Yaz perfectly suited for job
Legend pitches in when needed most
Carl Yastrzemski threw out the first pitch before the Red Sox faced the Yankees yesterday. He emerged, appropriately, from left field and then walked across the field to a standing ovation from the sold-out crowd of 37,178.
The 71-year-old Hall of Famer has stayed out of the public eye since his retirement in 1983, but he seemed to enjoy the occasion.
“I told [manager Terry] Francona that I’m undefeated throwing out the first pitch. Both games of the World Series, they won. So they’ll win today,’’ he said before the Sox beat their old rivals, 9-6. “He wants me to come back tomorrow if they win.’’
Yastrzemski watches all the Sox games on television and was surprised to see the team get off to an 0-6 start.
“It’s just a team thing with the slump, you know?’’ he said. “It’s the way it happens in baseball and it always happens. You go five, six games where nobody’s hitting and then all of a sudden, bang, they explode. What’s the reason for it? Who knows?’’
Yastrzemski was sad to hear about the death of former Sox general manager Lou Gorman.
“Lou was a great guy. He did a heck of a job as a general manager,’’ he said. “One thing about Lou was he was always upbeat.’’
Yastrzemski also revealed that he spent some time in spring training talking to Carl Crawford about how to play left field at Fenway Park. His best piece of advice? “Deke all the hitters,’’ Yastrzemski said.
But the Green Monster is different now than it was then.
“You had the tin and the rivets and the cement. The bounces are true now,’’ Yastrzemski said. “As long as the left fielder and center fielder were in synch, it helped hold the runner to one base. You had to make a decision based on whether the ball was going to hit the tin or the cement. If it was going to hit the cement, it bounced all the way back to the infield. When it hit the tin, you never knew where it was going to go.’’
As for what the current ownership has done with the rest of Fenway Park, Yastrzemski approves.
“You almost talk about Fenway Park more than the Red Sox, and I’m happy to see that they didn’t go to a new ballpark,’’ he said. “Tremendous job remodeling this place and adding new seats and stuff like that. Really, really beautiful.’’
Bullpen shake-up The Sox made their first roster moves of the season, calling up righthander Alfredo Aceves from Triple A Pawtucket and activating lefthander Felix Doubront from the 15-day disabled list. Righthander Matt Albers went on the disabled list with a strained lat muscle behind his right shoulder, and lefthander Dennys Reyes was designated for assignment.
Reyes appeared in four games and allowed three earned runs on two hits, two walks, and two hit batters. Of the 13 pitches he threw Wednesday in his last outing, only one was a strike.
“Obviously, it was a very short look. It’s hard to have a lefty when you have one lefty who wasn’t throwing the ball over the plate,’’ Francona said. “I know it was a short leash with Dennys, but we need to try and win some games.’’
If Reyes clear waivers, he could be retained at Pawtucket, having previously agreed to that idea.
Albers, who had pitched well in two appearances, felt the muscle pull Tuesday after he pitched in Cleveland and again the next day.
“I’ve never had this before, but I don’t think it’ll be too long,’’ he said. “I hope just 15 days and that’ll be it.’’
Aceves pitched a scoreless inning yesterday. He wore No. 91, the highest number in Red Sox history. Aceves grew up a fan of NBA star Dennis Rodman and requested the number, which he also wore with the Yankees.
The previous high Red Sox number belonged to J.T. Snow, who wore No. 84 in 2006.
Opening ceremonies As part of the Opening Day festivities, the Red Sox ownership presented a key to Fenway Park to Mayor Thomas M. Menino in recognition of his support in preserving the building. There were moments of silence to recognize the victims of the earthquake and tsunami in Japan and for Lou Gorman, who died last week. “Taps’’ was played in memory of Gorman, a Navy veteran. After the US Navy Band played the national anthem, and four F-16 fighter jets from the Vermont Air National Guard flew over the park. Red Sox legend Johnny Pesky, 91, announced, “Play ball!’’ to the crowd.
Starts and stops The Red Sox have won seven consecutive home openers, the longest such streak in team history . . . Jonathan Papelbon has saved the last three home openers . . . Adrian Gonzalez finally played a game at Fenway Park. He had played 863 games without making an appearance, the second-longest streak among active players. Only Aramis Ramirez of the Cubs, at 1,541 games, has a longer streak. The Cubs play at Fenway May 20-22. “It’s pretty nice,’’ Gonzalez said. “It’s everything I had been told.’’ . . . Yankees manager Joe Girardi on the woes of the Red Sox: “I try not to get to caught up in what other teams are doing. We have to take care of our own business.’’ . . . The home run Alex Rodriguez hit in the fifth off John Lackey was his 50th against the Sox, the most among active players . . . The Yankees were unable to shower after the game because of a plumbing problem in the visitors’ clubhouse.