BOSTON _ Kevin Youkilis made it a point to quickly make his way through a crowd of players because he wanted to shake Bill Buckner’s hand. The current Red Sox first baseman – a winner of two World Series Championships – wanted the former Red Sox first baseman – the goat of one World Series defeat – to know how impressed he was of his Opening Day actions.
Boston invited Buckner to throw out the ceremonial first pitch at Fenway Park yesterday, and after much thought, he accepted. He walked out from under the Red Sox championship banner in left field to the mound to a standing ovation from the 36,567 in attendance, along with players from both teams.
The emotion of the moment was long overdue for everyone involved and Youkilis was blown away with the event.
“To be honest,” he said. “I have almost never been close to tears for someone else on a baseball field. But that was the most unbelievable thing. It shows how great of a man Bill Buckner is. There aren’t too many people who can do what he did today. He faced thousands of people who booed him, threatened his life and did horrific things towards him. When they think of his name, they think horrible things.”
Youkilis recently set a new major-league record for 194 consecutive games at first base without an error, surpassing Steve Garvey. Buckner’s career will forever be remembered for his one miscue during Game Six of the 1986 World Series.
“For a man to step out there on the field, it shows how much of a man he is,” said Youkilis. “I tip my cap to him and I just wanted shake his hand because that’s a true man in life. . . He’s been through some tough times in his years.”
Youkilis said it’s a funny thing to hear fans talk about overpaid athletes who just play a game. He thinks that’s simply not true and yesterday was a perfect example of that.
“I think if you ask Bill Buckner, part of his life wasn’t a game,” Youkilis said. “People threatened his life over a game. Sometimes this is more of a game. It’s life here in Boston. To me, it was awesome. I was literally almost in tears for the guy because for Bill Buckner to come out here and throw out the first pitch it says a lot for the man.”
Youkilis wasn’t the only one touched by the moment. Every Red Sox player, including manager Terry Francona thought Buckner deserved it.
“That was one of the most special things I think I’ve ever seen,” said Francona. “To watch his reaction and to watch the fans reaction was very special. I was happy for him. I was thrilled for our fans. I was happy for the organization. I thought it was a very special moment. It actually lasted more than a moment, which I think is also appropriate.”
Youkilis was impressive himself yesterday. He continues to be an offensive force this early in the season, including his 3-for-3 performance with two RBI yesterday. He has now hit safely in six of seven games this season with 2 doubles, 2 triples and three RBI. It’s becoming familiar territory for Youkilis to begin the season strong, but he couldn’t really answer why he always seems to get off to a fast start time and again.
“I’m basically just putting some good at-bats together,” he said. “I’m having some balls fall in for me, but right now I’m just trying to concentrate. I play the game the same way every day from Game One to Game 162. Sometimes it just falls my way.”
Yesterday was his second three-hit game this season.
No one needed a new beginning to the season more than Manny Delcarmen.
The only Boston native on the Red Sox roster, Delcarmen experienced his first home opener as a member of the team and got his World Series ring to boot.
But what really pleased Delcarmen was his outing. After a forgettable weekend in Toronto in which he victimized not once but twice by Toronto's Frank Thomas -- who got him for a two-run double Friday night and a grand slam Sunday, both fueling the Blue Jays' sweep -- Delcarmen pitched a strong inning and a third in the Sox' 5-0 triumph over Detroit.
He relieved starter Daisuke Matsuzaka in the seventh with two out and one on and promptly got Edgar Renteria to fly out to center, ending the inning.
In the eighth, he retired Placido Polanco on a flyout, fanned Gary Sheffield, and after an infield hit to short by Magglio Ordonez, slipped a called third stirke past Miguel Cabrera.
``I thought he hit his location,'' said Terry Francona. ``Manny's smart -- even at this age. He made a couple of mistakes last week, but he's not going to talk himself into getting into a rut. The last thing we're going to do is run away from him, either, so it was a good outing for him.''
``I was happy to go out there and have a good outing,'' said Delcarmen.
Delcarmen threw a bullpen session yesterday morning and conferred with pitching coach John Farrell.
``He told me if I was going to miss (with his location) to miss on the right side,'' Delcarmen said. ``(Francona) said he was going to keep running me out there and that helps my confidence.''
