Three Days in ...
Jon Lester, the 22-year-old Boston left-hander, for the moment has settled one-fifth of the Red Sox's starting rotation.
The Red Sox advance into this week, this series against the White Sox and the trading deadline looking to improve their pitching staff, somewhere behind Curt Schilling, Josh Beckett and Tim Wakefield and in front of setup man Mike Timlin and closer Jonathan Papelbon.
The White Sox still consider Brian Anderson their future center fielder, only perhaps not in the particularly near future.
Friday: Lester vs. Mark Buehrle
Saturday: Beckett vs. Freddy Garcia
Sunday: Schilling vs. Jose Contreras
Same Time Next Haircut
As a young ballplayer with the Pittsburgh Pirates, Manny Mota would wait for his haircuts until the schedule brought him to New York.
Mota knew a barber near the corner of 95th and Amsterdam. The shop owner also was from Santo Domingo in the Dominican Republic, and Mota would have his cabdriver stop on the way to Shea Stadium.
The ritual blended necessity and a taste of his homeland, because other Dominicans, including children from nearby apartments, often filled the little shop.
One boy in particular adored baseball. So, when Mota arrived, the owner would call the boy, who would rush over to shake the ballplayer's hand and talk about his other favorites -- Juan Marichal and the Alou brothers.
"He knew the schedule," Mota recalled. "Every time I'd go there, he'd come to see me."
Thirty-five years later, Mota attended a ceremony in San Francisco honoring Marichal. He was invited to sit beside Dominican President Leonel Fernandez.
"Oh, no," Mota told Fernandez. "Are you sure you want me to sit with you? There are a lot of important people here."
Fernandez insisted, then asked Mota if he remembered 1965, the barbershop in Manhattan, the children who'd run to greet him, the one boy in particular who would never miss a visit.
"Yes," Mota said, "I remember my little friend."
Fernandez said, "Manny, that boy, that was me."
Fernandez and Mota were together again June 24, when Fernandez threw out the ceremonial first pitch at Dodger Stadium.
"He's an idol," Fernandez said of Mota. "He's a hero in the Dominican."
He Did, However,
Work the Peppermill
Milwaukee Brewers reliever Matt Wise sat out two games against the Cubs last week after cutting a finger on his pitching hand on salad tongs.... Tommy Davis, in 1962 and 1963, was the last Dodgers batting champion.
When John Rocker comes to your defense, as he did for White Sox Manager Ozzie Guillen, it's time to reconsider much about your life.... Last Sunday, the San Francisco Giants' Steve Finley hit his first home run in 257 at-bats at AT&T Park.... The Giants, who can't seem to get Barry Bonds and Moises Alou in the lineup together, are shopping for a right-handed batter.
One More Thing From ... Pedro Martinez
Pound for pound the best pitcher of our generation, Pedro Martinez had Red Sox Nation all aflutter last week, insisting he had yearned to stay in Boston before leaving at the sharp end of the free-agency pitchfork two winters ago.
He failed to make reference to the mango tree but worked every other angle of melancholy and regret.
Boston swooned. The Red Sox front office fumed. Then somebody leaked Martinez's final few words under its employ.
According to the Boston Herald, team officials and players were walking together to their plane after the 2004 World Series sweep of the St. Louis Cardinals when Martinez shouted, "Hey computer geeks! Computer geeks! This is my World Series, not yours! And now I'm a free agent and there's nothing you can do about it!"
-- Tim Brown