There was a different feel in the clubhouse at City of Palms Park this morning, as David Ortiz, Kevin Youkilis, Dustin Pedroia and Jason Bay were spending their final few hours in Fort Myers before going to the camps of their respective countries for the World Baseball Classic. Javy Lopez was also leaving camp, but Puerto Rico will train just down the road in Fort Myers for the next few days.
Meanwhile, Dice-K remains in Japan, where he’s been all spring. He pitched for the second time in a game situation yesterday — or is it tomorrow in Japan ??? — giving up a hit and two walks over three shutout innings against the Yomiuri Giants. It was a relief appearance for the Dice Man.
By the way, Mr. Ortiz has a message for his teammate, but possible competitor during the Classic
going to take Dice-K deep for sure,” chuckled Ortiz.
But Dustin Pedroia, whose TEAM USA squad will be playing in the same bracket as Canada in the first round, couldn’t resist telling Jason Bay that his squad won’t be around long.
“Pedroia told me to pack one pair of underwear,” said Bay.
Speaking of Bay, he will play center field for Canada to allow his team to generate some more offense.
After those early-morning chats about the Classic, I trucked over here to Hammond Stadium for a tilt against the Twins. The Red Sox trotted out Pedroia, Ortiz and Youkilis in this one, and have a loaded arsenal of pitchers going today, including Josh Beckett, Tim Wakefield, Jonathan Papelbon, Hideki Okajima and Takashi Saito.
Youkilis (photo below) just smashed a homer to right-center, improving a swing that he felt had been “horse manure” in recent days.
Beckett had a nice easy stint, mowing down all six batters he faced. He didn’t get to use his changeup because he was so efficient at being ahead in the count. Oh well, that’s a problem Beckett and the Red Sox will gladly take.
Papelbon was impressive in his first exhibition outing, firing 10 pitches and mowing through the Twins in order.
Sox are in Fort Lauderdale tomorrow. I’m not scheduled to go on that trip, but I will pass along whatever updates I get.