Results tagged ‘ Chris Carter ’

Tales from Exit 138: Minor League Spring Training Games 3/29/11

Today the Red Sox affiliates played the Rays affiliates: Triple-A and Double-A were home, and Low-A and High-A were in Port Charlotte. The Lowell Spinners had a five-inning simulated game.

I had to make a lot of tough decisions regarding this day. Mike Antonellis told me that the minor league games had been canceled yesterday because it was supposed to rain; though it never did. I was a bit hesitant in making the drive because there was a 60% chance that it was going to rain today, and I didn’t want to drive all that way for nothing.

As the illustrious Han Solo would say, “never tell me the odds.”

Weather reports are rarely accurate, anyway, so I decided to take the risk. But then I had an even tougher decision: to go to the last game ever played at City of Palms Park, or to go to my last minor league spring training games of the season.

Guess what I chose?

I don’t doubt the fact that I will be back at the complex for extended spring training as well as my fair share of Gulf Coast League games; but it was my last minor league spring training game ever at the complex.

Minor League Spring Training is the paradigm of intimacy. But I can already tell just from hearsay that I won’t have the same kind of access that I do now at the new complex. The players are quite accessible now. Some of the pitchers sit in a covered area and watch the game and hang out; some hang out in the bleachers; and some just gather behind home plate to chart and collect foul balls.The only thing preventing me from picking their brains about all the intricacies of pitching and hitting is my respect for their personal space. The last thing I want to do is be invasive. They’re always willing to give me an update on how they’re doing, though.

I went to the minor league complex because that’s where my heart is. I feel a personal connection with a lot of the guys because I’ve had the chance to talk to them. I always talk about how I find the “human element” of the game to be so interesting, and I have really had the opportunity to see that a lot this spring. They tell me about their struggles, and I know major league players struggle too, but I think it’s different for a minor league guy. They haven’t made it yet. Many are experiencing failure for the first time; many are trying to perfect their mechanics and adjust to a new level of pitching at the same time. They don’t have the comfort of a multi-year, multi-million dollar contact. 

When these guys go 0-4 in a game; when they give up 4 runs in an inning; and when they make errors, it’s not for lack of effort. The majority of the minor league players were there a good two weeks before their official reporting dates. They work their butts off every single day. They’re supposed to make errors; it’s all part of their development. They need to fail in order to learn how to succeed.

I could talk about their work ethic forever, but I have some relevant updates from today.

-I heard that Brandon Workman and Chris Hernandez will start in Greenville, though this is neither certain nor confirmed. Everything about rosters is educated speculation at this point. Workman was disappointed with his first spring outing, but he was pleased with his outing yesterday: he threw four innings of no-hit ball. I think starting in Greenville would be good for both of them, and I don’t expect either of them to be there for long.

-Ryan Khoury, who fouled a ball off of his calf last Friday, said he was feeling better.

-I caught up with Jason Garcia a bit. He was drafted in the 17th round of the 2010 draft. He lost 15 pounds in the off-season and added some velocity to his fastball. He is now topping out 93-94 mph rather than 90-92. He pitched in the Gulf Coast League after signing and had a 3.03 ERA in his 29.7 innings. He has been pitching with Greenville a lot this spring, and hopes to start there.

-I spoke to Jose Iglesias a bit, too. I was really impressed with how good his English is. This is only his second full year in the United States, and his English is better than my french–and I’ve been taking French for six years.

Here are how the lineups looked today:

Lowell:

1. Johnson
2. Bogaerts
3. Cecchini
4. Perkins
5. Schwindenhammer
6. Perez
7. Kapstein
8. Guerrero
Celestion P
(The lineup actually didn’t look like this at all; but I suppose it doesn’t matter because it was a simulated game).

 Portland
1. Lin
2. Tejeda
3. Middlebrooks
4. Lavarnway
5. Federowicz
6. Chiang
7. Frias
8. Place
9. Dening
Tommy Hottovy P

Pawtucket
1. Navarro
2. Reddick
3. Kalish
4. Exposito
5. Anderson
6. ? (missed this, apparently)
7. Juan Carlos Linares
8. Jose Iglesias
9. Aaron Bates
Doubront P

I saw Swen Huijer and Jacob Dahlstrand pitch for Lowell. Huijer had a good outing and pitched to contact. Dahlstrand struggled a bit with his placement, which led him to leaving balls over the plate, and hitters were taking advantage of it.  His off-speed stuff looked nice, though.

Felix Doubront started the game for Pawtucket. It is still uncertain whether he will head north with Pawtucket or stay in extended spring training for a bit because his preparation for Opening Day was slowed due to elbow discomfort. He gave up no earned runs in his two innings of work.

I was going back and forth between games, but I did see that at least Yamaico Navarro and Ryan Kalish had multi-hit games. Josh Reddick and Lars Anderson both had singles. Juan Carlos Linares hit a home run. 

Michael Bowden also didn’t give up any earned runs over his two innings of work. I didn’t see his second inning, but in his first inning of work, he walked the first batter, induced a fly ball, and then a 6-4-3 double play. Bowden only has one minor league option left. I know that he can be effective in the ‘pen, so I hope the Sox use him wisely.

Chris Carter was sporting a mohawk and playing for the Rays’ Triple-A affiliate. Dan Hoard noted that he is better suited for the American League, so he can DH. Originally drafted by Arizona, Carter spent three years in the Red Sox organization.

I discussed where Weiland might start the season with Dan, and he speculated that he could be their fifth starter. Antonellis said that this was likely and that Caleb Clay will probably be called up to Portland. It is also relevant to note that Clay shaved his mustache.

It was really nice to catch up with Dan. He has been nothing but welcoming to me when I have come up to Pawtucket. He went through Syracuse’s Newhouse program as well, so it was really nice and encouraging to talk to him about that. 

In the Portland game, Mike Antonellis notes that Tommy Hottovy pitched really well. Will Latimer, Dennis Neuman, and Justin Erasmus all pitched as well. It was great to see Erasmus get a taste of Double-A experience. He pitched the last inning, and threw 13 pitches, nine for strikes. He induced three fly balls to get the save. Ryan Dent came in to play shortstop for Portland, so I would say he starts the season there.    

For more Red Sox Double-A coverage, read Mike Antonellis’ blog, and follow him on twitter.

For more Red Sox Triple-A coverage, read Dan Hoard’s blog, and follow him on twitter..

