Three up, three down: From janitor to sportswriter; Edwin Jackson plays for No. 13
Good will hunting: Wesley Sykes wasn’t the first sportswriter to tweet a picture of Fenway Park from the press box. He’s probably the first to post one with this caption: “Twelve years ago I was cleaning the bathrooms of the press box at Fenway Park as a summer job,” Sykes wrote last Sunday. “Today, I’m back at the press box, but this time as a journalist, not a janitor. Never give up on your dreams, kids.”
Sykes worked as a janitor during home games at Fenway for three summers between high school and college. “It was actually a great job with really good pay,” he said. He graduated from Hofstra University in Long Island with a journalism degree in 2011 and returned to his hometown last year to become sports editor of the weekly Bourne/Sandwich Enterprise in Cape Cod, Mass.
Everywhere man: Edwin Jackson, 34, tied Octavio Dotel’s record by playing for his 13th major league team this week, when the Oakland right-hander gave up one run and six hits in six innings of a 5-4 win at Detroit, then went 6 2/3 innings Saturday for a 7-2 win over Cleveland. Jackson came up with the Dodgers as a 19-year-old and outdueled Randy Johnson in his big league debut on Sept. 9, 2003, giving up one run and four hits in six innings of a 4-1 win. Four players on the Dodgers and Diamondbacks rosters that day went on to become big league managers — Dave Roberts (Dodgers), Alex Cora (Red Sox), Robin Ventura (White Sox) and Craig Counsell (Brewers).
“He reminded me of a young Doc Gooden back then,” Roberts said of Jackson. “Strong, wiry, jovial … he loves to compete, loves to play the game. I’m happy for him.”
Outside the box: The team that mainstreamed the use of an “opener,” a relief pitcher to start the game, got even more creative on Tuesday. With Tampa Bay leading Washington 1-0, Rays left-hander Jose Alvarado walked Bryce Harper to open the ninth inning. Rays manager Kevin Cash summoned right-hander Chaz Roe to face Anthony Rendon and kept Alvarado in the game at first base, a move catcher Wilson Ramos explained to Alvarado in Spanish.
“Ramos looked at me like I had two heads,” Cash said. “I said, ‘Just shut up and explain it to him. You can make fun of me later.’ ” Roe struck out Rendon. Alvarado returned to the mound and gave up singles to Juan Soto and Daniel Murphy to load the bases. Sergio Romo replaced Alvarado and got the final two outs of a 1-0 win.
Let’s make a deal: The Angels were in great shape on June 9 at 37-28 and 3½ games back in the AL West. With a few bullpen upgrades and a left-handed bat, they seemed poised for a playoff push. Then they lost 13 of 17 games to fall 10 games out of the wild-card picture entering Friday, and they look more like trade-deadline sellers than buyers. But what, really, would they have to sell? Ian Kinsler? Kole Calhoun? Not the way they’re hitting. Justin Upton? Not with four years and $90 million left on the streaky slugger’s contract. Albert Pujols? Yeah, right. Their player with the most value, one who could most impact a contender, is pitcher Garrett Richards, a free agent after this season. So why not trade him this summer and try to re-sign him next winter?
Compliments to the Sheff: If baseball adopts the universal designated hitter, an idea that is gaining momentum, it will deprive us of moments like Monday night, when New York Yankees reliever Dellin Betances did a spot-on impersonation of Gary Sheffield, exaggerated bat-waggle and all, that left his teammates in stitches. The 6-foot-8, 265-pound Betances hadn’t hit since high school 12 years ago, and it showed. He struck out swinging on three pitches against Yacksel Rios in the eighth inning of a 4-2 win at Philadelphia.
“I tried to do my best Gary Sheffield impression — I liked to watch him hit,” Betances said. “I didn’t make any contact, though.” Asked what he thought of the at-bat, Yankees manager Aaron Boone quipped, “I’m in favor of this DH thing.”
Boo birds: As if things weren’t bad enough for the Baltimore Orioles, who were a major league-worst 23-57 and 30 games back entering Friday, things got even uglier in a 3-2 loss to Seattle on Tuesday night. Manny Machado, their only star player, was booed loudly in Camden Yards for casually trotting to first base on a bases-loaded, double-play grounder that he might have beaten out with some hustle, and Darren O’Day, one of few effective Orioles relievers, suffered a hamstring injury that sent him to the disabled list. He’ll have season-ending surgery.
Machado, a hot commodity on the trade market, apologized, saying, “I should have run hard. It looks bad for people who follow me, who look up to me, and I fully apologize for letting people down. Next time, I’ll run. There’s no excuse for that.”
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