RHP Brandon Workman (1-1, 3.27) pitches against LHP Travis Wood (7-6, 4.52) today at 7:10 p.m. at Fenway Park in the final game of a three-game set.

The Cubs won the first two games, holding the Sox to just one run total.

With a lefty on the mound for the Cubs, the Sox have Stephen Drew and Jackie Bradley Jr. on the bench. Jonathan Herrera is playing shortstop and Mookie Betts is in center field.

Red Sox Lineup:

  1. Brock Holt RF
  2. Dustin Pedroia 2B
  3. David Ortiz DH
  4. Mike Napoli 1B
  5. Jonny Gomes LF
  6. Xander Bogaerts 3B
  7. A.J. Pierzynski C
  8. Mookie Betts CF
  9. Jonathan Herrera S

Cubs Lineup:

  1. Chris Coghlan LF
  2. Justin Ruggiano CF
  3. Anthony Rizzo 1B
  4. Starlin Castro SS
  5. Luis Valbuena DH
  6. Welington Castillo C
  7. Nate Schierholtz RF
  8. Mike Olt 3B
  9. Darwin Barney 2B

BOSTON — The Red Sox have enough problems already. They can’t afford to have another one on their hands, especially one involving their most reliable pitcher over the past year and a half.

Red Sox closer Koji Uehara, reacts with catcher A.J. Pierzynski after giving up an RBI sacrifice fly to Chicago Cubs' Luis Valbuena in the ninth inning. The Cubs won 2-1. (AP Photo/Elise Amendola)

Koji Uehara suffered the loss here last night. Entering in the top of the ninth with the game tied 1-1, the closer allowed a run on two hits. The Chicago Cubs beat Boston 2-1 here at Fenway Park.

Uehara has failed to hold a tie or lead in four of his past seven outings. During the stretch, he’s only blown one save, but he isn’t producing the results we have come to expect from him either.

Last night, Anthony Rizzo began the ninth by singling to center off Uehara. Starlin Castro followed by doubling to left field on a 3-2 pitch.

Luis Valbuena, the next man up, hit a sacrifice fly to right field to make it 2-1 and the Cubs held on from there.

“When he’s given up base hits, it’s been on first or second pitch where he’s trying to get a strike and it’s not the true put-away split,” Red Sox manager John Farrell said. “That was the case with Rizzo tonight. I thought Castro laid off some pretty good splits to get deep in that count, and then gets one up in the strike zone for the double.

“But it’s been more in the early counts where we’ve seen some of the damage take place,” Farrell said.

Uehara said through his interpreter he thinks his struggles have been caused by a little bit of fatigue.

The Red Sox’ offensive woes, meanwhile, continue to persist. Boston has scored three or fewer runs in each of its past 14 games at Fenway Park, the longest such streak in franchise history.

Sox hitters have been held either one or no runs in 18 games this season.

Boston has lost six of 15 series at Fenway Park so far, including this one to the hapless Cubs.

But the bullpen, aside from Uehara’s struggles of late, continues to be a bright spot this season.

Andrew Miller (2.48 ERA) was impressive again yesterday. He stranded inherited runners at first and third by striking out both Junior Lake and Justin Ruggiano to end the top of the seventh.

Out of the past 16 outs he has recorded, 14 have been by the strikeout.

“We’re in a situation where we’ve got to get some help in the seventh inning, which Miller came in and did a great job,” Farrell said.

Follow Christopher Smith on Twitter @SmittyOnMLB

BOSTON — Do you remember hearing about or seeing that Jesus Christ-like picture of former Red Sox general manager and current Cubs President of Baseball Operations Theo Epstein walking on water that appeared on the back page of the Chicago Sun-Times on April 5, 2012?

Chicago Cubs President of Baseball Operations Theo Epstein, right, and general manager Jed Hoyer watch their team take batting practice earlier this year. (AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh)

Two years later, Epstein’s honeymoon in Chicago has ended.

A headline to a Chicago Sun-Times’ column this past Sunday read, “Hey Theo Epstein, Cubs fans are still waiting.”

