It's been 11 years since Brock Holt attended Navarro College, where he spent two years, but it's there where he met one of the most influential people in his life.
The Red Sox utility infielder carried a heavy heart Friday as he remembered Derwood * Pop” Penney, Navarro's longtime volunteer coach who died last Saturday. Though it's been a long time since he was at Navarro, a junior college in Texas, Holt still remained close with Penney.
Holt left the Red Sox before Tuesday's game in Cleveland and missed Wednesday's game so that he could attend funeral services for Penney, and he returned prior to Friday's series opener against the Baltimore Orioles at Fenway. He was thankful to the Red Sox for letting him go.
* That's something that's kind of a difficult thing when they're not technically family,” Holt said. * But this man was family to me, so for them to let me go and to be there for him, for his family, it meant a lot to me. …
* I didn't know how much I needed to be there until I was there. It was a good day but it was a sad day.”
After leaving Navarro in 2008, Holt spent a year at Rice University before carving out what's now been a nearly decade-long professional career that's included two World Series and an All-Star appearance. All the while, he had kept in touch constantly with Penney.
* He was a special man,” Holt said. * I keep saying it, he was the best man that I've ever met. … It's been 11 years since I've been to school there and he would still text me after pretty much every game, watching every game, gave me advice, rooting for me. He told me to relax and have fun if I was struggling, so it's going to be hard not getting those texts. I'm going to miss him, but he was a good man.”
David Price, still on the injured list with an injured wrist, played catch Friday, Alex Cora said. The manager said they'd wait to see how the left-hander felt after Friday's batting practice, but the goal is to get him pitching from a mound in the coming days.
Without Price, the Red Sox have been shorthanded in their rotation, and Nathan Eovaldi is likely to make his return as a starter on Sunday, as long as Cora didn't need him out of the bullpen on Friday. Cora said Eovaldi would pitch around 60 pitches on Sunday. …
Heath Hembree (elbow) still seems to be a long way from returning. Cora acknowledged the team is running out of time in the season to put him on a rehab assignment, but he remained hopeful.
* Hopefully he can turn the corner in the next few days and we can get him going,” Cora said. * With him, it's a little bit different than a starter obviously because he just needs to get on the mound and throw a few bullpens. He can always throw simulated games. For me, it's taken longer than what we anticipated.”
CALLING ALL KIDS
Kids 18 and under will be admitted free to next Thursday's completion of the Red Sox-Royals game that was suspended on Aug. 7 in the top of the 10th inning with a 4-4 score. All other fans can gain admission for $5, with all proceeds from those tickets being donated to the Jimmy Fund. Kids will also have the opportunity to run the bases after the game.
Tickets to the game must be purchased online at redsox.com/August22. A limited number of tickets will be available at Gate E on the day of the game. Fans who attended the game on Aug. 7 can use their ticket stubs to enter and will be guaranteed their original seats.
Fenway will also offer a special kid-friendly food menu on Aug. 22 that includes Fenway franks, cotton candy, popcorn and more items for $1. Additional items will be offered at half price. …
The PawSox are doing something similar, as they announced Friday that they will admit children 16 and under free for their final 10 regular-season games. …
Late Boston Globe baseball writer Nick Cafardo was honored with a moving pregame tribute Friday. His grandchildren – Noah and Annabella – threw out the first pitch before announcing the ceremonial “Play ball!” Several other members of Cafardo's family were in attendance.