BOSTON — St. Louis Cardinals reliever Kevin Siegrist has been a huge boon to his team’s bullpen with an incredible season in his first year in the big leagues. He had an 0.45 ERA, allowing just two earned runs in 39 innings, struck out 50 and walked 18. In the postseason, he allowed one earned run in five appearances to date.
Siegrist was born in Buffalo and grew up in Lewiston, and like many fans here, has been suffering through the play of the Buffalo Sabres.
“I don’t know. I just don’t know. I watch almost every single game,” he said. “It’s crazy. I get the NHL package and watch all of them. I went to the Buffalo-Pittsburgh game” Oct. 5 at Consol Energy Center while the Cardinals were in town for the NLDS. “I’m at a loss for words with what’s up there.”
“A bunch of guys follow the Blues and they are getting on me all the time. What are we? It’s 1-8-1 now? Terrible.”
Told the Bills are doing better at least, Siegrist smiled and said, “It’s just Buffalo sports for you.”
Red Sox manager John Farrell thinks highly of Torey Lovullo, his bench coach and Buffalo Baseball Hall of Famer.
“I think he’s a manager-in-waiting,” Farrell said. “It’s a matter of time for him.”
It seems that way, as the Chicago Cubs and Seattle Mariners are reportedly interested in talking to Lovullo about their open jobs when the World Series is over. Lovullo played for the Bisons in 1995 and again in 1997-1998, serving a key role on two straight championship teams (one in the American Association and one in the International League). He managed the Herd from 2006-2008.
Boston outfielder Daniel Nava played under Lovullo in Pawtucket in 2010 and agreed with Farrell’s assessment.
“Torey’s on a lot of the small details of the game and John is on the broad spectrum of the game,” Nava said. “He has a really good feel for baseball. Knowing when to pick off, knowing when to steal, when not to steal. Something like Dave Roberts’ stolen base was huge for the Red Sox back in the day” during the 2004 World Series. “Who knows? Maybe Torey will get us a stolen base at a time we really need it.”
“His name has been out there for a while and he deserves it. What people lose sight of is that he was a player who worked his butt off to get to the big leagues and has done that again as a coach. He respects the guys who go out there and grind and play the game right.”
You’ve heard plenty already about beards and facial hair as the Red Sox have made their run to the World Series. Guys like Jonny Gomes and Mike Napoli have been growing hunting season beards that the fans love – and the players love to tug at as a way of congratulations.
Who better to ask about facial hair than Cardinals reliever John Axford?
The former Canisius College pitcher had a moustache that became the talk of Milwaukee when he was the closer for the Brewers – and even won awards for its pizzazz.
“They got a lot of crazy facial hair going on over there,” Axford said during the Cardinals’ Media Day in Fenway Park. “I tried to dabble in a beard at the beginning of the season and ended up shaving it off. .,.. It looks like they’re having fun with it over there, which is my thing too. That’s what I do with my facial hair too. They’re enjoying it.”
Axford had a good laugh when asked by a Milwaukee reporter who covered him during his Brewers days about the huge beard being grown by Sox slugger Mike Napoli, a mane “big enough for a family of five” as the questioner commented.
“It looks good. Some of these guys were thinking ahead for Halloween also,” Axford said. “When that day comes, we might all have pretty good costumes to go with that facial hair.”
What does Axford think of all the Boston beard tugging?
“You see the best and worst of each other all the time in that locker room. You’re intimate, close, family. Facial hair is no big deal when you tug on that,” he said. “It’s close and personal. I’m sure a lot of people would look at it and say why, but when you’re teammates and you’re playing together, especially on this big a stage, you get that close intimacy of a family. It’s no big deal. It’s cool.”
The Buffalo Bisons have announced a three-year extension of their radio contract with newly-named ESPN1520, the former WWKB. It runs through the 2016 season. The 50,000-watt station, which has a strong reach up and down the Eastern seaboard, has been the home of the Herd since 2008 and was rebranded in September as an ESPN affiliate.
The contract includes all 144 regular season Bisons games, the Triple-A All-Star Game (which is slated for Durham, N.C. in July) and the Triple-A National Championship Game in September.
The Bisons open 2014, their second season as a Toronto affiliate, on Thursday, April 3 against Rochester in Coca-Cola Field at 2:05 p.m.