The Cubs entered last night’s game here at Fenway Park with a 161-243 record (.399 winning percentage) under Epstein and general manager Jed Hoyer, who was Epstein’s assistant GM for several years here in Boston. Meanwhile, Wrigley Field is averaging 32,076 fans per game this year, down from an average of 37,258 the year before Epstein arrived and from 40,743 in 2008.

Epstein didn’t travel here with the Cubs this week, but Hoyer did.

The two have stressed building the major league team through building and developing the farm system. They use the word “homegrown talent” a lot.

And yes, they have done a nice job drafting and acquiring young talent. The Cubs’ farm system ranks in the top five in baseball.

But will a highly-ranked farm system translate into victories at the major league level and how long will it take? That’s the question everyone in Chicago seems to be asking.

You have to give Epstein, Hoyer and their staff some credit for sticking to a plan and not being influenced despite criticism, skepticism, declining attendance and a restless Cubs fan base that hasn’t experienced a World Series since 1908.

“Well, if you saw when I left here and saw my hair now, you’d know it was a challenge for sure,” Hoyer joked before last night’s game. “Being patient is really difficult. We all do this to win.”

Are the Cubs being too patient? Are they putting too much emphasis on building from within when maybe a mix of homegrown and free agent talent could do the job quicker and ensure more success?

That’s a question every major league team, including the Red Sox, is struggling to answer these days. We’ve seen several hefty free agent contracts backfire in recent years. The seven years Epstein gave Carl Crawford here in Boston was an epic failure.

The Cubs and Red Sox seem to be sharing the same philosophy right now of building from within and then adding the finishing touches externally. The Red Sox haven’t given out more than a three-year contract to a free agent since Epstein’s departure and have piled up pitching depth with Henry Owens, Rubby De La Rosa, Brandon Workman, Anthony Ranaudo, Allen Webster and Trey Ball.

The Cubs, meanwhile, have some legit power hitters in their system. Kris Bryant, 22, the Cubs’ 2013 first-round pick (second overall) has 27 homers in 79 games this season between Double-A and Triple-A.

The hope is for Bryant to eventually make for a productive middle-of-the-order pairing with 24-year-old slugger Anthony Rizzo, a former Red Sox prospect who entered yesterday with 17 homers and a .906 slugging percentage for Chicago.

“I don’t feel like we’re at that point right now where we should sort of hit the gas,” Hoyer said about his thoughts on adding a big-name free agent to the mix. “I think the time will come for that. But it is a different world free agent-wise.”

Hoyer said the newest collective bargaining agreement (which runs from 2012-16) and teams now signing players early in their major league careers to extensions makes free agency more difficult.

“When you look at some of the players that were signed as free agents (a decade ago), you’re talking about 27, 28-year-old prime aged, star caliber players,” Hoyer said.

“We’re in an era right now where you can’t hoard draft picks and … free agency is different than it was even five years ago. So I do think it underscores the value of homegrown talent now because external options aren’t what they were.”

Only time will tell, but Epstein and Hoyer’s plan better work for their sake.

Follow Christopher Smith on Twitter @SmittyOnMLB

PAWTUCKET, R.I. — Red Sox prospect Christian Vazquez is a native of Puerto Rico, which has produced several terrific major league catchers.

Boston Red Sox catcher Christian Vazquez is an elite defender. (AP Photo/Steven Senne)

Jorge Posada, Yadier Molina, Bengie Molina, Ivan “Pudge” Rodriguez, Benito Santiago, Javy Lopez, Sandy Alomar Jr., Geovany Soto, Ellie Rodriguez and Ozzie Virgil are all All-Stars and/or Gold Glove catchers who grew up playing baseball in the U.S. territory east of the Dominican Republic.

Although the 5-9, 195-pound Vazquez began catching at 8 years-old and is a huge Pudge Rodriguez fan, his favorite baseball player wasn’t a Puerto Rican catcher.

“Manny Ramirez,” Vazquez said. “I liked Boston when I was young because Manny was there.”