For extensive Red Sox minor league coverage, visit SoxProspects, and follow the staff on twitter..

I hope to be back at the complex on Saturday. The schedule says that it’s a camp day, so I’m assuming that there will be a workout. That is essentially the last day for players who will be assigned to a full-season affiliate. I had a great time at minor league spring training, and I’m truly going to miss it.

If I were a General Manager…

I’d be willing to bet that a lot of us our familiar with the musical: Fiddler on the Roof. At one point, the main character, Tevye day dreams about what he would do “if he were a rich man”. I’m starting to get the feeling that it may be a bad thing if I don’t remember the ending of the play considering I was a villager (with no lines) in the play when I was in seventh grade. I’m getting the feeling that he doesn’t become rich, but everyone ends up happy. 
Maybe the same can I apply as I share with you my daydreams about what I would do if I was Theo Epstein for a day. I doubt that I’m cut out for the general manager business though. I can only imagine the amount of stress and responsibility Theo has with putting together a team like the Red Sox each season. Nonetheless, it is a fun idea to entertain considering I’m constantly making suggestions as to what should be done. I wonder if I have enough stamina to be a general manager, a journalist, and a broadcaster (or even enough time). 
Before I talk about my fantastical crusade as a general manager, I have a few other things to get to. 
Casey Kelly.jpg
I realized that I neglected to mention my thoughts on Casey Kelly in my last blog. For those of you who are unfamiliar with him, he was drafted by the Red Sox in 2008 not only as a pitcher, but as a shortstop as well. He spent the first half of this season pitching, and he will be spending the second half as a shortstop (from what I can remember of the report). I would actually be completely okay with him training as a shortstop, and holding off on the pitching aspect. The Red Sox organization is already full of great pitchers with a lot of potential. Shortstops? Not so much. 
I’m pretty convinced that ever since Nomar Garciaparra left in 2004, that there is a minor curse when it comes to shortstops. Hanley Ramirez, the star of the Marlins, was homegrown talent, but he isn’t playing for the Red Sox. Was it a mutually beneficial trade? Yes. Would I do the trade again? Absolutely. 
We signed Julio Lugo expecting him to be a pesky leadoff hitter like he was with the Rays. Unfortunately, that did not work out as he was designated for assignment and traded to the Cardinals a couple of days ago. Jed Lowrie is homegrown talent, but he has barely had a season. Nick Green (who must have been thoroughly exorcised considering he came from the Yankees) has been a pleasant surprise, but nothing outstanding, though I shouldn’t try to compare anyone to Nomar. 
Shortstop is currently our weakest position in my opinion, catching (I will address this later) coming in second. We need to have a legitimate “shortstop for the future” developing in the minors. 
Mark Buehrle.jpg
I really wish I had seen Mark Buehrle’s perfect game live, but as I am not a fan of the White Sox or Rays, I didn’t have some sort of crazy premonition that compelled me to watch the game. To put this feat in a historical context is really incredible, all of the statistics that come up amaze me. It’s kind of funny how people consider perfect games to be so exciting, yet technically speaking, nothing happens since the opposing team is literally shut down. It’s the beauty of the pitching though, and the fact that it is so rare and precious that makes it beautiful to me. 
I don’t have to be a White Sox fan to appreciate this, I think that every baseball fan should find this to be beautiful and stunning. I can understand that it must have been embarrassing for the Rays to be shut out like that, but it’s really just something you tip your cap to. It is something that I will always remember. 
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I would be remiss if I failed to mention the Hall of Fame inductions, which I was delighted to watch on MLB Network. I was in absolute awe to see 50 living legends all in one place, and I’ll be completely honest with you: there was a good portion of them that I hadn’t heard of, but that just makes me even more excited to go to the Hall of Fame in a few weeks. 
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It was really inspiring to see Rickey Henderson and Jim Rice give their speeches. Henderson was so humbled by it, and I loved the way that he got into the game, and the part about following your dreams. Jim Rice just looked euphoric– it was great to see him drop his usual demeanor and just laugh. 
Watching the whole Hall of Fame induction ceremony inspired me even more to begin my crusade to enshrine Pete Rose there. I will save my argument for another post, but I would really like to have a makeshift plaque made for him, and bring it to Cooperstown myself. Believe me my friends, I am getting him in there. 
So with the trade deadline coming up, there are plenty of trade rumors going around. I nearly spit my water everywhere when I read that Bronson Arroyo may be headed to the Yankees (this rumor has been squelched for the record). I couldn’t imagine my Arroyo in pinstripes. But this brings me to my main point (I guess?), what I would be doing if I was Theo Epstein. 
I am actually very happy with the Adam LaRoche trade, not because he is adjusting extraordinarily well to Pittsburgh, but because he is a significant upgrade from Mark Kotsay. I never thought Kotsay was anything unique, in fact I was a bit upset when we re-signed him because I thought Chris Carter or Jeff Bailey would be sufficient, if not better. Plus, we didn’t lose any significant prospects (if I don’t talk about them, they aren’t significant). 
We all knew that we had to get Julio Lugo off of our hands. Nice a guy as he may be, he just simply hasn’t been living up to the organization’s expectations, and regardless of his contract, it was for the greater good of the team that he is gone. Chris Duncan is in Triple-A right now, and I am dying to scout him. 
I am actually perfectly content with our roster right now. We don’t need to be involved in a break-the-headlines trade like last year because our left fielder isn’t complaining
about his lifestyle. Poor Manny, $20 million a year and adored by fans– tough life. Yet we still are involved in trade talks. 
I have heard the Roy Halladay rumors, and I was not attracted to him for a second (same thing happened with Mark Teixeira). I know what kind of pitcher he is, but I know what kind of pitching we have in the minors. Would Halladay solidify what has been perhaps a somewhat disappointing rotation (specifically Dice-K and Penny’s lack of depth)? Sure, and I’m pretty sure his contract is locked up for a few years. 
Think about what we might have to give up for him though. They asked the Yankees for Joba, Phil Hughes and two more prospects. I am very protective of our bullpen, and even more so of our prospects because the good ones (that are likely to go in a trade) are my projects. Roy Halladay may be the ace of the American League, but I’d be willing to say that Michael Bowden is the next Roy Halladay. That is how much I believe in our prospects. Think about how important Clay Buchholz and Michael Bowden could be in the future. 
I have also heard the Victor Martinez rumors. When I said that I think catching is our second weakest position, I do not mean currently. Most of you know how hard I lobbied for Jason Varitek’s return, and I for one have not been disappointed. When I say catching is our weakest position, I mean for the future. George Kottaras is only around because he can catch a knuckleball, and I personally prefer Dusty Brown. I’d rather stick around and wait for Joe Mauer to become available. Victor Martinez and Jason Varitek are both legitimate catchers, who both deserve a lot of playing time. Should Martinez come to the Red Sox, I would think that someone’s playing time would be significantly impacted. 
I think we should stay right where we are right now. We are still very legitimate contenders, but we have to look to future acquisitions too. 

