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Giving It the Old College Try

Wednesday, March 3, 2010 – City of Palms Park

I just got back from the opening doubleheader for the Red Sox.  Both games were fun, and I got to see a total of 14 pitchers and 33 position players from the Red Sox organization.  (It’s really hard trying to keep score during a college exhibition game, so all numbers are approximate.)

My flight home is early tomorrow morning and I still have to pack, so check back Thursday evening for my full post including my pictures and stories from both games.  Until then, I’ll leave you with video of batting practice pitcher Ino Guerrero’s second at-bat (wearing Papi’s #34 but batting from the right) in Wednesday afternoon’s game against Northeastern.


Game 1 – Red Sox 15, Northeastern University Huskies 0

We got to the park early, and I was able to get autographs from Mike Cameron and Fernando Cabrera before the game.  It was chilly by spring training standards (62° announced at game-time, but I think that thermometer’s in the sun, and it remained at 62 all day, even throughout the night game.  I’ll go with the 58° reported by the Globe as more reasonable) but at least the sun was out.

Top prospect Casey Kelly was starting the game, but his outing was so quick I didn’t get many good photos.  He looked strong, and ended up with two strikeouts and a groundout on only 10 pitches.  He was followed by Manny Delcarmen (one hit, but the runner was erased on a double play), Adam Mills, Felix Doubront, Dustin Richardson (all three of whom threw perfect innings), Ramon A. Ramirez (the new Ramon Ramirez, not the one who was with us last year), and Robert Manuel.

Ramon "New Guy" Ramirez struck out two in his inning of work.

Ramon "New Guy" Ramirez struck out two in his inning of work.

On the offensive side, we got to see Jacoby Ellsbury, Bill Hall, Victor Martinez, David Ortiz, and Jed Lowrie – all coming soon to a 25-man roster near you.  Ellsbury walked twice, and Martinez hit a double.  Big Papi blasted a two-run homer over the right field fence in his second at-bat, which was great to see.  Once Papi went into his home run trot, it finally felt like baseball was back!

The Red Sox take on Northeastern University on a sunny afternoon in Ft. Myers.

The Red Sox take on Northeastern University on a sunny afternoon in Ft. Myers.

Lowrie also walked and singled, but most of the offensive firepower came from the prospects at the bottom of the order.  Che-Hsuan Lin, who started in center field and projects to open the year at Double-A Portland, had two singles and an RBI, and only a diving catch from Northeastern’s centerfielder prevented him from a third hit.  Gil Velazquez, the infielder who played a handful of games with the big league club in ’08 and ’09, was 3-for-4 with two doubles, including a bases-clearer which drove in the first three runs of the game.  (Waving all three runners in was Tim Bogar’s first big decision as third base coach, since switching from his position as first base coach last season.)  Catching prospect Luis Exposito also had two doubles and added 4 RBI.

One of the highlights, in what is now becoming an annual tradition, was seeing major league staff member/batting practice pitcher Ino Guerrero get two at-bats.  He came out wearing Papi’s #34, and grounded out both times.  I almost didn’t realize it was him in the on-deck circle, because I had just noticed Dustin Pedroia in the dugout.  He wasn’t playing until the night game, so I was busy trying to zoom in with the camera to see if it was really him, and saw Youk there too.  It wasn’t till he stepped in to bat right-handed that we realized it was Ino, and that’s why the early-arriving players for the night game had come out onto the top step of the dugout.

City of Palms Park on the afternoon of the annual college doubleheader.

City of Palms Park on the afternoon of the annual college doubleheader.

Game 2 – Red Sox 6, Boston College Eagles 1

The nightcap was being broadcast on NESN, so one of the first things we did when we re-entered the park was seek out Jerry Remy’s autograph.  The NESN booth is behind the last row of seats (under the Oakland A’s logo), but it’s so high that we can’t see into the window once we’re standing in that row, so the trick is to go down a couple of rows, catch Remy’s attention and ask him for the autograph, and then climb up on a seat in the back row to hand the photo up to him.

It was great to see the Rem-Dawg back in the NESN booth.

It was great to see the Rem-Dawg back in the NESN booth.