Red Sox starting catcher A.J. Pierzynski, a 37-year-old on a one-year contract in Boston, has come under fire for his free-swinging offensive approach, questionable defense and lack of accountability. Meanwhile, the 23-year-old Vazquez is waiting at Triple-A Pawtucket for his first crack at the big leagues.

Scouts have raved about Vazquez’s defense, from his laser arm to his blocking and receiving skills. He earned Double-A Portland’s team MVP last year, leading all Eastern League catchers in caught stealing percentage (47 percent, threw out 47 of 101 runners).

“I think I am ready,” said Vazquez, who’s been on Boston’s 40-man roster since November 2012. “I feel good. I need to be patient and when they want me there, that’s going to be the time.”

Vazquez grew up in Bayamon, Puerto Rico, where two of the Molina brothers (Jose and Yadier) were born.

Vazquez’s mother lived in the United States for a couple years when she was growing up because her father served in the U.S. Army. While here, she studied English, Puerto Rico’s second language behind Spanish, and eventually taught it to her son who also studied it in school.

Vazquez’s father, meanwhile, grew up very passionate about baseball. He was a catcher in a Puerto Rican amateur league. The Vazquezes’ TV often was tuned to baseball games when Christian was a youngster.

“They bought me an Ivan Rodriguez tape which he taught everything about catching,” Vazquez said. “We watched that a lot of time on the weekend. It’s fun having that tool and my dad helped me a lot.”

He played baseball and volleyball his first two years of high school before transferring to the Puerto Rican Baseball Academy, which was 45 minutes away from his family’s home.

The daily schedule there includes playing baseball from 8-11 a.m. and taking academic classes from 1-5 p.m. before playing more baseball.

The baseball curriculum for catchers includes an arm development program, throwing to all bases, bunt plays, fielding mechanics, the art of catching and throwing mechanics.

While at the academy, Vazquez realized his potential.

“Everybody was getting drafted and I wanted to do the same thing,” said Vazquez who the Red Sox selected in ninth round of the 2008 draft.

About getting drafted by Ramirez’s old team, Vazquez said, “It’s an honor. Great team. Championship team.”

Vazquez has two sisters, Nayomi and Nicole, who attend college in Puerto Rico. The whole family recently traveled to Pawtucket.

“Every year they come,” Vazquez said. “He (dad) is proud. He enjoyed this.”

Vazquez earned Red Sox Minor League Defensive Player of the Year honors in 2011.

“He’s very athletic,” said Pawtucket manager Kevin Boles, who also managed him last year in Portland. “He’s an impact player for us behind the plate. Fast-twitched body. He shortens up leads at first base. He keeps double plays in order. He’s a threat to pick off (runners) at any time, and he can bail you out of some situations.

“As far as blocking, footwork and exchange, and receiving, he’s got all the physical skills.”

An improved hitter, Vazquez is batting .276 with with 19 extra-base hits.

Follow Christopher Smith on Twitter @SmittyOnMLB

Red Sox RHP Clay Buchholz (3-4, 6.75) will face Cubs RHP Edwin Jackson (5-8, 5.22) today at 7:10 p.m. here at Fenway Park.

Red Sox Lineup

  1. Brock Holt LF
  2. Dustin Pedroia 2B
  3. David Ortiz DH
  4. Mike Napoli 1B
  5. A.J. Pierzynski C
  6. Xander Bogaerts 3B
  7. Stephen Drew SS
  8. Mookie Betts RF
  9. Jackie Bradley Jr. CF

Red Sox prospects Mookie Betts and Henry Owens have been selected to play in the All-Star Futures Game on July 13 at Target Field in Minnesota.

It will be aired at 5 p.m. on MLB Network.

Betts, a 21-year-old second baseman/center fielder, started the year in Double-A Portland, hitting an Eastern League-best .355 in 54 games. He recorded a .443 OBP and .551 slugging percentage. He is batting .321 with a .402 on-base percentage in 20 games for the PawSox.

Owens, a 21-year-old left-hander, is 9-3 with a 1.99 ERA in 14 starts for Portland this season. He leads the Eastern League in ERA, strikeouts (89), complete games (3), shutouts (2), and lowest batting average against (.178). He also is tied for the league lead in wins.

