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How Drake Britton made his triumphant return to the Minute Maid Park basepaths

08.08.13 at 1:28 am ET
By
Drake Britton

Drake Britton

HOUSTON – John Farrell had no idea Drake Britton had run the Minute Maid Park basepaths six years before. Nor did he care.

The Red Sox manager just wanted to know one thing.

“They called down and asked, ‘Do you think Drake’s faster than David?’ They were like, ‘We think so,’” remembered Britton after the Red Sox’ 7-5 win over the Astros.

That was good enough.

With nobody out in the ninth inning Wednesday night, with the Red Sox trailing by a run, Britton was called upon to pinch-run for Ortiz, who had led off the frame with a single.  It was the first time he had run the bases since attending nearby Tomball High.

“We’re looking for one or two steps quicker than what David can give us,” Farrell said. “We talked about it before the inning was even taking place, made sure we’re not trying to show them up, just making sure we do whatever we could to get the best foot-speed available to us and that was Drake in that case.”

When asked what his reaction was when told he would be executing such a task, Britton said, “I’m sorry, what?”

“At first it was definitely a big surprise,” he said. “They called down to get my legs loose, so I was prepared to go into the game, maybe to pitch again if that’s what the case was. They said, ‘If David gets on you’re going to pinch-run.’ I said, ‘You said what?’ Then they said, ‘If he gets on be stretched out because you’re going to pinch-run for him.’ I hadn’t run the bases since high school six years ago. But I was up for it. They just told me to be smart and don’t do anything. That was going through my mind. I was a little nervous, but it was fun.”

The first order of business before assuming his position at first base was to find the right equipment.

“We couldn’t find [a batting helmet] that fit at first,” Britton said. “I thought I would have to run back inside and find one but Nava’s helmets are actually here and they fit perfect so I just threw his on and ran out there.”

Once on the basepaths, the 24-year-old just kept remembering the last bit of advice given by bullpen catcher Brian Abraham, who reiterated that on any line-drive take a step back to the base and don’t freeze.

“That’s what I always remember [third base coach Brian Butterfield] saying,” Abraham said. “Never freeze on a line-drive, because once you freeze, you’re out.”

Britton would move to second after a Jonny Gomes walk, and then came Stephen Drew. The Sox shortstop got a hold of a Josh Fields’ fastball, sending it toward the right field stands. The newbie baserunner wasn’t quite what move to make, even though it was trending toward clearing the fence.

“I really didn’t know what to do,” Britton said. “The ball was hit and most of those guys know when they hit a home run, and I’m over at second tagging up. I finally went over and Jonny was already there. I was like, ‘Oh, better go!’”

As it turned out, the ball did clear the fence, and both Britton and Gomes joined Drew in helping the Red Sox to their 7-5 win.

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