The Bullpen Savior, and Future Saviors

Tim Wakefield.jpg

They should call him the ‘bullpen savior’, Tim Wakefield that is. Not only does Jason Varitek get an off day when he pitches, but as of late, the bullpen has gotten one as well. No wonder the Red Sox picked up his option for this year. 

He may be one of the oldest guys on the team, but he is pretty durable. He is always able to go pretty deep into games whether he is effective or not. There are only a few instances when he has really short Dice-K like outings, but that’s when the knuckleball is completely missing the strike zone, or if the opposing team is able to time the knuckleball and… hit it.   
I like when the knuckleball is dancing, and I love that I can rely on it while I am at school. I wasn’t completely resourceless though. In English class, we were in the computer lab researching the background of a novel that we were about to read. 
Computers=internet=Red Sox. 
MLB.TV.JPG
I opened everything that I possibly could: the live box score, gameday, and MLB.TV. By the grace of God, both Gameday and MLB.TV were working (they weren’t the other days that I had tried it). Too bad I am inept when it comes to the school computers, so I couldn’t figure out how to turn the volume down. I realized this when I heard a low mumbling coming from my computer, which happened to be MLB.TV. I quickly turned it off before my teacher could notice.
I watched the game on Gameday, and I received periodic text messages from my father as well. I was a bit disappointed that I wasn’t able to see Nick Green’s first homer of the season, since he is my project and all, but at least he finally hit it, and he wasn’t the only one.  
It only took us one day to sweep the Twins, and once again, one of my projects led the way. Jeff Bailey got the Sox to a 3-0 lead with a nice home run, in his first at-bat of the season, over the green monster. Yeah, that’s not Chris Carter, my other project. 
I’m pretty sad that Carter is being optioned to Triple-AAA Pawtucket. I feel like he didn’t get a fair chance. He only had five at-bats, four of which he struck out in. I know that isn’t very good, but if Papi says that we can’t judge him by fifty at-bats (believe me buddy, I don’t), then we can’t judge Carter in five. He didn’t even play in a full game this season. 
It’s not like we are getting short changed with Bailey though. There is a reason that he was the guy competing with Carter for the roster spot, and honestly, I would have been happy with either of them. Plus, Bailey is the veteran of the two… over 1,000 minor league games, and only 31 major league games. I know there’s no sympathy in baseball, but this guy has to be rewarded for what he has done, and I know what he is able to do. 
I’m just wondering why we couldn’t keep Carter. With Baldelli on the 15-Day DL with a hamstring problem, there’s no reason that the Sox couldn’t have Carter as the backup outfielder, and Bailey as the backup first baseman. That would have meant three projects on one team! The replacement could be a project though… perhaps Lars Anderson, though, I was thinking that he would be in AAA for at least a little while longer. Wakefield may be the bullpen savior, but my projects are in the process of becoming saviors themselves. 
Big Papi mine.JPG
I bet you guys don’t know where I was July 16, 2007 because if you did, that would be incredibly creepy. I was at the Royals vs Red Sox game, at Fenway Park– the third Fenway Park experience of my life. A guy named Kason Gabbard was pitching that night, and I had never heard of him before that night. 
After that night, it was all about Kason Gabbard for me. He pitched a complete game shutout, and I was impressed. My project program was not established back then, but if it was, he would have been a late addition. 
Kason Gabbard.jpg
I bet some of you know where Kason Gabbard went by the trade deadline of that year. Texas. And who did the Red Sox get? Eric Gagne. Eric let-me-blow-a-save Gagne. I missed my Gabbard, and as soon as that trade happened, I said, “The Red Sox are going to regret this… he’s something special”
I lied. The Red Sox no longer have anything to regret because guess who’s back? Kason Gabbard! I know that he has struggled in Texas, but he is definitely a potential late addition project. 
Tonight is the night. The first Red Sox-Yankees game of the year, the thing that I have been waiting for–craving in fact. In honor of this sacred series, my math teacher did not give homework this weekend. In honor of this series, Julia and Scott are having an epic bet. And in honor of Julia, the Red Sox will win. 

Indescribable Feeling

Opening Day.JPG

We had all waited a really long time, and I’m not sure about you guys, but in general I hate waiting. Baseball was worth the wait. Spring Training was the longest it had even been, but we waited. I didn’t realize how deprived I was. I guess the withdrawal symptoms simply subside after a while. But as soon as Fenway Park appeared on my television I let out a squeal, my eyes teared up, and a shot of adrenaline ran through me. I wish I could put what I was feeling into words, but I can’t. I think that we need to come up with a word that describes the feelings that baseball evokes in us, because I’m getting pretty frustrated without one. 

Feeling this way, it was tough watching the game on FSN rather than NESN. I didn’t get to watch the pre-game ceremonies, nor did I get to watch the reserves coming through the stands. 
I saw the starting lineup come through the stands, and I really liked the fact that they actually came through the stands. It made the baseball players seem more tangible even as baseball itself becomes less and less tangible. They all looked so happy to be there, but at the same time, they knew that they would be there since day one of Spring Training. I wanted to see the look on Chris Carter’s face, my project. He didn’t know that he was going to be there, so that must have been unreal for him. 
I had almost gone over to my friend’s house to watch the game, but I declined knowing that 
a) She doesn’t like baseball, and I didn’t want to force her to sit through a game for three hours. I can’t concentrate on converting people on Opening Day for obvious reasons.
 
