It may not have a DJ booth, a dancing pole in the aisle or disco lights blaring, but the ESPN Baseball Tonight Spring Training Tour Bus is gaudy, noticable and is at JetBlue Park in Ft. Myers today.
Dustin Pedroia talked about Ryan Dempster’s announcement yesterday and how he’s progressing after his offseason thumb surgery. http://espn.go.com/boston/video/clip?id=10470935
Manager John Farrell spoke on his expectations for Xander Bogaerts and Jackie Bradley Jr. and the club’s mindset heading into the season. http://espn.go.com/boston/video/clip?id=10471321&categoryid=4410351
And Rick Weber, in a special to ESPNBoston.com, caught up with prospect Garin Cecchini on his first big league spring training and how he plans to approach it. http://espn.go.com/blog/boston/red-sox/post/_/id/34317/cecchini-soaking-up-knowledge
Valentine’s Day has come and gone and with that, spring training is here.
Pitchers and catchers officially reported Saturday, but, to the players credit, the grand majority of the 40-man roster and non-roster invitees were already at JetBlue Park in Ft. Myers getting ready to go.
One of the biggest story lines heading into camp was the glut of pitching in Boston. Will John Farrell use a six-man rotation? Who does he put into the bullpen? Is there someone who starts the season in Pawtucket instead of the Red Sox bullpen? Well, two of those three questions were answered as Ryan Dempster announced Sunday morning that he was not going to pitch in 2014.
Dempster, who was about to enter his 20th season in baseball, seemed to be the linchpin/swing-guy in that rotation or bullpen, but said that he was not healthy enough to play after battling neck issues for the better part of the last year and a half. To his credit, Dempster was due $13.25 million this season, but forfeited his salary.
“I have too much respect for this game, too much respect for my teammates, and for the game of baseball and for the organization to go out there and not be ready,” said Dempster. “I’ve always taken great pride in being able to be prepared and be ready to go out there and perform and I’m not ready to do that so I’m not going to out there and half-ass it and not be a 100 percent to committed to that.”
Now, the question is who’s the next man up? Will it be Brandon Workman, Drake Britton, Allen Webster or Rubby De La Rosa, all guys who got time in Boston in 2013. Or could it be Anthony Ranaudo, who is now on the 40-man roster, or Matt Barnes, the former 1st rounder who is in his first big league camp?
Weei.com’s Alex Speier delves into the Red Sox depth and who might get the first opportunity to fill in for Boston should the need arise. http://www.weei.com/sports/boston/baseball/red-sox/alex-speier/2014/02/17/depth-after-dempster-scouting-prospects-who-wi
One name that could be on that list of fill-in candidates is knuckleballer Steven Wright. However, it was revealed yesterday that he suffered a sports hernia in late January (just before the PawSox Hot Stove Luncheon) which will require surgery. He is expected to have a full recovery and be ready to go around May.
Overthemonster.com looked at ways the Red Sox could potentially spend the money that could have been paid to Dempster. http://www.overthemonster.com/2014/2/17/5416882/what-can-the-red-sox-do-with-ryan-dempsters-money
And there are three pitchers that are most effected by Dempster’s decision. http://www.overthemonster.com/2014/2/17/5418188/ryan-dempster-departure-brandon-workman-felix-doubront-rubby-de-la-rosa
The Red Sox also added another potential bullpen piece with the signing of former All-Star closer Francisco Cordero on a minor league contract with an invite to spring training. The 38-year-old, who owns 329 career saves mostly between the Reds and Rangers, hasn’t pitched in the big leagues since 2012 when he was with Houston. He’s scheduled to arrive in camp today.
A guy that battled through injuries through much of 2013 was outfielder Bryce Brentz. An accidental gun shot wound to his thigh while cleaning his hand gun stunted his first big league spring training a year ago and a torn meniscus in July derailed what could have been a break out season. Despite the injury issues, Brentz still slugged 19 homers last season, tied for the most in the Red Sox minor league system.
Now fully healthy and added to the 40-man roster, Brentz hopes this is the year he finds himself in Boston at some point. http://www.weei.com/sports/boston/baseball/red-sox/alex-speier/2014/02/15/no-more-circus-red-sox-prospect-bryce-brentz-l
While the Red Sox are basking in the sun shine and warmth of the Florida sun (it was reported yesterday that Florida is the only state in the US that doesn’t have snow on the ground, yes even Hawaii has snow), the snow dumped on us again Saturday. Not detered, my wife and I decided to get outside and have a little fun…we got a blizzard, in the middle of a blizzard. Seemed too perfect not to.
And on Sunday, my wife, who works for the MS Society’s Greater New England Chapter and I went to a Mad Hatter Tea Party fundraiser to raise money for the Climb to the Top event on March 1st in Boston. Lots of young children dressed in their best Alice in Wonderland themed costumes with a fancy hat contest as well. I was a “celebrity” judge for the hat contest representing the PawSox, but was asked shortly after arriving if I could dress up as the Mad Hatter. Always looking to help out, being asked to wear a jacket and hat turned into hat, jacket, vest and bright red wig (Johnny Depp style). The kids were more interested in posing for photos with Alice and Mrs. Universe (from Rhode Island), but I photo bombed a couple shots. The Mad Hatter was, however, a source of entertainment on the dance floor doing the Gangum Style surrounded by 100 kids. Great times had by all!
The dessert tables were very impressive, all donated by local bakeries.
It was a great event and raised a ton of money for a great cause…and a shameless plug for my rock star wife who spoke beautifully about how the research for MS has evolved from virtually nothing 20 years ago to getting closer and closer to finding a cure today. All while suffering through a nasty cold and very little voice. Very proud husband!
The weather folks in New England are calling for a little “dusting snow” tomorrow, but temperatures in the 40′s and 50′s through the rest of week are signaling signs of spring time!
Unless you went into hibernation for the winter, and I wouldn’t blame you if you did, you found out yesterday that Derek Jeter will be playing his final season in Yankee pinstripes in 2014.
His legacy is paved in gold, not only because of his World Series rings (five), but also for the way he has done it…with the utmost class. Sure, he may have never been married and his list of past girlfriends is stunning, but he’s always played the game the way it should be played. He’s never been marred in controversy, he’s always taken the high road when talking about teammates AND opponents and he’s widely regarded for being just a good guy.