The Boston Red Sox have signed 18-year-old shortstop Michael Chavis, their first round pick (26th overall), out of Sprayberry High in Georgia.

He is one of nine signings announced today, including third-round draft pick Jake Cosart (Seminole State) and fourth-round selection Kevin McAvoy (Bryant), both 20-year-old right-handed pitchers.

Chavis hit .580 (47 for 81) with 13 homers, nine doubles, one triple, 37 RBIs, and 21 stolen bases in 28 games this spring as a senior, leading Sprayberry to an 18-11 overall record and a regional championship.

A 5-foot-10, 190-pound right-handed hitter, he was named the 2014 Georgia Gatorade High School Player of the Year and earned Southeast All-Region First-Team designation.

Cosart signing

Cosart went 5-3 with a 5.34 ERA, 67 strikeouts, and 23 walks in 13 outings, including 11 starts, as a red shirt freshman this year, his first season with Seminole State after transferring from Duke University.

The brother of current Houston Astros right-handed pitcher Jarred Cosart, he grew up in Friendswood, Texas and was named to the Perfect Game All-Texas Region First Team as a senior at Clear Creek High School in 2012.

McAvoy signing

McAvoy went 9-1 with a 2.62 ERA and 94 strikeouts in 15 starts this season as a junior at Bryant University en route to becoming the highest-drafted player in school history.

The Syracuse, N.Y. native topped the Northeast Conference in both strikeouts and innings pitched, and helped the Bulldogs to the 2014 NEC title. Last summer he pitched for the Yarmouth-Dennis Red Sox of the Cape Cod Baseball League.

Other signings

First baseman Josh Ockimey (fifth round), center fielder Danny Mars (sixth round), right-handed pitcher Karsten Whitson (11th round), left-handed pitcher Jalen Beeks (12th round), and center fielder Tyler Hill (19th round).

Ockimey, 18, led Ss. Neumann Goretti High in Pennsylvania in the Catholic League and District 12 championships as a senior in 2014. The left-handed hitter batted .500 with 34 RBIs this past season as Catholic League MVP and batted .411 with 13 home runs and 100 RBIs across his high school career.

Mars, 20, hit .380 with six doubles, eight triples, four home runs, 35 RBIs and 29 walks in 48 games as a sophomore with Chipola College in Florida this year. The switch-hitter was named Panhandle Conference Player of the Year in 2014.

Whitson, 22, went 1-1 with a 3.86 ERA over 14 outings for the University of Florida this year, including nine starts. He pitched 6.0 scoreless innings in the Southeastern Conference Tournament and was named to the All-Tournament Team. The right-hander was the ninth overall selection by San Diego in the 2010 June Draft but did not sign.

Beeks, 20, posted a 6-4 record and led University of Arkansas starting pitchers with a 1.98 ERA and a .213 opponent batting average as a junior this year. The left-hander fanned 68 batters and allowed just 67 hits in 81.2 innings over 13 starts in 2014.

Hill, 18, is a product of Delaware Military Academy. A right-handed batter, he hit .432 with six homers, 29 RBIs, 30 runs scored, and 18 stolen bases as a senior this spring and earned All-State honors.

The Red Sox also signed catcher Joseph Winterburn (40th round).

BOSTON — Red Sox RHP John Lackey (8-4, 2.96) faces Seattle RHP Felix Hernandez (8-2, 2.22) today at 10:10 p.m.

Red Sox Lineup:

  1. Brock Holt RF
  2. Xander Bogaerts 3B
  3. Dustin Pedroia 2B
  4. David Ortiz DH
  5. Mike Napoli 1B
  6. Daniel Nava LF
  7. A.J. Pierzynski C
  8. Stephen Drew SS
  9. Jackie Bradley Jr. CF

Mariners Lineup:

  1. Endy Chavez RF
  2. James Jones CF
  3. Robinson Cano 2B
  4. Kyle Seager 3B
  5. Logan Morrison 1B
  6. Mike Zunino C
  7. Dustin Ackley LF
  8. Brad Miller SS
  9. Willie Bloomquist DH

Anne-Marie Sbordone used to tell her Lawrence High students stories about how her second cousin, Tampa Bay Rays starting pitcher Alex Cobb, persevered through difficult life events.