b) I don’t really need my friends to see the way I am during a baseball game. They already think I’m obsessed, I don’t need them to think I’m crazy too. I was actually on the phone with one of them during Jason Bay’s first at-bat, and I was talking to them a bit absentmindedly. 
“THAT WAS NOT A STRIKE!” I suddenly called out (the ump had called it a ball, but a bit too slowly for my taste). My friend proceeded to laugh.
“Elizabeth, is anyone at your house?” she asked.
“No…” I replied
“So, you’re talking to yourself?”
“I’m talking to the umpire, Mindy!”
I am the boss.jpg
When I watch baseball, I tend to be under the impression that I am the umpire, and that my calls are the right calls. I try and find ways of calling defensive interferences on the other team on routine groundouts, every Red Sox pitch is a strike. Don’t worry, when I’m watching other games, I can be completely objective. And I’m working on my “I-totally-control-every-aspect-of-the-game”. 
Beckett Almighty.jpg
Josh Beckett made me really happy [insert that non-existent word here]. I loved his first pitch strikes, and I loved his ability to work quickly through most of his innings. Ten strikeouts in seven innings. Do I have to say anything other than dominance? He helped the Red Sox show the Rays who’s boss. And speaking objectively as possible, I think that he had the best start out of all the pitchers on Opening Day. 
Overall, I was very happy with the Red Sox performance that day. Almost everyone in the lineup had a hit except for our dear leadoff man, Jacoby Ellsbury. I’m not TOO worried though. It’s not like he struck out every single time. He did get SOME wood on the ball, but it only went as far as Akinori Iwamura. I loved seeing Pedroia’s home run, but I was especially happy with Jason Varitek’s home run. As they were introducing the lineup, I loved hearing “and behind the plate, our captain, Jason Varitek”. 
After Papelbon wrapped that game up, I finally obliged and went to my friend’s house. 
“Elizabeth, you haven’t been out of your house for days!” she told me. It’s hard to handle the truth sometimes. 
“Andrea, Monday night, yesterday and today were all very sacred days!” 
“You’ve done nothing but watch baseball for the past two days! COME OVER!”. Well… the Marlins WERE leading the Nationals 8-0, so I didn’t feel that bad. 
National Obsession.jpg
I did give them a fair warning at the end of February though. Like Jane, I do schedule everything around my team. And according to my friend, I’m planning my life around them. But she meant that in a good way because after all, I am planning to become a sports writer. 
So just because the Red Sox showed the Rays who’s boss yesterday, it doesn’t mean that tonight is going to be easy. I mean, we’ve got Lester vs Kazmir tonight, and Rocco will be making his first start in center field with the Red Sox. 

Baseball is Back

Although I am upset that the Rays vs Red Sox game was pushed tomorrow, it is only because I want my real Red Sox baseball back. Believe me, I don’t want Josh Beckett pitching in the rain. He’s already injury prone enough, and who knows, maybe blisters are more common in rainy conditions. Plus, this gives me a chance to provide an offensive breakdown of the Red Sox plus my thoughts on Opening Night/Day.

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Opening Day/Night
Okay, so I wasn’t at home when Brett Myers threw out the first pitch of the season. But I was listening to it on the radio as I tried to convince my mother to ignore the speed limit and stop signs. But I was able to see the first hit of the 2009 season– Chipper Jones’ single to left field. I witnessed the first home run of the season, and Jordan Schafer’s first home run ever… in his first at-bat in the major leagues. Little did I know that I was witnessing the first pitching gem of the 2009 season. I thought that Derek Lowe pitched beautifully, and I’m pretty sure that the Braves don’t regret signing him on as their ace. It made me miss him more than I already do, but I understand why the Red Sox didn’t go out and aggressively pursue him. 
Jordan Schafer.jpg
(credit: minor.mlblogs.com– great pic!!)
I got my hair cut today… and I made sure that my appointment was in the morning so I wouldn’t even miss Aaron Harang’s first pitch. I realized that I had gotten my hair cut the day after the Red Sox lost the ALCS. I was blinking back tears at the loss of the season, and the potential loss of Jason Varitek. And today, I was bouncing with optimism, until of course I found out that the Red Sox start would be postponed until tomorrow. Nonetheless, I was still pretty happy about baseball being back. I know, weird how I can remember that but not whether or not the bonds of carbon dioxide are polar. 
I have watched at least a part of every baseball game today, and as I write this I am listening the Cubs vs Astros game. I saw Johan Santana and Kevin Millwood pitch beautifully, I smiled as CC Sabathia struggled against the Orioles, and I saw the incredible Marlins game.
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Emilio Bonifacio had an inside the park home run… and he was so fast! The first inside the park home run on Opening Day since Carl Yastrzemski in 1968. Oh, and Hanley Ramirez… just my number one draft pick on my fantasy baseball team… hit a grand slam! 
A Brief Offensive Breakdown for the Red Sox
Jacoby Ellsbury: The thing with Jacoby is that his speed can really change the game. He went through some ups and downs last season, but overall he was pretty good for his first full season in the Majors. I think that he needs to be more confident at the plate, he watches a lot of pitches. And believe me he has a great eye and everything, but he could be a little more aggressive
Dustin Pedroia: I am completely confident that this guy can put up very similar numbers again this season. I can’t really critique much with him… he’s doing everything right. 
David Ortiz: The biggest question of course is: can he get healthy? I think so. In fact, I think his numbers will be similar to 2007. I think he feels a lot better this year, and he looks a lot more comfortable when he swings. I think that he also has to stop worrying about having another 30 HR bat behind him. The Red Sox aren’t about home runs this year, I think they’re going to go a bit more down the small ball route this year. 
Kevin Youkilis: Again, with Kevin Youkilis, there’s not much I can critique. He is an all around great ball player, and I love the way he approaches the game. Just one thing though… he could take it a little easier when he strikes out :)
JD Drew: Drew had a great season last year, much better than the 2007 one. I said this a while ago, but I’m pretty sure his son was ill in 2007, and that probably distracted him a little bit (I don’t blame him). I’m pretty sure that his son recovered by 2008, and his numbers really improved. I’m very comfortable with having him in right field as well. 
Jason Bay: I’m not too concerned with Jason Bay either (I love not being concerned). He adjusted to Boston really nicely, and to October baseball as well. In fact, it looked natural for him. Opening Day shouldn’t phase him either :)
Mike Lowell: I am very optimistic about Lowell. As I watched him throughout the Spring, that look of pain on his face was gone. Like Ortiz, he looked much more comfortable with his swing. And he’s really not that old… he’s only 34. I am very glad that the Red Sox decided to pass on Mark Teixeira. When he’s healthy, Lowell is not only a good hitter, but he can also make some crazy plays over at third. 
Jed Lowrie: I think I found him on Twitter… I think. Did you even happen to glance over his statistics this Spring? He was hitting the crap out of the ball, and oh yeah he hit a grand slam at Citi Field the other day. I think that confidence is key for him too since he is still young.
Jason Varitek: I don’t know if you guys realize this, but I had so much fun typing his name just then. It re-emphasizes the fact that he is back on the Red Sox. I think that his bad season last year wasn’t just because he is getting older. I am pretty sure that he was going through a divorce, and I’d guess that it wasn’t that easy. Now that it’s over, I am fairly confident that his stats will increase a little bit. And if he hits .220 again so what? I love having him behind the plate… his experience and knowledge are priceless.
Chris Carter: Now I know that the games against the Mets weren’t REAL games. But they were about as close to real games as you get. And in that game, Chris Carter did pretty well. I honestly think that he will provide better offense than Mark Kotsay will. 
Nick Green: Like Carter, I don’t think that Nick will be phased by the majors beca
use he has actually played in them for a significant amount of time. Granted he didn’t do that well, but he did have an impressive Spring. He is my project, therefore he will do well. 
George Kottaras: So he didn’t have the best offensive season last year in AAA. The fact of the matter is, he can catch a knuckleball, and he can throw to second pretty well. The Red Sox offense is pretty deep, we don’t need catchers who hit for really high batting averages. 
Rocco Baldelli: I really liked this acquisition. He is the perfect guy coming off the bench because I think any team would be lucky to have him as an everyday player if he could play everyday. Since he just can’t play everyday, being a player off the bench is exactly what he needs to do. This will allow him to stay healthy and maximize his skills. 
Overall, we have an offense that can match any team, and the lineup goes pretty deep. Obviously the guys to keep your eyes on are Lowell and Papi. As far as minor league players go, keep your eyes out for Lars Anderson and Josh Reddick (mainly Lars Anderson though). 
I can’t wait for our Opening Day tomorrow! 

