March 2012

Game 1 Grapefruit League: Red Sox 8, Twins 3

FORT MYERS, Fla. – For the first time since that infamous night of Sept. 28, 2011, the Red Sox played a game against a Major League team. This was a mere Grapefruit League contest against the Twins, but still a necessary step in the ramp-up toward the real Opening Day.

The best part of the day for fans might have been the pre-game ceremony, when a star-studded quartet of Carl Yastrzemski, Jim Rice, Luis Tiant and Dwight Evans strode on to the field.

What went right: Andrew Miller was dominant, striking out three batters over two shutout innings. Lars Anderson improved his trade value by walloping a grand slam. At a time where Anderson might be coming into his own as a player, the Red Sox simply have no room for him on the team, provided everyone else stays healthy. The same can’t be said for Miller. Everyone is always looking for a lefty. The way Boston’s roster is constituted, Miller might be more valuable out of the bullpen. He has done a lot of work on his delivery this spring.

What went wrong: The Red Sox gave up three stolen bases – two when Josh Beckett was pitching and one off of Andrew Miller. In fairness, the Sox did throw out a couple as well, but controlling the running game has been a point of emphasis for Valentine this spring. Valentine seemed slightly annoyed that Beckett pretty much tuned out the running game for part of his start.

What they said: “Oh God. Adrian who?,” quipped Valentine on Lars Anderson hitting a grand slam.

What they said, Part 2: “I don’t think he could hit the ball better than that. It was a low breaking ball, it was too far to be a souvenir. Probably broke something when it landed in the parking lot.” – Valentine on Anderson.

What’s next: The Sox play a night game at Hammond Stadium against the Twins on Monday. Clay Buchholz makes his first start since being shut down with back woes last June.

Injury update: Crawford will get a check-up on Monday to see how his surgically repaired left wrist is progressing … Daniel Bard has been dealing with a minor back ailment, but should make his scheduled start on Tuesday … Closer Andrew Bailey is improving from the lat strain he suffered early in camp and should pitch in his first Grapefruit League game soon.

Doubront thinks he’s ready to stay in Majors

Lefty Felix Doubront was a bit out of sorts at this time a year ago. His arm was already troubling him and he didn’t come to camp in the best shape. He is healthier and leaner this time around and seems to have a legitimate shot at the fifth spot in manager Bobby Valentine’s rotation.

On Saturday night, Doubront gave up one hit and struck out one over two innings in a 6-3 win against Boston College. It was the nightcap of the day-night, college doubleheader.

He has been working hard behind the scenes with new pitching coach Bob McClure.

“My delivery today was awesome,” Doubront said. “I worked hard in my bullpens and throwing program, playing catch. I feel normal. The first time was a little bit hard to me because there was something I didn’t do before. Tonight, I feel like it’s pretty good, my delivery. When I deliver the ball in front of my face, I feel good.”

There is just a more confident look to Doubront these days.

“A lot better. My offseason was the most important to me. I worked hard to get rid of the injuries from the past, worked more in my legs and my shoulder. I feel a lot different. My body feels probably more alive and there’s less pressure on my arm,” Doubront said. “My legs are stronger now. “

After going up and down between the Minors and Majors the last two seasons, Doubront sounds as if he’s ready to have his permanent address changed to Boston.

“I’ve got a lot of confidence, and I feel pretty much ready to be in Boston and to start with the team. That’s what I’m working to show the manager, that I want to be there,” Doubront said..

‘Tek tributes

Tremendous job by the Red Sox PR staff getting quotes from impactful voices near and far on the career of Jason Varitek.

Without further ado:

“Tek epitomizes what a true professional should be. He’s been a great teammate, but more importantly he’s been a better friend. The way he prepared and led the Boston Red Sox over the last 15 years has been an inspiration to all who have watched.  Although his leadership will be missed, his legacy in Red Sox history will be forged forever. It has been a true honor to have played with him for this long and I wish him nothing but the best as he starts a new chapter in his life. Congratulations Tek on an unbelievable career. I’m glad we’ve been able to share a lot of great memories together.” — – Tim Wakefield, Red Sox teammate from 1997-2011

“Ever since I’ve known him, dating back to being his teammate in college, he has been a tireless worker. His preparation and endless work ethic has made him a true champion. He is a great player, great teammate, great friend and even a better man. Thanks Tek for all you have taught me.” – Nomar Garciaparra, Red Sox teammate from 1997-2004, Georgia Tech teammate from 1992-94, current ESPN analyst

“It’s tough to see Tek go. He was a class act in the clubhouse, a leader on that team. He epitomizes what a captain is all about. It was a pleasure to have the opportunity to play with him, I never saw someone worked harder. We all loved him, he was a quiet leader, but when something needed to be said he said it.” – Trot Nixon, Red Sox teammate from 1998-2006.