I had a chance to see Jeter play in 2013 when he was rehabbing with Scranton/Wilkes-Barre in August. It’s easy to say that he had lost a step, but what 39 year old still has the quickness they did at, say, 35? But, holy moly, was he smooth. From his actions fielding ground balls to his approach at the plate. I hope every kid in the stands and even the players in each dugout took notes on how he went about his routine. There’s a reason why he’s so good.
I was lucky enough to call all of his at-bats and it was an absolute pleasure.
Baseball will miss Derek Jeter. The Red Sox will miss Derek Jeter. The Yankees, undoubtedly, will miss Derek Jeter.
Some staggering numbers for you, since 1996 (Jeter’s rookie year), the Yankees have had just five other players play as many as 50 games at the shortstop position. FIVE! To put that into perspective, the Red Sox have had 49. 16 of those players have played in 50 or more games (tied for the most in the majors). Those players are…Nomar Garciaparra (957 games at short), Julio Lugo (258), Marco Scutaro (241), Alex Cora (176), Alex Gonzalez (155), Edgar Renteria (153), Jed Lowrie (148), John Valentin (136), Mike Aviles (136), Stephen Drew (124), Nick Green (81), Mike Lansing (76), Lou Merloni (75), Pokey Reese (71), Jose Iglesias (61) and Orlando Cabrera (58). Thank you Alex Speier for doing the research!
Crazy that only three other teams, Philadelphia, Texas and Cleveland have had fewer that 10 different players play 50 games or more at shortstop.
Jeter is a career .312 hitter and went over the 3,000 hit mark a few years ago. If healthy, Jeter has a chance to get 200 hits this year, something he’s done eight times already. If he does that, he’ll be all alone in 5th place on the all-time hit list ahead of Tris Speaker and behind Stan Musial. Historic company.
Besides 2013, where he played just 17 games, only one other time during his 19 year career (not counting his cup of coffee at the end of 1995) he failed to play 120 games just ONCE (2003). And, just to put the icing on the cake, he scored at least 100 runs in all but six seasons, and that DOES include the injury plagued 2013 and coffee stop in 1995.
You don’t replace Derek Jeter. You might stand at the shortstop position at Yankee Stadium, but that is Jeter’s spot. This may be a bit bold, but it’s almost like “replacing” Vin Scully. He’s the gold standard. No one will ever be as good as Scully. Someone may come along and be better than Jeter, but no one will ever forget #2. He set the bar to a place so high that all others that don the Yankee pinstripes will be compared to him. Unfair…maybe, but Jeter has earned it. He’s a sure-fire Hall of Famer, and probably a first ballot Hall of Famer.
He’ll get a farewell tour this year in every American League city he plays in. I find it very appropriate that his last regular season game as a Yankee will be at Fenway. A perfect way to go out. In front of the fans that have grown to love him and hate him at the same time. If you don’t have a ticket for the September 26-28 series, I’d hustle and get them now…cheapest ticket is $200 now. It was $26 before Jeter’s Facebook announcement yesterday. And to see a legends last game, $200 might be a bargain.
It’s been a blast to watch Jeter play. Baseball will indeed miss him. But I’m so thankful I had a chance to watch him play throughout his career. A complete class act and a guy that should be looked up to by anyone who throws or hits a baseball.
So long Mr. November…Thanks for the memories and I look forward to watching your year long standing ovation. You’ve earned it!
Recently posted article on PawSox.com courtesy of Maureen Mullen…
Pitchers Drake Britton, Brandon Workman, Matt Barnes, and Anthony Ranaudo started four of Double-A Portland’s first five games to begin the 2013 season. Combined, the quartet went 25-21 with a 3.57 ERA in 69 starts for the Sea Dogs.
But, by the end of the season, all four were in different places, all having earned promotions. At the end of October, Britton and Workman were deliriously celebrating at Fenway Park after both played important roles in helping the Red Sox to the 2013 World Series championship.
Barnes and Ranaudo, meanwhile, were helping the PawSox to the International League North title, and a shot at the league championship, before falling to Durham in the Governors’ Cup Finals.
The four have pushed each other through the organization over the last few seasons. While Workman and Britton reached the highest rung on that ladder, Barnes and Ranaudo are just one step away. Ranaudo, 24, was promoted to Pawtucket last August 2nd while Barnes, 23, joined him on August 29th. Ranaudo was added to Boston’s 40-man roster in the fall while Barnes, with just two years of pro ball under his belt, does not yet have to be on the Red Sox 40-man.
The pair of righties most likely will start this season at Pawtucket, but they will be just one proverbial phone call away from the big leagues. Last year, nine players made their big league debuts with the Red Sox, including six pitchers. This season could again see several players make their big league debuts, with Ranaudo and Barnes potentially among that group.
But, first, there is still some work left to be done.
“I think there’s a lot of things that go into it,” said Ben Crockett, Red Sox Director of Player Development. “Some of it is individual. A lot of it is fundamental work, refinement of their pitches, refinement of their command, I think more from a structural standpoint. It’s introducing more advance reports, scouting reports, building rapport with the catchers that they will hopefully be moving up with. Just getting them to think about the game in a little bit more analytical fashion to prepare for the way they’re going to do it in the major leagues.”
For Barnes and Ranaudo, they see where the others have gone. That’s where they want to go. They’ll push each other to get there.
“It’s great to see that,” Ranaudo said. “Guys I started with last year worked their way up and they’re really successful. So, they kind of paved the way. If there’s an opportunity and I have a chance and I keep taking care of things that I can take care of and keep being successful, hopefully there’s an opportunity and hopefully I’ll be able to take advantage of it and contribute to the team just like they did.”
“We’ve kind of been together for the last couple of years at least, the three or four of us, and, yeah, we all have a great relationship with each other. We’re all really good friends,” said Barnes. “But at the same time we’re all competing to get to the big leagues and want to fulfill our dreams. So you keep that healthy…’he had a good outing so I want to go out and have a good outing’ [attitude]. And it works out really well for us. We push each other in the weight room, out on the field, and when it counts the most – on the mound in game situations.”
Ranaudo was Boston’s sandwich pick between the first and second round (#39 overall) of the 2010 draft out of Louisiana State University. His progression is slightly ahead of that of Barnes, who was the Red Sox first-round choice (#19 overall) in 2011 from the University of Connecticut.
There are a number of similarities between the two. Both are right-handed power pitchers. Both are big – Ranaudo at 6-foot-7, Barnes 6-foot-4. And both are from the Northeast. Ranaudo is a native of New Jersey before the Sox selected him from LSU while Barnes is a native of Connecticut and attended UConn.
