SEATTLE -- In a profession of heroes, Joe "Kap" Kapacziewski stands out. The soldier underwent 42 surgeries on his leg after a grenade explosion badly wounded Kapacziewski in Iraq in 2005. Still, the doctors couldn't fix his leg and were forced to amputate. That sacrifice made Kapacziewski a hero. It's what he did next that will make him a legend.
With a prosthetic limb where his right leg used to be, Kapacziewski returned to active combat with the Army Airborne Rangers, the first ever to do so after an amputation.
Kapacziewski went on to serve five additional combat deployments, and in 2010, he saved a fellow soldier's life by dragging the wounded warrior to safety despite heavy enemy gunfire. Now Kapacziewski mentors other veterans with Challenged Athletes Foundation's Operation Rebound.
For that extraordinary bravery and service, Kapacziewski was recognized on Wednesday when Major League Baseball and People Magazine announced him as the Red Sox's representative among the 30 winners of their "Tribute for Heroes" campaign. This nationwide initiative aims to honor service members while supporting Welcome Back Veterans, which addresses the needs of veterans returning from combat.
"It's unfortunate you have to whittle it down to 30," said outfielder Jonny Gomes, who was on the committee that selected the final 30 winners. "They're all heroes, but just to get the word out and recognition for these types of people is great. … It's really the service of all the major branches that is getting recognized."
Each winner will represent an MLB club in New York as part of the All-Star Week festivities, and will be honored in a pregame ceremony before the All-Star Game on Tuesday. During their time in New York, the veterans will attend a VIP reception on the aircraft carrier USS Intrepid, a private tour of the 9/11 memorial, and other activities.
Honorees will also be recognized during the pregame ceremony prior to the 2013 All-Star Game on Tuesday on FOX beginning at 8 p.m. ET.
The "Tribute For Heroes" campaign supports Welcome Back Veterans (welcomebackveterans.org, powered by MLB.com), an initiative of Major League Baseball and the Robert R. McCormick Foundation, which addresses the needs of veterans after they return from service. Major League Baseball has committed more than $23 million for grants to hospitals and clinics that provide post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and traumatic brain injury (TBI) treatment to veterans and their families.
Wright, Beato called up to give Boston bullpen depth
SEATTLE -- The Red Sox called up Steven Wright and Pedro Beato from Triple-A Pawtucket on Wednesday, seeking immediate help for a bullpen that has seen seven relievers surrender seven runs in the past two games against the Mariners.
"Given the number of guys we went to in the bullpen last night, we had to make some moves and get some fresh arms here, being that we've been dealing with one less reliever as it is," manager John Farrell said.
To create room, Boston has optioned pitchers Allen Webster and Alfredo Aceves to Pawtucket. Webster, the organization's No. 4 prospect, was shelled for seven runs in just 2 1/3 innings on Tuesday. Farrell admitted that performance, as well as the need for more bullpen depth, played a role in the decision to send the 23-year-old down.
"As much as we felt like Allen was making solid progress and solid strides over the last couple starts, the first inning has been a challenge for him," Farrell said. "To break it down further, the consistency of his fastball usefulness to both sides of the plate and executing that pitch to both sides of the plate is a fundamental area that's got to be improved upon."
In six big league starts, Webster has allowed 10 first-inning earned runs. Farrell acknowledged the righty's undeniable talent, saying, "You can't debate the stuff. It's there."
Aceves spent only three days with the Sox after getting called up on Sunday to replace the injured Andrew Miller. Tabbed as the team's long reliever, Aceves lasted only two-thirds of an inning on Tuesday before leaving with apparent pain in his side.
"By all accounts that we have, he is not injured," Farrell said. "I will say this, he felt some soreness in his left side before he came up. But he was available to pitch. … He did not complain of anything after the game."
Farrell said the team has not decided who would start on Sunday in Webster's place.
After two days off, Ellsbury returns to lineup
SEATTLE -- The best offense in baseball got a little better on Wednesday, as Jacoby Ellsbury returned to the Red Sox's lineup.
Ellsbury had missed a pair of games with a left wrist injury and will bolster an offense that already paces the Majors in hits, doubles, on-base percentage and runs scored.
Despite the time off, Ellsbury's 17-game hit streak is still the longest active one in the Majors. During that stretch, the 29-year old is batting .389 with eight RBIs and 13 runs scored.
"He felt better yesterday. He hit early, but [we] felt like an additional day down was needed," manager John Farrell said. "And he doesn't want to sit out. He wanted to be in the lineup last night. That was a personal one-on-one. He spoke his mind, but [we] felt like one additional day was going to help him get through this and he's back out there tonight."
Ellsbury has also been a difference maker on the basepaths, leading the Majors with 36 stolen bases in just 39 attempts.
Ortiz surprises son with early birthday cake
SEATTLE -- The happiest Ortiz at Safeco Field on Tuesday night wasn't Red Sox slugger David Ortiz. No, that title belonged to Ortiz's son D'Angelo, who celebrated his ninth birthday a day early by watching his dad hit a home run, two doubles and a single to tie Harold Baines' record of 1,688 hits by a designated hitter.
"It was fun. My son is a big fan of mine and he loves to come and watch me play," Ortiz said.
D'Angelo had a full day, taking batting practice in the cage, playing catch on the field and was even presented with a cake by his famous father between the third and fourth inning, shortly before the clock struck midnight back home in Boston.
Ortiz said his son had no idea he was getting the treat.
"It still was his birthday and he was going home on [Wednesday]," said Ortiz. "It was fun."
Jacob Thorpe is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.