The End of Spring Training, the Beginning of a New Chapter

I have to tell you guys, I’m absolutely ecstatic for Opening Day. I can’t get it out of my mind, it’s all I ever want to talk about, and after an extended Spring Training– it’s about time. 

Not that the extended Spring Training was bad or anything. I’m glad that we had it. It gave guys like Dustin who maybe start off the season a bit slow extra time to get into their rhythm. Most importantly though, it gave my projects a little extra time to prove themselves. 
That sounds weird right? The most important aspect of Spring Training being the minor leaguers? Spring Training is a time to look at the guys that performed best in the minor leagues, and see if any of them could help your team. 
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We all already know what the guys from last year could do. We know that Ellsbury is the fastest guy out there, and we know that somehow Pedroia’s strike zone has no limits. We know that Tim Lincecum has the coolest windup in baseball, and we know that Jimmy Rollins will be dancing in the dugout. 
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Tell us something we don’t know, or something that we didn’t expect. That’s what Spring Training is about. It’s about Daniel Bard’s 0.00 ERA, it’s about Clay Buchholz talking to John Smoltz and then feeling a new whirl of confidence. It’s about Chris Carter dragging coaches out to the backfield to work on his defense, and it’s about the future. 
That’s why I’m a little sad that it’s over. I’m going to miss talking to all the fans at the game, and waiting for two and a half hours in the rain just for some autographs. This year, I have become much more conscious of the minor leaguers. We both have something in common: we both dream of becoming a part of the Red Sox in the future. They will be playing for them, and I will be writing about them. 
After a while though, Spring Training does get a little tedious, but only because we’re so anxious for Opening Day! It’s kind of like what I’m feeling at school right now. Spring Break starts tomorrow, and let’s just say my brain left about a week ago. 
There is a certain type of excitement that you can detect when you talk about Opening Day with people. Everyone has a reason to be excited and nervous about their team. I know that on Opening Day that I want the Red Sox to beat the Rays, and that Rays Renegade wants just the opposite. 
But both of us share one thing in common: We want baseball back, and our thirst will finally be quenched. This upcoming Monday, our nation will be united, and baseball will be the unifier. 
Chapter 10 of Their Eyes Were Watching God ends with: “So she sat on the porch and watched the moon rise. Soon its amber fluid was drenching the earth, quenching the thirst of the day”. Janie, the main character of the book, is starting a new chapter in her life, and like her, we will be too. 
2009 is going to bring about some memories that we will be able to talk about forever. We will be watching history in the making… classic games in the making. Every game means something, but like I said last October, we have to focus on winning every inning before winning the game… every at-bat, and every pitch. 
It all counts. One little mistake, and the at-bat could change, the inning could change, and the game could change. Every game counts, and every game is a step on the road to October. 
The thing about baseball is that every team has an equal chance to win a game. That is to say, there is a perfect balance in baseball. I wrote about this in my research paper a little bit. Just think about the structure of it. 
As Professor Michael Novak pointed out, “Another two feet between them might settle the issue decisively between them”. Wouldn’t another two feet between the bases significantly impact the game? There may be statistics, but the structure of the game is inherently democratic. That is why it is America’s game. 
Even though some of America’s attempts at spreading democracy throughout the world may have failed, it has given another great gift to the world: baseball. 
As Walt Whitman put it, “Baseball relieves us from being a nervous, dyspeptic set… let us leave our close rooms, the game of ball is glorious”. 

Baseball, Chemistry and my Projects!!!

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Baseball is the perfect medication– for anything really. This morning, I had this terrible chemistry mishap, and I was basically yelled at profusely. I’m in an awful predicament in which I have to make sure that my teacher doesn’t try and take points off of my test. It really wasn’t my fault! It was merely a false assumption, and miscommunication. 