“Matt and I are really good friends, just like almost everybody else in the organization,” Ranaudo said. “We definitely push each other. We’ve moved up together a lot. We’ve played on the same teams, and we learn a lot from each other, whether it’s helping each other with approaches to certain guys or helping each other with certain pitches, or delivery stuff, physical stuff. We definitely help each other, and it helps our friendship. We sometimes give each other a hard time but we compete and it really has helped us in our careers.”
“He’s a fantastic pitcher,” Barnes said of Ranaudo. “I got to pitch against him in the Cape Cod League (2010) and I knew then that he was going to be a really good pitcher and have a successful career. He brings a lot of calmness to him when he’s pitching, he’s very poised. He’s obviously got a great fastball, great curveball, good changeup. He’s one of those guys who attacks hitters. You know you’re going to get a quality outing from him every time.”
Christian Vazquez has caught for both right-handers over the past three seasons and has seen the on-field similarities first-hand
“They have similarity with the fastball, they throw hard, like 95, 96,” Vazquez said. “And they’re both competitive pitchers. They like to compete on the mound and to win. They are great teammates. It’s fun to catch them.”
There are other similarities that may not show up on a stat sheet. But they are just as important.
“They’re both great guys and they’ve got great makeup,” said Portland pitching coach Bob Kipper. “Say what you want if you don’t believe that’s important, but personally I think it’s extremely important. Anthony and Matt are very coachable. Obviously, they have a passion for playing baseball. Both clearly want to pitch in the big leagues. They feel like they’re going to do that some time down the road. When is that? I wish I was that smart. But, in my opinion, it will happen.”
Both pitchers, though, struggled in their sophomore seasons. Beset with injuries in 2012, Ranaudo made just nine appearances for Portland, going 1-3 with a 6.69 ERA. He made four appearances in the Puerto Rico winter league before being shut down. In 2013, however, he bounced back to post a combined record of 11-5, with a 2.96 ERA between Portland and Pawtucket. In 25 games, 24 starts, he had a 1.136 WHIP and a ratio 8.2 strikeouts-per-nine innings over 140 innings.
“It’s apparent to everybody that during his 2012 season he fell on hard times,” Kipper said. “The thing that’s most impressive about Anthony Ranaudo is that he didn’t get lost in the struggles and the failures of his 2012 season. He went out and did something about it. We all saw him come to spring training. He’s a physical guy. Let’s face facts. He’s 6-foot-7, and was about 230 in 2012. He came to spring training at 250 and it was 20 good pounds of weight that he put on, that became functional for him.
“If you feel strong, you feel healthy. And part of his challenge during the 2012 season was he couldn’t stay healthy. And because of that he could never really get on track with regards to developing areas of his game. But last year he was healthy and I think a big part of it – I’m not saying the only part of it but a big part of it – was he was stronger. So hat’s off to Anthony for doing the off-season work.
“He came to spring training in 2013 and he was ready to go. He did a lot of drill work to get himself familiar and more efficient with his delivery. He sensed that with his 6-foot-7 frame he can create that steep angle and drive the ball down in the zone with late life and late carry. And he was able to accomplish that. And that to me was a big part of his success right out of the gate last year, in the respect that he was commanding his fastball much better. Along with that comes the improvement with his curveball, the quality of it, the power was much more apparent with this pitch, and it became a real legitimate weapon for him.”
Barnes had similar struggles in his second season. In 2013, he went a combined 6-10 with a 4.13 ERA for Portland and Pawtucket. Like Ranaudo, though, he is poised for a bounce back in his third professional season.
“I think he grew up in a lot of ways last year,” Kipper said. “The [Double-A] level really challenged him, and that became a really good thing. For me, outside of the apparent fundamental development in his game, he developed a delivery that was more efficient, more repeatable, so that he could command his well-above-average fastball. There was also further development of his curveball.
“He went from throwing his curveball from my understanding 70, 72 MPH, to throwing his curveball 77-80 MPH last year. So he’s really developing the ability to power his pitch better off a well-above-average fastball. Matt also learned the importance of throwing strikes early in the count and having the putaway effect late. His changeup was a pitch that I thought was progressing quite nicely. Obviously at the Triple-A level there’s a need for this pitch and will be moving forward. He has the ability to use all of these pitches to be effective.
“Matt really began to understand the importance of being a tireless worker. Things don’t just happen – he made them happen. He’s taking ownership of his baseball career, understanding that this is not an easy game. It’s not supposed to be. But he’s definitely well-equipped, well-blessed, and becoming an impact guy down the road.”
PawSox manager Kevin Boles worked with both right-handers last season when he managed Portland.
“They definitely push each other,” Boles said. “Obviously the raw tools and the stuff are there. But it’s just refining that and making sure they’re attacking the zone and trusting their stuff and able to repeat in the zone. Our starting staff that we had to begin last year in Portland was terrific. If you watch these guys, they profile. They definitely have the look, the mix, the work ethic, the attitude, and they have bright futures ahead of them.”
And the experience each got at Triple-A with the PawSox last season can only help as they go forward.
“There’s been a history of that,” said Boles. “Whether it’s been position players or pitchers, just giving them a taste so the next year they understand what’s going on, what’s been involved. And the great thing about it is that from a developmental side, not only winning but being in a playoff atmosphere because they’ve been in that situation that last couple of years here in Pawtucket. I think it’s really been beneficial for our players to have a consistency where they’ve performed and they’ve done well to give them a taste of what’s to come.”
There’s a lot to like with what’s to come from Anthony Ranaudo and Matt Barnes and PawSox fans will almost assuredly get the chance to see them first in 2014.
Joon Lee of Overthemonster.com profiled the upcoming Documentary “The Deal: Alex Rodriguez to the Boston Red Sox” which will air Sunday at 8pm on ESPN. What if? I bet everyone in the “nation” is happy they don’t have to deal with this headache now.
Somewhere, deep in the file cabinets of Fenway Park lies a contract signed by Alex Rodriguez. The contract signed by Rodriguez, agreed upon during a 72-hour exclusive negotiating window, stated that the All-Star shortstop would take a massive salary cut in order to become a member of the Boston Red Sox. Essentially, Rodriguez would stroll into Cooperstown as a member of the Boston Red Sox.
And then things fell apart.
The MLB Players Association rejected the proposed deal negotiated by General Manager Theo Epstein and Rodriguez and the rest is history.
