It will be nice to see newly acquired Red Sox player, Adrian Gonzalez, in action for the first time. That may happen next week, sooner if all goes well.
The Red Sox have been playing spring training baseball down in Fort Myers and the most action Gonzalez has seen so far was taking a few swings off a tee and minor batting practice.
Assuming nothing is wrong, he will be evaluated and the Red Sox will make a decision on letting him play this week or next week. Spring training is much less competitive than regular season play so it won’t be a huge risk and will help Adrian get ready for the season with the rest of the team.
Spring training is any team’s way of shaking the rust off and gearing up for another season. Looking ahead, April isn’t too far off. The Red Sox home opener against the Yankees is now about a month and a half away or less.
Seeing a healthy lineup on opening day would be a great way to start the season in the mind of any Sox fan! The AL East is going to depend on the health of the Red Sox!
The volume level and levity both rose the second David Ortiz strolled into the clubhouse on Thursday morning, unofficially marking the beginning of his ninth season with the Red Sox.
Ortiz walked into the room and gave hearty handshakes and hugs to pretty much everyone he crossed paths with. Big Papi could then be heard in a back room roaring, “I’m back.”
For all the attention that will be given to the elite newcomers — Adrian Gonzalez and Carl Crawford — and the lineup this season, it remains clear that Ortiz still carries a large presence.
Oritz was honored that Crawford and Gonzalez were asking him for tips regarding life on and off the field as a member of the Red Sox.
“It’s my first day here and I’ve had a lot of questions asked already from those guys, and I’m happy to let them know how things go around here and make sure our fans get another good year from us,” said Ortiz.
The way Ortiz looks at it, the 2011 Red Sox just might be able to get back to the ways of 2003-05, when they used to overpower teams from an offensive standpoint.
“I think this offense can do some damage,” Ortiz said. “You went and got two hitters, they are troublemakers. They give a lot of headaches to pitchers. I was just in the outfield right now talking to C.C. and Gonzalez. It was funny that they were asking me about approaches, and I was like, man, ‘Nobody has better approaches than you guys.'”
So even as Ortiz comes into camp in a contract year, he seemed completely at ease, enthusiastic to see what will happen in 2011.
“I’m just going to focus on playing baseball right now,” Ortiz said. “Whatever happens happens later on. Right now, my goal is to have a great start and make sure we win another World Series this year.”
Though Ortiz didn’t get the multiyear extension he was hoping for this winter, he said he had no problems with Boston exercising its $12.5 million club option.
“I’m happy to be here and I think things went fine,” said Ortiz. “They did what they were capable to do at the time. We all agreed. It’s just a new year, a lot of expectations. Hopefully injuries stay away from the team. Last year, we had a tough year with injuries.”
Ortiz was one of Boston’s few stars who had a completely healthy 2010. His big issue was having a brutal April for the second consecutive season. Yet he again bounced back and wound up with his best production numbers (32 homers and 102 RBIs) since 2007.
So how does Ortiz get out of the gate better this year? For all the work he will do on his swing this spring, Ortiz concedes that his head will play a bigger role in the type of start he gets off to.
“I’m just not going to let that get into my head like last year. I know that I can go 0-for-20 like I can go 15-for-20,” Ortiz said. “It’s just a game. I think last year what happened was I kind of snapped a little bit at the beginning of the season, and it was because I don’t think it was fair after the second game of the season people having to doubt you. I guess that’s part of the game, and I’m not planning on going through that again. I think all I need to do is not think about it.”
But he will think plenty about his swing. And Ortiz now has another lefty slugger to talk things over with.
Gonzalez and Ortiz spent a lot of time during Thursday’s workout talking about the finer points of hitting.
“We were talking about approach versus lefties quite a bit,” said Ortiz. “We’re going to be talking a lot during the year. That’s what we were saying. We’re going to give each other feedback on things we might be able to pick up.”
While Ortiz has been a centerpiece of Boston’s attack since 2003, he might be able to stay under the radar a little more this year.
“Well, I don’t mind being under the radar. I’m part of this team and I’ve been here for years,” said Ortiz. “It will be crazy for the pitchers how they can focus on a lineup like that. You have a lot of good hitters, one behind another. I don’t think I’m going to have to be the guy people are going to have to worry about now.”
