|Introducing Chris Duncan||07.25.09 at 12:04 am ET|
Prior to Friday’s game against Columbus, Pawtucket Red Sox pitcher Michael Bowden sits at his locker, facing away from the rest of the clubhouse, in a deep focus as he prepares for his start. Manager Ron Johnson gets some things done around his office while watching TV. A group of players sit in the middle of the room with a deck of cards. It’s the same old McCoy clubhouse, except for the big guy in the corner wearing the wrong team’s gear and frantically filling out papers for a physical: meet Chris Duncan.
The first baseman/outfielder who was acquired in Wednesday’s Julio Lugo trade, Duncan came to Pawtucket Friday straight from the airport. He had been demoted by St. Louis to Triple-A Memphis earlier Wednesday, hours before being traded.
“It would have been cooler if I was actually going to Boston, but I’m still excited to come here, get a chance to play, and hopefully get back on track,” Duncan said. The 28-year-old left-handed hitter was hitting .227 with five homers this season for the Cardinals after hitting at least 20 dingers in both 2006 and 2007.
Duncan’s career in St. Louis was definitely a bumpy one. He was able to be named the team’s Rookie of the Year in 2006, win a World Series title, and play under both Tony La Russa and his father, Cards’ pitching coach Dave Duncan. However, when the struggles came, so did the hounding from the fans and media.
“I learned a lot,” Duncan said, still wearing a sleeveless shirt with a cardinal perched on a baseball bat. “I had the chance to play for the greatest manager ever and play a lot of winning baseball. It was just time to move on.
“I was just getting a lot of criticism and booing,” Duncan added. “It just wasn’t easy, but that’s part of the game and hopefully I can start fresh here.”
Duncan also acknowledged the depth at the positions that he would try to play for the Red Sox. With news coming the same day of Mark Kotsay being designated for assignment, Duncan understood that he may be in the minors potentially until September call-ups. Be that as it may, he’ll be willing and able if and when he does get the call.
“I’m just trying to get settled in here,” Duncan said. “[I’ll] get some at-bats and let that stuff take care of itself.”
His father Dave isn’t Duncan’s only relative in baseball. Chris is the brother of Yankee Shelley Duncan (currently playing for Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre), who made more news with a pen than his bat on September 14, 2007, when he signed “Red Sox suck!” on a young fan’s ball at Fenway Park. Given the opportunity, Chris, still practicing his penmanship on the forms necessary to clear him to play, said he just may settle the score between the rivals and siblings.
“Maybe I’ll put ‘Yankees suck!’” Duncan joked.
That won’t be necessary, but then again neither will much of an offensive output from Duncan, given Adam LaRoche‘s stranglehold on his ideal job in Boston. Considering the Red Sox were able to get him for a guy they were planning on giving up for free, anything the former first-rounder can bring is gravy.
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