Results tagged ‘ World Baseball Classic ’

Jetting back to the Fort

Yes, the return of Brownie Points is coming. When last I was in Fort Myers five days ago, it was a slow camp. It was by the far the slowest Spring Training in my eight years on the Red Sox beat. And then I left and all you know what broke loose.

Lugo, surgery. Pedroia, injured, and out of the World Baseball Classic. Jon Lester, signed for five years. Jason Bay, no contract extension this spring. Josh Bard, out of a job. Kevin Youkilis, now out of the World Baseball Classic.

Wow. Quite literally, there was NOTHING going on when last I left Fort Myers. Now we have an official Red Sox Spring Training in full motion.

I land in Fort Myers after 11 tonight. Back in to blog and story mode tomorrow.

Later,

Ian.

Big Papi back in the saddle; Lowell playing third

Not sure what happened to Julio Lugo, but he left the game with some sort of right knee injury. This after a half inning of defense.

Speaking of defense, Mike Lowell has made a successful return to third base. Not only did he start a 5-4-3 double play in the first, but he just pummeled a towering home run to left. 

David Ortiz is back in the No. 3 hole for the Sox tonight after his surprisingly abbreviated trip to the World Baseball Classic. And, oh by the way, he unloaded for his first homer of the spring, a drive into the RF seats to cap a seven-run second inning off Chien-Ming Wang.

Are the folks back in the Dominican still shocked at two straight losses to the Netherlands? Ortiz couldn’t even believe the question. Of course they are shocked!

“What do you
think? It’s only been a few days,” Ortiz said.


For folks in the Dominican Republic, the World Baseball Classic is not just some exhibition showcase event, it is a matter of national baseball pride. So yes, the loss to a team that hardly any Major Leaguers was extremely tough to swallow.

As much as folks in the Dominican value the event, Ortiz has a feeling that he won’t  be participating in the 2013 Classic, at which time he’ll be 37 years old.

“I’d have to think
about it but I don’t think I will,” Ortiz said. “That’s going to be another four years and by
that time, I don’t think I’m going to be thinking about that anymore. I’ve
already done it twice so people won’t complain about it back home. I’ve done it
already. I’ll just have somebody do it.”

In a candid moment in front of his locker, Ortiz said that it is easier to get in a routine and get prepared for a season in Spring Training camp rather than at the Classic.

“In my situation,
coming back here gives you a better chance to get ready than being out there
every day,” Ortiz said. “You don’t get to play every day, and on top of that, there are places
you go where you don’t have that much time to get our work in.


“One way or
another, that kind of affects you. The first time [in 2006, you had more time at the
field and things like that. I’m the kind of guy, I’ve got to do some extra
stuff to get ready. I’m pretty sure that all the guys are pretty much the same
way.”

 

“It’s not like I wanted
us to lose, but we already lost so …

“I’m happy to be
back and get ready,” Ortiz said.

 

George Kottaras is catching Tim Wakefield, but I still think Josh Bard is the heavy favorite to win that job.

Great to see NESN’s Jerry Remy back in the booth tonight. Terry Francona gave Remy a big, enthusiastic hug when he spotted him in the dugout during pre-game. This was Remy’s first game of Spring Training.

Remy returned to Fort Myers with his usual humor, telling his audience on NESN, “I would have been here sooner, but i had visa issues back in massachusetts and i couldn’t leave.”

Beautiful, absolute gorgeous night at City of Palms! I wish all of you were here.

There are some great matchups on tap at the World Baseball Classic this weekend.

Team USA is playing Puerto Rico on Saturday night in Miami. The upstart Netherlands plays Venezuela at 1 p.m. ET Saturday afternoon. Dice-K takes the ball for Japan on Sunday against Cuba in a 4 p.m. ET tilt.

Lester, Youk, Lugo and other topics

This is obviously terrific news for the Red Sox that Jon Lester is seemingly on the verge of signing a five-year deal, $30 million that includes a $14 million option for 2013. So now the Red Sox, going into the next four to five years, know that they can depend on a sturdy nucleus of Pedroia, Youkilis, Lester and Ellsbury.

