Rays' Fuld draws some cheers at Fenway

April, 12, 2011
BOSTON -- There were few cheers at Fenway Park on Monday night as the Red Sox were smoked by the Rays, 16-5, with starting pitcher Daisuke Matsuzaka coming unraveled. The few cheers you might have heard?

[+] EnlargeSam Fuld
Jim Rogash/Getty ImagesSam Fuld, of Durham, N.H., and the rest of the Rays had plenty to celebrate Monday night at Fenway.
Those were reserved for Sam Fuld, the local kid from Durham, N.H., who started in left field for the Rays and went 4-for-6 with a home run, made a diving catch, and nearly hit for the cycle.

“It was a dream come true to play here tonight,” said Fuld, who first came to Fenway as a batboy for the University of New Hampshire baseball team when he was 10 and estimates he attended about 50 games as a fan. “To have a night like that and help the team win, you can’t draw it up any better.”

Fuld, who attended Phillips Exeter Academy and Stanford, had a personal cheering section of about 30 on Monday night. Needing a single in his final at-bat to complete the cycle, he lined a shot to left field in the ninth inning and charged into second base, even as teammates in the dugout urged him to stop at first.

“I thought about it a little bit, but really only jokingly,” Fuld said of stopping at first. “If it was going to be a bang-bang play, I could have pulled up, but that’s pretty much a sure double right there.”

The Rays acquired Fuld in the Matt Garza trade over the winter and manager Joe Maddon has come to appreciate how he plays with one speed -- fast -- from the leadoff spot. Red Sox manager Terry Francona called the left-handed hitting Fuld a “Brett Butler-type player.”

The home run, which Fuld hooked around the right-field foul pole, was the second of his career. He becomes the first New Hampshire-born player to hit a home run at Fenway since Boston's Phil Plantier on Oct. 3, 1992.

“Never in my wildest dreams did I think I’d hit a home run here,” Fuld said. “It’s a night I’ll remember forever. I definitely had a little more adrenaline going tonight playing in this ballpark that I grew up going to. I didn’t know how this would play out. Hitting is a funny thing, you don’t want too much emotion.”

Mike Reiss

ESPN Staff Writer



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