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Posts Tagged ‘Spring Training’

Truck Day has officially come and gone! That’s the first sign that next season  can’t be too far away.  It’s been a long, cold winter, and the long, cold winter is still going on, but at least we know that things are starting to stir down in Florida.  Nothing gets you excited about the end of winter like equipment heading south for Spring Training!

Papi wants a multi-year deal.  No news there.  That’s what every player wants.  The challenge is that it has to make sense for the team as a whole as well.  This year we will welcome Jerry Remy back into the booth for the season.

In other news, the Bruins beat the Isles, 6-3, and the Panthers, 6-2, before losing to the Habs, 4-1.  We then shut out the Oilers, four-zip, and beat the Canucks, 3-1, and Sens, 7-2, while losing to the Blues in overtime, 3-2, before the Olympic break.

NESN.com Photo

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We signed Jose Mijares to a minor league deal with an invitation to attend Spring Training.  We also signed Grady Sizemore to a one-year deal plus a considerable amount of incentives.  Things are shaping up.

The B’s lost to the Blackhawks, 2-3, in a shootout, and beat the Kings, 3-2, and Flyers, 6-1.  As far as the Pats are concerned, we’re done.  The season is officially over.  We will not be advancing to the Super Bowl.  The Broncos, however, are another matter, since they beat us, 26-16.  We couldn’t run the ball, and the defense was porous.  It just felt like something was off.  I mean, granted, we were just really lucky this year; I guess the whole idea of a team fighting an uphill battle at every turn was a common theme in Boston.  Anyway, we were fortunate to have come this far, and it’s a real testament to the team to have accomplished that.  We’ve won a lot of critical games this year, many of them close ones.  And then it just ended.  So we’re out of the Super Bowl.  It’s awful, and it hurts.  But we can still be proud.

Boston.com Photo

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Pedroia’s thumb surgery is now done, but it looks like he may have to miss part of Spring Training to recover.  And that’s pretty much it.  No big news on other fronts, so the waiting game continues.

In other news, the Bruins bested the Bolts, three-zip, as well as the Blue Jackets, 3-2.  But we lost to the Sens, 4-2.  The Pats had a bye last week.

Boston Herald Staff

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Quite literally, it was an evening of milestones and breakout performances.  It’s funny how there are players on our roster who we don’t really get to know as well as some others until that one big game when we remember how much of an asset they are.  I would say that David Ross is such a player.  We acquired him due to his awesome skills as a backup catcher.  But offense-wise, there were probably many people who, around Spring Training, were thinking of him as just the other Ross.  I’m pretty sure that that will no longer be a problem.

We scored in each of the first five innings.  Ellsbury hit a deflected single to open the first and scored on a double by Pedroia.  With two out in the second, Ross went way deep.  Like, beyond the Monster deep.  Get-a-ninety-two-mile-per-hour-two-seam-and-crush-it deep.  Put-us-on-top-by-two deep.

Pedroia doubled off the Monster and scored on a double by Napoli in the third.  And then the fourth happened, and it was awesome.  Middlebrooks and Ross smacked back-to-back jacks.  Middlebrooks’s at-bat was a real battle.  He took his first three pitches for balls, took the fourth for a strike, and then fouled off the others until he got one he liked.  A lot.  It was a changeup, and it found its way beyond the Monster in no time.  And then Ross took two balls and gave a repeat performance.  It was epic.  You see something like that, and you do a complete double-take.  Actually, in this particular instance, you do two double-takes.  First you think you might be seeing a replay of Middlebrooks’s home run.  Then you realize it’s Ross at the bat, so you think you might be seeing a replay of Ross’s earlier home run.  And by the time he’s taking his own sweet time to round first, you realize that it’s the real deal and you just scored two runs on two swings.

Pedroia grounded out to start off the fifth.  And then Papi wanted in.  On a 2-2 count, he got a four-seam clocked at ninety-four that was basically a straight shot to the plate.  Big mistake.  Yet again, he let the ball find the deepest part of the park.  It was his second homer in as many days.  This one just barely got out, but out is out.  And even though we didn’t score in the sixth, it’s of course worth mentioning that Ellsbury stole his two hundredth base.  That total puts him in heady Sox company; he’s the third since Harry Hooper and Tris Speaker did it, and he’s leading the Majors with eleven so far.

And just in case we needed a little extra, we added some insurance in the eighth.  Middlebrooks, Ross, and Ciriaco hit back-to-back-to-back singles to load the bases with nobody out.  Unfortunately, Ellsbury lined into a double play, but Ross did score on a single by Gomes.  Napoli has set two club records for this month, which by the way isn’t even over yet; his seventeen extra-base hits and twelve doubles are both monster stats for April.  Ross was officially the man of the hour with the two homers as well as the first four-hit performance of his career.