In a new ESPN film called “The Deal: Alex Rodriguez to the Boston Red Sox” directed by Nick and Colin Barnicle of Prospect Productions, all involved parties of the proposed trade go into detail about the deal that never happened. Jed Hoyer remembers going into the hotel room the evening him and Epstein arrived in New York and being blown away by the mere presence of Rodriguez.
“I just remember going through the door and seeing [Rodriguez] dressed perfectly,” Hoyer said.
“It was hard to relate [to Rodriguez],” Epstein said. “I’m the same age as this guy and he’s like another species. This guy’s got it all together.”
Epstein told Rodriguez from the beginning that he would need a passive pay-cut in order to become a member of the Red Sox.
“When we brought up dollars and then we got down to it, we said, ‘Alex, we’re going to need you to walk away from X.’ And then he said, yes, I can do this. We can make this happen.” Epstein said.
The willingness of Rodriguez to cut a major portion of his salary is new information. After the second negotiation session, Rodriguez and the Red Sox agreed to a deal. The deal only needed to be approved by Donald Fehr and the MLBPA. That, of course, did not happen.
“Alex really, really, really wanted to become a Red Sox,” said director Colin Barnicle. “Now, ten years later, you only see him as a Yankee, but back then, he said, “I really want to become a Boston Red Sox and lead them to the championship and have that rivalry with Derek Jeter who I never really challenged out in Seattle.”
The deal undermined the negotiation powers of the union and would potentially set a bad precedent for players taking a pay-cut and backtracking on their original salaries. Because Rodriguez was the face of Major League Baseball at the time, the potential salary cut would have massive ramifications throughout baseball.
Any deal for Rodriguez was stagnant until Aaron Boone injured his knee on the basketball court and the Yankees suddenly needed a third baseman. ESPN Senior Baseball Writer Buster Olney detailed Yankees General Manager Brian Cashman’s pursuit of Rodriguez.
“So at the Baseball Writer’s Dinner January 25, Brian Cashman has known for six days that he needs a third baseman. Next to Brian Cashman, Alex Rodriguez,” Olney said.
“So I spend the entire night with Alex having dinner talking about why Boston didn’t happen, the Red Sox and Rangers’ negotiations, the union’s involvement and it turned out into being a little bit of a roadmap and that’s when I started to get the idea from that evening that we might have something here that we could do,” Cashman said.
Epstein knew immediately that if Rodriguez wanted to play third base, the Yankees would acquire Rodriguez.
“We looked at each other in the office and said, ‘If A-Rod is willing to play third, he’s a Yankee,’” Epstein said.
The Rangers chose from a pool of players in addition to Alfonso Soriano. While Rangers General Manager John Hart chose shortstop Joaquin Arias, Robinson Cano was also a player the Yankees were willing to give up for Rodriguez.
“We looked at each other in the office and said, ‘If A-Rod is willing to play third, he’s a Yankee.” -Theo Epstein
The decision by the Barnicle brother not talk to Rodriguez regarding the trade was deliberate.
“We notified his lawyers about the piece and our thought process was almost like, me personally and my brother just creatively didn’t want to have him in it,” Barnicle said. “As soon as he’s in it, it becomes whenever he is up on screen now, you just think, “Ugh, this guy is a social pariah. This guy is just lying to me.” You instantly think he is saying something false so I didn’t want him up on screen because I didn’t want the subject matter to be totally skewed towards Alex Rodriguez. I wanted the subject matter to be skewed towards the what if the Boston Red Sox got him. It’s about the two teams versus the actual player.”
The film “The Deal: Alex Rodriguez to the Boston Red Sox” premieres today on Grantland and will air Sunday, February 16 at 8 PM on ESPN.
Yesterday I shared a photo of Jonny Gomes new tattoo. Today, his frothy beard got a trim. Pretty sure he hadn’t touched it since Spring Training 2013.
On a side note, it would take me 25 years to grow a beard like that. Guess I should start now? Not sure my wife would approve of that.
Down to the business…
ESPNBoston.com’s Gordon Edes wrote about the Top 10 things he’s looking forward to seeing down At JetBlue Park in Ft. Myers over the course of the next six weeks.
1. Grady Sizemore’s comeback attempt
So, it’s not unprecedented. Roy Hobbs was 19 years old when he was shot by that loon Harriet Bird, but returned 15 years later with Wonderboy intact. That was fiction. A real-life example? Reds pitcher Jose Rijo, a bona-fide ace in the late 1980s and early ’90s for the Reds, had five operations on his right elbow that sidelined him for five seasons and came back at age 36. It didn’t last long — he went down for good a year later — but he made it back. Josh Hamilton, the No. 1 overall pick in 1999 (one pick ahead of Josh Beckett), was out of organized ball for three years because of his crack addiction before the Tampa Bay Rays gave him another chance in 2006. A year later, he was in the big leagues.
And in basketball, as my ESPN Boston colleague Jackie MacMullan reminded me, Grant Hill missed 281 regular-season and 15 playoff games between 2000 and 2004 with ankle injuries and made it back at age 32, and was voted an All-Star starter.
So now comes Grady Sizemore, a three-time All-Star before the age of 25, a player who hit 20 home runs and stole 20 bases in each of his first four seasons in the big leagues, a center fielder and leadoff hitter who was Jacoby Ellsbury with a tad less speed, a lot more power, and a better arm. Then the injuries came, and the seven operations — on both knees, including microfracture surgery on his left knee, his back and two for sports hernias. Since 2008, Sizemore has played a total of 210 games in the big leagues, and hasn’t played anywhere in the past two years. The Red Sox have seen Sizemore work out and think he has a chance to make it back. He’s 31 now, and while they’ve made a modest bet on his return — -$750,000 base contract — the odds still seem impossibly long. If he pulls it off, it’s one of the great stories of this or any other season, but the guess here is that rookie Jackie Bradley Jr., who had a terrific spring in 2013, will be the Opening Day center fielder, with Sizemore left facing a decision of whether he is willing to go back to the minors to pursue his dream.
2. How the left side of the infield plays out
This close to camp, and Stephen Drew remains unsigned, which means his return to the Red Sox still cannot be entirely ruled out. Sox brass, from Larry Lucchino to Ben Cherington to John Farrell, have all cited the team’s depth as the most critical component of their success last season, and entrusting the left side to Xander Bogaerts and Will Middlebrooks without a true safety net represents a departure from that approach. The Sox have other potential big-leaguers in the making at both third (Garin Cecchini) and short (Deven Marrero), but they’re not yet far enough along in their development. Bogaerts has “can’t miss” written all over him, and Middlebrooks is healthy again and presumably wiser for the experience of struggling last season, but the Sox need more protection. If not Drew, then somebody else.
