Or at City of Palms Park.
Last week the Red Sox media sufficiently launched us into panic mode about the upcoming season, which seems to be a talent of theirs. However, this week was full of relief and promise.
Josh Beckett was pretty down on Monday about his back; we have to understand, this guy is a competitive beast. But today he played catch with John Farrell and his back didn’t bother him at all. Farrell was "excited," and indicated Beckett was where the doctor’s expected him to be. Beckett won’t be flying to Tokyo, as if anyone really though the Sox were stupid enough to send their ace on an 18 hour plane ride half way around the world. This marathon called the major league baseball season is long, and being ready for Opening Day is no big deal. I want Beckett to pitch effectively in October, not April.
No word on Schilling, although I thought I heard someone say somewhere he might start tossing the ball in a few weeks. Does anyone really think he’s going to pitch again??
Lester had a solid outing, Colon threw with surprising strength (topped out at 93-94 mph), and Dice K didn’t implode, which is the summary of starts this week. Dice K will be going to Japan, thanks to his wife giving birth this past Saturday to their second child, first son. If that child is half as cute as Dice K, I want to pinch his cheeks.
Kyle Synder came out of frickin’ no where and threw three scoreless innings today. Well, I guess it’s not out of no where, but I am still always surprised when he turns in a good outing. That guy is either ON or imploding big time. He seems nice enough, and does lots with the Sox charities, but I don’t think he’s reliable. Maybe he just needs definition to pitch well, ie starter or bullpen?
The bats finally started to come alive. Good old ‘Tek had a three run shot, little Pedroia knocked in a solo homer, and even some of the minor leaguers took their turn with the long ball. Something else that eased my mind this week was looking at the 2007 Spring Training stats; the Sox are about the same as this time last year. See, Spring Training really doesn’t mean anything!
Another factor preventing me from having an accurate view of Spring Training 2008 is the lack of games I have been able to view. If I could actually watch the Sox play, things might be different. MLB.TV promises over 150 Spring Training games, which means you get to watch about 5 of your team. Go figure.
I believe in God, but I also somewhat believe in baseball karma. I didn’t like it when the media was walking around saying, "The Red Sox are the new Dynasty in baseball." I didn’t like it when the players said, "We’re the team to beat." Baseball karma has a funny way of taking away everything just when you get comfortable.
Confidence is one of many traits that spurred the 2007 Sox to their 2nd World Series championship in four years. Cockiness was not. George Steinbrenner is cocky; the Red Sox were getting cocky, and now look what’s going on in Spring Training. Maybe it’s like theatre: bad dress rehearsal, good show. Or maybe it is the Curse of Papelbon’s Jersey.
Papelbon forgot his jersey for one of the away Spring Training games. Apparently there’s always an extra Manny jersey around. So he donned #24 and pitched the game. Maybe that was just too much for the universe. Could you imagine combining the personalities of Paps and Manny? I think the universe would explode, or implode. I’m not quite sure which.
All joking (or is it?) aside, the 2008 Boston Red Sox are not doing so great. You can never have enough starting pitching. Someone should embroider that on a **** pillow. I hope Beckett’s injury is just a hiccup to his first Cy Young award. Where is Curt Schilling? We haven’t heard anything from the notorious talker in at least a week. Lester was stellar today; his pitching performance sure was a boost. Now where are those bats?
PS, I bought Wheaties just because it had Josh Beckett on the box. Talk about a marketing buy. I didn’t know they still put professional athletes on Wheaties. I’m kickin’ it old school. I took the cereal out of the box, put it in a container, and the box has been proudly displayed on my desk ever since.
Tito and Torre, long time friends, were able to show their true colors at last. Touching pictures, seriously. Somehow Joe Torre doesn’t look sinister and evil when he’s wearing Dodger blue. I got confused when I first logged on to watch the game. It said "Pitching: Lowe. At Bat: M. Ramirez." Wait a minute, don’t both those guys play for the same team? Oh yeah, Lowe plays for the Dodgers now. Can’t believe I had such a blond moment.
