Old Home Night at Fenway
Is this a baseball game or a family reunion? There is definitely a different feel tonight at Fenway, where Adrian Gonzalez is playing against the Padres for the first time and Anthony Rizzo — one of the centerpieces of the trade — is making his Fenway debut against the team that drafted him and helped him through his recovery from cancer.
Then there is Dave Roberts coaching first base, Jed Hoyer back in town as Padres GM and Jason McLeod, the mastermind behind the drafting of Dustin Pedroia, Jacoby Ellsbury, Daniel Bard etc., back as San Diego’s assistant GM.
“It’s old home week,” Francona said.
One fact is that it will be special for Dave Roberts and the Red Sox every time he walks into Fenway Park for the rest of his life. Roberts now coaches first for the Padres.
“If it wasn’t for Dave, you’d be talking to somebody else [instead of me],” quipped Francona.
There is also a human interest element to the return of Roberts, as he recently overcame lymphoma, undergoing his treatments at the Jimmy Fund.
“It’s great. Obviously, I’m in a different capacity. I’m not playing for the Sox. I’m not coming here for treatments. I’m a coach now. But it’s fun. I’m trying to live through these guys and let them know how special this place is,” Roberts said.
As for the low-key Gonzalez, he took the day for what it was. And then he bashed a hard single to left in his first at-bat.
“Yeah, I had lunch with a few of [my ex-teammates], we hung out a ltitle bit. We walked to the ballpark. It was a good afternoon. Now it’s about playuing the game,” said Gonzalez.
Rizzo, on the other hand, figured to have a lot more in the nerves department.
“My emotions? I don’t know. It’s a blessing in disguise, maybe, that I’m playing here with everything they helped me through. Just going to come out and try to play good baseball,” Rizzo said.
It was one of those nights when everyone was happy to see each other. Francona put it best.
“This is kind of a win-win for everybody,” Francona said. “To get Gonzi, you’ve got to give up some pretty special people and he certainly is and has a chance to be, not just as a player but as a person. He’s a pretty solid kid.”