Boof Bonser, who had pitched with the Minnesota Twins for years (he gave up Big Papi’s record tying 50th home run in 2006) and was now with the Sox as a possible long reliever/spot starter, started the game.  Like Casey Kelly in the afternoon, he also made swift work of the college lineup, retiring the side in order on two groundouts and a strikeout and needing only 9 pitches.

For the night game, we got to see the whole major league infield as it will look on Opening Day: Kevin Youkilis at first, Dustin Pedroia at second, Marco Scutaro at short, and Adrian Beltre at third.  Unfortunately the pitchers (Bonser was followed by Michael Bowden and Junichi Tazawa) were so quick and efficient, that there wasn’t a whole lot of work for the infielders to do.  There were a couple of 4-3 putouts and a 3-unassisted, but nothing that involved the new guys.

Adrian Beltre and his companions in the infield didn't get much action other than their warm-up tosses.

Adrian Beltre and his teammates in the infield didn't get much action other than their warm-up tosses.

Pedroia and Youkilis put two hits together to drive in a run in the first, and another run came in the back door on a double play in the third.  Phenom Jose Iglesias came in to pinch-run in the third and played shortstop for the rest of the game.  Like the other infielders, he didn’t have many chances, but he did get in on one exciting play, applying the tag when Jason Varitek gunned down a would-be base-stealer in the fourth.  Iglesias had more of an opportunity to impress with his bat.  With the bases loaded in the fourth, he swung at the first pitch and smashed a double into left, driving all three runners home.  He hit the ball hard in his next at-bat too, but it was a line-drive snared by the Boston College second baseman.  Centerfielder Ryan Kalish had a good day at the plate, too.  He singled, walked, scored two runs, and drove in a run with a sacrifice fly.

The Red Sox faced Boston College in the nightcap.

The Red Sox faced Boston College in the nightcap.

My one pet peeve is that the substitutions aren’t always announced, and some of them are announced but are clearly wrong.  Even if I wasn’t trying to keep score, I would still be interested in knowing who I was watching.  It sounded like Carl Beane, the real Fenway Park P.A. announcer, but even if he was given bogus information, it only took a quick glance at the field to see that they weren’t the people he was saying they were.  We knew from going to these games in the past that the first and third base coaches don’t usually do both games, and we had seen Tim Bogar and Ron Johnson in the first game.  Two different guys wearing different numbers came out for the second game, but they were announced as Bogar and Johnson.  I correctly surmised that Torey Lovullo, the new Pawtucket manager, was coaching third, and when the announcement was finally corrected a couple of innings later, we learned it was special assignment instructor Alex Ochoa coaching first.

It also made it tricky when some of the kids called up from minor league camp for the second game wore numbers the same as guys in major league camp.  In the second game there was a #71 who caught the ceremonial first pitch, and then came in to pinch-run for Jason Varitek before moving to left field for the rest of the game.  In big league camp, #71 is Ramon A. Ramirez, whom we had just watched pitch in the first game, and the announcer called this obviously-different guy Ramon A. Ramirez.  But unless he had changed his stature, position, and ethnicity in between games, it was clearly not Ramon A. Ramirez.  (We joked, “How many other Ramon Ramirezes did they find?” and decided to call him Ramon Q. Ramirez until he came to bat a couple of innings later and was finally revealed to be Daniel Nava.)  There was also a #60 who looked nothing like the real #60, Gil Velazquez, who had played in the first game.  He never got an at-bat, so I had to wait till I got home and watched my recording of the NESN broadcast so see that the #60 in the second game was Oscar Tejeda.  But if Don Orsillo and Jerry Remy can be provided with the correct info, why can’t they do the same for the announcer?

With Kris Johnson on the mound for the Red Sox in the sixth inning, Boston College used two singles and a stolen base to score their only run of the game.  The whole team rushed out in front of the dugout to congratulate the kid who scored the run as if he had just hit a walk-off homer.  The Red Sox wrapped up the 7-inning game with a 6-1 win, and we got to hear “Dirty Water” as we walked out.  (They only played the first verse before switching to “Happy Trails”, but it was still good to hear.)  My flight home was scheduled for the next day, exactly a month before Opening Day.  I’ll be there that night, and it will probably only be a little colder than this game was.  I only hope the ending is as sweet!

Posted on March 3, 2010 · Permalink · Share on Facebook
Posted in: 2010 Games, 2010 Spring Training

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