Detroit manager Jim Leyland was asked about the mood of his 0-7 Tigers.
"Obviously we're not playing good. We haven't won a game so I don't know that the confidence level would be down. Probably the disappointment level, but like I said before, you can sit around, whatever people want to use (as an excuse). How does the club feel? The club feels fine," said Leyland.
"We haven't won a game, so obviously we're not in the best of moods, but we've got to go out and earn it. We've got to go out, get some hits and score some runs," he said.
Leyland said he didn't think the lofty preseason expectations -- the Tigers have been picked by many to win the World Series -- have anything to do with the 0-7 record.
"I've always believed that expectations are good," said Leyland. "When you have a lot of expectations, that means you've got a good team and we've got a good team. So if it's weighing on (the players) you need to ask them because it's not weighing on me."
Detroit is the only winless team in the majors. That's a surprise because the Tigers have been the preseason pick in many quarters to not only win the American League Central division, but to capture the World Series as well.
The Red Sox, though, still have a great deal of respect for Detroit's team.
"Anything can happen in April," said the Sox' David Ortiz with a shrug. "It's hard to believe (the Tigers are 0-7), but this team will win games this year and then it's on, baby."
"I would have never guessed that they would start that way," said Boston third baseman Mike Lowell. "I don't think the experts were wrong to pick them as a capable team. That's still a good team. You can't take them lightly at all. They're just not clicking. Hopefully they won't click for another two games."
The victory improved the Sox' home-opener record to 63-45 overall and 54-43 at Fenway Park . . . Boston has won 13 of its last 17 home openers . . . The triple fo Manny Ramirez was his first in 334 at-bats, dating back to last May 26 . . . Kenny Rogers, who suffered the loss, is 0-3 with a 7.30 earned-run average in his last five starts against Boston, dating back to May 10, 2003 . . . At 43 years, 150 days, Rogers is the oldest starter to face the Red Sox in a homer opener since Phil Niekro. The knuckleballer was 46 years, 7 days when he started for the Yankees against Boston on April 8, 1985 . . . The crowd of 36,567 is a record for a home opener, eclipsing the crowd of 35,847 that attended last year's first game, against Seattle, on April 10.
Journal photo / Mary Murphy
A huge flag marking the Red Sox' 2007 championship is unfurled over the Green Monster, as flags of 62 nations are displayed to represent "the breadth and diversity of Red Sox Nation."
Journal photo / Bob Breidenbach
Former Boston Celtic John Havlicek talks with David Ortiz before the game.
Journal photo / Bob Breidenbach
Red Sox chairman Tom Werner with the World Series trophy.
Journal photo / Gretchen Ertl
Daisuke Matsuzaka worked 6.2 scoreless innings in his third start of the season.
Buckner: 'It was about as emotional as it could get'
BY ART MARTONE
Journal Sports Editor
BOSTON -- Those tears he wiped away were real. Bill Buckner admitted that his suprise appearance today at Fenway Park touched him deeply, and that he was indeed teary-eyed as the fans cheered while he made his way in from left field to throw out the ceremonial first pitch.
"It was about as emotional as it could get," Buckner told a group of reporters in the Fenway Park interview room immediately after the ceremony. "A lot of things were going through my mind" as he walked in from left field. "Just good things . . . which is a good thing.
"I appreciate all the thought behind [the invitation from the Red Sox organization]. It was hard to do for me."
The emotions stemmed from the ordeal he's beeen through since committing the error in Game Six in the 1986 World Series that came, rightly or wrongly, to symbolize nearly nine decades of frustration for the Boston organization.
"I had to . . . " he began, and then he stopped for a few moments, choking up again. "I had to forgive, not the fans of Boston. In my heart, I had to forgive the media for what they put me and my family through. I've done that, gotten over that, and just thought of the positives, the happy things."
One of the reasons he views the media differently now: His daughter Christen is a television reporter, and was at Fenway covering the event herself.
"It's helped me accept you guys back into the family," he joked.
He said he understood the criticism he received for the error.
"As athletes, we know . . . going in [that failure is part of the package]," he said. "But what message do we want to send our kids? If you don't succeed, don't try?"
But he felt that the criticism, at time, was unjust.
"Some of it was over the line," he said. "The hard part was how it affected my family, my kids."