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It was like I was the center fielder and my teacher was the left fielder. I assumed one thing, and she assumed another thing, we miscommunicated, and the next thing you know: the ball is disappearing into the vines at Wrigley Field! I was quite frustrated with the whole situation, and it was really stressing me out. 
Baseball saved me. I was working on my math homework at the end of class when my math teacher asked me who would be the Opening Day starter for the Red Sox. Immediately, all my worries were gone and I was able to focus on the pitching staffs of the Red Sox, Rays, and Yankees. It may not be able to cure the minor cough that I have now, or the major cold that Tom has, but it can make you feel better! 
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As I was studying for this evil chemistry test over the course of the past week (I swear I must have done about sixty Lewis Dot Structures), I began translating it to baseball terms. No wonder, it all became clearer. 
I totally understand ionic bonding now that I have related it to baseball. It’s basically when a metal reacts with a non-metal. The way I initially thought of it was: when the thing on the left side of the periodic table reacts with the thing on the right side of the periodic table. Ionic bonding is very different from covalent bonding. Ionic bonding is two totally different things transferring electrons.
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Ionic bonding happened at the World Baseball Classic. Mets players and Phillies players were brought together, Red Sox players and Yankee players were brought together… I wouldn’t really expect them to get along. But Dustin Pedroia and Derek Jeter became fast friends, and it seems like that friendship will last. I really wish ionic bonding had been a question on my test, I would have given this example. Instead, I had to talk about bond angles. 
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Then there are covalent bonds, which is when non-metals combine and share electrons unevenly. I thought of a couple of examples that are somewhat applicable. This could be like the American League East. There are five teams packed into a really strong division, and the Rays, Red Sox and Yankees are going to be winning and losing games against each other right and left. The Blue Jays and the Orioles are going to give everyone trouble too– no one is walking off with the division. 
How would you guys translate this to baseball? If you don’t want to even think about it, I don’t blame you!
My Projects
I am very happy to announce that two of my projects will be making the Opening Day roster! Though they will be coming off the bench, I am very proud of the both of them for working really hard this Spring. 
I noticed the two of these guys at my very first Spring Training games this year. I could just tell that they were going to do well. I even said a couple of entries ago that I thought that these guys were capable of making the roster. 
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I think that Nick Green’s spot was much easier to foresee than Carter’s was. Although Angel Chavez performed really well this Spring, Nick was hitting all over the place! Plus, he can play virtually anywhere in the infield and the outfield, which is perfect for the utility role that we need coming off the bench. 
It’s not like this spot was open at the beginning of the Spring though. We have to remember that this spot was going to either Lugo or Lowrie at the beginning of the Spring, depending on who got the starting shortstop job. Two questions come to mind when I think about this. 
One: I wonder if the Red Sox were leaning toward either one of them before Lugo even had his injury. There are plenty of pros and cons to starting each player, and both were performing really well. The biggest factors in the decision would have probably been Lugo’s contract, and Jed’s versatility. 
Two: When Lugo comes back, where will he fit in? First of all, when Lugo comes back, that probably means that Nick Green will no longer fit into the roster. We already have a backup outfielder (Baldelli) and then Lugo or Lowrie will take the utility spot. I am very curious to see what will happen with this. 
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The reason that Carter’s spot was harder to see was because Jeff Bailey was also performing really well this Spring, and he is the veteran of the two. I could see that they both have the potential to make it in the Majors, which is why they were both my projects. Carter will be filling in for Mark Kotsay (back surgery). Carter has been working really hard on his defense this Spring, and that was his biggest problem before– his hitting is great. 
I think that we should all keep Bailey on our radars though. I would not have been disappointed if Bailey had made the team. I think that the both of them could serve the Red Sox really well. If one of our outfielders gets injured, we know who to call. 
A lot of us are familiar with Clay Buchholz, and it looks like he will be starting the season down in Triple-AAA. Even though he had a rough outing against the Rays today, he still performed really well this Spring.
He is the first in line to come up if one of our starters gets injured. Last year, we rushed him way too much, but we didn’t have much of a choice with Curt Schilling out of the rotation. The acquisition of Brad Penny makes the situation a lot easier. I expect to see Buchholz come up a lot this season. I would say a similar track to Justin Masterson. 

Two Honorable Dedications

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#4!

Once again, I can’t thank you all enough for stopping by and reading. I’m glad that you all have been enjoying what I have to say, and I hope that I will continue to get better in the future. Hopefully the near future seeing that I applied for a scholarship for this summer program that offers classes in sports writing and broadcasting. That’s pretty tailored to what I want to learn right? 
So I have two people that I want to dedicate this post to. The first time that Julia was number four over here, she dedicated her post to Joe Cronin. I want to do a small segment on Cronin because after all, his number was retired but I also want to dedicate a part of this post to Lou Gehrig. Yes, I am dedicating some of this blog to a Yankee. 
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So starting off with Mr. Cronin… he had a significant impact on the Red Sox not only as a player, but as a manager and general manager. He  played on the Sox for ten years (1935-1945) and had some pretty nice career statistics (.301 batting average, and 2,285 hits). What I like about some of these guys is how consistent they are. Cronin batted over .300 and drove in 100 or more runs eight times, and he was an All-Star seven times. I also like to look beyond statistics. 
In 1938, Archie McKain, a pitcher for the Red Sox, hit Jake Powell in the stomach. Jake wasn’t very happy, so he charged the mound, which was not okay with Joe Cronin. Cronin intercepted him, but he wasn’t even a player then. He was only a part time player for the Red Sox after the 1941 season. Besides his extensive duties with the Red Sox, he also served as the American League president from 1959-1973. 
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I know, even partially dedicating a post to a Yankee is weird. But how can I not recognize someone as great as Lou Gehrig? Even though he was a Yankee, the least I can do is respect him. Gehrig played with the Yankees from 1923 (when Yankee Stadium opened) to 1939. He died only two years later. His career was cut short at age 36 when he was diagnosed with ALS, which is now known as Lou Gehrig’s disease. He held the record for most consecutive games played at 2,130 until Cal Ripken Jr. surpassed him. I wonder if that record would have been longer if he hadn’t been diagnosed with that fatal disease. After all, he was nicknamed “The Iron Horse”. Even as I read about the farewell ceremony that the Yankees dedicated to him on July 4, 1939, it makes me tear up. I think we all have heard Gehrig’s immortal words at some point:
“Today, I consider myself the luckiest man on the face of the planet”. 
I am honored to partially dedicate my post to Lou Gehrig. 
Disney World.
So the reason for my short blogging hiatus was because I went to Disney World this weekend with my best friend and her family. It was a spur of the moment type thing I guess. I didn’t really have time to blog because all I wanted to do was sleep when we got back to the hotel because my friend and I were both sick. 
So while I was there, my one-track mind was thinking about baseball as usual and as we were walking through the crowded streets of Fantasyland/Tomorrowland/Whatever, I was looking at baseball hats and shirts. 
As I saw the hats and t-shirts, I had a growing urge to go up to them and start a conversation as I normally do. But this would not have been a calm and cool before-the-baseball-game chatter. This would have been stressful-Disney-World-chatter. Not the ideal place to talk about baseball. 
Nonetheless, I proceeded to take mental notes of all the hats, and announcing to my friend that I approved of the Red Sox fans as I saw them. I saw Red Sox fans, White Sox fans, Tigers fans (more like one guy), Twins fans, Yankees fans, Rays fans, a Braves fan, Cubs fans, Marlins fans, a Dodgers fan, Brewers fans, and Phillies fans. 
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Although I wasn’t able to keep up with the scores as they were happening, it’s not like I was too far removed from baseball itself. The Braves play at Disney’s Wild World of Sports, which I took pictures of as we were driving by.
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And yet another baseball reference from this weekend! My friend’s father works right next door to Joe Dimaggio’s Children’s Hospital! There is even a Joe Dimaggio statue out front, and it’s on Joe Dimaggio Drive. 
Red Sox
As soon as I got to a computer, you can pretty much guess the first thing I checked. Oh yes, the box scores. I was very happy to see that my dear friend Chip Ambres hit a walk-off home run. I am proud to have his autograph. 
It looks like Beckett did pretty well, and will be starting on Opening Day! This will be his first start on Opening Day in a Red Sox uniform, and I am very glad that it is him. I think that this will be one of his healthier years, he has been looking great all Spring!
Masterson will not be in the starting rotation, even if Brad Penny can’t make his first “scheduled start”. I can understand this. I love having Masterson in the ‘pen, and even though I love his versatility, being part of that formidable bullpen will be just as good. 
So if Brad Penny isn’t ready? Clay Buchholz. I know some of you may still be getting over what happened last year with him. But now that he knows that it isn’t locked in, and that he could even be sent down to the minors after that start, I think that’s a lot more relaxing than having that pressure of knowing that you have to perform well. 
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The fact that Opening Day is coming up soon is not only exciting, to say the least for me, it’s also a bit sad. You see, I grew very close to my projects, and it’s time for some of them to be sent back down. Right now, a pretty epic bat
tle is going on between some of my favorite projects: Chris Carter and Jeff Bailey. 
I think they are both significantly talented, and I think it may even come down whether or not the Red Sox need a right handed batter, or a left handed batter. I think I’ll leave that for my next post though. 
Thank you all so much again for your support!

