As the cool air starts to seep into New England, a warm-weather escape has come into focus for Red Sox fans.
The World Series champions unveiled their Spring Training schedule on Thursday, and the first Grapefruit League game for manager John Farrell’s team will be on Feb. 28 at JetBlue Park against the Minnesota Twins.
The day before that, the Sox will host the annual college doubleheader against Northeastern and Boston College. Fans will pay just one admission fee for those two games.
In all, the Sox will play 17 games at JetBlue Park, and 31 Grapefruit League games.
Tickets for all 2014 Spring Training games at JetBlue Park will be available on redsox.com, beginning on Saturday, Dec. 7 at 10 a.m. ET.
It won’t take Boston long to renew acquaintances with the St. Louis Cardinals, the team they defeated in six games in the World Series. There is a trip to Jupiter to face the Cards on March 5.
The two rivalry Grapefruit League games against the Yankees will be in the same week – with Boston traveling to Tampa on March 18 and New York visiting Fort Myers just two days later.
Per usual, the Sox will see plenty of the Twins, facing their cross-town Spring Training opponents six times in the battle for the annual Mayor’s Cup.
There are five games against the Orioles and four against the Rays, two teams the Sox figure to contend with in the AL East race.
After a March 29 matchup with the Twins, the Red Sox will break camp for Baltimore, where their season is scheduled to open on March 31.
Eight of the 15 seating categories at JetBlue Park will increase by $2. Ticket prices will range from $5 to $48. There will be no price change for the seven seating categories priced $15 or less. This is the third Spring Training for the Red Sox at JetBlue Park.
This marks the second year in a row the Sox won’t play exhibition games in a Major League city, something that used to be a tradition at the end of their Grapefruit League slate.
The equipment truck departure – always a harbinger of spring for Bostonians – will take place on Feb. 8 from Fenway Park.
Pitchers and catchers are scheduled to report to Fort Myers on Feb. 15, with the first official workout two days later.
Position players report on Feb. 18, with the first full-squad workout set for Feb. 20. All workouts are open to the public and free of charge.
By inserting David Ortiz at first base for Game 3 of the World Series, not only do the Red Sox lose one of their most productive bats in Mike Napoli, but also one of their best fielders throughout the season.
Though Napoli didn’t finish as one of the top three finalists at first base in the American League Gold Glove voting, many of the metrics suggest that he should have.
“He’s done an outstanding job there,” said Red Sox manager John Farrell. “And you’re always going to feel that way about your own guy because you see the amount of work they put in and all that’s gone into that with the work of [infield instructor Brian Butterfield] and [Napoli]. In our mind, he is [a Gold Glover]. And really, all these other awards are outward acknowledgements of the work that guys do, but he’s no less important than anyone that has received a Gold Glove here.”
If the Red Sox are leading in the late innings of Game 3, it is a certainty that Napoli will sub for Ortiz on defense. Farrell will be cognizant of that when it comes to a proper spot for Napoli to pinch-hit.
“If we do have a lead in the sixth or seventh inning, he’s more than ready to go to pick up for David at first,” said Farrell. “That’s why we’ve got to be a little careful when to use him as a pinch-hitter as well, to preserve that defensive side of it.”
One interesting development during Saturday’s batting practice was Napoli taking grounders at third base. Napoli has never played that position in his Major League career. He played one game there at the Minor League level in 2002.
Though it seems unlikely Napoli would play third beyond an emergency situation in the World Series, Farrell hasn’t ruled it out entirely.
“It’s being thought of,” Farrell told FOX’s Ken Rosenthal.
“Not tonight, but it’s an option,” Farrell told Sean McAdam of CSNNE.com.
Without Napoli in the lineup for Game 3, Daniel Nava batted fifth, making his first World Series start in place of Jonny Gomes in left.
Clay Buchholz is healthy enough to start in this World Series, according to manager John Farrell.
But it still hasn’t been decided if Buchholz will start Game 3 on Saturday or Sunday’s Game 4.
Jake Peavy will pitch the game either before or after Buchholz, with ace Jon Lester returning for Game 5.
After missing three months with a right bursa sac strain, Buchholz had just four starts back in the rotation before the postseason started.
The righty hasn’t looked like himself in any of his three postseason starts, posting a 5.40 ERA and giving up a .284 opponents batting average. Buchholz has a no decision in all three of his starts.
Is Buchholz dealing with residual effects of his original injury, or does he have a new malady?
“Not to the point of keeping him out of starting,” said Farrell.
The difference between Buchholz pitching Game 3 or 4 is considerable, considering the following: If he pitches Game 3, it means the Red Sox are confident that he’s healthy and strong enough to pitch twice in the Fall Classic.
