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April 10, 2007
Lester sharp in rehab start for Class-A Greenville
GREENVILLE, S.C. — Jon Lester continued his rehab assignment for the Boston Red Sox on Tuesday, throwing 51 pitches in four innings of play for the Class-A Greenville.
Lester retired the first eight batters he faced, striking out five.
This was Lester’s second rehab start for the Drive as he attempts to return to Boston’s rotation after an offseason of cancer treatments.
In his first start in Charleston on Thursday, Lester shut out the New York Yankees’ affiliate, the Charleston RiverDogs, on two hits over four innings.
The 23-year-old pitcher is due for his next checkup later in April to see if he’s still cancer free. Lester was diagnosed with anaplastic large cell lymphoma, a cancer in the body’s lymph system, late last season.
He went 7-2 with a 4.76 ERA as a rookie last season. But in August, doctors found the cancer.
Lester underwent six chemotherapy treatments between the discovery and Dec. 21, then reported to Boston’s training camp in early February — about two weeks ahead of the due date.
Previous tests have shown him without cancer. Still, the Red Sox didn’t want to rush Lester back. He didn’t pitch in a major league exhibition game, only facing minor league competition.
Last week, Lester was sent to Greenville, where he’s expected to make at least four starts.
Posted by Chris Venditto at 10:33 PM | Permalink
And more postgame reaction
From J.D. Drew . . .
-- [On his home run] ''Yeah, I think the ball was traveling pretty well today. There were some balls hit later in the game that didn't look like they were hit that well but went a long ways. For the swing I had on that changeup, it was a good pitch up in the zone, stayed flat through it, and really got some good backspin, carried out, you know, I'll take it.''
-- [On his first Fenway opener] ''It was great. It was a great time. All the pregame festivities. There's just always something that you know you always want. Your home fans are what you want to pay homage to . . . It couldn't have worked out any better. You know, you get a chance to score a lot of runs and get a chance to, you know, hit a big home run in your first game here. It was special . . . I was definitely excited [to] get a feel for, you know, the corner there in right field and just the overall enviornment that is Boston baseball.''
-- [On Matsuzaka pitching tomorrow] ''Yeah, that will be a great matchup. I know Dice-K came out and threw a great game the last time he pitched and the other guy [Seattle's starter tomorrow, Felix Hernandez] did, as well, so we got our work cut out for us as hitters. They definitely have a good offensive club and Dice-K, I think he showed what he, all those pitches the last time he pitched, so I bet it will be fun to watch.''
Posted by Art Martone at 7:25 PM | Permalink
More postgame reaction
From Terry Francona . . .
-- ''Very, very impressed [by Josh Beckett]. I thought he pitched a good ballgame from start to finish and it's obviously nice to get runs, but I thought he stayed with his game plan, didn't waver from that, didn't let the score waiver his concentration at all. He did very well, he could have stayed out there. Just wanted to give [Mike] Timlin an inning and try to get [Brendan] Donnelly a full inning. We have not been real effective with that yet, but we'll get there.''
-- [On the layoff hurting the Mariners] ''I don't think it helped. Again, they were put in a tough situation over the last four days. But they have a pretty good guy [Felix Hernandez] throwing tomorrow. We'll have our hands full.''
-- [On the offense breaking out] ''It's a nice way to play the game. When you score first and then add on, that's a good recipe for winning. They looked . . . I understand they've been stuck for a couple of days. We had an advantage today and we took advantage of it. Hopefully we can do it for a couple of more days.''
-- [On Jason Varitek] ''Last week on the road trip, he could have come off that road trip with four home runs and nobody will ever remember that. He cut balls in Kansas City more than in Texas. We kind of keep track of that because when a guy looks up and sees his batting average low but is hitting some balls right on the nose in the wind or with cold weather, that's about all we can ask of him, so I think he has felt pretty good about himself. But hits help. When you look up and see your batting average rising, runs batted in on the scoreboard, that certainly helps.''
-- [More on Beckett] ''There were even some changeups today, one was 84, I mean there were some that were 87, 88, 89, but if he stays down with it, and if it's off of his fastball, it's still going to help, and if it's used in the right situation. And then he got that breakinbg ball that's changing planes, which is pretty effective. I mean if he's throwing a changeup down and fastball down in the same area, anything off of that fastball, because he's got some movement on his fastball, is going to be helpful.''
Posted by Art Martone at 7:16 PM | Permalink
Words from the captain
BOSTON -- What Jason Varitek was saying in the Red Sox clubhouse . . .
