH available . . . Cora on the Game 1 crowd: “It was good from the get-go. It was good, two strikes, getting up. The first two [playoff] series, they were anxious. [Tuesday] they were into the game. They were really good.”