Spring Training had not even begun when Red Sox fans had the years’ first bucket of cold water thrown at them. All winter, we were so smug, so self-assured. What a rotation! Lackey added to Beckett, Lester, Buchholz, Matsuzaka and Wakefield. We might go 162-0. Dice was going to be forthcoming about any injuries or problems he was having. Lester was poised to be the ace. Beckett is in the last year of a contract, so he was going to be sensational. Lackey, with his new deal was going to prove he could get it done in Boston. Wakefield was going to continue his unlikely assault on the Red Sox record books. Before the first official ball had been thrown, hit or caught, Daisuke Matsuzaka announced that he was suffering with an upper back strain. Right away, the image-conscious Sox minimized the news. Theo Epstein said it wasn’t a significant setback and the Red Sox would carefully monitor the situation.
It doesn’t take long for that depth to dwindle. Dice-K was supposed to be fit and ready to re-earn his place in the hearts of fans. Now, I hope it is an insignificant setback, but you have to wonder how sound he is and if he will be an important contributor in 2010. According to the Sox, they say they were satisfied with his offseason. He spent a good part of it in Arizona reshaping his body, rather than returning to his native Japan, as I am sure he would have preferred. Nonetheless, Terry Francona says the Sox wanted to go slowly with the righthander, but this slowly??
Maybe we wouldn’t have noticed if this had happened at some other juncture in the year. At this time, though, everything is big news. We are clamoring for any and all news from Fort Myers. The winter of our discontent is drawing to a close. What did Pedroia have for lunch? Where did Lester get his hair cut? What color is David Ortiz’ car? There might be something fundamentally wrong with all of us. Really, no one loves the Red Sox more than I do, but quite honestly, nothing really changed for me personally, after the 2004 and 2007 seasons. When the Angels defeated Boston at Fenway last October, the sun rose again the next day. It is inexplicable. But it is real. I’ll paraphrase what Jimmy Fallon said to Drew Barrymore in “Fever Pitch”. “What else is there that you’ve cared about your whole life?” It’s true. Your taste in clothing, women, TV, music, food and just about anything else you can think of changes and evolves as you mature. I probably still get as upset today after a loss as I did when Eddie Kasko was the manager.
I’m Jonesin’ for a trip to Fort Myers. I can’t wait to get rolling again. “PawSox Insider” debuts Saturday February 20 at 2 p.m. on 920 WHJJ Radio. Dan Hoard will join me from Florida. We’ll hear from Casey Kelly, Terry Francona, Ryan Kalish, John Farrell and new manager Torey Lovullo. Hope you tune in, and take it from me. Don’t get too worked up. It’s not worth it. I’ve been telling myself that for years.