On Josh Beckett: ''Josh threw a nice little game. He mixed in all of his pitches, it didn’t matter what the score was. He had a good feel for his secondary pitches . . . This outing it was a good mix of his pitches. He had good feel for them and that’s what he set out to do during spring training. The (first game of the season) he didn’t have the same feel he had today. He was able to make adjustments to the conditions and really utilize all his pitches.”
On the team's offensive output: “We swung the bats well. The conditions weren’t favorable for any team. We were able to put ourselves in good counts and get some good pitches. First and foremost the job was done by Josh and he did a phenomenal job pitching.”
On his three-hit performance: “I had the balls fall today. I hit some balls well on the road trip, I just didn’t get the results from it. We’ll continue to make adjustments and today I just found some holes.”
On if he was concerned about not hitting during spring training: “No. That’s why we’re here, we have to play games and keep going out there and working on things. We’re just trying to get more at-bats and more games.''
On Daisuke Matsuzaka, who makes his Fenway debut Wednesday: “He’s only pitched one game. I don't think you can accomplish too much in one game, but we just want to go out and let our offense work and for him to keep the game close and not let it get out of hand. That’s the biggest expectation we have for him – quality starts. With him it’s strike one with different pitches and utilizing his pitches. We still have a learning curve to go through to adjust to hitters when he sees teams for the first time.”
On Mike Timlin: “It’s a long time being cold sitting in that bullpen to make your first appearance. It’s just nice to have him on the mound. We probably just made a selection error on that pitch to [Richie] Sexton, but we got through all his pitches at least once, so that was good.”
-- JOE McDONALD
Posted by Art Martone at 6:34 PM | Permalink
On Deck, Dice-K versus Ichiro
When his name was announced during the Opening Day festivities, Daisuke Matsuzaka, the Red Sox' prized (and $103-million) pitching export, was given a rousing ovation from Boston's fans at Fenway Park.
He'll be hoping to generate more cheers on Wednesday night when he makes his home debut.
And while that would be enough to generate a major media blitz, Dice-K's first game at Fenway will have even a more heightened sense of interest because the very first batter he will face will be none other than Japanese countryman Ichiro Suzuki.
Matsuzaka, who fanned 10 and gave up only one run in seven innings in Kansas City last week in his first big-league game, is a star in the making in the majors. Ichiro already is a superstar.
Boston manager Terry Francona was asked what he expects of their matchup.
"I hope (Dice-K) gets him out," said Francona. "I'm sure there will be some flash bulbs going off. From our standpoiint it doesn't go much past that."
Coco Crisp, for one, said he'll be interested to see how those one-on-one confrontations go.
"Those are two guys from the other side of the world," said Red Sox center fielder Coco Crisp. "It's going to be fun to watch Dice-K pitch to Ichiro. Dice-K is an unbelievable pitcher and Ichiro has such great bat control."
The Sox, meanwhile, are trying not to over-hype Matsuzaka and what he might mean to the team's playoff hopes.
"We still have a learning curve to go through and adjust to the hitters when he sees a team for the first time," said catcher Jason Varitek. "He's only pitched one game. I don't think a guy can accomplish too much in one game."
But he still has been impressive, especially given the attention he has drawn from the Japanese media and the media in this country, said Francona.
"He's really in command of what he's doing," said Francona. "Things on the periphery don't seem to affect him so it affects us less."
-- Steven Krasner
Posted by Steven Krasner at 6:29 PM | Permalink
More from the clubhouse
Julio Lugo on Fenway Park debut:
“I felt better today. I’m feeling good and I’m getting my rhythm. I was a little nervous. I’m nervous all the time, but I just come and try to do my best. I felt good and it was nice to get a win."
Lugo on team's offense:
“Today we just hit the ball. "Those days are going to come. Some days you're going to hit and some days you're not going to hit."
Kevin Youkilis on the team's victory:
"We got out to an early lead and we were making pitches and scoring some early runs. We gave Josh a big boost with a lot of runs and he was great."
On his day at the plate:
“I just got some good pitches to hit and I capitalized on them. It’s just great to be back at Fenway and digging into that dirt at home plate. It’s just an exciting time.”
Youkilis on Beckett:
“He threw real well,” said Youkilis. “If we keep a lead for him, he’s going to keep them down. He threw the ball great and by guys.”