Tales from a Rain Delay Stakeout

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From what I can tell, the majority of you try to get to your baseball games as early as humanly possible. That was the story for me on Saturday as my mother and I drove to Jupiter hoping to scalp tickets to a sold out game. We got there around 10:45. 

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My mom doesn’t know what scalping tickets means (not my picture btw), and I hadn’t scalped at this stadium before, let alone by myself. A nice Red Sox fan directed us across the street where scalpers were legally allowed to sell tickets. There was a blood drive going on, and if you donated, you could get one free ticket. If only I was 16 already! I would have donated blood!
You know that nice little section right in between home plate and the batters box on the third base side? Four rows back. 50 bucks a ticket. Not terrible for my first time scalping, I mean, they were pretty good seats– until we moved to right behind the Red Sox dugout for the start of the game. 
My mother isn’t the biggest baseball fan in the world, but she was quite the trooper that day. She went back to the car to read until the start of the game while I waited in line with my new friend (they guy that had directed us across the street). I talk to anyone at baseball games, but this guy was uniquely interesting. He is quite the sports memorabilia collector. He has a 2004 World Series ball autographed by the entire Red Sox team (it cost him a pretty penny), and he has Julio Lugo’s entire uniform, signed, from the 2007 World Series. 
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They didn’t let us in until 11:30. Why do they change this at every single park? At City of Palms, it’s two and a half hours early, Fort Lauderdale Stadium (Orioles), two hours early, and here, it is an hour and a half? We need to regulate this, but Selig has other priorities to fix. 
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If any of you have been to the Roger Dean complex, it is absolutely beautiful. It has multiple fields, a shopping center, a parking garage… I could live there! I had plenty of time to go and look around, but I was too busy talking to my new friend. 
We were talking about the Cardinals, because they play there too, and we started talking about the NL Central, and I start talking about the Cubs and the Reds (Mark, I swear you are SO right) and my new friend turns to me and goes: 
‘Holy crap, you know your stuff! I’m impressed… not many girls follow baseball.” If I can get people to take me seriously at 15, I think I can get people to take me seriously over at MLB Network. 
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Once we get inside the stadium, I go straight to the dugout. I stand right behind it, so I’m looking right over the steps to go down. I’m next to a guy with a Pirates hat, so of course I start talking to him, and I have a really big urge to crawl over the roof, and… hang out in the dugout. 
In a little while, my new friend has caught up to me and is standing next to me as well as a really nice father and son duo. Chip Ambres comes up the stairs and hovers at the top. I quickly look up his number (13) to verify that it is Chip, and once I do, I call his name. 
He hesitates for a moment, then turns around. ‘Will you sign for me please?’ A small smile comes across his face and he holds out his hands. I throw him my ball and my pen and watch him sign. 
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A little while later, Paul McAnulty is walking back to the dugout (though not in the normal uniform– probably just came for the game) so I call his name: ‘PAUL!’
‘Yes ma’am,’ he replies. Well, that’s a first. ‘Will you sign this for me please?’ He goes to put his stuff down, then comes back out and signs for a lot of people! A little more time passes, and then some of the Red Sox begin to come back to the dugout. 
‘Jason! Nick! Gil!’ I call out quickly. Most of them look up quickly and then go to put their stuff away. 
‘Hey, this chick knows everyone!’ someone yells behind me ‘Let’s go stand by her!’. After I yell at everyone else coming back in (at this point, I am standing next to a mother and her son) and the mother goes, ‘Oh good, we’re next to someone with a loud voice!’. I guess I’m pretty useful. 
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Then it starts raining. This does not phase me. I stand there patiently as it starts drizzling. Patiently, I wait as they put the tarp on. I figure it is hopeless, so I start heading toward the “bullpen” (a series of benches in front of a hill). I want to see if I can wait there, in the rain. ‘What am I doing??’ I ask myself. No one is going to be out there! I start shivering, and my teeth start chattering. I am soaked, and so is all my stuff. I concede, and go downstairs, but right by the staircase so I can get back up quickly. 
I wait about a half an hour before going back upstairs, it is still drizzling a bit. Back to the dugout I go, where I am standing next to a friendly looking couple– the parents of the batboy. I sit in the seat right behind the dugout, next to two men. One has an identification tag that says ‘Media Relations’. 
‘So you work in media relations?’ I ask. ‘Yes, I do’ he replies. ‘I am looking into going into that field,’ I say. ‘Well, how old are you?’ ‘I’m a sophomore in high school’ ‘Can you write?’ he asks. ‘Yeah… I keep a pretty steady blog.’ ‘Good.’ he says. He doesn’t think it looks to hopeful (the weather) so he gets up and goes somewhere leaving his friend alone. 
 Eventually, the parents of the bat boy get their son to go get Jason Bay so the mother can take a picture. This is my prime opportunity.
‘Hey Jason?’ I ask. He looks up. ‘Will you sign for me please?’ ‘Sure,’ he replies. He signs mine, and then retreats (virtually no one else is around us). 
‘Nice,’ the guy who was with the media relations guy said to me. As more people returned for autographs, I continued to talk to them. The general baseball conversation: 
‘Where are you from? What do you do? Who is your favorite? Whose autographs have you gotten?’ etc. 
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Eventually, I see my old buddy Chris Carter. ‘Chris Carter!’ I yell. He smiles as he looks back at me, and runs over. ‘Will you sign this for me please?’ He nods, and I throw my ball to him. Second time with his autograph :)
Then came Nick Green. ‘Nick!’ I yelled. He smiled, and I threw my ball to him. It starts raining again. My mother and I get our hands stamped and go back to the car. I do not want to leave. If we leave and there is a game, we can’t get refunded or a rain check. We go back, and the game is scheduled to start at 3:40.
Back to my spot, a new nice Red Sox couple. We start talking of course. Then, I do a brief interview with a Yankee fan. I ask him his opinion of A-Rod– in general. 
‘Too much money. No one should be making that much.” He is absolutely right. I continue waiting for autographs when my project Jeff Bailey comes. At first, he said he has to go get ready, yet I was not discouraged. When he comes back I ask him if he would sign for me now, and he does! 
I’ll tell you about the game tomorrow, I’ve got to get back to the WBC now! 
-Elizabeth

