We finally made it! There are no more days to count, no more Spring Training games to play, no more side sessions to throw, and no more simulated games to complete. There is nothing left. It’s happening now. Today is officially Opening Day, our first game of the regular season! As we all know, we’ll be playing the Tigers in Detroit, and Lester will be starting. As we all know, this season is going to be interesting, to say the least. Now, the wait is over. The long, cold winter has come to an end. The lineup: Ellsbury, Pedroia, Gonzalez, Papi, Youk, Sweeney, Ross, Salty, and Aviles, obviously in that order. Baseball is finally here!
Ladies and gentlemen, we have our final two pitchers: Doubront and Bard, respectively. Since Lester is a lefty, it wouldn’t have made sense to have Doubront be the fifth starter, since then you’d have two lefties starting back-to-back. Anyway, are we surprised? No. Should we be surprised? No. Doubront had a phenomenal spring, and he’s had some experience starting in the Majors before, even if that experience wasn’t always the best. As for Bard, you and I both know that Bobby V. wasn’t about to move him back to the bullpen after he declared that he was going to train him as a starter. And that bothers me because unlike Doubront, who as I said had a phenomenal spring and who was therefore awarded a spot in the rotation based on explicit merit, Bard did not have a great spring and seems to have been awarded a spot in the rotation based on potential and possibility alone. I’m not saying he won’t be a phenomenal starter; I’m saying that I have yet to see consistent glimmers of phenomenalness from him in that role. Still, he’s shown that he can learn from his mistakes. He probably picked up that skill while en route to becoming the next elite closer in the Major Leagues; oh, well.
Aceves had a fantastic spring also, and when he did have bad days, he rebounded nicely in his next outing, which is a critical quality for a starter. At least we can count on him for solid long and middle relief. And late relief, at least in the beginning, since Bailey will start the season on the disabled list with a thumb issue that will require surgery and that will make him stay on the disabled least until the All-Star break. This is ridiculous. He started last season on the disabled list with an arm injury, and he started Spring Training on the disabled list with a lat injury, and now he’ll start the beginning of the season on the disabled list with a thumb injury. And don’t even get me started on the fact that we had to trade Josh Reddick to get Bailey in the first place. So Aceves is in line to replace him, in case you were wondering. Yeah, that gives us huge confidence in our new closer.
And as if that weren’t enough, Beckett apparently is having some sort of issue with his right thumb. Apparently he’s had this issue for eighteen months. He was examined and is fine to pitch now, but he said surgery could be inevitable at some point down the road.
In addition to actually knowing who are starters are going to be, we can be happy that Pedroia is healthy, Papi is in shape, and both Bobby V. and McClure have really connected with the team. We can be unhappy about the fact that Crawford is still out and that Youk, Gonzalez, and Ellsbury haven’t hit a home run all spring. And we will begin the season with nine guys on the DL. Before the season even gets underway, we will have nine guys on the DL. That’s just great. As if we didn’t have enough to contend with during the start of this year’s season already. Those nine guys account, in case you were curious, for $59.7 million. And let’s not forget the fact that Chris Carpenter, the supposedly significant compensation that we were looking forward to receiving from the Cubs for Theo Epstein, is injured and has no command. He is one of those nine.
Of course, you might say that at least that frees up some roster space. And that’s true, but that’s only a plus if it’s used wisely. The twenty-five-man Opening Day roster is carrying thirteen pitchers, which means that Bobby V. only has three backup bats on the bench, one of whom is a backup catcher.
We beat the Twins, 5-1, on Sunday. Padilla and Atchison both appeared. Sweeney singled, Ross and Aviles doubled, and Ellsbury tripled. Since our record against Minnesota this spring has been four and two, we have won the Mayor’s Cup series, which began in 1993. Since then, the Twins have won eleven series; we have won five of the last six.
We beat the Nationals, 4-2, on Monday. Cook pitched five innings and gave up one run on two hits. He walked one, struck out two, and threw forty-three of seventy pitches for strikes. Padilla pitched the sixth. Gonzalez and McDonald both singled, and Papi doubled.
We beat the Nationals, 8-7, on Tuesday. Buchholz retired his first twelve hitters but also gave up a solo shot and a three-run home run. All told, those four runs were his only runs; he gave up four hits in five and two-thirds innings. He struck out five and walked none. Bowden and Aceves both made appearances. Pedroia went two for three with three RBIs, but the hero was Jason Repko, who ironically replaced Ellsbury and proceeded to hit a tie-breaking double and make a perfect throw home to secure the win.
In other news, the B’s beat the Rangers and Penguins.