Youkilis on Dice-K's start tomorrow:
“Who’s pitching? Oh, Dice. Yeah, it’s going to be wild, but it’s great. It doesn’t affect him and that’s the biggest thing because if it doesn’t affect him it’s great for us. He’s used to it, and for us, it’s fun to watch it all.”
Youkilis on J.D. Drew:
“He’s doing good. He’s all the people that write bad stuff about him that he’s a good player. There’s a reason why the Red Sox signed him, and hopefully all the doubters out there will realize why we signed him.”
Youkilis on Varitek:
“He had some good at-bats,” said Youkilis. “He didn’t crush the ball today. He basically got up there and had some good at-bats and got three hits. It shows that he had some great at-bats and he didn’t try to do too much. He just tried to get up there, swing down on the ball and he was great.”
Posted by Joe McDonald at 6:23 PM | Permalink
Timlin struggles in debut
Veteran right-hander Mike Timlin was activated from the disabled list for the home opener against Seattle after having missed the first week because of a strained oblique muscle, suffered in spring training.
And manager Terry Francona said before the game that he wanted to get Timlin into action as soon as possible to get acclimated to a new season.
The blowout against the Mariners provided Francona with the opportunity to bring in Timlin so he could get some work. Timlin, though, was not very impressive in his 2007 season debut.
Timlin, pitching in his 962nd big-league game, was tagged for two runs on a pair of hits and a walk in the ninth inning of the Sox' 14-3 victory. Timlin, who had thrown an inning in a pair of games for the Pawtucket Red Sox last week, had to hold his breath on his 24th and final pitch, with right fielder Wily Mo Pena hauling in Ben Broussard's fly ball at the fence in front of the Seattle bullpen, ending the game.
-- Steven Krasner
Posted by Steven Krasner at 6:12 PM | Permalink
We've gone final: Red Sox 14, Mariners 3
BOSTON -- When the Red Sox brass began dreaming about what kind of team they wanted in 2007, this is what they dreamed about.
They got great pitching (seven sterling innings from Josh Beckett, who gave up two hits and no walks and stuck out eight), explosive hitting up and down the lineup (three hits each from Jason Varitek and Kevin Youkilis, and three RBI each from Varitek and J.D. Drew) and airtight defense. It all added up to a 14-3 romp over the Mariners before the standard sellout crowd in the home opener at Fenway Park.
The Sox jumped out early, scoring four runs in the first inning and three in the second, and they never looked back. They were held without a run in only two innings, the sixth and the eighth.
Keep coming back, because we'll have more as the evening progresses . . . .
-- ART MARTONE
Posted by Art Martone at 5:17 PM | Permalink
Making a blowout interesting....
For a 14-1 game, it's suddenly interesting here at Fenway.
After Brendan Donnelly struck out Jose Guillen, Guillen barked at Donnelly and the two jawed and then approached each other as benches and dugouts cleared.
Some background: the two were once teammates in Anaheim, but when Guillen played for Washington in 2005, Guillen told Nationals manager Frank Robinson to check Donnelly's glove for a foreign substance. The umps found something and Donnelly was given a 10-game suspension.
After order was restored here, Donnelly then drilled Kenji Johjima in the backside, earning himself an ejection. Hideki Okajima is now making his Fenway debut.
-- SEAN McADAM
Posted by Sean McAdam at 4:42 PM | Permalink
Poor, but not cheap
You're seeing today why many people (including our Joe McDonald and Steve Krasner) picked the Seattle Mariners as the first team to be eliminated from the American League playoff chase this year.
But this is no low-budget team. According to the Associated Press, the Mariners' payroll is $106.5 million this year, the 7th-highest among the 30 big league teams. They trail only the big-market Yankees, Red Sox, Mets, White Sox, Angels and Dodgers.
Posted by Mike McDermott at 4:29 PM | Permalink
Just so you know...
In striking out Ichiro for the third time today, Josh Beckett joined an exclusive club. Tim Hudson -- now with Atlanta, then with Oakland -- is the only other pitcher to fan Ichiro three times in the same game. That came on Sept, 19, 2003.
The last time Ichiro struck out three times in a game, period, was May 3, 2005.
-- SEAN McADAM
Posted by Sean McAdam at 4:08 PM | Permalink
Inside the Game: Know Thy Fielders' Arms
The third-base coach has to know the arm strength and accuracy of the opposition's outfielders.
That knowledge tells him, along with the variable of the baserunner's speed, when to send a guy home.