“That’s being factored in,” said Farrell. “I mean, I have to stay conscious of that, given the last two starts when he’s hit the wall, it’s happened pretty quick. All that is being factored in.”
Buchholz has started fairly strong in all three postseason starts. But by the mid-innings, he’s completely lost his rhythm.
The third time through the batting order, Buchholz has been hit at a .529 clip. From pitches 61-75, batters are hitting .264 against him. From pitches 76-90, he’s given up six hits in nine at-bats.
John Lackey’s gem in Game 3 of the American League Championship Series has not been forgotten by Red Sox manager John Farrell. The veteran righty will move back to the No. 2 spot in the rotation for the World Series and will pitch on Thursday (airing at 7:30 p.m. ET on FOX/8:07 first pitch) at Fenway against the Cardinals.
In the AL Division Series, Lackey pitched Game 2 and defeated Rays ace David Price. Lackey topped Tigers star righty Justin Verlander in his lone ALCS start. In Game 2 of the Fall Classic, Lackey will start opposite rookie phenom Michael Wacha.
Jon Lester is again the Game 1 starter, as Farrell announced Monday.
Interestingly, Farrell wasn’t ready to reveal the order of his Game 3 and 4 pitchers, but he confirmed it will be Clay Buchholz and Jake Peavy in some order.
His sparkling outing in Detroit aside, Lackey has typically pitched much better at Fenway this season than on the road.
What was the biggest reason Farrell moved him back ahead of Buchholz in the rotation?
“The way John came out of his game over in Detroit, and not allowing too many days of rest to get away from that previous start of his,” said Farrell. “So that’s the primary reason to get John back in there in Game 2.”
The Red Sox plan on keeping their 25-man roster the same as it was in the previous two rounds, carrying 14 position players and 11 pitchers.
Perhaps it was only fitting that just hours after Tom Brady threw a game-winning touchdown pass to beat the Saints with five seconds left, David Ortiz ripped a game-tying grand slam in Game 2 of the ALCS at Fenway Park.
Just as Brady has created volumes of fourth-quarter comebacks to thrill the New England sports fan, Ortiz has come through time and again for his Red Sox, particularly in the month of October.
Consider the fact that all of these moments could be the signature hit of many players’ entire career. But for Ortiz, it all adds up to a best-of-list.
Game 4, 2003 ALDS – Hits a two-run double with two outs in bottom of the eighth against A’s closer Keith Foulke to put the Red Sox ahead and send the series to a deciding Game 5.
Game 3, 2004 ALDS – Two-run walkoff homer against Jarrod Washburn in the bottom of the 10th lifts the Red Sox to a sweep against the Angels.
Game 4, 2004 ALCS – Two-run walkoff homer against Paul Quantrill in the bottom of the 12th helps Sox crawl out of 3-0 series deficit against Yankees.
Game 5, 2004 ALCS – Ortiz rips a towering homer to left against Tom Gordon in the eighth, slicing NYY deficit to 4-3, and adds walkoff single to center in the 14th inning against Esteban Loaiza, sending the ALCS back to New York. Sox win in seven games.
Game 7, 2004 ALCS – Ortiz sets the tone with a two-out, two-run homer in the first, as the Sox become first team in history to comeback from 0-3 series deficit in postseason.
Game 5, 2008 ALCS – The Red Sox trailed the Rays, 7-0, with nine outs left in their season. But Ortiz’s three-run homer in the bottom of the seventh makes it a 7-4 game, and sets the stage for J.D. Drew’s walkoff hit in the ninth.
Game 2, 2013 ALCS – Ortiz’s two-out grand slam in the eighth ties a game the Sox trailed 5-0 against the Tigers and go on to win, 6-5.
Here at Fenway Park for the ALCS:
Everyone ready? Feels like two weeks ago that the Division Series ended.
For the first time since 2008, the Red Sox are playing in the ALCS. And for the first time since 2007 — and just the second time since 1986 — the ALCS opens at Fenway, with the Red Sox holding homefield advantage.
The first game is on Saturday. The time has not been announced. We won’t know the opponent until the conclusion of Thursday’s A’s-Tigers game in Oakland.
Which opponent are Red Sox fans rooting for? Both teams provide unique challenges.
The Red Sox went 3-3 against the A’s this season, but haven’t seen them since the All-Star break. There would be a lot of familiar faces at Fenway come Saturday if Oakland is the opponent.
Coco Crisp, Josh Reddick, Jed Lowrie, Brandon Moss and Bartolo Colon all spent time with the Sox.