Tampa Bay Rays starting pitcher Alex Cobb posted a 2.76 ERA in 22 starts last year.. (AP Photo/Chris O'Meara)

“Whenever he had his ups and downs, I tried to use that to motivate the kids, keep their attention,” she said.

Sbordone, who now is retired and taught American History and Advancement Placement History at Lawrence, picked the perfect person to use as an example for students.

Cobb, a 26-year-old right-hander, has emerged as one of the major league’s top starting pitchers. He posted a 2.76 ERA in 22 starts last year. He has a 3.48 ERA through nine starts this season, and his career ERA stands at 3.40 (63 starts).

Cobb spent the first two years of his life in North Reading before his immediate family moved to Vero Beach, Fla. Still, he maintains a close relationship with Sbordone and other local family members, who could not be any prouder of him.

His ascent to Tampa’s No. 2 starter has been filled with many challenges.

Cobb’s mother Lindsay Miller-Cobb died of a stroke at 49 years old in 2005 when Alex was a high school senior.

Cobb’s brother R.J. Cobb’s Humvee was blown up in Iraq in 2008. R.J., an Army captain, escaped with a piece of shrapnel lodged in his hand. R.J. recovered from the injury and received a Purple Heart, but the event was an extremely scary one for Alex, especially after losing his mother.

In 2011, a blood clot developed near Cobb’s collarbone and he unknowingly pitched with it before waking one morning to find his arm discolored and swollen. The blood clot and part of a rib were surgically removed.

In 2013, Cobb was struck in the head by a line drive smashed back to the mound. He suffered a concussion and vertigo and spent two months on the disabled list.

Sbordone’s message to her Lawrence students was simple. They might never play professional sports but they can grow up to have successful lives by staying determined and resilient.

“It was a lot of life lessons,” she said. “So I used him as an example.”

Proud cousin

Sbordone often tracks Cobb’s starts on the computer. She was at Cobb’s first start this year at Tropicana Field on April 1 against the Blue Jays.

She also drove down for a start Cobb made at McCoy Stadium in Pawtucket, R.I. on July 14, 2011 for Triple-A Durham against the PawSox.

“He apologized because he only pitched two innings,” Sbordone said. “He said, ‘Sorry to bother you guys coming down.’ I said, ‘Don’t be ridiculous.’”

Cobb pitched only two innings that day because he was being recalled to the majors. Four days later, Cobb allowed just one earned run over 6.0 innings against the New York Yankees.

“He’s a very mature kid,” Sbordone said. “I think he had to be mature under the circumstances.”

Living in North Reading

Growing up, Sbordone had a close relationship with Alex’s dad Rick, her first cousin.

“We were like brother and sister,” Sbordone said.

Tampa Bay Rays starting pitcher Alex Cobb, right, visited with his family, from North Reading, last December. From left to right, cousin Victoria Fruh, cousin Kaitlin Murphy, cousin Anne-Marie Sbordone, father Rick Cobb and brother R.J. (Courtesy Photo)

Sbordone then became close with Rick’s wife Lindsay Miller-Cobb, a nurse practitioner.

Both families made their homes in North Reading.

“(Lindsay’s) first job was at the Boston Floating clinic,” Sbordone said, adding Lindsay treated leukemia patients victimized by the 1982 Woburn water supply contamination which resulted in the federal lawsuit Anderson v. Cryovac.

Lindsay later worked at then-Harvard Community Health Plan in Peabody, and Sbordone was part of Lindsay’s staff there.

“I also took care of R.J. before Alex was born,” Sbordone said. “So we had a close relationship because she was not only my boss but I was also taking care of the kids.”

Lindsay and Sbordone went through pregnancies at the same time as well. Lindsay gave birth to Alex on Oct. 7, 1987, just a few weeks after Sbordone gave birth to her daughter Victoria Fruh.