Give Boston's third-base coach, DeMarlo Hale, a high grade for doing his homework.
With catcher Jason Varitek on second base and Dustin Pedroia at first in the third inning, Julio Lugo banged a bad-hop single off third baseman Adrian Beltre's midsection. The ball ricocheted into left field, where left fielder Raul Ibanez chased it down.
Ibanez picked up the ball in relatively shallow left as Varitek was just rounding the third-base bag. Hale waved home Varitek, gambling that an expected weak throw from Ibanez would allow the slow-footed catcher to score.
Hale was right.
Varitek beat the weak one-hop throw, and the Sox got a bonus when the ball hit Varitek and rolled away from home plate, permitting Pedroia and Lugo to each move up an extra base.
-- STEVEN KRASNER
Posted by Steven Krasner at 3:55 PM to Krasner
And the amazing thing about giving up 15 runs in the 1950 opener -- see Mike McDermott's post below -- is that they scored 10 in that game!
Just back from a walk around Fenway. Mary Murphy and I had taken our own tour before the gates opened, but I wanted to see if the changes did make the sort of difference in reducing traffic and congestion that the team had hoped.
A quick checklist:
-- Behind the plate, where the beerstand is, is just as crowded as ever.
-- It is easier to get around the upper part of the third-base grandstand, at least a little.
-- The new open area behind the third-base grandstand -- the Jordan's 3rd-Base Deck, I believe they're calling it -- is very popular. The live models posting as ballplayers who were there before the game (Mary got a couple of pictures of them) are gone, however, and a good thing. Seeing real people standing on pedestals in uniform, staring in for imaginary signs and swinging at make-believe pitches, was extremely disconcerting. It reminded me of those live models behind the smoked glass in George Hamilton's office in the old movie Doc Hollywood.
-- The place seems more open and airy this year, and that's because some of the brick walls on the third-base side have been replaced with glass.
The fans seem to like it. Or at least they're happy, anyway. And why wouldn't they be, ahead 12-1 in the fifth?
-- ART MARTONE
Posted by Art Martone at 3:55 PM to Martone
High-scoring home openers
The Red Sox are piling up the runs, but they still have a little ways to go to set a new mark for home openers.
The most runs that Boston has ever scored on the first game at Fenway was 15, on 1973 against the Yankees. They had a powerful run from 2000-2002, beating Minnesota 13-4; beating Tampa Bay 11-4; then losing to Toronto 12-11.
Since 1901, according to the Baseball Almanac, the Red Sox have scored in double figures on their home opener 10 times, including today. They've been shut out five times over that same span. The most runs they've given up: 15, to the Yankees, in 1950.
Posted by Mike McDermott at 3:47 PM | Permalink
Inside the Game: Sloppy Seattle
The fear of Seattle manager Mike Hargrove was that his Mariners would be quite rusty today in their game against Boston.
Seattle hadn't played since last Wednesday, having had a three-game series snowed out in Cleveland prior to visiting Fenway Park.
Hargrove's fears were justified. His Mariners looked as if they were playing their first spring training game as the Red Sox feasted on the poor pitching and shoddy fielding to the tune of an 11-1 lead after four innings.
First baseman Richie Sexson misplayed a popup in the first inning, though he was about to retrieve the ball, which fell behind him, and turn the play into a forceout at second base. Sexson also had trouble tracking a foul popup, which fell into the first row of the seats along the first-base line.
Shortstop Yuniesky Betancourt, generally a dependable fielder, botched a routine double-play grounder in the fourth, leading to a three-run Boston splurge.
At the plate, meanwhile, the Mariners' timing was off, in part because of Josh Beckett's effective use of breaking balls and changeups. Even the peerless Ichiro Suzuki looked feeble, fanning three times in a game for the first time since May 3, 2005.
And Seattle's first two pitchers -- Jeff Weaver and Jake Woods -- had trouble with location, surrendering a total of 11 hits (five for extra bases) over the first four innings.
Boston manager Terry Francona had been asked before the game if he thought the Mariners' inactivity would affect their game.
"I hope that's something that's good for us," he said.
-- STEVEN KRASNER
Posted by Steven Krasner at 3:43 PM | Permalink
Everyone here is bundled up against a typical New England spring, but the folks sitting in the aluminum bleachers on the right-field roof -- inappropriately entitled ''Conigliaro's Corner,'' since the real Conigliaro's Corner was, of course, the center-field triangle area in which people were asked to wear dark clothing to help the batters better see the pitches -- look to be the coldest in the house.