“I want to congratulate Jason Varitek, a.k.a “Johnny Unitas fl at-top hair cut” on a remarkable career and mostly for being part of the fi rst World Series in 2004 with Sox Nation. It seems like yesterday we were in our hotel rooms on the road hitting with a pizza box going over our stances in our underwear during our struggles offensively. But above all, he’s a true professional, a true teammate and, best yet, an even better person. I wish him much success in the up and coming real world and we’ll see you soon with powder and an ear piece on TV.” – Kevin Millar, Red Sox teammate from 2003-05, current MLB Network analyst.

“In my 23 years of professional baseball I never played with or against a more selfless and prepared player than Jason Varitek. The ultimate team player, never hesitating to forgo personal success for the greater good, I’m proud to call him a friend and former teammate. I wish him God’s blessing and much happiness in wherever life takes him from here, he’s certainly earned it.” – Curt Schilling, Red Sox teammate from 2004-07, current ESPN analyst.

“Tek was a rare player. His first care was that his teammates succeeded even before himself. I have never seen a player so prepared for every game, even if he wasn’t playing. I learned a lot from him just by watching. I am glad to have been his teammate. Thanks for all you have done for the game Tek.” – Mike Timlin, Red Sox teammate from 2003-08

“He’s a true professional and was always the most prepared. He taught me how to be a leader and showed me how to be a champion. He should be a Red Sox Hall of Famer and it was a honor and a pleasure to have been his teammate and a huge fan of his since our high school days in Central Florida. I wish him all the best in the future.” – Johnny Damon, Red Sox teammate from 2002-05.

“Tek was hands down one of the best teammates I ever had. I have never come across someone who would prepare for the game more thoroughly than him. His dedication to his craft, and work ethic, were always qualities that I admired, and he was a true captain in every sense of the word. I wish him nothing but the best” – Mike Lowell, Red Sox teammate from 2006-10.

“Congrats on a Hall of Fame career. I will always cherish our championship memories together. He showed me how to be a Major League Baseball player with honesty, hard work and integrity without ever having to say one word and I am forever thankful for having him as a captain and teammate.” – Jonathan Papelbon, Red Sox teammate from 2005-11, current Phillies pitcher

“Jason is the consummate professional and teammate, he never waivers on who he is. He was a selfless leader and example for the entire team. He always cared about all 25 guys in the clubhouse and should serve as a role model for all baseball players present  and future.” – Bill Mueller, Red Sox teammate from 2003-05.

“Jason is a perfect example of what I think Red Sox baseball is all about: tough, gritty, passionate and most importantly, loyal. He has had an incredible run and was one of the biggest reasons why the Red Sox raised the Championship fl ags in ’04 and ’07. I can’t wait until he joins us in the Red Sox Hall of Fame, it will be a well deserved honor. He was a great teammate, a great friend, and a great professional. He should hold his head high and be proud of what he accomplished. Proud like the organization he spent 15 years with, proud like his teammates, and of course, proud like the greatest fans in all of baseball, Red Sox Nation! Congratulations Tek on a special career!” – John Valentin, Red Sox teammate from 1997-2001.

“He made himself with hard work into greatness. Fitting he led the Sox to two World Series championships. Couldn’t have happened to a better man.” – Mo Vaughn, Red Sox teammate from 1997-98.

