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Red Sox players hope that playing offers relief, reprieve to Boston

04.16.13 at 9:30 pm ET

News circulated shortly after the Red Sox team bus left Fenway Park for Logan Airport on Monday afternoon at 3 p.m. Will Middlebrooks received a phone call from his father, and slowly, the word spread from the front of the team bus to the book. The players noticed, Jon Lester told reporters, that the police escort that typically accompanies the team to the airport left before the bus left the ballpark. As the enormity of the Marathon bombings dawned on the players, shocked silence set in.

“Our bus ride was silent. We were just trying to figure out what was going on,” second baseman Dustin Pedroia told reporters in Cleveland. “When we got on the plane, they had those TVs, and we were watching Fox News and CNN and, I’m sure like all of the info you guys got, that’s what we were getting. It was just the whole night. Now, everything, it’s the worst thing. It’s awful.

“It’s obviously the worst — the worst thing you could ever imagine,” he continued. “We’re thinking and praying for everybody and hoping everybody is OK.”

The players, like everyone else, felt a degree of helplessness until they confirmed the whereabouts of their friends and loved ones. Many reflected on the shocking familiarity of the bombing sites, stretches of Boylston Street whose shops and restaurants are frequented by the members of the club.

“It is weird. You see these things, it’s like movies,” Jon Lester told reporters. “For it to hit home like this, like you said, to be on that sidewalk plenty of times, to have eaten down in those restaurants plenty of times. You know, it’s just, it hits right at home. I’s a scary deal. But you know like I said, you can’t, you can’t live in fear. You’ve got to keep doing what you’re doing and not let these people ruin our lives by doing stuff like this.”

The Sox hope to play a small role in permitting Bostonians a diversion from the tragedy. While players recognize that the outcome of games feel relatively trivial at times of social crisis, they also offered their hope that they can offer Bostonians something other than the harrowing news to watch. Perhaps, they thought, that might help.

“This is a game. This is baseball, but it means a lot to the city of Boston. It means a lot to the people that live there,” Will Middlebrooks told reporters. “If we can just get something on the TV aside from replays of the events from yesterday, I think it’ll help a lot. Hopefully we can go out and play well.

“It’s the strongest city I’ve ever been in,” he added. “I’m very new to this city. It’s my second year in this city. But like I said, it’s a very strong city. They’re very supportive of us. We want to return the favor.”

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