And why not? They're sitting on aluminum benches on top of the roof with the wind buffeting them from all sides. Photographer Mary Murphy were up there before the game, and Mary -- who went up and sat down in the bleachers to get the pitcure that was on the Red Sox page -- said it was as frigid as you'd expect.
-- ART MARTONE
Posted by Art Martone at 3:19 PM to Martone
What's he saying?
Just looked up at the TV and there's The Hawk, Ken Harrelson, talking with Don Orsillo and Jerry Remy.
But the sound is turned down and we can't hear him.
Anyone care to tell us what they're talking about?
-- ART MARTONE
Posted by Art Martone at 3:10 PM | Permalink
Revisiting the past
Just back from the interview room, where six members of the 1967 team -- Carl Yastrzemski, Reggie Smith, Dick Williams, Rico Petrocelli, Dan Osinski and Jose Santiago -- talked with two dozen media members for about 45 minutes.
''You guys are going to miss the first pitch!'' Yaz joked as they entered the room and assembled around the table. But, in actuality, we didn't; the room has a high definition television and the entire first inning -- Josh Beckett's efficient dispatching of the Mariners and Jeff Weaver's bloody mess of a 47-pitch, four-run disaster -- was wallpaper to three-quarters of an hour of fascinating Boston baseball talk.
Yaz eventually left early -- ''I want to go see the ballgame,'' he said genially as he stood up and headed out about half-an-hour into the conversation -- but the others were willing to talk as long as we had questions. They're all fully aware of their place in Boston baseball history and there's no question they appreciate the affection Boston fans have for them even after all these years. ''The best fans in the world are in New England, and maybe the best of them all are right here in Boston,'' said Williams, who ought to know. (He played in four other cities before arriving here as a player in 1963, and managed in five others after being fired as Sox manager in 1969.) ''They understand the game and they know who's putting out and who isn't.''
They were candid, almost extraordinarily so. Williams admitted he didn't get along with the late Tony Conigliaro, but had nothing but praise and admiration for Tony C.'s skills as a hitter. (''People said it was because I didn't like Italians,'' he added. ''Well, I've been married to one now for 52 years. And Billy Conigliaro'' -- who also was part of the ceremony, taking his brother's place in right field even though he didn't join the Sox himself until 1969 -- ''won the center-field job for me in Oakland [in 1973].'') Osinski, sitting two seats away from his old manager, said he and Williams weren't the best of friends, either. ''But no one could have come in here and did a better job than he did,'' Osinski added.
They remembered moments. Santiago recounted his surprising home run against Bob Gibson in Game 1 of the 1967 World Series (''He hung a slider''), and Petrocelli talked of the night that 15,000 people greeted the team at Logan Airport on a Sunday night after it had extended its winning streak to 10 games. But the most meaningful remembrances came from Smith, who had a bitter departure from Boston in 1973.
''To be standing in center field in Fenway Park, and wearing this uniform again for the first time in 34 years . . . it's very special,'' he said.
Bill Reynolds will have a column on the '67 Sox, and more from this press conference, tomorrow on projo.com and in The Providence Journal.
-- ART MARTONE
Posted by Art Martone at 2:43 PM to Martone
Inside the Game: Body Language
With some pitchers, you can tune into a game for one pitch and see a camera shot of the pitcher and know exactly from the body language that it's a bad day.
Derek Lowe was like that.
So is the Mariners' Jeff Weaver.
Yesterday the enigmatic right-hander, who hadn't pitched since March 31, could not find the plate in the first inning. His first six pitches were out of the strike zone. And his control was spotty, at best, throughout the inning.
As each pitch missed, Weaver, his shoulders slumped, would turn and look into the dugout as if pleading that either he wanted to get in out of the cold or he was upset the plate umpire was squeezing him.
Pitching coach Rafael Chavez did make a visit at one point, but manager Mike Hargrove, whose Mariners hadn't played since last Wednesday because of snowouts in Cleveland, resisted the urge to get up a reliever in the bullpen, clearly hoping Weaver could shake off the rust.
That is, until Coco Crisp yanked Weaver's 43rd pitch inside the first-base line for a ground-rule, two-run double, putting Boston on top, 4-0. At that point, left-hander Jake Woods began throwing.
Weaver finally ended the inning on his 47th pitch (only 22 of which were strikes), retiring Dustin Pedroia on a fly ball to left.
