When a tired Boston Red Sox team was on the West Coast in August, Jake Peavy was walking to the ballpark in San Francisco when something caught his eye.
Inside a smoke shop was a 3-foot wooden Indian.
The pitcher initially kept walking, but soon stopped.
“My heritage is American Indian,” Peavy said Monday. “I kind of looked back and he was still looking at me. I did a U-turn and I went in and asked how much he cost. We did some negotiating and I carried him on to the ballpark.”
Several key Red Sox were injured at the time, and Peavy made up an elaborate story about how the statue’s spirit had healing powers.
Even though Boston lost to the Giants that day, things soon turned around and the “Chief” became a clubhouse fixture both home and away.
“He’s holding some cigars in his hand,” Peavy said. “When we do hopefully reach our goal, we’re going to smoke those cigars.”
And just like several Red Sox players, Peavy said, “Chief” also now has a beard.
POSTSEASON PUIG: Yasiel Puig is finding out for the first time just how exacting the playoffs can be.
The Los Angeles Dodgers rookie was 6 for 13 with two RBIs and four runs scored going into Game 4 of the National League division series Monday night against Atlanta.
“There is a lot more focus and more intensity on every little detail,” Puig said through a translator. “I noticed that each pitcher is focusing more on each pitch that he throws. Everyone’s trying to give their all in every single play.”
The 22-year-old Cuban outfielder was hitting .462 in the postseason following his breakout performance after getting called up from the minors in early June. Puig credited his teammates for helping him mature over the last few months.
“I give a lot of thanks to them for helping me concentrate and focus on the details I need to focus on to make sure I’m always giving it my best,” he said.
ZIM’S PLAYOFF ZEN: Tampa Bay senior adviser Don Zimmer is amazed that the low-budget Rays are in the playoffs for the fourth time in six years.
“It’s some organization, I’ll tell you that,” said Zimmer, who is completing his 65th year in baseball and is part of his 19th postseason team.
Zimmer joined the Rays in 2004 after a successful run from 1996-2003 as the bench coach for New York Yankees manager Joe Torre, a stretch that included four World Series titles.
“I’ve been here 10 years and I never saw this coming,” Zimmer said.
Zimmer has influenced many in baseball, including close friend and Yankees manager Joe Girardi, who played on the 1989 NL East champion Chicago Cubs that Zimmer managed.
Girardi, whose contract expires at the end of October, has talked with Yankees officials about a new deal. In addition, the Cubs and Washington Nationals are thought to have serious interest in Girardi to fill open managerial spots.
“He’s in a pretty good spot,” Zimmer said. “Well-deserved. A very brilliant guy, a smart man and a good manager.”
Zimmer thinks Girardi could make a decision in the next few days.
MAKE IT QUICK: Jeff Fisher is not one of those NFL coaches who spends every waking moment in the bunker plotting strategy.
The St. Louis Rams coach had been watching the tense Cardinals-Pirates playoff game in his office before dutifully fulfilling an obligation Monday. His news conference began right before the top of the ninth inning.
“Get through this fast and watch the bottom of the ninth?” Fisher joked. “It’s on upstairs.”
The briefing lasted about 11 minutes and Fisher might have had to sprint back upstairs to catch the finish. Reporters made it back to the work room just in time for the final out.
PRICE’S PITCH: A contrite David Price has apologized for statements he posted last weekend on Twitter.
The Tampa Bay Rays’ ace criticized two TV analysts several hours after being beaten by Boston on Saturday in Game 2 of the AL division series.
“Dirk Hayhurst…COULDN’T hack it…Tom Verducci wasn’t even a waterboy in high school…but yet they can still bash a player…SAVE IT NERDS,” read Price’s tweet.
Price apologized Sunday on the social media site, and further addressed the matter Monday with reporters before Game 3.
“It’s not the way anybody should handle themselves at any time,” Price said. “I’m a person that takes pride in character, and that was the exact opposite of that. I let my emotions just take over the situation. A very dark spot on my career up to this point.
“People are still playing in early October and late October. It’s a very special time for this game,” he added. “I put a dark spot on it, and it’s all at the hands of myself.”