Ringing endorsements for Lester and Snyder

By Amalie Benjamin
Globe Staff / October 25, 2007

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When Kyle Snyder finally turned his phone on, he found missed calls and text messages. Indications of an interest, at least, in contacting him. So around 4 p.m. Tuesday, he called manager Terry Francona; only the news wasn't what he expected.

Because Tim Wakefield was left off the World Series roster with a shoulder ailment, Snyder would get his spot.

"I called him back, he told me I was active on his roster," Snyder said. "I compare it to the first time I'd ever gotten called up. It's as proud a moment that I've ever had in my career. I'm just really happy to be a part of this. Not that I wasn't happy to be a part of it all along, going wire to wire with this ball club. This is really, for me, the icing on the cake."

With the decision to go without Wakefield, there were implications for two Red Sox: Snyder, who joined the roster, and Jon Lester, who most likely will start Game 4 against the Rockies Sunday night in Denver. Major moments for both young pitchers. Moments that, at times, seemed very far away. Snyder, in fact, left the ballpark Tuesday under the assumption that, as he had been for the American League Division Series and Championship Series, he would be solely an observer.

For Lester, of course, it was the diagnosis a year ago of anaplastic large cell lymphoma, from which he was declared cancer free in the offseason before beginning a lengthy, sometimes frustrating, rehab. During the season he went 4-0 with a 4.57 ERA and, over the last month, Francona added, the ball has been coming out of his hand particularly well. He threw four simulated innings Tuesday in preparation for his start.

"I remember the other night when we were on the field and we won it, I said to him, 'How awesome when you think about where you were a year ago and where you are now, a chance you're going to pitch in the World Series,' " said Curt Schilling.

"You know, the beauty of, I guess, speaking from someone that knows and is married to a cancer survivor, the beauty of it is that Game 4 of the World Series is going to be a whole lot different than had he not gone through what he went through. There's no mountain he can't climb, no hurdle he can't jump . . . It's a challenge for a young pitcher, but at the end of the day there's nothing he's going to see in Game 4 that isn't dwarfed by what he's already beaten and overcome."

And for Snyder, it was the four arm surgeries that prevented the former first-round pick of the Kansas City Royals from making an impact in the major leagues. Yet he lasted all season with the Red Sox, with a 3.81 ERA in 46 appearances, chained to the roster by his lack of options, then chained to the bench during the first two postseason series.

"It was nice," Francona said of delivering the news. "I told him, 'Snydes, I've had to give you some bad news a couple times. It's fun to give you good news.' He was very excited."

Amalie Benjamin can be reached at

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