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Posts Tagged ‘Boston Dirt Dogs’

On Wednesday we had our first full-squad workout.  Folks, Spring Training is very much underway, and we’re in business! We have mere weeks until Opening Day.  (I’m sorry; I refuse to call it Opening Night.) Theo and Tito were pleased, which means things are going well.  Did I mention that we have mere weeks until Opening Day?

Dice-K was cleared on Monday to start throwing at sixty and ninety feet.  He increased that to 120 feet on Thursday, so that’s progress.  And we have our starting rotation for the first week: Casey Kelly will throw first, Bonser will throw second, Beckett gets the Grapefruit League opener during which Wakefield will be a priority reliever, and then Lackey followed by Buchholz.  Not bad.  I’ll be interested to see how Kelly fares.

Turns out Drew spent most of last season playing through a sore left shoulder, which has been repaired with surgery this offseason.  He’s going to start Spring Training slowly and raise the bar as it goes on.  On a related note, I don’t like this.  The secrecy with the injuries has to stop.  If something’s wrong with you, you take some sort of measure to fix it immediately, end of story.  But don’t make it worse.  Obviously any true competitor will want to power through it, but after a point you need to step back and measure whether you’d be helping or hurting the team by hurting yourself.  It’s a fine line.  Speaking of which, Delcarmen has promised to be more open about his injuries.  Call that a case in point.

I would like to take a moment to say that Mikey Lowell is the epitome if classiness.  He is a classy guy’s classy guy.  If you look up “classy guy” in the dictionary, Mikey Lowell’s picture is right next to the definition.  He has no idea what is fate is, either with or without us this season, and he’s completely okay with that.  This is what he had to say about his current situation:

“I’m getting ready for a season.  I think I’m pretty intelligent in the sense that there’s no real playing time for me here barring a major injury, and I’m not really in the business of hoping somebody gets hurt just so I can get at-bats.”

Now, there’s a man who knows what’s up.  None of this prima donna drama you find around the league with arrogant big shots with one foot out the door who need a lesson in humility.  I’m telling you, however this ends, Lowell has certainly set himself up as the ideal role model for other players.  And as far as we, the Nation is concerned, he said he loves our support.  I think I speak for all of us when I say he’s most definitely earned it.

Boston Dirt Dogs called out the Red Sox for not being original in designing their new Lee County Spring Training facility.  Apparently the Sox can’t do anything “beyond Fenway replicas.” Call me crazy, but when you want your guys prepping for the season, doesn’t it actually make sense for the training park to resemble the actual park? Especially for the new guys and prospects? If you’re playing eighty games in one stadium, you want everyone completely comfortable in there, and one way to do that is to train in a park that looks and feels like it.  So I fail to see the problem with that.

Finally, I’m getting really sick and tired of listening to everyone complain that this year’s team has no offense.  We lose one guy, Jason Bay, and suddenly our offense has evaporated into thin air? Yeah, right.  Let’s not forget the fact that we have Youk, and Pedroia, and Ellsbury, and V-Mart for the entire season (as opposed to last year’s half season due to this arrival at the deadline).  Add to that a revived Papi and Scutaro and I really don’t think there’s any huge cause for concern.  I mean, look at this past season.  It’s hard to get past the epic fail that was the 2009 ALDS, but we did finish third in the Major Leagues in runs.  The negative view of our offense this year is motivating, I guess, but we should also keep in mind that it’s not entirely founded.  I refuse to worry about the entire team’s offensive production simply because we allowed one dude to walk.  One guy does not a baseball team make or break.

On Monday, Eric Gagne confessed his use of human growth hormone.  That sure explains a lot.  Johnny Damon is a Tiger, which makes our lives a whole lot easier.  Believe that.

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With a little help from Boston Dirt Dogs for that headline.  Clay Buchholz made his first Major League start of the season last night, and if you ask anyone in that organization, they’ll tell you he was ready to join the rotation the day after Spring Training.  But we found ourselves with a surplus of arms, so we sent him down the minute his ERA touched 1.00.  Such are our high standards in Boston.  Of course, the irony is that now we’re in a position where we could use another bat, not another pitcher.  Depending on Lowell and Lowrie when they return, though, so maybe not.  We’ll see.  Anyway, not the point.