“I have great respect for Jason’s 15-year career. I want to thank him for the great memories during my time with the Red Sox. I hope to see him pass down his wealth of knowledge to the younger generation.” – Hideo Nomo, Red Sox teammate in 2001, threw no-hitter to Varitek on 4/4/01

“He’s one of the hardest workers that I’ve ever seen at that position, as far as studying every day and taking pride in what he did. You look back and marvel at playing that position that many years and to see the stuff that he was able to see from his eyes. He should be proud of what he’s been able to accomplish.” – Derek Lowe, Red Sox teammate from 1997-2004, threw no-hitter to Varitek on 4/27/02, current Indians pitcher.

“With Tek, we always saw a guy that was really intense on the fi eld and baseball is his passion. He was always thinking about the little things. He caught me in my fi rst two full seasons and he was a guy that was an awesome resource for anybody to go to if they needed help in any aspect of the game. I’ll be forever in debt to him for that, I had a great time playing with him.” – Clay Buchholz, Red Sox teammate from 2007-11, threw no-hitter to Varitek on 9/1/07.

“It was a pleasure and an honor to be able to put this uniform on with him all these years. Congratulations Tek on a great career and congratulations on a well-deserved retirement.” – Jon Lester, Red Sox teammate from 2006-11, threw no-hitter to Varitek on 5/19/08.

”Congratulations to Jason Varitek on an outstanding career. As a former captain of the Red Sox, I can appreciate the way he approached the game. His leadership set a fi ne example for his teammates and the Red Sox organization.” –  Carl Yastrzemski, Hall of Fame outfi elder, Red Sox Hall of Famer, played entire 23-year career with Boston from 1961-1983

”Jason Varitek will always have a prominent place in Red Sox history. He caught more games as a Red Sox and helped the team win their fi rst World Series in 86 years. I am happy for him and proud of his accomplishments. Congratulations Jason!” – Carlton Fisk, Hall of Fame catcher, Red Sox Hall of Famer, played with Boston from 1969-1980.

”I think he was born to be a catcher. I was with him when he was a rookie, I remember seeing his fi rst Major League hit. To me, he was an over-achiever, but had a great work ethic and leadership qualities. He was always goal oriented in achieveing the best. He is an outstanding person and outstanding teammate. Definitely the type of player to win championships with. Bottom line he’s a baseball player.” – Jimy Williams, Red Sox Manager from 1997-2001.

”Tek was the captain seven out of my eight years with the Red Sox. The “C” on his chest was just a formality, he was the leader of the team with or without it. I could say a lot of things about Tek, but the most important thing was he kept everyone going in the right direction.” – Terry Francona, Red Sox Manager from 2004-11, current ESPN analyst.

”Jason was a rock during his Red Sox career and a rare leader who delivered in the most important games. He knew how to get the most out of all pitchers by giving his own best effort everyday.” – Dan Duquette, Red Sox GM from 1994-2001, current Orioles EVP of Baseball Operations.

”Jason Varitek has been the rock of the Red Sox for nearly a decade and a half. He was always prepared for each game and every situation and guided many diverse pitching talents and personalities to success while taking no personal credit. His future Red Sox Hall of Fame plaque will highlight the record four no-hitters he caught and his critical role in two World Championships as well as the quality of his character which made him such a strong leader and captain. I am thankful for his friendship and appreciative of how he gave his body and his heart to Red Sox Nation.” – Joe Castiglione, Red Sox Radio broadcaster from 1983-present

”Jason was one of those players that made the rivalry between our two teams so special. He was the type of competitor that brought out the best in everyone who was on the fi eld with him, whether you were playing with him or against him. He should be very proud of the way he represented the Red Sox organization throughout the years. He played the game with passion and dignity, and regardless of the color of his uniform I will always have a great deal of respect for the way he went about his business, day after day, and year after year.” – Jorge Posada, Yankees catcher from 1996-2011.

”I’ve always admired the way Jason played the game, and I appreciated the opportunity I had to get to know him throughout the years. He was a big part of the reason they had so much success as a team. Jason had a career that should be celebrated and I’m happy for him.” – Derek Jeter, Yankees shortstop from 1995-present, Yankees captain since 2003.

”Jason is one of the greatest players, not only to wear a Georgia Tech uniform, but to have played college baseball. There’s not a better guy in the world. He’s one of the best guys that I’ve ever had a chance to coach. I certainly wish him well and I’ll be interested to see what he does next.” – Danny Hall, Georgia Tech Head Baseball Coach from 1994-present.

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