The Injury Bug Must be Exterminated

It’s one thing when you get an injury in the middle of the offseason. It’s another thing when you get injured (however minor it may be) three weeks before Opening Day. 

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The injury is making its way around baseball, and pretty fast too. It made its way through Florida, but those who were bitten have only suffered mildly. The disease is spreading quickly, especially through the Classic in Florida as Ryan Braun, Matt Lindstrom, Dustin Pedroia, and Chipper Jones have all been cautioned to take it easy, or taken out of the Classic entirely. It even gave Phillies fans a scare when it attempted to bite their ace Cole Hamels, and it has temporarily sidelined Trevor Hoffman. Julio Lugo wasn’t as lucky, the injury bug got to his knee and has forced him to have surgery. 
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It then made its way to Arizona where Manny Ramirez attempted to find the bug and purposefully get injured so he could sit out for another week to sulk about how he had to go out and play left field one day instead of serving as the designated hitter. 
Dustin Pedroia has actually returned to Fort Myers and is out for the rest of the Classic. Originally, the injury was reported to be a strained oblique muscle. Josh Beckett had a strained or irritated oblique during the playoffs last season, and his playoff performance wasn’t what it has been known to be in the past. 
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The good news is that it’s not a strained oblique, it’s a strained abdominal muscle. He could be back playing this week! I would be happy to greet him if I am able to go to the Red Sox vs Marlins game on Saturday. As long as he is healthy and ready for Opening Day, I will be very happy. 
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Other victims of the Classic (okay, that’s a bit harsh) are Braun, Jones, and Lindstrom. It’s obvious that Chipper Jones wasn’t feeling too right, he hadn’t even gotten a hit before he left. His oblique was bothering him (maybe they confused him and Pedroia?) and it could continue to bother him for an extended period of time, though he his optimistic. 
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Matt Lindstrom injured his right shoulder– in fact, he strained his right rotator cuff. He is still “with” Team USA despite being unable to play. Right now, he has to focus on the regular season, being ready for the opener. 
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Ryan Braun “aggravated his right rib cage” and is being temporarily held out of games for now. It would be really nice if they could use another word other than ‘aggravated’, it makes it sound way more dramatic than it actually is. I don’t know much about Braun’s personality, but apparently he would “bend the truth” so that he could play. I love that player mentality, but he has to think towards the future of the season–being ready to play for as many of the 162 games as possible, and hopefully more. 
What are the similarities of these cases? All of these injuries are products of the Classic. I love the World Baseball Classic, but for guys from the Major Leagues, it’s just a bit soon for them to be playing nine innings. I know that they have regulations for pitchers and stuff, but these players are still in Spring Training mode, even if they are pretending that they are in playoff mode. Granted, these injuries could have happened in Spring Training but it’s still a different atmosphere, as I described. 
I am so sorry that Julio Lugo had to have surgery, but at least it was before the season rather than during. He was working so hard to earn that starting position back– he was hitting all over the place and his fielding has much improved. This surgery will have him out for about a month, but this opens a position for utility player to come up. 
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Who will this utility player be? My project, Nick Green. Well, that’s who I would pick at least. Let me tell you guys, he has been hitting so well this spring, and his hitting potential can definitely been developed (not to mention that his fielding is solid). 
Most of you guys know that our backup first baseman (and outfielder) Mark Kotsay had back surgery, so another opening is available. My pick? My project, Chris Carter. I believe in both of these guys and I think that they could do a great job. 
So how do we terminate this injury bug? I have already begun by praying. During church on Sunday, my mind was side-tracked of course thinking about baseball, so when it came time for our private petitions you can only guess what mine were. I even phrased it nicely:
That Dustin Pedroia and Julio Lugo may make speedy recoveries and be healthy as soon as possible, we pray to the Lord. 
-Elizabeth 
PS #1: This is my 100th entry! I hope to have many many more :) 
PS #2: I don’t have the grade yet, but my history teacher said that he really liked my research paper! I’m going to revise it and organize it thematically rather than chronologically. 
**This is SUCH a stressful WBC game!!!
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