It is so hard to find a big, strong lefty like Lester that you can anchor a staff around, so you knew the Red Sox would pounce at the first opportunity to get him secured for the forseeable future.

Of course, the Jonathan Papelbon situation is still year to year, and you wonder if the sides will ever meet up there. Papelbon has made it clear that he wants to get his maximum worth, and the Red Sox might eventually deem that they can get someone like Daniel Bard to do the job at far less money.

Speaking of Bard, I don’t ever remember a prospect who was all but a lock not to make the team having a camp like this. He is just overpowering hitters.

The Red Sox are representing themselves well at the World Baseball Classic. A day after Dice-K got the win for Japan, Youkilis just obliterated a towering home run, his second longball in his many days. Dustin Pedroia might have broken out of his swing, golfing a pitch down the left field line for a double in Team USA’s big top of the sixth inning.

Meanwhile, in Fort Myers, the shortstop situation continues to be intriguing becuase Julio Lugo and Jed Lowrie are both playing well.

“They both look good,” said Red Sox manager Terry Francona.
“If that ends up being a dilemma, I’d rather have that happen than guys not
playing well.”

 

Lugo remains confident that he can be the player he was before coming to the Red Sox. 

“Things are going to take care of themselves as long as I’m healthy,” Lugo said.

And fans will be happy to know that the shortstop is working very hard on his defense this spring with new infield coach Tim Bogar.

“Very well, i think Bogar is going to be a big help to me,” Lugo said. “He’s letting me be myself and making plays the way I know how to make it and that’s the way it should be. That’s what got you here. Just refine those skills and that’s it.”

Dice-K at Dawn

Who are the truest baseball junkies out there? The correct answer is those of you who will set your alarm clocks so you can watch Daisuke Matsuzaka face Korea at 5 a.m. ET on Saturday. This World Baseball Classic encounter from Tokyo will be televised on ESPN2, ESPN Deportes and yes, MLB.TV.

Under tournament rules, Matsuzaka is permitted to throw 70 pitches in his first-round start.

Those of you who need a Dustin Pedroia, Kevin Youkilis and Jason Bay fix can check out Team USA vs. Canada at 2 p.m. on Saturday on ESPN. And Big Papi David Ortiz will be representing the Domincan Republic in an 11 a.m. encounter (ESPN 2) against the Netherlands.

Things are much quieter here in Fort Myers, where a home game Spring Training lineup features Josh Reddick, Jeff Bailey, Zach Daeges, Chip Ambres and Ivan Ochoa.

Ace Josh Beckett is nearing the completion of a three-inning outing. Jed Lowrie and Jacoby Ellsbury will make the trip to Port Charlotte tomorrow — “You’ll see those guys on every trip,” quipped Red Sox manager Terry Francona.

With the Marlins in town today, Alex Speier of WEEI.com used the timing element to write a nice blog entry on how close Manny Ramirez came to being a Marlin. Imagine how that could have changed the course of events? Would Manny still have wound up with the Dodgers this year? Would Manny have even approved a trade to the Marlins?

By the way, how utterly perplexing was Manny’s comment at the presser yesterday: “Sometimes you’re better off to have a two-year deal in a place that
you’re going to be happy than have an eight-year deal in a place that
you’re going to, you know, suffer.”

Suffer? Really? Did Manny suffer while winning two World Series? Did he suffer while earning $160 million in Red Sox dollars? Did he suffer while getting the trophy as World Series MVP in 2004? Did he suffer as fans adored him unconditionally for eight years, many of them who would write e-mails to every sportswriter who had the audacity to dare criticize Manny for one of his indiscretions? Did he suffer while teaming with David Ortiz to form one of the most dynamic 3-4 punches of this generation?

Suffer?!? If Manny ever plays at Fenway again, he will probably be greeted with the loudest round of boos in Red Sox history.

I will say one thing though. I did not “suffer” covering Manny during his time in Boston. He is the best pure hitter I’ve ever seen, and was always amusing to observe and, even when he allowed, to interact with.

Classic Exodus

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

“I’m
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.

youkgoesddeep.jpeg

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.

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