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Roberts may not be able to pitch in

By Gordon Edes
Globe Staff / October 25, 2007

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The wildfires that have caused widespread devastation in Southern California have affected Red Sox plans to include Dave Roberts in their postseason ceremonies.

Executive vice president Charles Steinberg said he has had one conversation with Roberts regarding an invitation to throw out a ceremonial first pitch, as did two other members of the 2004 world champions, Bill Mueller and Kevin Millar, did last weekend in the American League Championship Series. But Roberts and his family were evacuated from their San Diego area home because of the threat posed by wildfires that have destroyed more than 1,500 homes and caused an estimated $1 billion in damage.

Another former Sox player and current Roberts neighbor, second baseman Mark Loretta, a member of the 2006 team, also was evacuated from his home near Rancho Santa Fe, a suburb north of San Diego. According to an ESPN official, former Braves, Indians, and Yankees star David Justice lost his home in the blaze.

"We invited [Roberts] to come and throw out a pitch before either Game 6 and 7 against Cleveland, or Games 2 and 7 in the [World] Series," said Steinberg. "I can't say with certainty that the fires are the reason he has not responded yet, but they've obviously had an impact. But if he gets on a plane tomorrow, we're good to go."

Coaches' corner

Manager Terry Francona has heard from coaching counterparts Bill Belichick of the Patriots and Doc Rivers of the Celtics. "Bill's e-mailed me twice," Francona said. "Very nice. Doc actually texted me in Cleveland. We went back and forth for a couple of minutes. I hate to use the word touching, because I don't want to be overly dramatic. It was really nice. Again, I don't want to pretend that I go to dinner with Doc Rivers, but he's a really nice guy and every time I see him, he's about as down to earth as can be. I appreciate him caring enough to do that. It was really nice of him."

Francona has also heard from Patriots vice president of player personnel Scott Pioli, a close friend, and Boston College athletic director Gene DeFilippo. "We can't start a series without him calling, and I mean that really good," said Francona. "He's got a lot going on himself. It's appreciated."

Francona told of standing on the sidelines at an Eagles-49ers game. "I got crushed," he said of the fan response when he was spotted. Francona said he went as an assistant to a photographer assigned to the game. "I had to carry his camera," he said. "They were doing their drills in the end zone, I'm out there in the end zone, and the whole end zone is chanting, 'Tito sucks.' And this was when T.O. [Terrell Owens] was with them, but T.O.'s not on the field. So now some of these guys, you can see some [confusion]. Then one guy comes over and says, 'That's you, isn't it? That's great.' "

An eye on his knee

David Ortiz has not had a cortisone shot in his right knee, Francona said, but the condition of his knee will be a factor in deciding who will sit when the Series switches to Denver, where the Sox will not be allowed to use a DH per National League rules . . . Rookie pitcher Clay Buchholz is home in Texas and rookie outfielder Brandon Moss is in the Dominican Republic with Santiago preparing for the start of the season this week . . . Former Sox pitcher Bronson Arroyo, a 2004 alumnus, is here as a TV analyst . . . Francona said there were no physical issues that kept the Sox from adding Julian Tavarez to the Series roster instead of Kyle Snyder. The Sox also considered Bryan Corey, Francona said, before settling on Snyder . . . Clarification: While Kevin Youkilis did not play in the World Series in 2004, he was on the roster. He was left off the roster for the ALCS . . . In a classy gesture that came as a surprise to Bill Lajoie, the former special assistant to Theo Epstein, the Sox general manager sent Lajoie an e-mail Monday night inviting him to the Series as a guest of the club. Lajoie, who worked closely with Craig Shipley while he was here, was valued for his skills as a talent evaluator by Epstein . . . Celtics point guard Rajon Rondo, writing in his blog, said he had his wisdom teeth pulled yesterday, but that did not deter him from attending Game 1. "My mouth is killing me!" he wrote. "I got my wisdom teeth pulled this morning, and I can't describe how much my mouth is killing me right now. I guess it could be worse than it is, but man! I'm going to get through this but only with the help of a lot of meds. Tonight is the big night . . . the first World Series game . . . and I will be in attendance. I know I just got my teeth pulled, but I don't care. I'm in there. I have a ball at Red Sox games."

Gordon Edes can be reached at

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