Weaver's body language didn't get any better in the second inning. He dejectedly walked around the mound as Julio Lugo and Kevin Youkilis led off with doubles into the left-field corner. And when J.D. Drew's one-handed fly ball to center floated into the seats for a two-run homer and a 7-0 Sox lead, Weaver, hands on hips in disbelief the ball had gone out, once again stared into the Mariners' dugout, seeking the hook or sympathy.
Neither came. He finished the inning as Woods continued to throw in the bullpen, as he had been doing all inning.
-- STEVEN KRASNER
Posted by Steven Krasner at 2:29 PM to Krasner
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Turning back the hands of time
The introductions are over and the pregame ceremony -- the one honoring members of the 1967 Impossible Dream pennant winners -- has begun.
The Sox set it up to be as dramatic as possible. With Robert Goulet singing the "Impossible Dream" in ther background, the '67 players quietly, and without a public introduction (save for their names and pictures appearing on the center-field scoreboard), walked, in uniform, to their 1967 positions from behind the flag draped over the left-field wall.
But the drama of the ceremony was muted by the contemporary players -- Red Sox and Mariners alike -- who insisted on running their wind sprints and playing catch in the midst of it all.
Come on, boys. You couldn't have waited five minutes? We would have held up the start of the game for you.
-- ART MARTONE
Posted by Art Martone at 1:57 PM to Martone
Inside the Game: Beckett pitch selection
It wasn't uncommon last year for Red Sox starter Josh Beckett to throw fastballs on virtually every pitch of the first inning, trying to blaze his way through the opposition and set a tone early on.
That was one of the stubborn streaks that ultimately led to Beckett coughing up a career-high 36 home runs en route to a career-worst 5.01 earned-run average, even though his fastball consistently lit up the radar gun in the mid-90s.
This spring, Beckett vowed to listen more to catcher Jason Varitek, who preferred that the right-hander mix in more of his pitches earlier in the game, keeping the opposition from timing his hard stuff.
Today, Beckett put into practice what he had promised.
His third pitch of the game, on a 1-and-1 count, was a curveball to Ichiro Suzuki. The pitch surprised Ichiro, one of the top hitters in the game. He took it for a strike.
Later in the inning, Beckett threw an 0-and-1 changeup to Jose Vidro, the Mariners' number three hitter. Vidro took it for a strike. Vidro saw three offspeed pitches in his seven-pitch at-bat, ultimately grounding out to first base.
Beckett's new philosophy appeared again in the third inning.
With a runner at third and one out, Beckett's pitch sequence to Ichiro was fastball, changeup, curve and then a fastball that Ichiro swung late at and missed for a key strikeout. Adian Beltre was next. The sequence to him was changeup away (ball), curveball away (ball), curve (strike called), fastball inside (swing and a miss), fastball outside (foul) and fastball inside (flyout to center).
-- STEVEN KRASNER
Posted by Steven Krasner at 1:34 PM | Permalink
Sox Streakers for Opening Day, April 10
From the Red Sox official game notes:
-The Red Sox have won 2 straight and 11 of their last 15 home openers.
-Josh Beckett will start the first game at Fenway for the second straight year; he won last year's opener against Toronto.
-New acquisition J.D. Drew is the only member of the team who has hit safely in all six games so far.
-The Seattle Mariners have won five in a row over the Red Sox coming into this afternoon. But they'd have to win 52 more to even the all-time series, which Boston leads, 191-139.
-This would be a good day for Jason Varitek to produce some offense. The catcher, who is batting just 2-for-16 (a .125 average) is a .421 lifetime hitter (8-for-19, 2 home runs) off Seattle starter Jeff Weaver.
Posted by Mike McDermott at 1:34 PM to Projo Sox Streakers
More roster moves
per Red Sox release:
--Lefthanded pitcher Javier Lopez was optioned to Triple-A Pawtucket of the International League, effective on Monday.
--Righthanded pitcher Mike Timlin has been activated from the 15-day disabled list, effective today, and will be in uniform for this afternoon’s game with Seattle.
--Righthanded pitcher J.D. Durbin, who was claimed on waivers from the Arizona Diamondbacks on Monday, has been designated for assignment.
Posted by Joe McDonald at 1:20 PM | Permalink
Photo: Photogs' eyes on Dice-K
Journal photo / Mary Murphy
Photographers point their cameras towards Daisuke Matsuzaka in the outfield, where he was throwing to another pitcher as the Red Sox took batting practice at the home opener today. The Japanese import, known as Dice-K, is one of the star attractions this year. Josh Beckett pitches today; Matsuzaka takes the mound tomorrow.
