Notes: Fond Draft memories
Red Sox players reflect back on reaching big leagues
OAKLAND -- Javier Lopez was home alone on his Draft day. Tim Wakefield doesn't even remember where he was the day he became a Pittsburgh Pirate. Joel Pineiro just hung out.Before the Draft was televised, and before you could follow the progress on a computer, all you had was the phone. Even then some players wouldn't hang around. Getting the phone call was enough. "I remember just getting a call," Wakefield, who was drafted in the eighth round of the 1988 First-Year Player Draft, said on Thursday. "I don't even know if it was my coach or if the Pirates called me directly. I do remember signing the contract at home with my parents at the living room table." In Wakefield's day, the Draft wasn't televised or available on MLB.com. There were years when Major League teams would simply hand out a list of players a few days, sometimes weeks, after the Draft. Television has created greater interest in sports drafts, and Major League Baseball jumped on board this year. NESN broadcasted live from a luxury suite at McAfee Coliseum when Beau Mills, the son of Boston bench coach Brad Mills, was drafted in the first round (13th overall pick) by the Cleveland Indians. "I think it's great for the game," Wakefield said. "Obviously, there's more hype with the NFL, but that's what is different about our sport. A football player goes straight to the NFL. In baseball, you go to the Minors to prove yourself." Even top picks toil in relative obscurity. Josh Beckett spent two years in the Minors before making his debut with the Florida Marlins in 2001. Beckett, Josh Hamilton, Brett Myers, Barry Zito, Kyle Snyder, Ben Sheets and Jason Jennings all went in the first round of the 1999 Draft with Beckett. Red Sox outfielder Coco Crisp was a seventh-round pick. Hamilton and Beckett went 1-2 that year. Corey Myers, Brandon Garbe and Josh Girdley went 4-5-6 in the first round, but are still among the flock in the Minor Leagues. Even a first-round pick only has a 50 percent chance of reaching the Majors. Those drafted in the sixth round or later have a 12 percent chance. "Do you even recognize the year a guy was drafted?" Wakefield said. "He can spend four or five years in the Minors and when he gets to the Majors, do you remember him?" Television may help in that regard. "Hopefully it is a good thing," Wakefield said. "It can only bring more publicity to our sport." Until he actually heard from the Arizona Diamondbacks, Lopez's best entertainment was trying to keep his parents off the phone. "Everybody was at work and they kept calling to check in," Lopez said. "I had to tell them to stop calling. Other than that it was a pretty uneventful day. The Diamondbacks called me with, 'Congratulations, enjoy the day and we'll get back to you.' I didn't have a press conference or anything." Lopez was a fourth0round pick in 1998, the same year Eric Hinske went in the 17th round to the Chicago Cubs. Pineiro knew he wasn't going very high and wasn't paying much attention to his Draft day in 1997. "I didn't have a party or anything," Pineiro said. "I just got a call from the scout congratulating me. He said he'd call again to set up a meeting." Pineiro also wondered aloud how the draft could be televised. "It's too hard for baseball," he said. "That's a lot of time to be on the air." Frustration redux: Red Sox manager Terry Francona said he thought David Ortiz's "lack of intensity" quote on Wednesday night came out of the heat of the moment. "I think there's some frustration and guys are a little tired and edgy," Francona said. "I chalk that up to a guy giving a quote on his way to the shower." Francona said the Red Sox have plenty of intensity.
"We have energy but we just hit into too many double plays," he said. "It's hard to look energized when you're sprinting back to the dugout, no matter how hard you run."As for his own ejection on Wednesday night? "I don't like to get like that," he said. "It's too hard to settle down." Up next: Right-hander Josh Beckett (8-0, 2.95 ERA) looks to continue his unbeaten streak when he takes the mound against the D-backs on Friday. He's pitched at least six innings in all but one start this season. He'll be opposed by left-hander Doug Davis (4-6, 3.05 ERA). First pitch is slated for 9:40 p.m. ET.
Rick Eymer is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.