3. Watching Matt Barnes, Anthony Ranaudo and Henry Owens in their first big league camp
Last spring, it was Rubby De La Rosa and Allen Webster, and rookies Brandon Workman and Drake Britton making the biggest impact. They are by no means an old story — both almost certainly will be pitching again in Boston this season — but the Sox are excited about the pitchers in the pipeline, and Owens, in particular, who was ranked the team’s No. 2 prospect behind Bogaerts by ESPN.com’s Keith Law. The 6-foot-6 left-hander has had just two seasons in pro ball, but made dramatic strides last season, ending in Double-A Portland, where he posted a 1.78 ERA in six starts and struck out 46 batters in 30 1/3 innings. Scouts rave about his changeup and curveball, and are just waiting for his fastball to catch up with his secondary pitches. Barnes and Ranaudo also have impressive arms and are ahead of Owens in potential big-league ETA. They’re not all going to make it, but the Sox haven’t had a collection of young arms like this in a long time.
4. Charting the progress of young catchers Christian Vazquez and Blake Swihart
It was an eye-opening experience last spring when the 22-year-old Vazquez, a native of Puerto Rico, showed off his powerful arm in his first big-league camp, and it wasn’t a mirage: Vazquez threw out nearly 47 percent of the base-runners who attempted to steal on him in Portland last season (47 out of 101). With the Sox entering the season with 37-year-old veterans A.J. Pierzynski and David Ross behind the plate, there will be an opportunity soon for a young catcher, and the switch-hitting Swihart, who will be in his first big league camp, and Vazquez are the two leading contenders. Swihart is regarded as the better prospect, but Vazquez is closer to the big leagues.
5. Spotting this spring’s fashion trend
Jonny Gomes has declared an end to the Beards, although Mike Napoli is expected to be a conscientious objector, the Sox first baseman now fully invested in the concept of his hedgerow whiskers defining his essence. Gomes said he is running short on ideas, but with veteran free spirits such as Ross, Ryan Dempster, Jake Peavy and A.J. Pierzynski around, someone will step up.
6. David Ortiz’s grand entrance
The man just makes everyone around him feel better. No one in the Sox clubhouse pays more than passing attention to Ortiz’s annual lobbying for a new, improved contract. They just want to hear his booming laugh, be on the receiving end of one of his massive bear hugs, and make sure they don’t miss any of his outrageous pronouncements. The biggest misconception about the Sox during the Ortiz years, one that makes him indignant, is the idea that he hasn’t been a leader almost from the day he put on the uniform. The new guys brought a lot of energy, commitment and a renewed focus, but the glue that holds it all together belongs to Dustin Pedroia and Big Papi.
7. The first time Sox hitters take BP against Shunsuke Watanabe
It used to be Tim Wakefield’s knuckleball that evoked dread among the Sox hitters assigned to face him in his first live BP session. The novelty act this spring is Watanabe, the Japanese submariner whose knuckles practically scrape the ground before he delivers a pitch. Watanabe didn’t fool Ortiz much, though, when they faced each other in an exhibition in Japan. Ortiz hit one of the longest home runs ever in the Tokyo Dome.
8. How A.J. Pierzynski fits in
This story will have a short shelf life, and is a topic only because Pierzynski is a perennial winner in the “Players They Love to Hate” polls. A.J. is a world-class agitator, but that’s when he’s on the other side. In his own clubhouse, especially at this stage of his career, he prides himself on being a good teammate, even if he may have annoyed his manager in Chicago, Ozzie Guillen, from time to time. He should fit right in with this group, though he is replacing a pitchers’ favorite in Jarrod Saltalamacchia.
9. Getting a line on Clay Buchholz’s health
The man missed three months during the season with shoulder bursitis, gave the Sox a gallant few innings in his one World Series start (Game 4), then went home and did not require any kind of procedure on his arm, other than rest and the usual strengthening exercises. His enforced inactivity suggested something needed to be done, but so far that hasn’t been the case. Healthy, Buchholz was one of the league’s best pitchers and played a huge part in the team’s high-flying start last season. His 1.74 ERA in 16 starts was the stuff of which aces are made. But can he stay in one piece? His long-term future with the Sox depends on it.
10. John Farrell choosing a leadoff man
Jacoby Ellsbury has taken his talents to South Bronx, so the Sox will be auditioning candidates to lead off. Daniel Nava, with his high on-base percentage, and Shane Victorino, with his speed, are logical candidates, but the suspicion here is that by the end of camp, Bogaerts may emerge at the top of the order, the way a rookie named Nomar Garciaparra did in 1997.
Michael Silverman of the Boston Herald identified the nine biggest questions facing the Red Sox in the spring… http://bostonherald.com/sports/red_sox_mlb/boston_red_sox/2014/02/starting_9_key_questions_facing_sox_this_spring
Jason Mastrodonato of masslive.com dives into what we can expect from Jon Lester, who is a year away from free agency if he doesn’t sign an extension. http://www.masslive.com/redsox/index.ssf/2014/02/boston_red_sox_25_players_in_2_18.html
Rob Bradford of weei.com says that Clay Buccholz is completely healthy heading into 2014. He’s a big wild card to the Red Sox rotation this year. http://fullcount.weei.com/sports/boston/baseball/red-sox/2014/02/10/clay-buchholz-says-he-completely-healthy-but-still-taking-things-slow/
And from Alex Speier of weei.com caught up with Juan Nieves to chat about how he’s going to handle having so much starting pitching and what he’s going to do to keep them healthy during the season. http://fullcount.weei.com/sports/boston/baseball/red-sox/2014/02/07/juan-nieves-on-the-path-to-a-healthy-post-world-series-pitching-staff/
I’m headed to the radio station to voice some commercials today…that’s when you know, as a broadcaster, that the season is getting close. And, our first edition of the PawSox Insider Show will air Saturday from 2-3pm on the home of the PawSox, WHJJ 920am.
Enjoy your Tuesday everyone! 51 days until opening night at McCoy April 3rd.
First of all, who isn’t excited for Spring Training? And who is still basking in the glory that was the Red Sox 2013 World Series Championship. One answer to that is certainly Jonny Gomes. He made one key addition heading into the 2014 season…
The 53-foot 18-wheel truck is enroute to Fenway South at JetBlue Park in Ft. Myers. The “On the Road to Greatness” mobile was fully loaded with 20,400 baseballs, 1,100 bats, 400 pairs of socks and 60 cases of sunflower seeds, among other baseball necessities. Spikes belonging to Will Middlebrooks and Mike Carp made their way on, followed shortly by Jake Peavy’s bag, still with a White Sox logo, and a few Fathead wall decals.