Buckner said the Red Sox contacted him about a month-and-a-half ago, asking him to part of today's ceremonies, and at first he declined.
"But I prayed about it a little bit," he said, "and now I'm glad I'm came.
"They're such a class organization," he said of the Red Sox. "They do things right, and the players appreciate it."
Nor was he really surprised at the rousing ovation he received.
"I did my best while I was here, played hard, and I know the fans appreciated that," he said. "The fans have been great. It was tough for me at first to understand the mentality of New England sports, but I did after a while and I like it. I love the passion. I don't like apathy, like in Los Angeles where the fans all leave in the seventh inning.
"My two best memories were 1990" -- when the fans gave him an ovation similar to today's when he returned to the Red Sox after 2 1/2 years away -- "and today."
He threw out the first pitch to former teammate Dwight Evans, who was delighted to see Buckner return.
"To see him walk out, I was so happy for him," said Evans. "It was emotional for me, too."
The Pawtucket Red Sox are playing a matinee game today against the Lehigh Valley IronPigs, and the PawSox are ahead, 3-1, in the bottom of the seventh inning.
Starting pitcher Chris Smith, filling in for the injured Bartolo Colon, struck out seven batters over four shutout innings, while designated hitter Chris Carter continues to be red hot at the plate. Carter's 2-for-2 with a double, a walk, an RBI and a run scored, and he is now 10-for-20 on the season.
Meanwhile, Bobby Kielty, a key member of the 2007 world champion Red Sox, is starting in right field rather than collecting his ring at Fenway. Kielty is 1-for-1 with a single and a pair of walks.
Red Sox legend Bill Buckner returned to Fenway Park today for the first time since September of 1997. He just threw out the first pitch and was given a standing ovation. Dwight Evans served as his catcher.
Current Red Sox first baseman Kevin Youkilis just had a brief conversation with Buckner.
The Sox' surprise: Bill Buckner throws out the first pitch
BOSTON -- On a day when everything was planned and choreographed to the letter, the highlight may have been the moment no one expected.
After the 2007 World Series championship flag was unfurled over the left-field wall -- it billowed a bit, forcing the crew to scramble to get it flat against the scoreboard -- and the rings were distributed and the Series pennant raised, the Sox sprung their surprise: Bill Buckner.
Buckner, whose Game Six error in the 1986 World Series had come to symbolize almost nine decades of frustration for the Sox franchise, was asked to throw out the first pitch. As he walked in from left field, he appeared to be wiping away tears as he received a thunderous ovation.
He is about to speak to the media. We'll have more momentarily.
Buckner to throw out first pitch, and more stuff about today
Here is the official Red Sox pregame release on the Opening Day ceremonies:
Some quick highlights: The ceremonial first pitch will be thrown out by former Red Sox Bill Buckner. Along with the World Series trophy, the Stanley Cup, Larry O'Brien Trophy and the Lombardi Trophy (NFL) will be on hand today.
The Boston Red Sox celebrated their 108th Home Opener, and the 96th for Fenway Park, on Tuesday, April 8, 2008 with a pre-game ceremony that celebrated the Club’s 7th World Championship Title and ushered in the 2008 season at home. The ceremony featured the presentation of the 2007 World Championship Rings, the hoisting of the 2007 World Championship Banner, a parade of flags from 62 countries representing the breadth and diversity of Red Sox Nation, a flyover of F-16 jets, and a Ceremonial First Pitch from a Red Sox Alumnus making his long-awaited return to Fenway Park.
The following is a detailed description of each aspect of the pre-game ceremonies.
Videos of Memorable Moments from 2007: The ceremonies were kicked off with three videos recapping the most memorable moments from the 2007 season. The first video featured game clips from the 2007 regular season that ended with the Sox winning their first American League East Championship since 1995. The second video showcased clips from the 2007 American League Division and Championship Series, the last video highlighted clips from the 2007 World Series where the Red Sox swept the National League Champion Colorado Rockies in four straight games to win their seventh World Championship title.