Today’s game: Wakefield was hot, relievers were NOT. How do you blow a three run lead in the top of the 9th? Oh, that’s right, allow a grand slam. That should do the trick. Good news is, this reliever is no one who will be even close to our major league roster. Gronkiewicz, you’d better be glad this game is spring training!
Bartolo Colon could be the surprise of the season; at least, I’m hoping. The word from camp: Colon is working hard on his mechanics and his body.
"Bartolo’s work ethic has been outstanding since the day he reported here," John Farrell, the Red Sox pitching coach, said. "His conditioning and cardio work with [strength and conditioning coach] Dave Page has been twice a day. He reports very early to get some of that work done. Then his fundamental work takes over. Then he’s in with the regular group during pregame work. Then he’s back in after we come off the field. So he’s doing everything we’re asking, and he’s putting forth an outstanding effort."
Farrell said Colon’s arm is much stronger than the Red Sox anticipated, even from the scouting reports received during the Caribbean Series. Farrell also noted Colon’s velocity was improved from the bullpen session a few days ago.
While Colon might not make the team out of Spring Training, if everything works out for him, he could provide valuable in case of injury, or relief, and help keep the innings down for young arms Jon Lester and Clay Buchholz.
You can never, ever have too much pitching. Here’s hoping Schilling comes back. He is still rehabbing on the Sox’s time table, and keeps insisting it is too soon to tell if it is working. If Schilling doesn’t make it back, kudos to Theo for doing the best to get us some starting pitching and bullpen depth.
My favorite Manny quote of the year thus far? When asked, ‘Will Bartolo Colon help the Red Sox?’ Manny responded:
"I don’t know. I’m not the pitching coach."
Duh, Reporter. Don’t you know Manny’s not a pitching coach?
Papelbon has been pretty vocal about wanting a new contract. Then again, is there ever anything Papelbon is NOT vocal about? I was watching Pardon the Interruption tonight and the subject was part of their Big Finish segment. They said, "Is this topic even worthy to cover? No, but they have to pay him extra for his river dancing." If Papelbon wasn’t so **** good, he wouldn’t have been able to get away with that, the river dancing and the public contract whining.
We’re 3-3 in spring training games right now, not that it really matters. The biggest issue the Sox have to sort out this Spring Training is their fifth starter and their bullpen. Good luck with that. Lopez screwed the game today, and I wish they would just designate him; he’s the lefty specialist who can’t get lefties out. They hit something like .298 against him, while right handers are hitting somewhere around .198. The first pitch Tavarez threw when he worked the first Twins game was nasty; I had hope until he threw the next pitch. It was a home run by Brian Buscher. Hmmm. Beckett has been impressive, as if we expected anything less. Dice K has also shown improvement.
The way men are still left on base (13 in today’s game) is somewhat troubling, but we’re not playing with all major league players, nor are we in a regular season where every game counts. Leaving men in scoring position was one of the main obstacles to our WS title, but thankfully our pitching was so good, and they found ways to overcome lower home run totals.
But I am getting ahead of myself. It’s only Spring Training, after all. Jeff Louderback from www.soxandpinstripes.com recently reminded us what Spring Training is all about.
"If you understand baseball – and the objectives of spring training – then you won’t get too concerned or too excited when you read the box scores. Spring training is a time when pitchers work on developing or improving secondary pitches, work their way into a routine and build strength and endurance to prepare for the 162-game season ahead. Thus the reason starters gradually extend their innings per game, and thus the reason many pitchers battle control problems and/or surrender an array of runs and hits. Spring training is also a time when hitters work on their timing, their stance, their swing and other techniques. With this in mind, don’t get worried when Jon Lester or Clay Buchholz have poor outings, as Lester did yesterday and Buchholz did today. Also, don’t place lofty expectations on a player who hits .400 in spring training and/or posts gaudy home run and RBI totals. Statistics in spring training mean very little. Of course, impressive spring training performances from minor leaguers trying to open a manager’s eyes, and veterans battling for roster spots, are important for the aforementioned players and help teams make roster decisions."
Jeff always says it better than I ever could.