The Tigers have star power, with Justin Verlander, Max Scherzer, Miguel Cabrera, Prince Fielder and even a start manager in Jim Leyland. Oh, and there would also be the reunion with Jose Iglesias, a fan favorite earlier this season for the Red Sox.
Without Jacoby Ellsbury for a while, the Red Sox might be doing some improvising in the lineup.
There is a clear example of that tonight as Dustin Pedroia bats leadoff for the first time since 2009. In ’09, Pedroia was a .219 hitter in 25 games.
More on the lineup decision in a bit when we speak with manager John Farrell.
Xander Bogaerts had an arrival for the second week in a row. Last time, he showed up as a Major Leaguer when the Red Sox opened a six-game road trip through San Francisco and Los Angeles.
This time, he was able to put on his home whites for the first time.
The one thing you’ll notice about the highly-touted prospect is that he just about always has a smile on his face.
“I guess it’s something natural for me,” Bogaerts said.
And even if Bogaerts isn’t playing every day — he was not in Tuesday’s lineup — what’s not to love about being in the Majors in the middle of a pennant race?”Definitely a lot of difference compared to minors,” Bogaerts said. “I’m really enjoying every moment of it. Thankfully we won a few games so that maybe enough there. I’m just thankful to be here.”
Bogaerts had been to Fenway before Tuesday, but under different circumstances. “This is actually the third time I came here, but the first time I’ve been on the field for BP and stuff. The grass and dirt is pretty nice. Hopefully I get accustomed to the BP and stuff and have better BPs in a couple of days.”
What is it like taking BP with the inviting Monster just 310 feet away? “I didn’t try to think about it too much. I just tried to go right field normally, is what I like to do. Just try to be me and not try and press at all.”
Bogaerts smiled when asked the difference between playing at Fenway and his homeland of Aruba. “A lot of rocks in aruba and no rocks here. just clean and smooth. A big difference, especially with all the fans, hopefully I get to see all the fans tonight.”
One thing a Boston player always must deal with is a lot of media. Right now, that’s not bothering him. “A lot of reporters, man. that’s all I can say. I was pretty surprised. On the road, it wasn’t that much but you guys have a job to do so I’m here to help you guys.”
SAN FRANCISCO — Prior to the bottom of the seventh inning in Wednesday’s game against the Giants, Red Sox manager John Farrell raised two fingers to Will Middlebrooks. Poor Middlebrooks. He had no idea what his manager meant by the signal.
How could he? Middlebrooks had never played second base in his life. Not in LIttle League, not in high school, not in the Minors and certainly not n the Majors.
But with the latest roster shuffle leaving the Red Sox without a backup second baseman, Middlebrooks has now inherited that role. Farrell decided to give him a trial by fire in Wednesday’s game with the Red Sox holding a double-digit lead.
Middlebrooks did not disappoint, turning the middle of a 6-4-3 double play in the bottom of the seventh.
On the same day Middlebrooks hit a two-run homer earlier in the game, he had no problem identifying his highlight of the game.
“Probably turning the DP,: Middlebrooks said. “That was a lot of fun. That was out of nowhere, I wasn’t expecting it, that was a lot of fun.”
Farrell took a leap of faith thinking Middlebrooks could be comfortable at second just by judging how he looked when the Red Sox overshift on left-handed batters. That doesn’t mean Middlebrooks has had much time to work on second base since his return to Boston a couple of weeks ago.
“Not much. I haven’t worked on it. I haven’t turned a play up the middle since I was 18 in Texarkana, Texas, so it’s been awhile.’’
It was a funny moment when Farrell told Middlebrooks he was switching from third to second late in the game.
“I thought I misunderstood him,” Middlebrooks said. “He looked at me and [held up two fingers]. I had just grounded out. He gave me ‘this’ and I didn’t know what he was talking about. I had to run up and get a different glove. I have a smaller one.”
Middlerooks agrees with Farrell’s reasoning that the shift coverage helped him prepare a little for the unfamiliar responsibility.
“Yeah, absolutely, that way I can at least see the angle of the balls and how the ball comes off the bat. It really wasn’t that big of a difference, it wasn’t a big deal,” said Middlebrooks.
So Middlebrooks really never played second before Wednesday?
“No, never, never, never. Shortstop my whole life then I played third my first year in pro ball.,” Middlebrooks said.
Fortunately for the Red Sox, Dustin Pedroia doesn’t require much time off. Middlebrooks will be the insurance option at second until Sept. 1, when rosters are expanded. With the Red Sox having multiple off-days before then, Pedroia probably won’t need to come out of the starting lineup, barring an injury.
And the way Middlebrooks has been swinging the bat, the Red Sox want to keep him right where he is — at the hot corner.