BOSTON — Alex Hassan, a native of Milton, Mass., attended five or six Red Sox games per season with his father while growing up. Now, the Boston College High School graduate is suiting up for the team he so passionately followed.
Hassan was called up by the Red Sox from Triple-A Pawtucket before Friday’s game against the Tampa Bay Rays at Fenway Park. The 26-year-old was nearly speechless when discussing the opportunity, saying it represents exactly what he envisioned throughout all his years of playing baseball.
“This was always a dream of mine,” Hassan said. “I’m just super excited. This was literally, to a tee, a dream of mine, so I’m really excited.
“It’s not like this was part of my dream,” he added. “This was literally my dream. It’s hard to put into words at this point. But I’m really excited. I can’t really put it into words right now.”
The Red Sox placed catcher/first baseman Ryan Lavarnway on the 15-day disabled list with a broken bone in his left wrist Friday, paving the way for Hassan’s call-up. Hassan, who was drafted as a pitcher in the 20th round in 2009, has played mostly the outfield throughout his six seasons in the organization, but he also added first base to his repertoire in 2013.
“I knew versatility would help me, maybe open up more doors,” Hassan said. “But maybe a year or two ago, it’d be hard to imagine this would be the scenario.
“Last year, it was really a crash course (at first base) because I didn’t have spring training to get ready. So it was more, during the season, like, ‘All right. You’re going to be playing first’ and it was kind of like learning on the fly. … I felt like this season I had more of a foundation coming into the season than I did last year. I definitely felt more comfortable this season.”
Hassan admitted Friday there were times while toiling in the minors when he wondered whether this day would ever come. The local kid wasn’t ready to throw in the towel, though, which is a testament to both his work ethic and his passion for the game.
“I guess that’s one of the things I’m most proud of, is that at my lowest points I was able to find a way to keep going. And just when things I couldn’t see how it was going to work out, just trusting God that something would work out and keep working hard,” Hassan said. “I think being able to get through those valleys to get here is pretty rewarding.”
Hassan received the news he was headed for Boston from Ben Crockett, Red Sox director of player development, at around 11 a.m. Friday. Hassan first called his mom and dad, who didn’t answer, before finally getting a hold of his brother, who put him in touch with his parents.
The Red Sox have long been a big part of Hassan’s life, and his list of favorite Boston players growing up — Jose Offerman, Troy O’Leary and Mike Greenwell, in addition to Manny Ramirez — is somewhat appropriate given his own status as an under-the-radar prospect.
“Being from the Northeast, you always kind of felt like a long shot just because you were developmentally a little behind — as far as game reps — some of the other guys were around the country in other, warmer climates,” Hassan said. “I guess I always felt kind of like an underdog and that I’d overcome just not playing as many games as some other guys. So yeah, that’s a huge part I feel like of who I am, just kind of persevering and trying to find a way.”
Hassan found a way, all right. Now, it’s up to him to make his dream last.
Photo via Twitter/@BCHigh