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Posts Tagged ‘City of Palms Park’

Opening Day is today! We made it! Finally! These next few hours of waiting are going to be tough, but after that long, cold, hard winter, baseball is finally here! Too bad we have to spend Opening Day in Texas, though.  We’ll be waiting another week for our home opener against the Yanks on April 8.  Meanwhile, we’ve got some decimating to do.  This season is going to be epic; I can feel it.  So we should start it on an appropriately epic note.  Lester has the ball.  Hopefully the start of his April badness will be sufficiently delayed so as to win us this one.  We’re facing Wilson.  Wilson is a southpaw, so Drew is sitting in favor of Cameron, and Youk and Gonzalez are switching places in the order.  So it’ll be Ellsbury, Pedroia, Crawford, Youk, Gonzalez, Papi, Cameron, Salty, and Scutaro.  That’s not the lineup we’ll be using for most of our games, but it’s one that’ll give us a good indication already of what we can expect.

Here’s the last of Spring Training.  The Orioles beat us on Sunday, 4-3.  Drew hit a two-run shot, Matt Albers allowed a run, and Papi was hit in the foot but appears to be fine.  Meanwhile, Lester made his final start of spring in a game against our minor leaguers.  He gave up five runs, four earned, on nine hits while walking none and striking out five over five innings.  Fifty of his seventy-seven pitches were strikes.  And that is absolutely no indication whatsoever of how this afternoon will go.

Lackey pitched a simulated game of sorts on Monday with Salty; the weather was iffy, so Tito didn’t bring him along to play the Jays.  The game was played, though, and we won, 3-2.

Our last game ever at City of Palms Park was totally anticlimactic.  We tied the Rays, 1-1, on Tuesday courtesy of Adrian Gonzalez’s solo shot.  Buchholz allowed one run on one hit over four innings with two walks and three strikeouts.  Forty-four of his seventy-eight pitches were strikes.  It was our fifteenth sellout in sixteen games this spring and the conclusion of our nineteenth Spring Training in that park.  You could say that many of our future stars and both of our championships were made there.  So here’s to City of Palms Park, the Fenway of spring.

The bullpen competition is officially over: Matt Albers and Dennys Reyes are in, and Alfredo Aceves and Okajima are out.  They’ve been optioned to Pawtucket.  Interestingly, that wouldn’t have been an option for Albers or Reyes; they don’t have options and would have had to clear waivers, which probably would have meant that we wouldn’t have been able to keep them.  Either way, it’ll be strange having Okajima in the organization but not on the roster.  Although of the other two are better, the other two are better, and that’s that.  So the twenty-five-man roster is officially set.  Lowrie is our infield utility man, and Cameron is our outfield utility man; those were really the only other question marks, and I don’t think the answers are that surprising.  Ladies and gentlemen, we’ve got ourselves a ball club!

So that’s it.  There’s nothing more we can do to prepare.  We’re ready.  We’re set.  And we’re going all the way to Soxtober this year.  It’s going to be epic.  Other than that, there’s nothing more to say.  I repeat: Opening Day has finally arrived! I’m so psyched, I can’t even believe it.  For all intents and purposes, we are about to witness the start of a championship season.  I am so ready.

In other news, the Bruins beat the Flyers, shut out the Blackhawks, and lost to the Leafs in overtime.  Oh, and we clinched a playoff spot.  No big deal.  All in a day’s work for us this year.

Boston Globe Staff/Bill Greene
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Spring Training officially began on Wednesday.  We’ll play eighteen home games in the Grapefruit League this year, and as always Red Sox Nation makes a good showing in Fort Myers; we’ve sold out every game at City of Palms Park since March 16, 2003.  After a season ends the start of Spring Training is one of the greatest days of the year because it means baseball season is just around the corner.  On Wednesday I watched baseball for the first time since October and it felt awesome.  It felt great.  I’m so psyched for the regular season.  But as a spectator I’m not so sure I’m a fan of Spring Training.  It’s impossible to take these games seriously because the starters never stay in.  So it’s not a good gauge of the team’s performance down the stretch.  Not to mention the fact that you’re always worrying about injuries; look at what happened to Josh Beckett last year.  He threw his back out in Spring Training and it completely threw off his season.  Still, it’s a good opportunity for the team to warm up, get the kinks out, and scout the competition, and we get to see glimpses of how the guys are doing.  So it depends on how you look at it, I guess.  If you look at Spring Training as an indication of how the team will do during the season, it’s definitely lacking.  But if you look at Spring Training as an opportunity to get back in the groove, it’s not bad.