And, officially on Saturday, the Red Sox quest for a repeat begins.
One of the big storylines of spring will be what translates in center field. Is is Jackie Bradley Jr.’s job to lose? How healthy is Grady Sizemore, really? A great piece by weei.com’s Rob Bradford and Alex Speier explains…
“And so it begins for Grady Sizemore.
He walked into JetBlue Park at approximately 9:30 a.m. Sunday, looking for direction. Where was his new clubhouse? Who should he see to get set up? Where was the Red Sox’ medical staff?
Four hours later, Sizemore walked out of the complex carrying a Cleveland Indians duffel bag, flush with a morning full of familiarity. He had found his locker, been given a new number (38), and met up with the man who has presented a plan that might keep the outfielder in the health he has been seeking for the past four years, coordinator of sports medicine services, Dan Dyrek.
Yet, some questions — the really important ones — won’t be answerable for some time. The outfielder knows that.”
To read the whole article, click this link…http://www.weei.com/sports/boston/baseball/red-sox/rob-bradford/2014/02/09/grady-sizemore-kicks-his-quest-make-history
And, yes, of course it’s spring training. This week brings the literal and figurative warmth that fans of the grand old game have been craving since Koji punched out Matt Carpenter on a chilly late-October night at Fenway Park.
The sun is shining again. The temperatures in Florida and Arizona are climbing. Spring Training is here, with equipment trucks arriving, pitchers and catchers reporting, and hope for championship seasons filling clubhouses around the Major Leagues.
There are certainties, of course. Players will say they’re in the best shape of their lives, pitchers will test new pitches, there will be sore limbs and achy bones and early pitch-count limits and the dreaded PFP (pitchers’ fielding practice) drills on those early back-field mornings.
But there are many questions in a sport that’s already unpredictable, and a few of the biggest ones will start to be answered this week, such as, from Doug Miller of mlb.com:
How ’bout those champs?
The Boston Red Sox, otherwise known as the team everyone wants to — and has to — be better than to wind up as the last one standing at the end of October, are heading to Fort Myers, Fla., with a crown to defend, and they’re doing it with a different cast.
Boston didn’t make any huge waves this winter, preferring to make minor adjustments to its championship roster here and there. We’ll begin to see if it works.
Outfielder Jacoby Ellsbury is gone to the Yankees, of all teams, leaving young Jackie Bradley Jr. or Minor League signee Grady Sizemore to earn the big time in center field. Catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia signed with the Marlins and was replaced by a different veteran free agent, A.J. Pierzynski.
Xander Bogaerts, all of 21 years old and fresh off valuable playing time in the 2013 postseason, will play every day somewhere, whether it’s shortstop or third base. Last year’s shortstop, Stephen Drew, remains a free agent.
The Red Sox have Jon Lester, Clay Buchholz, Jake Peavy and John Lackey heading up a strong and deep starting rotation, and general manager Ben Cherington has sounded confident all winter that it, like the rest of his team, doesn’t need to be altered much.
“We’re very comfortable not doing anything,” Cherington said. “We all know that with starting pitching, a supposed surplus has a way of working itself out usually.”
Finally, one of the young talented arms in the Red Sox stable is Brandon Workman. He made just a handful of appearances with Pawtucket last year before being thrust into duty in Boston. His starts were strong, his relief work was shaky, until it really mattered in October…then he was light’s out.
Here is Jason Mastrodonato of masslive.com and where he thinks Workman fits into the 2014 Boston Red Sox…
Age opening day: 25
Years with Red Sox: 1
Contract status: Arbitration-eligible in 2017, eligible for free agency in 2020
Key statistic in 2013: 47 strikeouts in 41 2/3 innings
Expected role in 2014: Spot starter/middle relief
Brandon Workman had just pitched the best game of his short career, striking out nine Seattle Mariners in six innings, allowing just one run to pick up his first major league win.
It was July 30 and it marked his third start with the Boston Red Sox. He was the emergency guy, earning a chance to pitch due to injury and necessity after starting the year with Double-A Portland and progressing through the minor league system.
The start was an attention grabber, a look-at-me, I-can-really-do-this moment for a 6-foot-5 right-hander who attacks hitters with fastballs. He threw strikes and the Mariners couldn’t touch him. They swung and missed 14 times.
After Workman had showered and talked to reporters about his best day as a player, after manager John Farrell said, “Hopefully tonight is the first of many wins for him as he goes forward,” Workman found out he’d no longer be needed in the rotation.
With the trade deadline approaching, Boston acquired Jake Peavy from the Chicago White Sox. The acquisition gave the Red Sox the veteran starter they were looking for.
Workman was then slotted into the bullpen, went through growing pains and finished the season by pitching 21 1/3 relief innings with a 6.33 ERA. It wasn’t the transition the Red Sox were looking for, but Workman found new success with the adrenaline of the postseason, throwing 8 2/3 shutout innings when they mattered most.
His performance as a reliever created split opinions. He can overpower with his 92 mph fastball, at times. He can also get into trouble by being too aggressive.
Batters No. 1 through No. 4 hit .387 off Workman, but batters 5 through 9 hit just .172.
“Once he gets through that first or second inning, he’s really started to find a very good rhythm,” Farrell said in July.
Rhythm is harder to come by when the first 20 pitches may be the only 20 pitches.
Based on the construction of the Red Sox roster – they have six starting pitchers (along with a handful of talented minor league starters) entering spring training – Workman may be needed out of the bullpen.
There’s still time for a trade to be made.
If the Red Sox unload a starter, Workman should have more of an opportunity to make some starts, a role he’s been comfortable with. With three quality starts in his first three tries, Workman became just the fifth Red Sox pitcher since 1980 to open his career in that fashion (Josh Beckett, Pedro Martinez, Hideo Nomo and Tim Wakefield are the others).
He has shown the ability, at times, to perform well out of the bullpen, too. That transition often takes time, and a young pitcher trying to break through with a major league team can benefit from performing well in any role.
It all depends what the Red Sox need. And what they need could change over time.
At 25 years old, Workman’s career is just getting started.
Could Workman start the season in the minor leagues?
It certainly seems possible. The Red Sox have starters with more experience and relievers with more proven success, so they could choose to let Workman pick up some time at Triple-A Pawtucket, where he only made six starts last year.