“We had the two-year birthday party and then Rick was transferred down to Vero Beach and so from then on we visited back and forth,” Sbordone said.

Alex grew up in Vero Beach as a Red Sox fan with his room full of Red Sox and Patriots decorations. He served as the Los Angeles Dodgers’ spring training batboy during high school when the Dodgers made their spring home in Vero Beach. And David Ortiz gave Alex a pair of his batting gloves when the Dodgers and Sox played an exhibition game.

A close family

Alex along with his brother R.J. and his father Rick visited Sbordone and her two daughters, Victoria Fruh and Kaitlin Murphy, last December. Murphy works at Putnam Investments in Andover.

Alex and Rick usually visit Massachusetts once each winter not only to see their North Reading relatives but also Lindsay’s side of the family in Worcester.

Alex said the trip last December was more special than usual.

“Because my brother was just coming back from Afghanistan,” Alex said. “We were able to go with him and see all the family members. … We have a very close family. We just kind of hang out and do what a family does, just catch up and have some laughs.”

Sbordone said, “The joke is whenever they come up around Christmastime, they all come in shorts and they don’t have jackets.”

Cobb signed with the Rays instead of attending Clemson on a full scholarship, so during trips here he always enjoyed talking with Victoria about how her college work. Victoria recently earned a graduate degree from BU and works at Children’s Hospital.

A resilient Ray

Sbordone, who remarried seven years ago and now lives in Reading, received news that Cobb got struck in the head by a line drive when she was listening to a Red Sox radio broadcast.

“I was driving down 93, it was a Saturday, and I’m listening to the Red Sox game and all of a sudden I’m hearing Joe Castiglione saying, ‘We have a report from the Trop. Alex Cobb, they had to take him out on a stretcher.’”

Sbordone texted Rick who let her know a CT scan was being taken but everything appeared OK.

One of the first things out Sbordone’s mouth when she saw Alex in December was to tell him how much he scared her.

“Did you see it?” Cobb replied.

Sbordone had seen the replay, but Alex, who experienced double vision because of it, hadn’t watched it.

Sbordone talked proudly about how Cobb fought back after his injury and won a Wild Card playoff against the Cleveland Indians. Cobb pitched 6.2 scoreless innings in Cleveland.

“I give him a lot of credit for coming back,” she said.

Alex also started the only game the Rays won against the Red Sox in last year’s ALDS. Alex dedicated that game to R.J.

“Lindsay always said that Alex had the focus of his father,” Sbordone recalled. “In other words, whatever is going on, whatever pressure he’s under, he can really focus under a lot of adversity.”

Like mother, like son

Nothing has been more difficult on Alex than his mother’s death.

Lindsay had been sick before her stroke.

“She went all over the country to get a diagnosis,” Sbordone added. “Basically, she kind of knew there was no cure.”

When Rick’s father died, Rick, Lindsay, R.J. and Alex traveled back here and stayed at Sbordone’s house.

“She (Lindsay) told me she was ill,” Sbordone said. “She was saying that she thought she might have to leave her practice down in Vero Beach. She loved helping people. She’d always volunteer. When someone needed an expensive (prescription), Lindsay would go over there and (with) her own buy the medication for someone.”

Sbordone said Alex inherited his mother’s compassion.

“He’s the type of guy who always reaches like his mom, which is pretty neat,” Sbordone said.

Follow Christopher Smith on Twitter @SmittyOnMLB

To celebrate the official start of summer (June 21, which was yesterday) we asked major leaguers from the Minnesota Twins and Cleveland Indians this week about their favorite summer vacations growing up.

Glen Perkins saw Kirby Puckett hit two homers in Toronto. (Photo by Robbie Rogers/MLB Photos via Getty Images)


Twins closer — All-Star, 72 career saves, 18 saves this year

“When we were little, we would take the first two weeks of August and either go out East or go out West. And we always liked going out West for fishing. But in ‘93, we packed into our car and we had like a 15-foot travel trailer that we towed behind the car and we went to Cooperstown and we went through Toronto on the way there.

