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Abe Alvarez A Real Dirtbag In Major League Debut


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Welcome to Dirtbags Baseball blog! I was introduced to Long Beach State baseball in 2002 when my nephew, Neil Jamison, joined the team (and university) as a freshman. I started the blog in March of 2004, and generally discuss the team, current players and those that have moved on to professional baseball - as Neil has done in the San Diego Padres organization. Living in San Diego County, and with Neil moving to the next level, I won't be attending as many Dirtbags games. But, mostly from a distance, I'll remain a Dirtbags fan. I welcome tips on stories and information concerning the Dirtbags (current, past and future). I can be contacted at


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Friday, July 23, 2004

Abe Alvarez A Real Dirtbag In Major League Debut

From the Portland Press Herald (read it here):

"BOSTON - Facing Portland Sea Dogs Manager Ron Johnson can be a funny experience.

That's why Abe Alvarez thought his manager was joking Tuesday night when he called him into his office.

"You're going to the big leagues," Johnson said after a game in Norwich, Conn.

Alvarez, 21, smiled. And then he realized Johnson wasn't kidding.

"He was serious and I started shaking," said the normally calm Alvarez. "I didn't sleep that night."

Next thing Alvarez knew, he was starting Thursday for the Boston Red Sox and facing Miguel Tejada of the Baltimore Orioles in the first inning at Fenway Park.

Catcher Jason Varitek called for a fastball up and in. Alvarez delivered and Tejada cranked it over the Green Monster, making it 3-0 in the first inning.

"It was, like, welcome to the big leagues," Alvarez said after the 8-3 loss in his major-league debut.

Alvarez, who was drafted out of Long Beach State only 13 months ago, will rejoin the Sea Dogs today but left an impression.

Boston Manager Terry Francona said Alvarez "showed a lot of good things that we thought he would show: some character and some guts."

My comments: That's why you draft Dirtbags!

Red Sox pitching coach Dave Wallace said "for a kid to come out of Double-A and face this offense (fourth-best in the American League), he can certainly take a lot of positive stuff. He didn't fold."

That's what impressed Varitek: "He didn't panic."

Alvarez allowed at least two runners in each of his five innings. The chief culprit was Alvarez's command, at least as interpreted by plate umpire Chris Guccione.

Alvarez is a left-hander and lives on location and change of speeds. When he pitches from behind, he's in trouble. Of the 25 batters he faced, he fell to 2-0 counts on nine of them. He walked five.

"I can't remember the last time I've walked that many people," said Alvarez, who threw only 46 strikes among 95 pitches.

"I couldn't find the strike zone, and some pitches I thought were there, I didn't get (the call)."

Wallace visited Alvarez twice and spoke with him in the dugout.

"(He) came up to me and said, 'you're probably not getting (the calls) because you're a (rookie),' " said Alvarez. "But (Guccione) had his strike zone and if I wasn't in it, that's just it."

Alvarez stranded five, including a bases-loaded situation in the fifth. Baltimore helped with poor baserunning, good for three outs, but Alvarez also made some out pitches.

"He was in jams inning after inning and that can wear a guy down," Wallace said. "But he didn't give in."

Varitek has seen young pitchers panic when the calls don't go their way. "They start throwing the ball right down the middle, but he kept making quality pitches."

Combined, Melvin Mora and Tejada went 4 for 4 against Alvarez with two home runs, two doubles, four RBI, four runs and two walks. The rest of the Orioles went 3 for 16 with one RBI and one run.

On the first-inning gopher ball to Tejada, Varitek said, "I'll take responsibility for that. I'd like that pitch back."

On Mora's shot, Alvarez simply spoke in awe.

"It was probably my best pitch of the day, a change-up down and away," Alvarez said. "He showed his power."

Not many Eastern League hitters put that kind of wood on such a pitch.

But that was part of Alvarez's lesson Thursday, a lesson that will bring Alvarez back to Boston.

Who knows when that will be? In his first full pro season, Alvarez was expected to be in Class A but leapfrogged to the Sea Dogs. His stock didn't drop Thursday.

"I think this was a huge step," Alvarez said. "I'm glad they have a lot of confidence in me, that I'm moving up quick. Hopefully I'll come back soon.

"I just have to get ahead of hitters a little better and I'll be fine.

The Red Sox appear to agree.

"He's got a bright future," Francona said. "Maybe not quite yet, here."

Varitek, who kept commenting on Alvarez's composure, seemed to think it will be sooner than later.

"He's going to come back and help us," Varitek said.

Alvarez will be scheduled to pitch again Tuesday or Wednesday at Hadlock Field. Portland can keep watching this sure-bet prospect, at least until Johnson motions Alvarez into his office again."

posted on 7/23/2004 by Jeff Agnew

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