The Parade of Nations: The recap videos were followed by a parade of flags in front of the Green Monster from 62 different countries that represented the wide-spread appeal of the Red Sox throughout the globe. The nations represented by these flags either count Red Sox Nation members as its residents or have citizens who have been in touch with the Red Sox Front Offices via letters and emails professing their love for the ‘Olde’ Towne Team’. The countries represented were: Afghanistan, Antigua and Barbuda, Australia, Austria, The Bahamas, Belgium, Bermuda, Brazil, Bulgaria, Canada, China, Columbia, Costa Rica, Cuba, The Czech Republic, Denmark, Dominican Republic, France, Gabon, Germany, Ghana, Greece, Guam, Guatemala, Haiti, Honduras, India, Indonesia, Iraq, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Jamaica, Japan, Lithuania, Malaysia, Mexico, The Netherlands, New Zealand, Nicaragua, Norway, Philippines, Poland, Portugal, Puerto Rico, Romania, Russian Federation, Slovakia, South Africa, South Korea, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Taiwan, Thailand, Turkey, Ukraine, United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom, United States of America, Venezuela and Vietnam.
The Banners: All seven World Championship banners were ceremoniously unfurled on the Green Monster to the Theme from Jurassic Park, composed by John Williams, which was chosen because of its gentle yet celebratory grandeur. The 2004 and 2007 championship banners spanned the length of the entire left field wall. The Sox are the only Major League Baseball team to win two World Championships in the 21st century. The large 2004 and 2007 banners were all hand-stitched and created by Heritage Flag of South Boston, MA. The swallow-tail banners representing championships in 1903, 1912, 1915, 1916 and 1918 were made by Flag Graphics of Somerville, MA. All flag and banner related logistics were handled on Opening Day by John Coyne of USA Sign in Boston, MA.
Champions of Boston: The pre-game ceremony featured an impressive array of athletes from the Bruins, Celtics and Patriots. The ‘Champions of Boston’ ceremoniously carried the World Championship Rings to be presented to the 2007 Red Sox and handed them over to Red Sox Ownership for presentation.
From the Boston Bruins
Left Wing John ‘Johnny’ Bucyk
Left Wing Ken Hodge
Left Wing Donald ‘Don’ Marcotte
Right Wing John ‘Johnny’ McKenzie
Defenseman Bobby Orr
From the Boston Celtics
Guard/Current Executive Director of Basketball Operations Danny Ainge
Guard/Forward M.L. Carr
Guard/Forward John Havlicek
Guard K.C. Jones
Center Bill Russell
Guard/Current Director of Special Projects Jo Jo White
From the New England Patriots
Linebacker Tedy Bruschi
Running Back Kevin Faulk
Linebacker Larry Izzo
Long Snapper Lonnie Paxton
The 2004 Boston Red Sox
Infielder Brian Daubach
Pitcher Curtis Leskanic
Infielder/Pitcher Dave McCarty
The Championship Trophies: The Champions from each of the four Boston sports franchises were accompanied by one of the Championship trophies that each of those franchises won.
The Stanley Cup: National Hockey League
The Larry O’Brien Trophy: National Basketball Association
The Lombardi Trophy: National Football League
The Commissioner’s Trophy: Major League Baseball
By our research, this is the first time that all four trophies have been in one location at the same time.
The 2007 World Championship Rings: The 2007 Boston Red Sox World Series Championship ring is cast in brilliant white gold. The top of the ring has twenty-eight round brilliant-cut diamonds channel-set around the bottom of the bezel. On the top of the bezel, recessed in black letters, are the words “World Champions”.
Centered on top of the ring is the Red Sox logo, (a pair of red socks) cast in brilliant white gold each set with four custom fitted natural rubies mounted on a diamond base crest depicting a baseball diamond. The diamond base crest is inlaid with fourteen princess-cut diamonds. The baseball diamond overhangs an inner bezel and is set on a field of four custom faceted synthetic blue sapphires.
The left side of the ring has “7th World Series Championship” in raised relief on a black background. Underneath is a depiction of Fenway Park with “4-0 Sweep” at the bottom of the panel.
There are two versions of the right side of the ring. For those players’ who played on both the 2004 and 2007 World Championship teams, their rings have a panel with the recipient’s name in raised relief on a black background above a maroon-enameled initial “B” between two World Series Trophies. For those players who played only on the 2007 team, their rings have one trophy on the right and a maroon-enameled initial “B” on the left. For all rings, at the bottom of the panel in raised relief is the recipient’s uniform number with the year “2007”.