Posted by Andrea Panciera at 12:49 PM | Permalink
Papi putting on a hitting display
The Red Sox just completed BP and if you want to judge what type of game Big Papi is going to have, he was just generating some serious power. Ortiz was launching balls well over the bullpens in right field with ease. It's too bad fans are not allowed into the park when the Sox are taking batting practice, because Ortiz always puts on a good show.
Posted by Joe McDonald at 12:06 PM | Permalink
Projo SoxTalk with Art Martone: Audio from Fenway
Journal photo / Mary Murphy
Martone calls in a report from his seat behind home plate as the Red Sox take batting practice.
This morning, Journal sports editor Art Martone calls in from Fenway Park to set the scene for today's opener. Click here to listen to the audio.
Posted by Mike McDermott at 11:45 AM to Martone
A few lineup notes
Red Sox manager Terry Francona just concluded his daily press conference with the media.
Tito thought about starting Eric Hinske today because he has decent numbers against the Mariners' Jeff Weaver. In 25 career at-bats, Hinske has a .400 average with 10 hits, 1 homer and 6 RBI. But, Seattle has not played since Wednesday due to four concelations (snow) and its rotation is all out of whack.
Tito also said it's likely outfielder Wily Mo Pena could play on Thursday, but nothing is etched in stone.
Because of all the hoopla surrounding Matsuzaka arrival in Boston, and his Fenway debut tomorrow, Francona did not discuss the "rookie's" second start of the season. Instead, he spoke about how the Japanese phenom has delt with all the distractions.
"He has real command of what he's doing," said Francona. "And that makes it a lot easier for us."
Posted by Joe McDonald at 11:40 AM | Permalink
Red Sox clubhouse packed
Because of the home-opener, and all the attention placed on Dice-K, the Red Sox clubhouse was overloaded. After a few minutes the Japanese media was asked to exit the room because Matsuzaka was not talking.
The clubhouse is the smallest in the majors, so any extra room will only make everyone's job, including the players, a lot easier.
Because of the overwhelming media members, the Red Sox renovated the press box high above home plate and did a nice job with the project.
Posted by Joe McDonald at 11:32 AM | Permalink
Pedro ready for home-opener
No, not Pedro Martinez. We're talking about Red Sox second baseman Dustin PEDROia.
The rookie, known as Pedro to his teammates, is starting at second for today's home-opener against the Mariners and batting in the ninth spot.
Pedro made his major-league debut last Aug. 22 against the Angels in Anaheim, and today will be his first MLB home-opener at Fenway Park.
"It was a long road trip," he said. "Now we're just excited to be home."
The four-year pro has quickly moved up the Sox' organizational ladder and now that he's in Boston, likely on a full-time basis, he just wants to keep it simple. He admitted only moments ago that he tried to do too much last August.
"My job is just to go out and do anything I can to help the team win," he said. "I'm not worried about anything else but that. That's all I can focus on and it makes it a lot easier to come to the yard."
Pedroia's introduction to the majors has come with a bit of history in the background. Last summer David Ortiz became the Sox' all-time single-season home run leader when he belted 54, surpassing Jimmie Foxx (50 in 1938). This season Pedro is experiencing the globalization of the game with the Dice-K and Okajima.
"Last year with David I was like 'wow, this is awesome.' It's great, but we just want to win. It's awesome to watch, but I just want to win."
Pedro has a strong work ethic and it's on display right now. He working on DPs with fellow middle infielder Alex Cora.
Posted by Joe McDonald at 11:02 AM | Permalink
Papelbon among the elite
Red Sox closer Jonathan Papelbon has a new locker this season. He has been given the coveted corner stall once occupied by Keith Foulke, Pedro Martinez, Roger Clemens and Dwight Evans.
Dice-K and his fellow countryman Hideki Okajima are sitting next to each, which obviously makes sense.
Mike Timlin has been activated from the DL. Lefty Javier Lopez has been optioned to Pawtucket to make room on the roster.
"He did everything we asked," said Red Sox manager Terry Francona. "It's not the way he pitched; it was a numbers game."
