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Okay.  Now Spring Training is really underway.  And you know what that means: baseball.  It’s pretty obvious, but when you actually reflect on the fact that live baseball is happening as we speak, it’s such a relief.

The countdown to Opening Day continues: exactly four weeks.  We can make it.

Meanwhile, this week in Fort Myers was all about the pitchers.  Everybody debuted this week.  (Except Dice-K, who threw a promising session off the mound on Monday and side session on Friday but who, according to Tito, will not be ready for Opening Day.  Shocker.)

Although, before I get into that, I’ll say this about Spring Training: it produces a lot of unnecessary worry when you focus on the scores.  Keep in mind that Spring Training is experimentation central.  Lineups get changed around, starters become relievers, relievers become starters, and starters rarely stay in for more than half the game.  The score means a lot less than the story behind it.  Take, for example, our game against Minnesota on Thursday, during which Beckett made his debut.  We won, 2-1.  Am I going to worry because we didn’t clobber them like we should have? Absolutely not, because it’s Spring Training.  I’m more interested in how sharp Beckett looked, how many pitches he threw, whether he was comfortable on the mound, and how well he accomplished his goal of keeping his fastball down in the zone.

And now, without further ado: on Wednesday, we saw Bonser and Kelly in the college double-header, which we obviously swept.  Kelly threw ten pitches against Northeastern, seven of which were strikes.  Two of his outs were Ks on changeups.  By the way, he’s only twenty years old.  Bonser threw a nine-pitch inning and got the win over Boston College.  Not bad, considering he didn’t set foot on a mound once last year.

We kicked off Grapefruit ball on Thursday against Minnesota, as I said.  Beckett pitched two frames, allowed two hits and one run, and struck out one.  Nineteen of his twenty-seven pitches were strikes.  He did indeed his fastball down, and if he continues to do that successfully, our infield is going to have its work cut out for it, with the difference between last season and this season being that now it can handle it.  Scutaro especially was ranging and flashing some nice leather.  It’s so good to have a solid defensive shortstop again.  Paps enjoyed a one-two-three inning; hopefully that’s an indication of what’s to come.

Friday’s performance against Minnesota wasn’t great.  Jon Lester’s first five batters singled, walked, walked, doubled, and singled, in that order.  Yeah.  Not the way you want to start Spring Training.  He couldn’t even stay in the game to repair the damage because he’d thrown thirty-three pitches.  Wake, on the other hand, coasted through two innings of two-hit ball; sixteen of his twenty-two pitches were strikes.  He looks ready to go.

And yesterday, we had the debut we’d all been waiting for.  John Lackey, ladies and gentlemen! Six Twins stepped up, and six Twins went down in just twenty pitches.  He was fast, he was sharp, and he was on.  No mercy.  This is going to be a sweet season.  And let’s give some points to DeMarlo Hale, our new bench coach, for managing that victory while Tito was managing the away squad in Port Charlotte.

Mike Cameron was injured this week.  Adrian Gonzalez wants $180 million for eight years.  Why does that sound so familiar.

A great week, I’d say.  We’ve seen promising performances from all but one of our starters, and I’m not worried about that one.  It’s very early yet, but the future of the 2010 season looks bright.  And that’s what Spring Training is all about, isn’t it? Optimistic speculation.  We’re going to have some fun this year.

Don’t look now, but the Bruins have won five of their last six.  (That loss was a contest with the Habs that ended in a score of 4-1.  I’d rather not talk about it.) And we’ve got a subpar schedule coming up; our next six games are on the road.  The coming weeks are going to be crucial.  Our sixty-nine points have seeded us seventh in the conference, a mere point behind the Habs.  We need to make sure we stay in the top eight; otherwise, our season is done in the middle of next month.

Boston Globe Staff/Barry Chin
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