Spring training has officially begun for the World Champion Boston Red Sox. The Red Sox beat Boston College and Northeastern University by a combined score of 39-0.
In the 24-0 victory over BC, Josh Beckett looked sharp, throwing 2 perfect innings while striking-out 4 of 6 batters faced. Beckett was successfully followed by Kyle Snyder, Javier Lopez, Manny Delcarmen and Bryan Corey who threw effectively only surrendering one hit over five innings of work. Outfielder Brandon Moss went 3-for-3 with three RBIs and catching prospect George Kottaras drove in three runs. Big Papi and Dustin Pedroia also hit RBI doubles in an eight-run second inning.
Justin Masterson’s Red Sox debut against NE was impressive. Masterson who has a chance to progress to the Boston bullpen in 2008, pitched two-scoreless innings, allowing one-hit and fanning one. 2005 first round draft pick Craig Hansen did nothing to hinder his chance of making the team by throwing a scoreless inning and striking-out two hitters. Coco Crisp, J.D. Drew, Alex Cora, and Chris Carter all had doubles, Carter also scored 3 runs.
Terry Francona announced the regulars expected to play in today’s game against the Minnesota Twins: Kevin Youkilis, Dustin Pedroia, Mike Lowell, Julio Lugo, David Ortiz, Manny Ramirez, Coco Crisp, and Bobby Kielty. Daisuke Matsuzaka will be the starter.
Today’s game is big-time; it’s for the Fort Myers Mayor’s Cup…
Clay Buchholz’s six scoreless innings earned him his first victory of the season, 8-3, in front of 37,539 fans on Patriots Day at Fenway Park. With one-third of their regular starting lineup unavailable or resting, the Sox still garnered 11 walks and 12 hits to pound the Texas Rangers, 8-3, and sweep the four-game series. The Sox seemed unfazed by the absence of Manny Ramirez (rest), Jason Varitek (illness), Coco Crisp (sore right hamstring) and Mike Lowell (disabled list), and methodically dismantled the Rangers. Julio Lugo had four hits for the first time since May 12 of last year, and Jacoby Ellsbury went 2-for-4 with two runs and a pair of steals, making him 17-for-17 in stolen base attempts in his major league career.
Sox Notes: Red Sox outfielder Manny Ramirez was named as the American League Bank of America Co-Player of the Week for April 14-20. He shares weekly honors with Miguel Cabrera of the Detroit Tigers.
This morning, the Red Sox are on the outside looking in at the 2008 postseason, victims of a 3-1, Game 7 Rays victory that dashed the Sox’ hopes of returning to the World Series and defending their 2007 championship.
Tampa Bay’s talented upstarts had twice tried and failed to keep the Red Sox out of the winner’s column in Games 5 and 6. But in their third and final stab at it they rallied from a 1-0 deficit and did not allow the Sox a chance to recover. But they came close.
The Red Sox put eight baserunners on in the final four innings without plating a single one. The Rays employed five pitchers in the eighth alone, when four Red Sox batters reached and none came around to score. J. D Drew struck out with the bases loaded against pitcher No. 5, rookie David Price.
Rays starter Matt Garza outpitched Jon Lester for the second time this series, earning himself ALCS MVP honors in the process. While Lester was much improved from his Game 3 effort, Garza dazzled, holding the Red Sox to just two hits and one run in his seven-plus innings. Lester, staked to a 1-0 lead after Pedroia’s first-inning home run, handed the Rays the lead in the fifth on Rocco Baldelli’s RBI single, which plated Willy Aybar. Aybar added some insurance in the seventh with a solo home run.
A constant refrain in the Red Sox clubhouse this year was what a grind the 2008 season had been, which can’t be denied given the short offseason following last year’s World Series drive and then the early start to the season because of the trip to Tokyo.
That, significant injuries to David Ortiz (wrist), Josh Beckett (back, elbow, oblique), Mike Lowell (left thumb, right hip) and J. D Drew (back) and the midseason distraction that led to the Manny Ramirez trade caused more than a few members of the organization to point out that perhaps the team was fortunate just to have arrived at a Game 7, one win away from the World Series.
Baseball…It breaks your heart. It is designed to break your heart. The game begins in the spring, when everything else begins again, and it blossoms in the summer, filling the afternoons and evenings, and then as soon as the chill rains come, it stops and leaves you to face the fall alone.” -Bart Giamatti
As the Santana trade has been finished for about a week now, excluding any contract details, there is one member of the Red Sox that is at ease. Jacoby Ellsbury was rumored to be in a deal, which would send him, John Lester and/or Clay Buchholtz to Minnesota for Johan Santana. Epstein was talking to Minnesota for about a three months, trying to work out a deal, but was not willing to part with both Ellsbury and Buchholtz. As for Ellsbury’s reaction, he was just happy to be mentioned in the same page as a player like Santana. “It was pretty flattering to be even considered in the trade, but I’m happy with what happened. I’m happy to be a Red Sox. I’m happy that I wasn’t traded at his expense, and it’s nice to know where I’m going heading into the season,” Ellsbury told MLB.com in a recent telephone interview.
With Ellsbury, Lester, and Buchholtz all returning this season, the Red Sox will have the core of the world champion team coming back. Epstein, however, has still been active, addressing soft spots in the roster. The Red Sox signed two former relief aces to minor league deals. Danny Kolb, who had 21 saves for the Brewers in 2003 and posted a 2.55 era, which was good enough to earn him all-star honors and Dan Miceli, who posted a 3.22 Era with the 1998 Padres. If Kolb and Miceli can be somewhat affective, it will take a lot of pressure of Okajima and Timlin towards the end of the season, where they both wore out. The Epstein also traded for Chicago White Sox reliever, David Aardsma. In return for Aardsma, Red Sox sent minor league right-handers, Willy Mota and Miguel Socolovich to the White Sox. Aardsma started off the 2007 season strong with 26 strikeouts and posting a 1.31 Era in 14 appearances. However, in 81 games, he has posted not so impressive numbers, going 2-1 with a 6.25 Era in 25 games. The Red Sox are hoping that his strong start was not a fluke and can contribute to the 2008 Boston Red Sox.
The Red Sox are close to signing, former Detroit Tiger, Sean Casey (pending a physical) to a deal worth $800,000. Casey will mainly back-up Youkillis and could fill in for a David Ortiz if need be. He is also a valuable left bat off the bench. Fenway Park could also resurrect his slugging percentage, if he learns to use the monster. Casey is a great guy to have around the clubhouse and everywhere he plays teammates love him and fans adore him.
Even though the Red Sox haven’t signed any big names yet, this off-season. They are addressing the soft parts and reloading a team, already full of World Champions.
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