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The wait of the world

Posted by Maureen Mullen September 25, 2008 05:58 AM

Jason Bay has finally made it to the postseason. Mired for parts of five seasons in the baseball abyss that is the Pittsburgh Pirates, the Sox left fielder had the dubious distinction of being the longest-tenured major league player on Boston's roster who has not been part of a postseason team. That changed Tuesday night. (Catcher Kevin Cash made his major league debut earlier than Bay, and although he didn't get into any postseason games, he was part of the team.)

"The way things were going, it could have been a lot longer," said Bay, 30. "No one likes to be that guy. I'm not saying the guys who come here right from Day 1 get spoiled with it, but I think being from where I was, I kind of feel like I want it more. But I have a different perspective than a lot of people.

"Sean Casey was talking about it, and we were talking about celebrating after you clinch a playoff spot. And he was like, 'It's the big dance. Some people never get there. Enjoy it while you can.' And that's something I definitely agree with.

"It's a completely foreign feeling to me. Right now, I'd be counting [four] days down to my flight back to Seattle and my offseason life. And there's nothing that excites me more than sticking around here and not doing that. I'm good friends with a guy over in Cleveland and I talked to him last year after they went in. He said you could never imagine, words can't describe how much fun it is. That's something I always wanted to be a part of."

Pitcher Justin Masterson, on the other hand, advances to the postseason in his first major league season. Finishing with Double-A Portland last season, he watched the Sox' run to the World Series on TV.

"It's probably the same as it is for [Bay]," said Masterson, at 23 the youngest player on the team. "It's probably more fun to be around a lot of guys who've been there many times, and you try to take a little bit from them. So, definitely I'm going to embrace it and I think the adrenaline's going to take you through it."

Playoff run bittersweet for Lugo
Shortstop Julio Lugo will not play in the postseason. His strained right quad has kept him out of the lineup since July 11. A setback on Saturday has left him frustrated.
"I'm very disappointed at this point," he said. "I'm trying to do everything I can, every exercise I can, and start working.

"It's not tough [to watch the team prepare for the playoffs]. It's tough for me not to be playing."

Lugo will stay with the team throughout its playoff run. After that, his future with the Sox is uncertain. With the emergence of Jed Lowrie at shortstop, Lugo, who has two years and $18 million remaining on his contract after this season, has been the subject of much trade speculation.

"I don't think about that," he said. "Whatever happens, happens. There's nothing I can do about it. I can still play."

Ellsbury, Sox burn up basepaths
Believe it or not, the Red Sox are third in the American League with 117 stolen bases, the most the team has swiped since 1917. Still, they are well shy of the 99-year-old club record of 215 thefts.

Jacoby Ellsbury leads the team and the league with 49, just five short of Tommy Harper's single-season team record of 54 steals in 1973.

"It would be something that would be neat to get there, but we'll see what happens over the next [few] games," Ellsbury said of Harper's mark. "It's definitely in my sights, but first I have to get on base, and just give myself an opportunity to steal."

Harper, who was 32 and in his 12th major league season in 1973, is surprised his Sox record has stood for so long. He had 73 stolen bases in 1969 with the Seattle Pilots. But as a rookie, Ellsbury faces factors Harper didn't, including learning pitchers' pickoff moves and attempting to steal bases during a pennant race.

"I didn't even realize he was that close, but I'm not surprised," Harper said. "He could probably have more, but it's a matter of different things to steal bases. If we're just talking about numbers, anybody can do it who has speed. But winning the game is the most important thing, and Jacoby's been stealing in order to win the game."

Maureen Mullen covers the Red Sox for OT and can be reached at otfeedback@globe.com

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Charles P. Pierce writes for the Boston Globe Magazine. A long-time sportswriter and columnist, Pierce is a frequent guest on national TV and radio.
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