February 25th, 2009
Whoo Hoo! Baseball for 2009 has officially begun! Red Sox ace Josh Beckett took the mound today at 1:05pm against Boston College (The Sox romped–as usual, winning 7-1) And tonight, at 7:05, Tim Wakefield will take the mound to defend the Mayor’s Cup (The Sox are going for their 3rd consecutive win of the trophy) against the Twins. If you want to watch, you can check out the game on MLB.TV.
And the Sox have decided that Josh Bard will be doing the catching for Wake–for this 1st game anyway. He has been working with bullpen coach Gary Tuck to develop a stance that will allow him to be most effective while catching a knuckleball. From Tuck: “It’s a gradual process. He’s made great progress, but it is batting practice and it is drills…My purpose is to have him ready Opening Day. Timmy will get comfortable with him again. Josh will go through a few bumps in the road, which I don’t hope happen, but when they do, how he reacts after that is very important.”
And no kicking off of the season would be complete without the whole “What should the Red Sox do with (insert your favorite player here) whose contract is expiring at the END OF THE SEASON???!!!” This year its Jason Bay (and, surprisingly, he is the only 1 this year), who came the the Sox last year with a contract that expires at the end of the 2009 campaign, at which time, if he has not signed a contract with the Sox, or is traded, he will become a free agent. Folks, he is under contract NOW–so who care where he will be next year? Can we get through the 2009 campaign before we start worrying about this??? He is what Jason says about it: “I’m comfortable here. No one likes to move around all the time. Especially if you get the chance to become a free agent, there are a handful of places that have a chance to win and Boston is on the short list…Until I have something to consider, I’ve got a year left. I’m playing it and I’m happy.”
If all goes well, next Thursday, March 5th, will be when Brad Penny makes his Red Sox debut, and he is very much looking forward to competing again: “”…, if it was up to me, I’d want to go out there every single day. This will give me more time to strengthen my shoulder to where it should have been…I hope good things. I can’t see the future. But I’m going to try to stay healthy, work my butt off, go out there every fifth day and see what I can do.” Based on his 1st session a couple of days ago, he is doing well, and on track for March 5th…
So, 6 members of the Red Sox will be going to the WBC, Daisuke (who is already in Japan, and will not join the team until after the games…) Jason Bay, Big Papi, Dustin Pedroia, Youk, and Javier Lopez (who will be pitching for Puerto Rico)…and guess what? They leave MONDAY–yes, 4 days from now…and will be gone until after March 23rd, at the latest, depending on how their teams do….
While my thoughts on the WBC are well documented–and, my highest concern is the state of David Ortiz’s wrist–he says its 100%–but what if something happens during these infernal games? Or it weakens it, so it gives out during the season? Lets hope the Domican gets knocked out early, and he doesn’t have to bat much…I hate the WBC…
Tonight:: Red Sox vs Twins, 1st Grapefruit Spring Training Game, 7:05pm, Hammond Stadium