One area Ortiz hopes to improve on this season is hitting against lefties. Last year, southpaws held him to a .222 clip, with two homers and 24 RBIs in 185 at-bats.
“I have to prove that to myself and to everyone,” Ortiz said. “I hit lefties before and lefties normally are tough on lefties, but you have to figure your way out, and that’s what I’m going to try and do. I’ve been working on my swing. I know I can hit lefties.”
Youk started with the Red Sox at Third base and moved to first. Now, the roster needs to be shifted around and Youkilis is expected to move back to third base for the upcoming 2011 season.
Youkilis has been a very solid fielder no matter what corner he is playing. Sox fans should feel comfortable with Youk at third. He may have played a lot at first, but he has much experience at both corners.
If Kevin Youkilis has his way, his career will end the way it began: at third base.
“Hopefully Adrian [Gonzalez] is here a long time, and hopefully I’ll
play at third the rest of my career,” the Red Sox’s newly appointed
third baseman said last week in downtown Boston at a launch event for
his new initiative, Athletes for Heroes. “It would be cool to both start
my career and end it there.”
Of all the things that the Red Sox have to worry about heading into
Spring Training — the bounce-back of Josh Beckett, Dustin Pedroia’s
foot, who rounds out the bullpen — Youkilis says his switch to third
Turning 32 during Spring Training, Youkilis has already appeared at
third base 219 times. He’s going there full-time now to accommodate
Gonzalez, one of the best first baseman in the game who came over from
the Padres in December.
It’s not as though the body of work isn’t there: Youkilis made a
career-high 63 appearances at third in 2009, 56 of those starts. He owns
a career .966 fielding percentage at the hot corner. It would be hard
to compare anything to his work at first, where he was excellent: He
owns a Gold Glove and a Major League record with 238 consecutive
errorless games in 575 appearances.
Still, it would make sense if Youkilis was fearful of some rust this
spring, some transitional woes. Unlike many, Youkilis isn’t a
winter-time migrant. He lives where he plays, in Massachusetts. He’s
been working out, but it’s not as though he’s been on a diamond the
No matter, he says.
“No, I never worried because I was always a third baseman,” Youkilis
said. “In 2008 in the playoffs, all that when Mike Lowell was hurt — I
do it every year. There’s some games I play over there in Spring
Training. It doesn’t worry me. I think it’s more excitement that I get
to go back to where I came.
“I just know if I put myself in the best shape possible that I’m
basically going to be able to do all the baseball stuff after. For me, I
lift weights, get in condition, get flexible. All the baseball stuff
handles itself because I get down a little bit early.”
Youkilis has proven he can hit anywhere. He put up a .307/.411/.564 line
with 19 home runs and 62 RBIs last season, a homer total that was low
because injury kept him to 362 at-bats and 102 games.
On Thursday, a clean-shaven, dark-suited Youkilis was at the State Room,
in a high-rise overlooking Boston Harbor. He said there that his right
hand is fully ready to go and the surgery that repaired a torn muscle in
his thumb in August was a success. The only attention his thumb needs
now, he said, is some moisturizing cream.
Youkilis had another focus this offseason, and it took quite an effort.
At the State Room, he was preparing to welcome some prominent names in
both music and sports for a charitable event, this one a little
different from programs his charity has spearheaded before. First — it
was in the heart of Boston. Previous events had been at Mohegan Sun in
Connecticut. Second, it was the undertaking of a new initiative, to
directly support those whose parents have been disabled or killed while
attempting to assist another.
Make no mistake, this is very much Youkilis’ charity. He was at every
board meeting this offseason, and there’s a very specific impact he
hopes to make off the field.
“I’ve worked with grassroots, underfunded programs the past three
years,” Youkilis said. “I just wanted to basically have more of a focus
for our charity and work with one select thing, and I’ve always been
pretty patriotic. I’ve always felt that people always talk about athlete
as heroes, but we’re really not heroes. We’re just athletes that, you
know, play games and bring excitement. People go nuts, but the real
heroes of America are the policeman and the firemen and the military; or
just the person off the street that saves someone’s life. That’s