Former FGCU stars Kutter Crawford and Chris Sale started for the Red Sox on Labor Day weekend
Dave Tollett received a text last Thursday, then found out with certainty on Saturday night that another of his FGCU baseball players was making his Major League Baseball debut.
Tollett went through every flight he could find and finally got one that would get him to Boston in time to see Kutter Crawford pitch for the Red Sox at 1 p.m. Sunday against the Cleveland Indians.
“They made people move forward,” Tollett said. “They are so hard hit by COVID. “
Crawford, 25, was activated in place of pitcher Nick Pivetta, who joined nine Boston teammates by being placed on the COVID-19 list.
In addition to the sheer fun of making his debut, Crawford was also celebrating the return of a Tommy John operation at the end of the 2019 season, coincidentally another former Eagle pitcher and current Red Sox, seven-time All-Star Chris. Dirty.
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Tollett arrived, dropped off his bags at the hotel, and drove to Fenway Park. The first people he saw were Crawford’s parents, Neal and Kristy.
“Her mom and dad are the first to line up at will,” Tollett said. “Things like that just make you proud.”
Tollett wasn’t the only one watching Crawford, who was a 16th-round pick by Boston in 2017. About 25 family and friends did. And someone else was able to stay.
Sale, who had just returned more than a year from a big league mound due to his own surgery, could not be in the Red Sox clubhouse due to COVID-19 restrictions. But he didn’t miss it.
“They told him to go home,” Tollett said. “He texted me and said, ‘I’m isolated in the press box. I couldn’t be in the clubhouse but I wasn’t leaving for this one. They had to find me a seat. . ‘”
It wasn’t a good start for Crawford, who didn’t arrive in Boston until 4:30 a.m. due to flight delays.
The right-hander propelled the header on nine pitches, then gave up a pair of singles to charge the bases. He escaped with two runs allowed, both on sacrificial flies, and got a strikeout for the third out. In the second, he gave a starting double, then an RBI single with two outs. In the third, Franmil Reyes started with a 419-foot homerun, and Crawford walked the next hitter before being put out.
His pitching line: 2 innings, 5 hits, 5 earned runs and 2 strikeouts.
Tollett then went to dinner with Crawford, his family and friends.
“He was happy,” Tollett said. “He said, ‘I’m coming back. I have wet feet.'”
Crawford also had another message. A relay from Tollett who was from Sale.
“Not like he wanted to go, but the first one is always a roll of the dice anyway,” Sale said in the text. “He got six more strikeouts than me on my debut.”
Sale gave up a hit and a walk and did not strike a batter on his MLB debut with the Chicago White Sox in 2010.
And manager Alex Cora had some encouraging words as well.
“I wanted him to take a deep breath and take advantage of the situation,” Cora told MassLive after removing Crawford. “It’s Fenway Park on a Sunday afternoon. There is nothing better than that. There is only one start in MLB. And it doesn’t matter if it’s a good one or if you are fighting. . This is something you still dream about as a kid. And I wanted him to breathe deeply, look around, see it all. … In time, I know he will help. He will do it. part.
Following his return from a Tommy John operation, Crawford had a solid season at Double-A Portland and Triple-A Worcester this year, with a 4.16 ERA and 103 strikeouts and just 13 walks in 75. , 2 sleeves.
Then Tollett got a bonus for his trip. Sale, 32, threw the next day against Tampa Bay. Tollett had been in St. Petersburg five days earlier to witness Sale’s first start since 2019, when he allowed six hits and two runs in six innings in a 3-2 victory.
“It was crazy,” Tollett said. “For me it was like a World Series atmosphere. It was a packed house to watch Chris.
“I don’t think I was more nervous for him to pitch.”
Tollett saw the Red Sox take a 7-1 lead for Sale, but in the fourth, Boston made a pair of mistakes on a play that resulted in four runs. Two infield singles ended Sale’s day. The Red Sox ended up losing 11-10 in 10 innings.
“They made that mistake, and they threw it out,” Tollett said. “It should have been 7-1 and he’s in cruise control.”
Yet despite the results, Tollett knows there is something to be happy about on the trip. He got to see the first Eagle to play in the majors, right-hander Casey Coleman with the Cubs, and now there are six pitchers who did, including Crawford.
“It’s just a good thing for a head coach,” Tollett said. “It’s a childhood dream for them. It’s all their dreams, and to finally come true. You can’t take anything away (from Crawford). He’s a major league player. leagues.
“Whether it’s a cup of coffee or a seven-time All-Star, being there and having two on the same team is amazing.”
Greg Hardwig is a sports reporter for the Naples Daily News and The News-Press. Follow him on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter: @NDN_Ghardwig, email him at [email protected] Support local journalism with this special subscription offer at https://cm.naplesnews.com/specialoffer/