Ever wonder what happened to those socks that get lost in the dryer, never to return? Do they ever see the light of day again?
Bradenton, Florida has become home to many of those faded socks or, rather, Red Sox. Nearly half a dozen former Sox populate the Pittsburgh Pirates Spring Training roster.
Freddy Sanchez has become about as much of a household name as a Pirates player can be. After winning the N.L. batting title in 2006 and leading the league in doubles, Sanchez was born as a star and none too soon for a win-starved Pirates fan base.
However, for the other former Sox players, taking hacks in the Florida sun is more than fun and games, it could mean their job.
Below are several former Sox vying for a spot in the Pirates clubhouse.
Byung-Hyun Kim – Embattled closer, failed starter, finger-flipper extraordinaire, BH Kim’s career has been a strange and speckled one. His reign as an up-and-coming closer imploded along with his confidence in the 2001 postseason. His time with the Red Sox was short lived and he spent last season bouncing between Colorado, Arizona, and Florida to the tune of a 6.08 ERA and a surprising career-best 10 wins. He enters 2008 as a non-roster invitee. He has yet to appear in a Spring Training game for the Pirates.
Doug Mientkiewicz – Justin Morneau booting Mientkiewicz out of Minnesota was probably the best thing that ever happened to the slick-fielding first baseman. He won a World Championship supplying late inning defensive relief at first. Things post-Sox, not so great. After three less than stellar seasons with the Mets, Royals, and Yanks, the 34 year old Mientkiewicz could muster only a Spring Training invite.
Casey Fossum – After making the jump from Double A Trenton, Fossum’s future in Boston looked bright. The slim-framed southpaw had durability issues and consistently fell apart around the fifth inning. His value was high enough to be the central piece of the Curt Schilling trade, but it was all down hill from there. After posting abysmal ERAs of 6.65, 4.92, 5.33, and 7.70 the last four seasons, Fossum will have to earn a spot with the Pirates as a non-roster invite.
Phil Dumatrait – Boston’s first round pick back in 2000 never pitched a game in Fenway, but he was considered a top prospect for years in the system. A year after getting traded to the Reds for Scott Williamson, Dumatrait underwent Tommy John surgery. Dumatrait has a spot on the roster and the talent to compete for a spot, but will he ever be the solid #2 or #3 starter the Fenway faithful once thought?
It’s no secret that the Pirates haven’t had a winning season in 15 years. Most of the Pirates rotation were in grade school when Jim Leyland led the Bucs to 96 wins, but for those who’ve worked so hard to make a living in the majors, the Pirates are a ray of hope.Read more Pirates coverage.
-Dave Carty, reporting from Bradenton