One of the best things about last night’s game was that it was played.  After the home run derby and the All-Star Game and two days off, it felt so good to watch baseball.  I also liked the fact that it was a win.  But for our future, the most important thing about it was that Buchholz looked fantastic.  He looked ready to jump to the rotation tomorrow.  I’m just glad all that time in Triple-A actually paid off.  It has to be difficult to throw a no-hitter then have a horrible season and be sent down, because you’re thinking if you can throw a no-hitter, how hard could pitching in the Majors possibly be? Hard.  Trust me.  But Buchholz shone yesterday.  Five and two-thirds innings, one run on four hits, three walks, three K’s.  Short but really sweet.  He mixed his pitches effectively; he threw about fifty percent four-seams and the rest off-speeds.  He ranged from nintey-six miles per hour to eighty-one.  And you know how nasty his off-speed stuff is.  Especially his changeup.  I could watch this kid throw changeups all day.  The key was that he was consistent with his control, and he just walked all over Toronto.  He was optioned back down after the game, and the only reason he was pitching in the first place was to give Josh Beckett and Tim Wakefield, our pitching All-Stars, extra rest before starting the second half.  Hey, sometimes the traveling wears on you.

The offense really didn’t have a problem handling Ricky Romero.  Ricky Romero was handled and re-handled. Pedroia scored twice, and you have to love his defense.  Third inning with a two-run lead and a man on first, there was a bullet hit right at him.  He dropped to his knees, caught it, and threw to Green who threw to Youk for the inning-ending double play.  Youk got the whole thing started with a two-run jack in the first, his seventeenth of the year, into the left-field seats.  Oh, and played first.  You read right.  Youk played first last night, because ladies and gentlemen, Lowell is back, and he is back with a vengeance.  He went two for four and made a throwing error but we’ll forgive him for that.  Nice.  Papi went two for four with a double and drove in two.  The final score was 4-1.

The bullpen pitched very well.  Daniel Bard struck out three of the four batters he faced and earned a hold for his service.  Okajima also earned a hold.  Paps earned a save, and when I say earned I mean earned.  He threw eight pitches, six of them strikes, to finish the ninth.  I like where this is going.

The Red Sox and Jason Bay have decided not to talk about a contract until the season is over after talks during the All-Star break were unsuccessful.  This, I don’t like.  I’m very confident that in the end a deal will be cut, but I don’t like this hanging in the breeze.  He’s a five-tool guy, he loves it here, and he plays very well here.  A deal will be cut.  Bay himself said he feels better after these failed talks than after the failed talks during Spring Training.  Somehow, Theo is making progress.  In Theo we trust.  Shortstop issues notwithstanding.  Which brings me to my next point.  That was the bad news, that we didn’t lock up Bay right away.

The good news is that we’ve finally designated Julio Lugo for assignment! It happened on Friday.  He has $13.6 million left but at this point I think that money’s better spent paying him not to play than paying him to strike out and make errors.  Harsh but true.  It also has to do with roster space.  Aaron Bates was optioned to make room for Lowell.  Buchholz was optioned back down to make room for Jed Lowrie.  And with Lowrie back and Green in full swing, Lugo doesn’t have a spot.  It’s no secret that, if Theo Epstein does have a weakness, it’s at the shortstop position.  He traded Nomar for Orlando Cabrera, which was good.  He let Orlando Cabrera walk in favor of Edgar Renteria, which was fine until his defense started declining, so we traded him.  Then it was Alex Gonzalez, who flashed leather left and right but did nothing at the plate.  So then we signed Lugo, who was supposed to be our leadoff man.  We all know how that went.  We need both at the same time: defense and offense.  And we’ve waited and waited for a shortstop who does both at the same time, and he’s arrived.  His name is Jed Lowrie.  And he comes from in-house.  And he’s back.  And I’m psyched.  And as far as Theo Epstein is concerned, we have the money to pay for this if he can’t trade Lugo, and we forgive him.  He’s made two mistakes: Gagne and Lugo.  After all the good he’s done, I think I speak for all of Red Sox Nation when I say we can let this one go.

And last but not least, Jim Rice and Rickey Henderson are getting ready to enter the Hall of Fame.  They’re the first left fielders inducted in twenty years.

So there you go.  It was just a great day and a great game.  We’re now on a four-game winning streak.  We’re well-rested.  We start the second half three games up on the Yankees.  We have Penny throwing against Marc Rzepczynski, which should be a pretty good matchup.  I like it.

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