Spring Training is winding down and Opening Day is rapidly approaching. Those that have been here since the start in February, seem anxious to get back to the soggy northeast. Why, I can’t imagine. Although most rosters are set, at least in the mind of management, they have not yet been made public. There are rumblings, and some guys have been told their destinations, for example outfielder Ryan Kalish told me this morning that his season will begin at Double A, Portland. Alan Embree and Daisuke Matsuzaka are likely to start the season in Pawtucket. Embree, signed on March 20, very late in the game, and he says he is anything but disappointed to join the PawSox. “No way- I knew I needed to make appearances in order to be ready to help the Red Sox.” Embree, owner of a World Series ring from the Sox, is seemingly truly excited. “It’s so great to be back in this organization.”
Scott Atchison was told that he made the big club. According to Terry Francona, Atchison earned the spot. “Scott can throw strikes. He has the ability to attack the strike zone with all his pitches.” Joe Nelson and Scott Schoeneweis are still awaiting word, although they will both accompany the Sox to Washington for the final tuneup. My guess is that Nelson would pitch for the PawSox and Schoeneweis wouldn’t. Fernando Cabrera, with 22 saves for Pawtucket in 2009, was reassigned to minor league camp today. Junichi Tazawa is essentially done for the year. Francona said the young Japanese pitcher was going to Birmingham, Alabama for Tommy John surgery on Tuesday. Ordinarily, it takes about a year to recover from such a procedure.
Francona was asked about his first impressions of Dustin Pedroia from 2005 and 2006. “He was fat. I mean about 190 pounds. Looking at him now, it doesn’t seem possible. And he was quiet at first, soaking it all in. He’s turned into a great team leader. I wish more guys were like him. There’s a lot there to like. Francona had a wry smile on his face, knowing full well, that the 2008 AL MVP is neither fat nor quiet anymore. As Pedroia made his way off the field after batting practice on Thursday, he was asked by a fan in the stands if Boston had enough to take it all in 2010. The never-shy Pedroia winked at me as he flexed his right bicep. “More than enough” he said. “This is our year.”
Any parent that has ever taken his kids to a swimming pool knows the torture of the never-ending game of “Marco Polo.” Fans in Fort Myers have taken to chanting every time shortstop Marco Scutaro comes to the plate- “Marco…..Scutaro”. Let’s pray that it doesn’t catch on.
Reliever Daniel Bard was not impressed with North Carolinas’ NIT Basketball semifinal win over URI. The Tar Heel alum lamented- “We (UNC) took the year off.”
Learned the origin of Mark Wagners’ propensity for speaking in the third person (“Wags is all about good at bats”). It stemmed from the “Seinfeld” episode where a character named “Jimmy” did the same thing. (“Jimmy’s getting angry!”) Wags’ fondest wish is to have the new scoreboard at McCoy light up with the word “Giddyup”, a signature saying of “Kramer”, each time he hits a home run. KG- can we do it?
Former PawSox manager Ron Johnson was all smiles this morning after learning that his son, Christopher made the Houston Astros’ Opening Day roster. With Lance Berkman hurt, the ‘Stros will shift Pedro Feliz from third to first base, opening the door for CJ to make his first opening day roster. Chris made his Major League debut with Houston last September. He’s earned the promotion, belting six home runs for Houston this spring.