It’s reliever Dana Eveland, who signed a minor league contract with Boston over the offseason.
But don’t get any crazy ideas. Eveland isn’t looking to replace Jon Lester, who became a franchise cornerstone while wearing No. 31 for eight seasons with the Red Sox. Eveland is just trying to do his job.
“It was the (number) I was given,” Eveland recently told the Boston Herald’s Jason Mastrodonato, who was brave enough to press the Sox hurler on the issue. “To me, it’s just another number. The 20th different one I’ve had, probably. I’m not stealing his name, just borrowing his number.”
Fair enough. Eveland already has a full plate, seeing as how he’s an underdog to earn a spot in the Red Sox’s major league bullpen to begin the season. The nine-year veteran probably couldn’t be bothered by such inquiries, especially having worn 10 different team/number combinations at the major league level, according to Baseball Reference, since first entering the league in 2005.
“Not a person in here has mentioned it,” Eveland told Mastrodonato. “I’ve heard it from a fan. He was the only person I’ve heard it from.”
Give credit to Mastrodonato for posing the question. After all, No. 31 forever will hold a special place in the hearts of Red Sox fans, regardless of what Eveland does for Boston. But at the end of the day, Eveland is keeping his eyes on the prize, which right now entails an opportunity to pitch in the majors.
“I would accept (a minor league) assignment because of the organization I’m in right now and the way they’ve treated me since they signed me and since I got here,” Eveland told Mastrodonato. “It’s been phenomenal. … I want to win a World Series and this is as good a place you can possibly be right now going into this season. I just want an opportunity.”
Perhaps Eveland will change his number if he ever reaches the majors with Boston. But even if he doesn’t, Lester surely would be proud his former Sox digits currently are being worn with professionalism.
Thumbnail photo via Steve Mitchell/USA TODAY Sports Images
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