The inside of the ring is engraved with: “Boston Red Sox” and “10-28-07”.
The ring features a total of 42 diamonds with a total weight of 2.33 carats. The total weight of the ring is 50 dwt.
"The ring is stunning! Clearly reflecting the great care the Red Sox take in recognizing their organization,” said Tim Larson, president and CEO, Jostens. "Jostens is honored to work with Red Sox on the entire process that culminates in the delivery of the World Championship rings for today's historic ceremony."
The Ring Presentation: The rings were presented in nine distinct groups in order: Manager and Coaches; Trainers and Clubhouse Staff; Catchers; Starting Pitchers; Infield; Outfield; Bullpen; Closer; and the Designated Hitter.
The rings for the Manager and the Coaches were given out as the Boston Pops played the Main Theme to the Magnificent Seven, originally composed by Elmer Bernstein, chosen to collectively represent Manager Terry Francona and his team of six coaches.
When the Saints Go Marching In was played during the distribution of rings for the Trainers and Clubhouse Staff.
The Main Theme to Superman, composed by John Williams, was performed by the Boston Pops when Captain and Catcher Jason Varitek, Catcher Kevin Cash and former Catcher Doug Mirabelli received their rings to represent Varitek’s signature at-bat song Kryptonite by the band 3 Doors Down.
The Main Theme to Raiders of the Lost Ark, composed by John Williams, was played as the starting pitchers received their rings. The song was chosen to embody the ‘go-getter’ spirit of the pitching staff that was best embodied by the Indiana Jones character.
The 2007 Infield received their World Championship rings to the tune of the popular James Bond Theme, originally composed by Monty Norman, representing their slick defensive and dashing offensive capabilities.
The 2007 Outfield received their rings to the strains of the John Williams masterpiece The Throne and End Titles in Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope, which was selected because of its regality and splendor reflecting the myriad personalities of the Red Sox’ spectacular outfield last season.
The Bullpen from last season received their rings to the tune of He’s a Pirate from the Pirates of the Caribbean series, which was chosen to appropriately represent the ‘pirate’ theme that the bullpen went by the entire season last year.
Closer Jonathan Papelbon received his ring to his signature song, Shipping Up to Boston by the Dropkick Murphys
Designated Hitter David Ortiz, responsible for so many exciting walk-off wins during his tenure here in Boston, received his ring to the Red Sox’ victory song at Fenway Park, Dirty Water by the Standells.
2007 World Championship Flag: Created by Flag Graphics of Somerville, MA, the 2007 World Championship Flag was hoisted on the centerfield banner. The flag went up as the Boston Pops played A Hymn To New England, composed by John Williams and played as a tribute to New England, its people and Red Sox fans who have stuck with the team through the good times and bad.
Flag Military: Members of the Electronic Systems Center and Hanscom Air Force Base in Bedford, MA assisted with the giant United States Flag draped on the Green Monster. They were led by Lt. Gen. Ted Bowlds.
National Anthem: The National Anthem was performed by members of the Boston Pops Brass Ensemble led by James Orent.
Flyover: The Flyover was presented by the 158 Fighter Wing ‘Green Mountain Boys’ of the Vermont Air National Guard. Four F-16 ‘Fighting Falcon’ jets flew in and out of Hanscom Air Force Base in Bedford, MA for the Opening Day presentation.
Ceremonial First Pitch: The Ceremonial First Pitch was delivered by former Red Sox First Baseman Bill Buckner. Buckner amassed 2715 hits and 1208 RBI in a 21-year career in which he wore the uniform of five different Major League teams. He won the National League batting title with the Chicago Cubs in 1980 with an average of .324 and was named to the National League All-Star Team in 1981. He recorded only 453 strikeouts in 2,517 games and had one of the best at bats-per-strikeout rates in the history of the game. In 1986 he drove in 102 RBI during the regular season to help the Red Sox win the American League Pennant. In Game 6 of the World Series, Mookie Wilson’s grounder through his legs led to Ray Knight scoring the winning run for the Mets, capping a 3-run rally, and pushing the series to a 7th game in which the Sox once again surrendered a 3-0 lead. Marty Barrett made the last out for the Sox with Buckner on-deck as the Mets won the World Series. Buckner played part of the 1987 season before being released on July 23, 1987.
