Everyone is in Ft. Myers. Pitchers, catchers, infielders, outfielders, coaches and one big DH. Bullpens have been thrown, an ankle was tweaked (A.J. Pierzynski), beards have been shaved and rockets have been hit. And now everyone comes together today to begin the process of trying to repeat as World Series Champions.
The team's health seems to be good. Shane Victorino will be moved along slowly as he recovers from December thumb surgery. Jake Peavy's stingy ring finger on his throwing hand seems be healing as he participated in long toss yesterday. Dustin Pedroia is taking cuts in the cage after his offseason surgery. A.J. Pierzynski rolled his ankle running sprints a couple days ago. He was held out of bullpens yesterday, but manager John Farrell expects him back in the squat today. And Grady Sizemore is holding up fine so far.
Last month David Ortiz, coming off a season in which he hit .309/.395/.564 with 30 home runs and 103 RBIs and then having a World Series MVP performance, said he wanted to extend his contract, which ends after this season. The response from Red Sox Nation was mixed, and he's been questioned about it by the media repeatedly since then.
"I just want people to stop talking to me about that," Ortiz told the Boston Herald after taking batting practice and signing autographs yesterday. "When you put up numbers like I'm putting up, who's thinking about retiring, know what I'm saying? People keep on asking me, how long do you want to play? When are you going to retire? Dude, look at my numbers. I ain't planning on retiring right now. When I slow down, then I'll retire."
Keep up the good work, Papi!
The health of starter Clay Buchholz has been a topic of conversation for years now, but accounts from JetBlue Park are that his early bullpens have been smooth and impressive. He'll be a big key to the Red Sox success. He proved that when he was on the mound in 2013 that he was one of baseball's best, but staying on the field has not been easy for the 29 year old. Buchholz has thrown more than 100 innings just five times in his pro career including a career high 191 in 2009 split between Pawtucket and Boston.
Utility guy Mike Carp said yesterday that, "This is where I want to be. I want to be able to contribute any way I can this year, so whatever role I have to be in, I'm happy to take that and go about my business every day. This is the only place for me." He spoke up because of lingering trade rumors featuring his name. Carp was acquired February 20th, 2013 from Seattle for cash considerations...a GREAT deal for Boston as he hit .296 with a .362 on-base percentage and nine home runs in 86 games while playing the outfield and first base. Carp said he'd rather been in Boston in a reserve roll rather than be a starter somewhere else. Speaks volumes to the closeness of that clubhouse.
Recently signed reliever Francisco Cordero threw a bullpen yesterday for the first time and manager John Farrell said, "He's restriction free. He's mainstream. Spoke to him [Monday]. Saw his bullpen and I'm not going to take too much from his first bullpen but the one thing that is clear is that he's dropped 30 pounds, is in great shape from two years ago, when we had him in Toronto." Cordero was signed to a minor league contract and if he does not make the big league roster out of camp, he could be a late inning reliever in Pawtucket when the season starts April 3rd.
And finally, John Farrell appeared on WEEI this morning and announced what he thought the opening day lineup would be if the season started right now...
1. Shane Victorino, RF
2. Dustin Pedroia, 2B
3. David Ortiz, DH
4. Mike Napoli, 1B
5. Daniel Nava, LF
6. Xander Bogaerts, SS
7. A.J. Pierzynski, C
8. Will Middlebrooks, 3B
9. Jackie Bradley Jr., CF
After announcing his lineup, Farrell added that Nava could lead off once in a while.
"There are times," Farrell said. "There could be Jonny Gomes in the leadoff spot too. I would not rule him out of that spot. He might not be the stolen base characteristic leadoff guy in that sense, but he's an on-base guy. Gomes is going to play a pivotal role for us as well."
Lots going on at JetBlue Park today...stay tuned for more news and notes.