“We stopped and saw a Twins game when they played Toronto. (Kirby) Puckett hit two home runs and we sat in left field, and then we went to Cooperstown. I was only 10, but I remember seeing the statues and all the (Hall of Fame) plaques.”


Twins outfielder — Durham, N.H. native

“We would go to a little lake house every year in the summer. That was one of my fondest memories outside of obviously the summer just consumed by baseball. We would go up to Lovell Lake up in Wakefield, N.H. So a little past (Lake) Winnipesaukee, a little north of Wolfeboro, not too far from where we live, 45 minutes from where I grew up.

“And we’d just do typical lake stuff: fish and get out on the canoe and swim and jump off the dock. We were removed from TV and it was just kind of your typical lake experience, but it was a blast. We spent a lot of family time that we didn’t always get otherwise.”

Editor’s Note: Sam Fuld’s mother, Amanda Merrill, is a member of the New Hampshire House of Representatives.

Nick Swisher's father Steve Swisher managed Terry Francona in the minors. (AP Photo/Tony Dejak)


Indians first baseman/DH — All-Star, 236 career homers

“For me, my summers were spent with my dad. When I was a little kid, my dad was coaching in the minor leagues at the time. So my summers were hanging out with those guys, just enjoying the time, being at the ballpark every day, just having a blast just because you know, when school’s out, man, it’s party time. You’re like, ‘Hey, man!’ First week you’re hanging with your buddies every single second of every day.

“So for me, it was nice. I had a good mix of being with my father in the baseball setting but then having enough time to come home and hang out with my buddies. I was the manager’s son, bro. Back then that was in the ‘80s. There was a lot more things you could get away with back then than you could now. But I think more than anything, just being there, man, just being around that environment obviously led me to the point of my career where I am now.”

Editor’s Note: Swisher’s dad, Steve Swisher, managed Indians manager Terry Francona in the minors. “I’ve known Tito (forever). We go way back,” Nick Swisher said.


Indians reliever — first 2013 draft pick to reach majors

“Probably a couple places. One, in Virginia there’s Busch Gardens (theme park). It’s like 30 minutes from where I lived so I went there a ton when I was little and my grandparents live right there.

“But my favorite vacation, we went to Florida. … My parents and my brother, we rented jet skis and we road out to this private island. I think it was called Shell Island and there were dolphins swimming in the water. And you could jump in the water and pet them and everything. It was awesome. It was a good experience.”

Cleveland Indians' Lonnie Chisenhall enjoyed a trip to the zoo when he was a kid. (AP Photo/Tony Dejak)


Indians third baseman — AL-leading .367 average entering weekend

“When you play baseball, there’s not a lot of summer vacations, but before baseball started we took a trip to one of the zoos in North Carolina, and that’s one of the only memories that I have of having an actual summer. Mom, dad, two brothers and my sister. I was a big fan of the monkeys. Ton of pictures of me standing around the monkeys. When you’re little, they probably kind of reminded me of myself. So that’s why I was drawn to them.”


Twins catcher — .305 average entering weekend

“A cool thing that we did one summer was my parents took us with another family, one of our close family friends, to Florida. We went to Disney World, Universal Studios. We had a timeshare over there. We spent a couple weeks. I’m not a big ride kind of guy. Roller coasters not so much. I used to just do more of like the games. I wasn’t even 10 years old yet. I was still really young, maybe 8. We went on the little kid rides and stuff.

“I was pretty short and fat so I don’t know if I was tall enough (to get on the adult rides). But it was fun. Universal Studios was fun, getting to see the movies, the backgrounds to the movies. And we went to Gatorland. Being from Hawaii, there’s not gators in Hawaii.”


Twins first baseman — 2009 AL MVP, three-time AL batting champ

“All the summer vacations we took were to baseball tournament somewhere. Just driving around small towns, playing about six to eight games in two days. Just remember sleeping well on Sunday nights. Being outside all day, both days and just playing ball.”

Follow Christopher Smith on Twitter @SmittyOnMLB

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