Buckner made a return to the Red Sox in 1990 and played in 22 games before retiring from baseball. Buckner makes his first visit to Boston since September 1997 when was at Fenway as a Hitting Coach with the Chicago White Sox.
Buckner walked out to the Closing Credits theme from the movie Glory, composed by James Horner. The movie is based on the history of the 54th Massachusetts Volunteer Regiment during the American Civil War and was one of the first formal units of the U.S. Army to be made up entirely of African American soldiers.
Play Ball: The ceremonial pronouncement of “Play Ball” was made by 88-year old Johnny Pesky, who first donned a Red Sox uniform on April 14, 1942, almost 66 years ago.
-The Red Sox and Tigers bring a combined nine straight losses into today's contest.
-This is Detroit's worst start since 2003, when the Tigers started 0-9 on the way to 119 losses.
-The Tigers have scored the fewest runs (15) and have the highest team E.R.A. (5.30) in the American League.
-Magglio Ordonez, who had 139 RBI last season, has none this year.
-Mike Lowell, who had 120 RBI last season, has none this year.
-The last time the Tigers were at Fenway for the Red Sox home opener was 1994, when Boston won, 9-8.
-The Tigers had the league's best team E.R.A. against the Red Sox (2.95) in 2007.
-Ordonez is the ultimate Red Sox killer among active players: he has a .422 career on-base percentage against the Sox (best in the big leagues), a .357 batting avearage and a .596 slugging percentage (second-best in both categories).
-While Kevin Youkilis owns the major-league record for most consecutive error-free games at first base (196), Detroit's Placido Polanco holds the major league record at second base (186).
Tigers vs. Daisuke Matsuzaka
-Edgar Renteria, 3 for 4 (.750)
-Gary Sheffield, 4 for 7 (.571), 2 2B, HR
-Marcus Thames, 1 for 3 (.333), HR
-Carlos Guillen, 2 for 7 (.286), HR
-Magglio Ordonez, 1 for 4 (.250), 2B
-Ivan Rodriguez, 1 for 4 (.250)
-Brandon Inge, 1 for 5 (.200)
-Matsuzaka made two starts against Detroit last year; he was 1-1 with a 4.50 E.R.A.
Red Sox vs. Kenny Rogers
-J.D. Drew, 1 for 2 (.500)
-Coco Crisp, 10 for 30 (.333), 2 2B, BB
-Alex Cora, 1 for 3 (.333), HR
-Manny Ramirez, 19 for 58 (.328), 6 2B, 2 HR, 4 BB
-Mike Lowell, 3 for 10 (.300), 2B
-Sean Casey, 2 for 7 (.286)
-Jason Varitek, 8 for 38 (.211), 2 2B, BB
-Julio Lugo, 4 for 19 (.211), 2B, 2 HR, 2 BB
-David Ortiz, 4 for 19 (.211), 2 2B, 3 BB
-Kevin Youkilis, 0 for 4
-Rogers has made 47 career appearances, including 25 starts, against Boston. He is 11-7 with a 4.81 E.R.A. lifetime. He did not face the Sox last season. He has not beaten Boston since 2003.
Click the play button below to hear Sean's comments, recorded this morning as he was driving to Fenway Park. He discusses the plan for opening day, Bartolo Colon's trip to the disabled list and the continued challenges of juggling Coco Crisp and Jacoby Ellsbury.
Here are some excerpts from Sean's comments:
On today's pregame ceremonies: "The bar has been set pretty high from past pregame extravaganzas, specifically in '05 -- they'll be hardpressed I think to top that from an emotional standpoint, given that that was the first [championship celebration] in 86 years -- but I don't think Red Sox ffans are tired of the ceremonies yet."
On changes at Fenway: "They've done the best with a less than optimum situation. ... I still think -- and maybe this makes me a heretic among Red Sox fans -- but I still think they'd be better off with a new ballpark. But I think financially, they decided that was not viable, so they decided to do the best they can with this, and indeed they have. ... For the first time, this year we can assume that the Red Sox will draw more than 3 million fans, and that's something I think that few people ever imagined possible at Fenway."
On Colon: "I think people got a little too amped up when he had a couple good performances, both for the Red Sox in Los Angeles and, more recently, opening Pawtucket's season. ... I don't think it's going to be much of a setback. I think that it's still quite possible that Colon will be in the rotation by the end of the month."