Dempster, who’s been an unfortunate stranger to run support until yesterday, held down the fort from the mound.  Two runs on four hits while walking three and, taking a page from Buchholz’s book, striking out ten over six innings.  He gave up a double to lead off the third, which turned into a run on a groundout.  He gave up another double to lead off the fifth, which turned into a run on a sac fly, which itself could have been trouble had it not been for Gomes’s phenomenal diving catch in the classic Ellsbury style.

Anyway, let’s talk about his K’s.  There were the two swinging strikes in the first, one ending with a four-seam and the other ending with a slider.  Then there were the two that began the second, both ending with sliders.  There were the two in the fourth, one swinging on a splitter and the other looking on a four-seam.  There was the one in the fifth, ending with a swing on a splitter.  And last but not least, there were the two in the sixth, one swinging on a slider and the other looking on a slider and requiring all of three pitches.

Mortensen came in for the seventh.  He hit a batter and gave up a single made worse when Napoli missed a catch.  He finally recorded the first out of the inning, but Tazawa came in after that.  He gave up a sac fly that allowed one of his inherited runners to score.  And then he gave up a single of his own before ending the inning.  Uehara pitched the eighth, and Wilson pitched the ninth.  The final score was 7-3.  All in all, I’d say it went well.

AP Photo

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I was excited for Lackey’s first outing of the regular season.  Lackey lost a ton of weight and looked great this spring.  I think that I had reasons to believe that this season was going to be different for him, and we would see the John Lackey that we were supposed to have been seeing all along since we signed him.

In fact, his start was alright.  He pitched a lot better during this start than he had during many of his other starts stretching back a number of years.  I’d say that yesterday’s performance gave us a lot to look forward to, minus one extremely conspicuous downside.

Lackey gave up two runs on five hits while walking only one and striking out eight.  He opened the fourth by inducing a lineout but then gave up a single followed by a home run on a cutter.  That was basically his only mistake of the game.  He was pretty alright for the rest of it.  Those eight strikeouts were a pleasure to watch; I can’t remember the last time he paired low runs with high K’s.  His first K of the season was called on a cutter, and his second ended with a swing through a nasty slider in the first.  He had a one-two-three second ending in consecutive K’s, the first called on a fastball and the second swung on a curveball.  He opened the third with a three-pitch swinging strikeout that ended with a fastball and ended it with a swinging strikeout that ended with a curveball.  He ended the fourth with a three-pitch strikeout  culminating in a nice fastball.  And he opened the fifth with a three-pitch called strikeout ending with another fastball.

A grand total of six pitches made their appearance yesterday; his curveball, cutter, and four-seam were definitely the highlights.  He threw a handful of impeccable sliders and barely any changeups that were decent at best.  And his two-seam was just okay.  He threw twenty-one pitches in the first and only improved from there, throwing thirteen in the second, eighteen in the third, fifteen in the fourth, and three in the fifth.

That brings us to the bad news.  Lackey only pitched four and one-third inning.  He threw a grand total of seventy-six pitches and had to be taken out due to a right biceps strain.  The intensity of the strain will be determined as the appropriate medical procedures are undergone.  Obviously we’re all rooting for it to be benign not only because he actually looked great out there but also because we can’t afford to lose one of our starters this early in the year.

Getting back to the game, Lackey was replaced by Aceves, who didn’t pitch well at all.  Lackey got saddled with the loss, but it was Aceves who gave up more runs in less innings when his job as a reliever is to limit the damage.  He pitched the remainder of the game and gave up three runs on three hits while walking two and striking out five.  Two walks and one out into the sixth, Aceves threw a big mistake of a fastball, which was hit for a home run, and that was that.

If you ask me, the loss should be shared between Aceves and the offense, which did almost nothing yesterday.  I mean that literally.  We mustered two hits: Ellsbury doubled on the sixth pitch of the game, and Pedroia singled on the penultimate pitch of the game.  Victorino walked twice, and Ciriaco walked once.  That was the extent of our men on base.  Ellsbury did pick up a steal in the first.  And Ciriaco managed to make it all the way to third in the  third, thanks to a wild pitch combined with a throwing error.  But when Ellsbury reached on a fielder’s choice out, Ciriaco was thrown out at the plate.  Ellsbury picked up another steal before Victorino walked, but Pedroia ended the inning with a popout.  In six of nine innings, we went down in order.  We sent five up in the third, our best chance to score.  In the first and ninth, we sent up four.

The Jays didn’t even have to play the bottom of the ninth.  We lost, five-zip.

In other news, the Bruins lost to the Habs, 2-1.

AP Photo

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