Matt Albers, web gem? Believe it

May, 27, 2011
DETROIT--It's the kind of play that tends to be overlooked in a blowout, but Red Sox reliever Matt Albers, not the most agile-looking member of the Sox staff, made an impressive snag of a line drive hit right back at him by Tigers outfielder Don Kelly.

How many web gems has Albers had in his career?

"Zero,'' he said affavly. "Does that count as one? Self-defense, I guess.''

Albers came inside and watched the replay of reaching across his body and making the catch as he fell off the mound.

"I wasn't sure how I caught it,'' he said. "I was seeing where it was. It looked like it was going to hit me right in the shoulder.''

So, how did he catch it?

"Threw my glove up, really. You see it, more of just trying to block it from hitting me, but it went right in my glove. I usually either try to get out of the way or try to block it from my face.''

Albers pitched a scoreless seventh inning Thursday, the 10th time in 14 innings he has not allowed a run. With Bobby Jenks on the disabled list, Albers has made a significant contribution out of the pen and so far has been one of Theo Epstein's best bargain pickups of the winter. He has had just one significant hiccup, last Saturday's outing against the Cubs in which he couldn't hold a 3-1 lead and gave up five runs. That skewered his earned run average, which now stands at 3.93, which is why ERA is such an unreliable barometer of reliever's performance.

After years of losing in Baltimore with the Orioles, Albers acknowledges that the change has been refreshing.

"It's been a big difference,'' he said. "Ever since the spring, there's been a new feel around the clubhouse, just how tight-knit group this is. [In Baltimore], there weren't a lot of guys who have been around awhile, and here you have a core of guys that have been here for a long time. Just to be able to come into this atmosphere, how welcoming and relaxed everyone is, it's been fun.

"It's fun being on a winning team. I haven't had too much winning in my career, so it's nice.''

Gordon Edes

ESPN Staff Writer



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