Wakefield got rocked by the Twins, but Bard handled him really well, so that was a relief.  Beckett pitched two perfect innings and struck out two against Boston College on Wednesday.  Yes, it was only a college team, but pitching is pitching, and Beckett’s form looked pretty sweet.  And what an experience that must’ve been for BC.  I’m telling you, that’s the thrill of a lifetime for those boys.  I mean what an opportunity for the team.  Buchholz made two starts and luckily he’s looking pretty good.  He pitched two innings on Saturday night, allowing only one hit and striking out one against the Reds.  He got the win in our first Spring Training victory against Major League opposition.  Doesn’t seem like much for Buchholz, but if you consider the fact that this time last year he was 1-3 with a 10.03 ERA.  At that time he owned a spot in the rotation.  Now he’ll have to earn it.  Sure, it’s only two innings, but with the way he pitched last season it’s better than nothing.

Rehab’s going well for everyone.  Mikey Lowell should be playing by the middle of the month, Mark Kotsay should be swinging a bat by the time we break camp, pitcher Miguel Gonzalez will visit an arm specialist for his elbow, and Jeff Bailey is good to go after fouling a pitch off his foot.

Dice-K isn’t camping with us because he’s prepping with Japan for the World Baseball Classic.  He struggled through about two innings of a warmup game in Osaka against Australia.  Japan eventually won it, but it wasn’t pleasant to see the Dice-K of ’07 instead of the Dice-K of ’08.  He gave up two runs on five hits and struck out three which, over two innings, isn’t as great as it could be.  But hey, that’s what warmups are for.  No use getting nervous over a contest in March; the only way to go is up.  There’s nothing left to do but improve, and he has the whole month to get it back.

Speaking of the World Baseball Classic, Boston is sending six: Dice-K for Japan, Jason Bay for Canada, Big Papi for the Dominican Republic, Dustin Pedroia and Youk for the US, and Javier Lopez for Puerto Rico.  The World Baseball Classic does interfere with Spring Training, but baseball is baseball.  As long as they play, they’ll be in good shape.  I’m not concerned.  Papelbon won’t be playing in the Classic this year.  Smart move.

News from Curt Schilling.  What else is new.  You’ll never believe this.  Remember how he said last offseason that he wanted to pitch with us for one more year and then retire? Yeah.  No.  Looks like he’s changed his mind.  He’d like to pitch for the Cubs this season.  That came totally out of left field (no pun intended).  The Cubs? The dude likes to break curses, I guess.  He won’t be hurting anybody in Chicago, that’s for sure.  I mean he’s a fantastic pitcher, but I don’t know how much he has left.  He’s aged, and he continues to age.  And we wouldn’t want his pitching to get in the way of his new hobby: expressing all of his…opinions.  It’s been interesting listening to his views on the proceedings during the offseason, that’s for sure.

In other news, Matt Kenseth of Roush Fenway Racing won the Daytona 500! Mike Dee, our chief operating officer and the president of Fenway Sports Group, partnered with NASCAR owner Jack Roush to form the five-car team in 2007.  And as you can see John Henry and Mike Dee have a penchant for championships.  Let’s hope it continues.  I have a good feeling about 2009.  The Patriots gambled by trading Matt Cassel and Mike Vrabel to the Chiefs for a draft pick.  That means the team is confident that Tom Brady will return, which is awesome news, but if Brady gets injured again we’re toast.  The Bruins are still fighting for supremacy over the league.  We’re tied with the Sharks right now with 93 points, and the Capitals, the team closest to us in the Eastern Conference, only have 85.  The Canadiens only have 75.  We have 93 points, and the Habs have 75.  Us, 93; Habs, 75.  Nuff ced.  Anyway, we routed the Panthers on Tuesday, 6-1, and shut out the Ducks on Thursday, 6-0.  So our offense is good.  We just need to stay with it.

Boston Globe Staff/Jim Davis

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