CHICAGO — The fact that the trade deadline falls on a Sunday creates a somewhat unusual dynamic. The Red Sox will be playing — unless White Sox starter Mark Buehrle manages to propel the game at lightning pace — when the 4 p.m. EST marker comes and goes, and so the Red Sox literally may be a different team by the time they end the game than when they began it.
It’s an exciting prospect, yet a bizarre one — a fact that has been reinforced already this weekend, when the Rockies had Ubaldo Jimenez start on Saturday despite the fact that the Indians and Rockies had nearly consummated a deal to send the right-hander to Cleveland. (At one point, amidst rumors of the Sox’ interest in Jimenez, Dustin Pedroia told manager Terry Francona, “I can’t be involved in that trade. I’m wanted for murder in Colorado,” a winking reference to his performance in the 2007 World Series and his three-homer game in Coors Field in 2010.)
“It’s an exciting time. It’s exciting for everything. You look up at the TV and you see all kinds of guys — one guy is warming up, one guy is not warming up, he’s pitching, he’s not pitching, he’s in Cleveland. There’s all kinds of [stuff] flying around,” said Sox manager Terry Francona, who said that Josh Beckett was offering a running play-by-play of the Jimenez circus on Saturday. “It’s going to be about the seventh inning, and that’s really weird. You could really have a fiasco happen. I don’t think it would happen to us, but you could be out of players and pulling guys off the field, pulling a pitcher out of the game.”
The last time that the Red Sox faced such a scenario was in 2005, a day on which inactivity proved remarkable. Jonathan Papelbon made his major league debut while Manny Ramirez, who had been politicking for a trade to leave Boston in previous days, was not in the lineup.
Ramirez and Kevin Millar made an impromptu appearance in Francona’s office that morning, with Ramirez engaging in a bizarre and rambling discussion of his state of mind, most notable for his proclamation at one point, for no apparent reason, “I’m a gangsta,” which prompted Francona’s enthusiastically inexplicable response, “You bet your ass you are.”
Ramirez did not get traded, and shortly after the trade deadline, stepped up to the plate as a pinch-hitter and bounced a single back up the middle for a game-winning single.
“Was that the one where he stood out in the dugout and said ‘Manny being Manny’ and ‘This is the place for me, man’?” Francona tried to recount. “That day aged me a little bit.’
Presumably, this day will not feature craziness that is precisely comparable, but with the Sox racing to upgrade in any fashion possible, it will feature more than its fair share of intrigue, both inside the Red Sox clubhouse and certainly outside of it. Whether the myriad rumors will ultimately manifest themselves in a new reality — and roster — is anyone’s guess.