On Crisp and Ellsbury -- will they continue to get equal playing time? "I don't think it will be equal. I still think that they envision Ellsbury as the guy who is going to take over the job sooner rather than later, but I think early in the year it's smart to keep both of them sharp. It's also not a bad idea to showcase Crisp for some scouts who might be interested in dealing for him. ... Given that Crisp missed so much time in spring training, that sort of made it more difficult to move him, as did the whole Japan and travel and timing issues. So i think eventually they'll get to that, but until they do, they've got to find a way to work it out."
Boston manager Terry Francona said he wasn't thrilled to see the Tigers add slugging third baseman Miguel Cabrera and starting pitcher Dontrelle Willis in an offseason trade with the Marlins to their already solid roster.
"I was one of those guys getting in line thinking about how many more runs will they score and thinking about how they shored up their rotation. Then they had the nerve to have a tough first week," joked Francona.
Detroit was one of the trendy preseason picks to win the World Series. The Tigers are the only winless team in the majors at this point, at 0-6, though Francona didn't put much stock in early season returns.
"At the end of the year, everyone ends up where they're supposed to be. Everything is magnified at the beginning of a season. You can't figure this game out. That's one of the reasons this game is so great. They'll be a great team. I hope we don't see it," said Francona.
Bartolo Colon, who is suffering from a strained oblique muscle, was supposed to have been examined this morning at Fenway Park, but that exam has been pushed off for a day because of Opening Day hoopla at the ballpark, said manager Terry Francona a few minutes ago.
"Today is kind of a crazy day so it makes sense," said Francona of pushing the examination date back a day.
Francona said Colon has had similar problems with his oblique twice in the past and that the Sox won't allow the right-hander, who made a strong debut for Pawtucket last week, to start throwing again until he's "completely pain free."
Why all the fuss? I can't put it any better than I did in this 2006 story I wrote for Page A1. I love Opening Day not because of the hoo-hah that surrounds it, but because, as I said two years ago, it opens the gate to "the long and sometimes painstaking six-month journey from Game 1 to Game 162 (and, if a team has been successful, beyond) . . . So much will happen that we can't know. Players will get injured. Some will play worse than we expect. Some will play better. Controversies will erupt. A losing streak will trigger panic attacks; on radio talk shows, callers (and even some hosts) will proclaim they're 'pulling the plug' on the season during a bad stretch in May or July. It will be exciting. It will be nerve-wracking. It will be long, and sometimes boring, and always unpredictable. And if you're a baseball fan, it will be wonderful."
Even though they've already played seven games in three countries prior to today, this is really the beginning of that wonderful journey.
But if you click the link, you might want to skip over that stuff about Coco Crisp.
SOMETHING WE DON'T KNOW? It could be just a techno glitch -- I certainly hope so -- but everytime I try to access Boston Dirt Dogs I get redirected to the boston.com home page.
THIS IS L.A., PAL, NOT BOSTON: Sounds like Dr. Charles Steinberg is attempting to bring some Henry/Werner/Lucchino Fenway Park traditions -- like Autograph Alley -- to Dodger Stadium. But the L.A. Times' T.J. Simers isn't impressed, especially with a new rule that keeps non-ticket holders out of box-seat areas.
END OF THE LINE: Writing for Sportingnews.com, Richard Justice thinks Andy Pettitte and Brian Cashman may soon be gone from New York because Cashman is trying to institute a long-term philosophy in a short-term city.
MANIPULATING THE VOTE: The Mets were playing Sweet Caroline -- blasphemy! -- in the eighth-inning stretch at Shea, but the song is so associated with the Red Sox that the team conducted an online poll to pick a new eighth-inning tune. The problem, according to the New York Daily News, is that Fark.com readers bombarded the Mets with a write-in a choice -- Rick Astley's Never Gonna Give You Up -- and the Astley song won. So they decided to hold an in-park competition. They'll play six songs over the first six home games -- Astley's, and the five they listed on the poll (Sweet Caroline is one of them) -- and whichever one gets the most fan reaction will be the winner. No word as to whether or not they'll announce which songs will be played when; if they do, Fark.com readers may gobble up all the tickets for that game.