Results tagged ‘ Ron Gardenhire ’

Friday from the Fort

Manager Terry Francona was in the middle of his post-game session with the media, when Ron Gardenhire spotted him.

“Tito!” the Twins’ manager yelled.

“Gardy!” Francona shouted back.

“One and one, baby!” Gardenhire said, as Francona howled with laughter.

Yes, the riveting Mayor’s Cup — a best-of-seven series this spring — is now tied at 1-1. This on a day the Twins beat the Red Sox, 5-0.

The day started at City of Palms Park, where the Red Sox went through a normal pre-game routine at their own park before taking the seven-mile jaunt to the Twins’ complex.

“It’s like a Spring Training day in Arizona,” quipped Francona, who was definitely talking about the proximity and not the weather, which is still chillier than Floridians are accustomed to at this time of year.

Daisuke Matsuzaka reeled off 58 pitches in the bullpen, the last 10 of which came with the catcher in a full crouch. Yes, the Red Sox are easing the righty back into a full throwing program after the back woes that plagued him at the start of camp. But all systems are now go for Matsuzaka, who will throw a full side session on Sunday and then progress to game action at some point in the near future. There is no official word yet, but judging by the timing alone, it’s doubtful Dice-K will be ready for the very start of the season. But this isn’t big news when you consider the Red Sox have three off-days before they play their eighth game. Do some quick math and you realize Francona doesn’t even need a fifth starter until April 18. Expect the club not to rush Dice-K and keep the long term as the priority.

Third baseman Mike Lowell is also feeling quite well in his recovery from right thumb surgery, and he told Francona he could play in a game next Wednesday. But it doesn’t sound like that will happen. I’m sure Lowell is antsy to get back out there, so his situation can start getting resolved. Obviously he wants to prove his health and possibly land an every-day job somewhere else.

“He was pushing today to play Wednesday so obviously he’s feeling pretty good,” Francona said. “I still think that’s pretty quick.”

The Red Sox have long road trips on Thursday an Friday of next week, so the home game on March 13 against the Pirates could be a more realistic date for Lowell to make his spring debut.

The game itself — other than the drop in the Mayor’s Cup standings — was pretty uneventful. Jon Lester had a rocky first inning — three hits, four runs –  but nobody was concerned about it. Tim Wakefield dazzled in his first two innings since back surgery, giving up one hit and no other baserunners. The knuckleballer threw 22 pitches, 16 for strikes.

Saturday, the stage will belong to John Lackey. The $82.5 million man will throw his first game pitches in a Red Sox uniform, which will be a soft launch of sorts for his real debut next month, likely against the Yankees at Fenway.

And The Envelopes, Please

I must admit, I’m a sucker for awards, be it the Oscars or whatever.

This is baseball awards season, beginning in less than an hour. Red Sox players are involved in some of these races.

Here is a quick look at the AL awards. I simply don’t have time to follow the NL enough to make worthy selections.

AL Rookie of the Year, to be announced Monday: My prediction: Evan Longoria. Imagine if this guy had played the full year? His production numbers were impressive and of course he got even more impressive in the postseason, but that doesn’t count.

Other worthy selections. Alexei Ramirez, White Sox; Jacoby Ellsbury, Red Sox. Ellsbury had an up and down year offensively but still stole 50 bases and just missed 100 runs.

AL Manager of the Year, to be announced Wednesday: Joe Maddon, Rays. I think jovial Joe wrapped this thing up somewhere around July 4. What a great job. Not enough can be said.

Other worthy selections: Though Maddon by far guided the most dramatic turnaround of any team, some other managers did a very nice job this season. Look at Ron Gardenhire, for instance. When Johan Santana was traded, everyone just assumed the Twins would be non-contenders. Think again. They lasted all the way to a one-game playoff. The guy here in Boston did a pretty nice job in his own right. Terry Francona had injuries to major players at virtually every point in the season. But he found a way to keep his team focused and into the playoffs for the fourth time in his five years as manager. Don’t forget Mike Scioscia. He got 100 wins out of the Angels and they were a juggernaut until the playoffs. But again, the playoffs don’t count in these votes.

AL Cy Young: Cliff Lee, Indians. This one is about as suspenseful as the Maddon choice for manager. Lee completely dominated from start to finish.

Other worthy selections: Roy Halladay. A complete-game machine! This guy is the definition of a throwback. Mike Mussina, Francisco Rodriguez and Jon Lester also belong in the conversation.

AL MVP: Dustin Pedroia, Red Sox. Perhaps you have to be around this guy every day to see just how much he means to his team. Pedroia topped the league, or was near the top, in several major categories, including runs, hits, doubles and batting average. Oh, and he was also a Gold Glove second baseman who hit for power for a little guy — 18 homers — and stole 20 bases.

Other worthy selections: Justin Morneau, Twins. A .300 average and 129 RBIs should get you MVP consideration every year, particularly on a team that didn’t have a lot of other sluggers in the lineup. Kevin Youkilis, Red Sox. If not for Pedroia, he would have gotten a ton more discussion in this debate. Manny was traded, Ortiz wasn’t himself, Lowell was hurt and there was Youk, belting 29 homers and driving in 115. Oh, he also hit .312 and played tremendous defense. Josh Hamilton was the best player for a non-contender, but I just don’t think that can win you an MVP.

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