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SoxProspects News

January 14, 2012 at 7:22 PM

New Stars for Young Stars VII brings together minors, majors, fans for good cause

Garin Cecchini and Sean Coyle play pool with
a young fan and her father. (Chris Hatfield)
BOSTON, MASS. -- Saturday marked the seventh annual New Stars for Young Stars at Jillian’s Boston, the annual Jimmy Fund fundraiser that gives fans a chance to meet and get autographs from some of their favorite Red Sox, past, present, and future. Sox prospects Garin Cecchini, Sean Coyle, Brandon Jacobs, Kolbrin Vitek, and Alex Wilson were in attendance at the event, joining Sox catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia, manager Bobby Valentine, and the unquestioned headliner of the event, Sox great Pedro Martinez. This year, in addition to benefiting the Jimmy Fund and Dana Farber Cancer Institute, the event also benefited the Pedro Martinez and Brothers Foundation.

The event kicked off with a meet-and-greet between Sox players and patients from the Jimmy Fund Clinic and their families. While Valentine and, later, Martinez, sat at tables signing autographs and taking photos with the patients, the players mingled with the “young stars,” some playing pool with the children while others chatted with families and Wally the Green Monster made the rounds to the delight of the younger folks present.

Cecchini, Coyle, Jacobs, Wilson, and Vitek
with Boston's new skipper. (Chris Hatfield)
Although the players were all only in town temporarily – Jacobs, for example, will not even be staying the night in Boston – they were unanimous in saying they were happy to attend the event to raise money and put smiles on a few faces.

“This is a big thing for me. I’m very happy to be here whenever they call me,” said Kalish, who was attending the event for the third straight year and fourth time total. “You look at my situation and I’ve had a few injuries, but nothing like what these kids have been through. It keeps everything in perspective, and it’s a good cause.”

“This is, I think, my third children’s event that I’ve done since I’ve been playing with the Red Sox organization, and I enjoy it,” Wilson said. “This is one of the things that I look forward to every year, getting a chance to do this, and the camps throughout the year, I always enjoy getting out and helping with those as well. It’s for a great cause, and just for us to be able to put a smile on a kid’s face for a few days is all that I could ask for.“

The scene at New Stars for
Young Stars VII. (Chris Hatfield)
Cecchini, who gave $20,000 of his signing bonus to the Jimmy Fund and participated in the Jimmy Fund telethon almost immediately after signing, echoed those thoughts.

“To see the smile on the kids’ faces when you talk to them, it just brightens up your day. The real reason you play baseball is for people like this,” he said.

Following the meet-and-greet, the players signed autographs for three hours, while fans had the opportunity to win other Sox memorabilia through a silent auction and several raffles.

Bobby V. holds court

Valentine clearly is getting comfortable with the Sox media horde, as he and the reporters spoke in terms like “since last week.” Among the topics he hit on:

- He spoke glowingly of his visit to Portland for the Sea Dogs’ hot stove event, and commented about how easy it would be to get up there and see a player rehab if he ever had the opportunity on an off day.
- He also said that he visited the under-construction JetBlue Park, the club’s future spring training home in Ft. Myers. He spoke with Daisuke Matsuzaka – in Japanese – and saw a bullpen thrown by Andrew Miller. He also related his experience with one of the drawbacks of the Sox’ old two-field Spring Training setup, driving to City of Palms Park when he was supposed to go to the team’s minor league complex.
- Valentine spoke with Carl Crawford this week. Ben Cherington and Crawford’s agent were both on the call as well, which Valentine described as positive. “He’s very determined and very understanding of the fact that things got spinning so fast for him last year and he’s determined to correct that,” Valentine said.
- On new Yankee Michael Pineda, he said that Pineda looked “unhittable” early in the season and “okay” in the second half. He also said that Hiroki Kuroda is “probably an upgrade” over Bartolo Colon and Freddy Garcia in the New York rotation, despite leaving a great pitchers’ park in the National League for Yankee Stadium in the AL East. He also spoke about how the Red Sox only have “half of a pitching staff,” that while that half is good, the club is not finished putting it together.
- Regarding Tim Wakefield and Jason Varitek, Valentine said that he could not imagine either coming into camp without having a defined role on the team, saying he “couldn’t imagine” either coming to spring training trying to compete for a job. "I'm trying to think if I ever had a guy with a 'C' on their chest who came as a non-roster player," he said.

Kalish not putting timetable on return

Kalish would not commit to a timetable for his return from shoulder surgery (and who could blame him, given how his 2011 season unfolded?). He said that he learned from the twists and turns of his attempts to return from injuries to his shoulder and neck in 2011, and that he and the club would make sure his shoulder is healthy before he returns to the lineup this year. His response when pressed for an answer on his return when July was tossed out as a potential target was a playful, “That’d be cool.” Somewhere, Bill Belichick silently nodded his approval.

Stay tuned to SoxProspects.com this week, as we will have more from our discussions with all of the players present.

Chris Hatfield is the Executive Editor of SoxProspects.com. Follow him on Twitter @SPChrisHatfield.