Posted by Joe McDonald at 10:56 AM | Permalink
Today's starting lineups
The Red Sox go with their usual 9:
1. Julio Lugo, ss
2. Kevin Youkilis, 1b
3. David Ortiz, dh
4. Manny Ramirez, lf
5. J.D. Drew, rf
6. Mike Lowell, 3b
7. Jason Varitek, c
8. Coco Crisp, cf
9. Dustin Pedroia, 2b
P. Josh Beckett
1. Ichiro Suzuki, cf
2. Adrian Beltre, 3b
3. Jose Vidro, dh
4. Raul Ibanez, lf
5. Richie Sexson, 1b
6. Jose Guillen, rf
7. Kenji Johjima, c
8. Yuniesky Betancourt, ss
9. Jose Lopez, 2b
P. Jeff Weaver
Interesting note on the international flavor of the game: Only 3 of the 10 players who will start for the Mariners today (Sexson, Ibanez and Weaver) were born in the continental United States. Here are the other countries represented: Japan (Suzuki and Johjima), Dominican Republic (Beltre and Guillen), Puerto Rico (Vidro), Venezuela (Lopez), Cuba (Betancourt).
Posted by Mike McDermott at 10:35 AM | Permalink
It's a bit windy here at Fenway Park as the Red Sox and Mariners prepare for the home-opener.
Parking around the ballpark is going for as much as $90.
The Red Sox' clubhouse opens in 15 minutes, so we'll post the starting lineups ASAP.
The Japanese media is in full force. And, the Red Sox are expecting a total of 350 media members today.
The field looks in mid-season condition.
Posted by Joe McDonald at 10:14 AM | Permalink
Baseball Today: Tuesday, April 10
The local world of baseball in two minutes . . .
TO DREAM: Today officially begins the season-long celebration of the 1967 Impossible Dream Red Sox. More than 20 members of that unforgettable team -- where, though, is George Scott? -- will be part of the Opening Day ceremonies, and, according to today's story by Joe McDonald, there are at least two more events planned with the '67 team this year.
It must be difficult -- nigh, impossible -- for people under the age of 45 or so to understand the mystical grip this team still holds on a certain segment of the population. I've tried to explain it (you can read said explanation in the first link above); so, too, has Carl Yastrzemski. (Boston Globe). Maybe you get it, maybe you don't. Maybe it's not necessary to get it. Look at the pictures (the result of yeoman-like work by Journal employee and Sox fanatic Denise Bass), read the personal remembrances from people such as M. Charles Bakst, listen to the stories from people like the Herald's Steve Buckley (Boston Herald). Pretty soon we'll have some audio from '67 for you to listen to (and maybe even some video). Take it all in.
And just remember: What we have around here today is the direct result of that magical season 40 years ago.
Now, back to the present . . .
ON THE MEND: Pedro Martinez' recovery from shoulder surgery is progressing better than anyone dared hope, according to Fox Sports. (foxsports.com)
IF YOU SAY SO, SCOTT: In that same notes column, Scott Boras channels Kevin Bacon -- "Be calm! All is well!" -- when addressing Jason Varitek's two-year offensive meltdown.
LOCAL BOY MAKES GOOD: To most of the baseball world, the news is Brad Lidge is out as Astros closer. But around here, the news is Dan Wheeler is in. (Houston Chronicle)
EVERYTHING OLD IS NEW AGAIN: Think this pitch-count business is something new? Think again. (Detroit Free Press)
(Milt Pappas is 67 years old?? Seems like yesterday -- to me, anyway -- he was being traded for Frank Robinson.)
MORE WORRIES IN THE SOUTH BRONX: The angst in Yankee Nation over their horrific starting pitching eased a bit last night -- Carl Pavano, savior! -- but Steven Goldman writes in the New York Sun that the Yanks have bigger issues than mediocre starting pitching. ("For all of Brian Cashman's manifold strengths as general manager, when it comes to the major league bench he has always had a cavalier attitude bordering on neglect.") (New York Sun)
AMAZING WHAT YOU CAN FIND OUT WITH A LITTLE TIME ON YOUR HANDS: Joe Posnanski tried another in-game blog last night, but the Royals' one-sided loss to the Blue Jays eventually had him putting up 1980s band surveys. Before that, though, he took a look at some recent teams that broke out of the gate quickly, and what it meant in terms of eventual, season-long success. Nothing really surprising, but I bet you'd forgotten the 1999 Sox started off 5-0. Good thing, too, because that was the season after they lost Mo Vaughn and a slow start would have driven hysteria levels locally completely off the charts. (thesoulofbaseball.blogspot.com)
-- ART MARTONE
Posted by Art Martone at 7:06 AM | Permalink