He’ll enter spring training as a starting pitcher and transition to the bullpen if necessary. With his success as a starter, Boston may want to keep him there.
AND THIS TOO
Workman issued just 88 walks in 370 2/3 minor league innings (about 2.1 per 9). At the University of Texas, he walked just 23 in 104 2/3, striking out 101.
His numbers at Bowie High School in Texas were even better. He earned all-district honorable mention as a freshman while playing the infield. Workman then combined to throw 223 innings with 35 walks and 390 strikeouts over his next three seasons.
Happy Monday everyone! Hope you all had a great weekend…
Sam Dykstra from milb.com recently caught up with Eddy Alvarez, who will be trading in his Olympic speed skates for baseball cleats after the Winter Games.
Let’s get this out of the way. Baseball is not a winter sport. It’s not played on ice. It’s not played in the snow. Major League Baseball organizations, in fact, try to escape anything cold by holding their initial workouts in the warmer environs of Florida and Arizona and calling such workouts, of all things, Spring Training, even if they begin in February.
No, you won’t find any baseball at the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia. The closest you might find baseball and the Winter Games is the news ticker of your favorite sports channel, where medal counts could be followed by free-agent news.
But maybe you don’t know Eddy Alvarez, whose present is racing around the Olympic short track in search of a medal and whose future might be racing around the diamond in search of a Major League career.
Alvarez, a first-time Olympian at age 24, is one of two American short-track speedskaters to qualify for all three individual events (500 meters, 1,000 meters, 1,500 meters) as well as the 5,000-meter relay — his best chance at a gold — in Sochi. (The other being his friend, J.R. Celski.) The Miami native picked up skating at 5 years old when he started doing in-line. Over time, he moved indoors to the ice and onto the national stage.
Long before that, however, Alvarez — the son of Cuban parents — loved a different sport.
“Baseball’s just something that’s always been a part of my family,” he said. “My dad did it, my brother did it, I grew up doing it. It was before skating, too. I was 2 years old and already swinging bats and throwing balls. I knew that was something that I was going do.”
The national pastime remained a focus through those early years and grew a bit when his brother, Nick, was selected by the Dodgers in the 26th round of the 2000 Draft out of nearby St. Thomas University, an NAIA school. The outfielder/first baseman stayed mostly in state — Class A Advanced Vero Beach in 2001-02, Double-A Jacksonville from 2003 to his final Minor League season in 2006 — and it was his youngest brother who tried to reap the rewards.
“He was my idol,” Eddy Alvarez said. “We had a big age difference. We’re 13 years apart. He would take me into the clubhouse when I was a kid, and I was able to practice with the team, shag with the team. It was really cool. He always kept that dream of mine alive in a way because I just wanted to be like him.”
Despite winning inline championships by the handful and becoming a force on the ice, Alvarez dropped skating to focus on baseball for three years at Christopher Columbus High School. The shortstop received attention from colleges and even signed a letter of intent during his junior year to play at St. Thomas, thanks to several skills that translated between the two sports.
“The sense of balance you need to take these turns at incredible angles that we do, it actually helps my swing and my load and how I need balance,” Alvarez explained. “I kind of have an Ichiro swing. I load up on the back leg and unleash it. Just reaction in general, too. Stealing a base corresponds with the 500-meter start and that gun. So there are a lot of similarities in a way.”
“He was a good athlete, obviously,” said former St. Thomas coach Manny Mantrana, who managed Nick, recruited Eddy and has moved on to the University of Texas, Pan American. “I think he would have been ready defensively right away as a freshman. He was very quick in the field and had a good, accurate throwing arm. Hitting-wise, he could slap balls around, hit some line drives and could steal a base, too.
“But defensively, he would have been great. I think he chose the wrong sport, and I always kid him about that.”
Indeed, with Alvarez graduating in 2008 and Mantrana headed to a new school the following season, the former switched tracks again. The 2010 Games in Vancouver were on the horizon and the 18-year-old, still a contender despite his time away from competitive skating, decided he wanted to make the full-time move to chase that dream. That came as no big surprise to the man who recruited him.
“From the beginning, you could kind of sense that skating was still No. 1 with him,” Mantrana said. “Sure, he would play baseball, but I think the family from the beginning, they kinda saw him as having a good chance in the skating world. Hopefully, it’ll work out. He’s certainly gotten this far.”
The Olympic dream wasn’t immediately realized. He qualified for both the 2008 and 2009 World Junior Short Track Championships, but when it came to the 2010 Olympic Trials, the then-19-year-old, who was dealing with a stomach virus, finished 13th overall and no higher than 11th in the individual events (1,500m).
Feeling down after failing to qualify and with knee injuries also a concern, Alvarez turned once more to baseball in 2011, getting another chance at the college game, this time at Salt Lake Community College, not far from where he’d trained on the ice in the past.
Alvarez became a switch-hitter and was one of the more impressive bats on a Bruins team that was ranked the No. 1 nationally among junior colleges before falling in the Western District championship. The 5-foot-9 shortstop owned a .311/.390/.478 slash line and led the Scenic West Athletic Conference with 16 doubles to go with two homers, four triples, 46 RBIs and seven steals in 63 games. He earned a spot on the all-conference team along with a nomination as a Junior College All-American. Scouts turned up to see if Alvarez was back on the diamond for good. His answer? Not yet.
“They were wondering when I was going to come back, so I did tell them after the [Sochi] Games,” he said. “But it was a great experience. I got to step away from this sport, grow up a little bit, try to get my mind right.”
Although he certainly had performed well at Salt Lake, his knees were still not 100 percent and doctors later discovered several tears in both. Alvarez underwent major knee surgery in March 2012, following failed plasma injections, and was able to return to speedskating on the national level by the following fall.
A little more than a year later, he officially became an Olympian. Alvarez finished second in the 500m and 1,500m races and third in the 1,000m at last month’s Olympic Trials, good enough for second overall and a well-deserved spot on the eight-skater (five men, three women) U.S. Short Track team. He touches the Sochi ice for the first time on Monday in qualifying for the 1,500m.
“I feel satisfied,” he said. “Now it’s just kind of having fun and letting go and throwing it down.”
Alvarez is likely to hang up his skates after Sochi, no matter the results, and hopes those same scouts who gave him a look in Utah will come calling again in the spring. There are some athletic inhibitions, perhaps, to a baseball career, namely height and bulking up an upper body that’s not required in the leg-heavy world of speedskating.
