LIKE THE FIRST DAY OF SCHOOL

     My vacation is over and thus begins the non-stop baseball that I will watch and broadcast through Labor Day.  I am in Fort Myers to begin my ninth season as a broadcaster for the PawSox.   There is one major difference this year- jetBlue Park, the new Spring Training home for the entire Red Sox organization.  By now, you’ve seen it on TVor on line.  Those images do ot do it justice.  It is a magnificent structure and should keep the Sox and their affiliates happy for along time.  City of Palms Park was nice.  The girl next door, if you will.  Fenway South will knock your Sox off.  A supermodel.

     The PawSox took center stage on field #6, named after Boston legend, Johnny Pesky.  They squared off with I.L. North Division rival Rochester.  The Red Wings are the Triple A club for Minnesota.  The Twins also make their Spring home here in Lee County.  It makes sense that the PawSox and Wings play often during the Grapefruit League season.   Very little travel cost.

     Japanese righty, Junichi Tazawa started for Pawtucket, on his way back from Tommy John surgery.  After giving up a leadoff triple that ticked off the glove of centerfielder Che Hsuan Lin, Tazawa retired the final nine hitters he faced.  Tony Pena pitched the middle three innings and wasn’t quite as sharp, yet managed to pick up the win.  Pawtucket edged Rochester 5-4.  Garret Mock and Will Latimer looked good in relief.  

     Daniel Nava belted a two run homer over the fence in center and Kevin Youkilis went 3-3 for his old club. Youks’ last hit was an rbi double, that pulled the PawSox to within a run, 4-3.  Pawtucket tied it in the fifth and went ahead for good in the sixth as Jonathan Hee drew a bases loaded walk to make it 6-5.

     Got the chance to catch up with some old friends and familiar faces.  Manager Arnie Beyeler feels that the club he brings north will be a “Pretty good one.”  For Arnie, who holds his cards close to the vest, that was about as excited as he’ll get.  He added that there going about 10 pitchers in contention for starting jobs at McCoy.  Great to see J.C. Linares in action after the gruesome looking broken leg he suffered last Spring.  There should be good competition for starting jobs for the PawSox. Lars Anderson and Mauro Gomez figure to duke it out for playing time at first base.  The left side of the infield could feature Jose Iglesias at short and Will Middlebrooks at third.  Catching should be shared by Luis Exposito and Ryan Lavarnway.  Second base is a question mark, but Nate Spears could be the answer if he isn’t in Boston.  In the outfield, Che Hsuan Lin, Linares, Nava, Jason Repko, and Alex Hassan are all in the mix.  Ryan Kalish told me earlier this Spring that he hopes to be back by June.

          Great to see Pawtucket batting coach, Gerald Perry.  The former National League All Star returns to Pawtucket after a year with Oakland.  It was a beautiful day, the PawSox won and things are starting to heat up.

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