The Sox played the Pirates yesterday, and who was playing first base? None other than Doug Mienkiewicz, the infamous thief of the 2004 last out World Series ball. He did finally give it to the Hall of Fame, grudgingly. He is trying to make the Pirates major league roster as their infield utility man. He lost 25 pounds in the off season, where his work out partner was ARod.
Blog Notes: I am going to try and update everyday. There’s just too much good baseball going on to not. I was able to fix my pictures in the album so they go in chronological order. Thanks to Dee for the suggestion.
David Ortiz is in the house, and what a happy house it will be with him. How can you NOT like this guy? He comes off his best career year (.332 avg, 117 RBIs, 35 home runs, 149 games), where he was playing with a perpetually nagging knee injury, and is ecstatic to be back in Fort Myers. Papi is such a breath of fresh air in this day of narcissistic professional athletes. He never complains, has no mental and no steroid baggage, and always has the best smile. Except when you’re the opposing team’s pitcher. Then he just looks like a big, mean, hungry, ball eating gorilla.
Look at that Big Papi smile! Gosh, what a wimpy sized photo though. Hmmm. I should figure out how to beef it up.
Curt Schilling came right out and said it today: He believes he needs surgery.
No NESN for me down here in South Carolina, but I watched the portion of the interview posted on the Globe page. The video cut off after 10 minutes and 44 seconds, which makes me wonder how much longer reporters asked the same questions over and over about Schilling’s shoulder. Granted, I know we haven’t heard him speak about the shoulder before today, but I think the media session would have been much more productive if someone had just brought a karaoke machine and handed Curt the microphone. "They tried to make me go to rehab, I said, ‘no, no, no!’…"
Many New Englanders think Schilling is a donkey’s butt, and will promptly tell you so, as they do when they give their opinion on all things Sox related. In reality, Schilling just tells it like it is; so do most people from the North, so I find their disliking of him strange. I think the dislike has more to do with Schilling publicly professing faith in Christ (GASP! How dare he!) and being Republican. It is almost more than a good Democratic from the Commonwealth of Massachusetts can stand. I happen to pretty much adore him, from a baseball and from a personal standpoint.
In short, while he saw three different doctors, and got three different opinions, Schilling says he still trusts the opinion of Dr. Craig Morgan, the orthopedic surgeon who operated on his shoulder back in 1995. Schilling spoke of "medical egos," citing how he was cautioned against going to Morgan in 1995, but Morgan is the "Papelbon of his profession. He’s a specialist. The shoulder is what he does." However, due to the legal ramifications of his contract, the Sox basically own the rights to decide what course to take with Schilling’s shoulder health, and Curt has chosen to believe the team approach will work. “You might find it hard to believe,” Schilling said with a smirk, “but I really don’t think I’m the smartest guy in the room when it comes to medicine.” The rehab program is currently not strenuous, but it should be clear within the next month or so whether it will work.
Schilling seemed pretty down hearted about the whole ordeal. Because he is a professional athlete and has fought against much adversity, he is trying to be optimistic and mentally get behind what the Sox want him to do. He realizes the mental aspect, the attitude, is almost just as important as the physical work. However, all the positive thoughts in the world will not fix his shoulder. He seems to be facing the fact that realistically, he could never pitch again. While he seems depressed about the possibility of that happening, he also seems to have accepted it. "It is what it is," he told reporters.
I think Schilling might be done. He sure is talking like he’s done. I wish he had just let last year be it and at least gone out in a blaze of glory. The interesting question is, if he does have end up having surgery sometime within the next couple of months, will he be able to pitch again this season? If not, will he try to pitch again next season, and if so, with what team? I have a hard time seeing Theo sign him again after this mess, but I can almost bet some team would take a chance, most likely in the National League.
Eric Gagne apologized to his teammates today about his name on the Mitchell Report in a publicly issued statement. His teammates are right there at Spring Training; don’t know why he had to issue the statement publicly, but I digress. In his statement, Gagne said, "[My name on the Mitchell Report], that’s a distraction that shouldn’t be taking place. I’m just here to help the Milwaukee Brewers get to the World Series and playoffs, and that’s all I really care about." Hmmm. Who really thinks that will happen, especially if he’s anchoring the bullpen?