But while he’s flip-flopped between both sports in the past before, has Alvarez ever decided which one he’s actually better at? Of course not.
“I didn’t,” he said through laughter. “I plan to go back to baseball after this. That’s the thing. I’ve never, ever been able to choose between baseball and skating, which is why I still juggle the two sports in my life. This was one of my goals — always to be an Olympic skater — and the other one is to be a professional baseball player.
“I just have a love for that sport and a passion. Just as much as I have a love and passion for skating. It’s something I’ve always wanted to fall back on and we’ll see what happens.”
I was fortunate enough to go to a special live recording of WEEI’s Hot Stove Show with Rob Bradford and Alex Speier Thursday night at Dave and Buster’s in Providence.
The shindig was put on by 103.7 WEEI for sponsors and fans to get fired up for the upcoming season and see the 2013 World Series Trophy.
While the trophy was a big part of the draw, fans ans sponsors also got to meet with legendary broadcaster and recent Red Sox Hall of Famer Joe Costiglione.
I had met Joe a couple times in passing, but we had a chance to really chat last night which was a thrill for me. He began his first year broadcasting with the Red Sox the year I was born (you can google that yourselves), so he was great to just talk with and hear some of the stories from his career. What a great honor.
Alex and Rob began their show and began talking all things Red Sox…signings, free-agent pick ups, spring training story lines, etc. Between one of the breaks, Alex asked if I wanted to join the show so they could pick my brain on the crop of young players coming up and the players who ended the season in Pawtucket. Castiglione was already scheduled to appear on the show, but when Alex asked me to come on with them, I couldn’t pass up.
We talked Jackie Bradley Jr., Xander Bogaerts, the young pitchers coming up (Barnes, Ranaudo, Webster) and a few other topics. To say the least, it was fun to be a part of the show with such great baseball minds like Castiglione, Speier and Bradford.
To hear the whole show, it is below…the second segment is an interview with ex-Red Sox GM Theo Epstein and Alex, Rob, Joe and myself come on at the 26 minute mark.
Needless to say, it was a great evening and a true honor to be asked to be a part of it.
Down in Ft. Myers, most of the Red Sox are already getting ready for Spring Training even though the official report date for pitchers and catchers isn’t until the 15th. The squad is just ready to get going to defend their title. I hate to break it to you all, but it’s 71 degrees and sunny in Florida today. Yes, it’s cold in New England still, but it’ll be 71 and sunny here too…eventually!
Finally, here’s a good read about PawSox catcher and 2013 team MVP, Dan Butler…http://www.overthemonster.com/2014/2/7/5388388/dan-butler-red-sox-prospects-spring-training-catcher
Opening night at McCoy is April 3rd at 7:05…the clock is ticking!
The official release from NESN.com can be read below.
NESN, the official home of the defending World Series champion Boston Red Sox, will deliver 44 consecutive days of live Boston Red Sox spring training coverage. NESN’s coverage will be highlighted by 12 Grapefruit League games and NESN Sports Today live from JetBlue Park in Fort Myers. NESN’s continuous coverage begins on Friday, February 14, at 10:00 p.m. on NESN Sports Today. NESN then adds 11 consecutive days of Red Sox LIVE from Fort Myers presented by Jordan’s Furniture starting February 16 at 6:00 pm and six days of WEEI’s The Dennis & Callahan Morning Show from JetBlue Park beginning February 19.
44 Days of NESN Sports Today from Fort Myers
Unparalleled coverage of the Red Sox begins on Friday, February 14, at 10:00 p.m. as players begin to arrive in Fort Myers. Co-anchor Adam Pellerin and Red Sox host Tom Caron will highlight the first week of coverage, which will also include a special 6:00 p.m. edition of NESN Sports Today on Saturday, February 15. The network’s coverage will expand to include over a dozen on-air personalities, including exclusive one-on-one interviews by NESN’s Red Sox play-by-play announcer Don Orsillo and color analyst Jerry Remy, features from NESN reporters, and coverage from Red Sox writers who are with the team every day.
11 Days of Red Sox LIVE from Fort Myers
NESN expands spring training coverage when pitchers and catchers report on Sunday, February 16 at 6:00 p.m. with Red Sox LIVE from Fort Myers presented by Jordan’s Furniture. NESN Red Sox host Tom Caron will look ahead to the 2014 season with players, coaches and executives 11 consecutive days at 6:00 p.m. from JetBlue Park. 6 Days of WEEI’s The Dennis and Callahan Morning Show presented by Town Fair Tire NESN’s live coverage from Fort Myers will also include six days of WEEI’s The Dennis & Callahan Morning Show beginning Wednesday, February 19 at 6:00 a.m. John Dennis, Gerry Callahan and Kirk Minihane will be at JetBlue Park at Fenway South to deliver exclusive interviews with players, coaches and experts who cover the team.
12 spring training games
NESN’s coverage of 12 Red Sox spring training games presented by Southwest Airlines will begin Sunday, March 2, at 1:00 p.m. when the Red Sox host the Baltimore Orioles at JetBlue Park at Fenway South. Don Orsillo and Jerry Remy will team up for their 14th season together in the NESN broadcast booth to deliver the action. The game schedule includes a special Red Sox Foundation Game Night on March 20 when the Red Sox host the New York Yankees. Coverage begins at 6:30 p.m. with a 30-minute pregame show that will tell stories of the foundation’s impact on families in New England. The game telecast will include Red Sox Foundation Chairman Tim Wakefield in the broadcast booth and concludes with a special 30-minute, Foundation-focused postgame show.
NESN’s 2014 Red Sox Spring Training Game Telecasts
Sunday, March 2 Baltimore 1:00 PM
Saturday, March 8 Baltimore (Sarasota) 1:00 PM
Sunday, March 9 Pittsburgh (Bradenton) 1:00 PM
Monday, March 10 Tampa Bay 1:00 PM
Saturday, March 15 Philadelphia 7:00 PM
Sunday, March 16 Tampa Bay (Port Charlotte) 1:00 PM
Wednesday, March 19 Pittsburgh 7:00 PM
Thursday, March 20 New York Yankees 7:00 PM
Saturday, March 22 Atlanta (Orlando) 1:00 PM
Sunday, March 23 Tampa Bay 1:00 PM
Tuesday, March 25 Tampa Bay (Port Charlotte) 1:00 PM
Friday, March 28 Minnesota (Hammond Stadium) 1:00 PM
*Select spring training day games will be replayed in their entirety at 7:00 pm as the schedule permits.