Red Sox Get a Chance to Thank Espinal
By Michael Silverman
DUNEDIN, Fla. -- One day, Steve Pearce should get Santiago Espinal’s autograph.
Or at least ask for his picture to be taken with Espinal.
The Red Sox also might want to consider sending him a thank-you card as well.
Without the June 28 trade last year of the former Red Sox minor-league infielder to the Blue Jays for Pearce, it becomes a whole lot harder to imagine the Red Sox’ postseason roll past the Yankees, Astros and Dodgers -- and impossible to imagine that World Series MVP that Pearce won.
No wonder Alex Cora wrapped the 24-year-old Espinal in a bear hug when he saw him chatting with former teammates outside the visitor’s clubhouse yesterday.
“He said ‘This is the guy who got traded for the MVP’ and started laughing -- he told me thank you,” said Espinal from the Blue Jays’ clubhouse. “I just started laughing. It was funny.”
Espinal was in the middle of a Salem (High A) game in Virginia when he heard that he got traded.
“It was in the third inning and I came into the dugout and they told me, ‘Hey, we don’t know what happened but you might get traded or you might get moved up.’” said Espinal. “I was standing in the dugout thinking, ‘What’s going on?’ Then in the game they told me, ‘You got traded for Steve Pearce and you have to be in Dunedin the next day.’ ”
Espinal admitted it was a little strange to follow Pearce’s impact on the Red Sox, especially in the playoffs.
“It’s crazy how you get traded out of nowhere and then you see the guy who you got traded for win the MVP,” said Espinal. “Everybody in the world knows it. It was fun.”
Espinal watched the World Series, including Game 5 when Pearce’s two home runs clinched the MVP award.
“I saw him hit that homer and he got MVP -- I was kind of surprised I was traded for this guy that got MVP,” said Espinal.
Then came the texts.
“They told me, ‘Thank you’ -- at the time and right now, too,” said Espinal. “I started laughing.”
Espinal has been seeing action early in the Blue Jays’ spring training schedule and may wind up with Buffalo (Triple-A) this season after reaching Double-A last year. Personally speaking, he feels he came out ahead in the deal.
“I wasn’t mad,” about the trade, he said. “I was like, ‘Maybe this is a good opportunity for me and my future.’ So I took it.”
Espinal said he did not have to look up Pearce’s name to find out who he was traded for. He had heard of him. But they have not met.
“Some day, probably when we go over” to Fort Myers, said Espinal. “Maybe we can meet and talk a little bit.”
Red Sox notes
Cora and the coaches, plus a few position players, spent the night in St. Petersburg after Monday’s game in Bradenton only to have Tuesday’s game against the Blue Jays called due to a drenching rain.
Little had changed from the day before.
The club is still waiting on further developments on the infected pinky toe of reliever Ryan Brasier. Pearce was sent home with a cold but may be available for Wednesday’s game against the Nationals.
Mookie Betts will make his spring debut. Also playing will be Jackie Bradley Jr., Christian Vazquez and Xander Bogaerts.
Reliever Tyler Thornburg is slated to pitch. Mitch Moreland is expected to make his debut sometime this weekend.
Hector Velazquez will start Thursday, and Wednesday’s starter Eduardo Rodriguez will pitch against the Mets in Port St. Lucie on Monday.
Cora was going to go with the split-squad team to Port Charlotte to play the Rays but will instead stay back in Fort Myers to watch one reliever in particular.
Dustin Pedroia “maybe” will see his first action late next week, said Cora.