It’s only natural to forgive Charlie Zink if he’s envious of former Pawtucket Red Sox teammate Brandon Moss.
Moss, of course, was one of the players sent to Pittsburgh in the three-way deal involving the Dodgers who obtained Manny Ramirez.
Zink’s path to Boston may be blocked by Clay Buchholz (who’s pitched ineffectively since being recalled from Pawtucket) or the Red Sox’ reluctance to have two knuckleball pitchers on their staff.
As the calendar turned to August, Zink led the International League in wins (13) and WHIP (1.10) and was second in ERA (2.76).
Moreover, he’s shown an uncanny ability to throw strikes which is extremely noteworthy for a knuckleball pitcher (although it should be noted that Zink has added a changeup to his repertoire which also includes a mid-to-high 80s fastball).
In a 5-3 win over Rochester on July 29, Zink threw an impressive 70 of 95 pitches for strikes.
If Zink at least doesn’t receive a September promotion by Boston, don’t be surprised if he exercises his rights as a minor league free agent.
Michael Bowden showed a glimmer (okay, it was brighter than that) of improvement even though he absorbed a 1-0 loss at Toledo.
Bowden, a pitcher Boston is loathe to part with, allowed one run on six hits and zero walks, and fanned six, while tossing a solid six innings.
Second baseman Jeff Natale still has a chance to salvage what has been a brutally disappointing season.
Natale fractured his left forearm when he was hit by a pitch on April 21 – after playing in only six games with the PawSox.
Natale was Boston’s 2006 Minor League Offensive Player of the Year when he hit a combined .304 with 17 homers and 87 RBI for Greenville and Wilmington.
He began this season with a .440 career on-base percentage and had drawn 222 walks in 310 games.
Natale homered in a July 30 game versus Rochester. Given manager Ron Johnson’s talent for getting players at-bats, expect Natale to see plenty of action over the last month of the regular season.
Catcher George Kottaras is being given every opportunity to show he’s worthy of earning at least a backup job with Boston even though he’s sharing playing time with Dusty Brown.
Kottaras already has set career highs for home runs (19) and RBI (55). But his batting average is wallowing in the mid-.230s.
Even though Joe Thurston has zero chance of unseating Dustin Pedroia at second baseman, he’s boosting his stock with Pawtucket.
Entering the current home stand, Thurston, who’s played in the majors with the Phillies and Dodgers, was among the league leaders in batting average (.316), hits (124),
doubles (24) and triples (4).
In case you missed it, another player who at one time was rated highly by the Red Sox was released from Pawtucket.
Third baseman Chad Spann, who was Boston’s fifth-round pick in the 2002 draft, was given his walking papers after hitting only .185 in 56 games .
In each of his last four seasons between Wilmington, Portland and Pawtucket, Spann only had one decent year — 2006, when he hit .294 with the Sea Dogs.
Earlier this year Boston released left-hander Abe Alvarez, who was the team’s second-round pick in the 2003 draft and actually made his major league debut in 2004.