In the aftermath of the eventful Winter Meetings and, with the Christmas holidays now just days away, the news has slowed down a bit. But that doesn’t mean that there aren’t some bits of news of interest to Red Sox fans. Here are a couple of notes to catch you up.
In his seven big league seasons new Sox starter Chris Sale has worn #49 on his jersey but he won’t do that when he joins the Red Sox this Spring in Fort Myers. Instead, Sale will switch to #41. The decision was Sale’s and he made it, he says, out of respect for Sox Hall of Famer Tim Wakefield. “He deserves to hold on to that number,” Sale told the Boston Globe’s Peter Abraham. Wakefield wore #49 in all 19 years of his career, 17 of those with Boston.
For many fans it will be odd to experience a Red Sox roster without Koji Uehara and Junichi Tazawa. Both have been mainstays of the Sox bullpen but both will be pitching in different uniforms in 2017.
Uehara, 41, who pitched four seasons with the Sox, signed a one-year deal with the World Champion Cubs for $4.5 million (and eight round-trip, business class tickets to Japan). Koji’s 79 Boston saves are seventh most in club history; his 2.19 ERA in 226.0 IP is the lowest ever for any Boston reliever with 100+ innings pitched, besting Jonathan Papelbon‘s 2.33 mark over 429.1 IP from 2005-11.
Tazawa, who is 30 and spent all seven of his big league seasons with Boston, will work for the Miami Marlins, who inked him to a two-year, $12 million deal. Taz ends his Sox career at 17-20 with a 3.58 ERA over 312.0 IP in 302 appearances, all but four of them in relief. Only Bob Stanley (637), Papelbon (396), and Mike Timlin (394) made more relief appearances for the Sox in franchise history.
It’s difficult to forget the poignant appearance of Baseball Hall of Famer Rod Carew at Fenway Park last summer. Carew, 71, had a massive heart attack in September 2015. Doctors were able to keep him alive by implanting a ventricular assist device in his heart, but his hope for longterm survival hinged on the availability of a transplant. Carew’s wish was granted this week when he received a new heart and kidney in a 13-hour procedure.
Anthony Varvaro, who pitched in 166 MLB games, including the last nine of his career with the Red Sox in 2015, has become a police officer with the New York Port Authority. Varvaro pitched with the Braves, Mariners, and Sox, amassing a 3.23 ERA over 183.2 IP, all in relief.