BOSTON, MA –- There were some new faces in the Red Sox dugout this past Tuesday afternoon when Boston Bruins forwards Shawn Thornton and Daniel Paille, goaltender Tuukka Rask and free agent defenseman Mike Mottau settled in prior to taking an impromptu batting practice at Fenway Park.
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Red Sox catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia, for one, was happy to see his Beantown sports cousins stop by and explained the close bond between the professional sports teams in New England.
“It’s a big family and the way that the sports nation is here, you can’t help it but follow all the teams,” Saltalamacchia said. “It’s just a real close family."
One notable moment in that family's history was the 2010 Winter Classic, when the Red Sox lent their field to the Bruins, who took an overtime thriller from the Flyers.
But Rask reflected on another great Fenway memory as he prepared to go to bat.
“We brought the Cup over and rode the duck boats around the field,” Rask said with a wide grin.
However, even with that heady championship memory in mind, Rask set the bar low for himself prior to stepping into the cage and said he knew he could make contact with the ball at least once.
But the B’s backstop turned out to be the surprise of the day.
The Finnish goalie made a seamless transition from the crease to the batter’s box and with two U’s and two K’s already in his name, Rask added two balls off the Green Monster to his resume.
“Tuukka was definitely the best one out here today,” said Paille. “He hit a couple long balls.”
“The crazy Finn comes in and does it again,” Thornton joked afterwards.
While Rask may have handled a different set of high-velocity objects flying at him, some of his teammates alluded to the intensity of the experience and joked about their inexperience. But Saltalamacchia, who made batting practice at Fenway look like a walk in the park, had nothing but respect for their effort.
“I’m not judging anybody," said the catcher, who laughed at the prospect of his hitting the ice. "I think we all respect what we do and you got to root each other on.”