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Spring things: A tale of three losses

Page 3 of 4 -- When Nixon came in to the dugout, the players were giving him a finger-touch high five. This seems to be the new bench salute this season. No more fist fives. And no more Orlando Cabrera-style crazy handshakes. Just a boring high-finger-five. Too bad.

  • David Ortiz is ready for opening night. Despite nagging shoulder soreness that started on a needless wave home by Dale Sveum last season, he continues to pound the ball. His three-run bomb on Saturday scored Manny Ramirez and Mueller and had the Sox up 4-2 after three innings. Unfortunately, this was another lead that would not last.

  • Lefty hopeful Abe Alvarez had four strikeouts in two innings of work seems to get better with every appearance. He could potentially help the Sox in the second half of the season. Abe has a Sparky Anderson-like habit of carefully skipping over the foul line when he makes his way back to the dugout.

  • More of the Sveum. With Johnny Damon on first in the fifth, Ramirez banged a double that should have scored Damon easily. But Sveum held him at third after Damon has already rounded the bag and was halfway home. The crowd got on the third-base coach with shouts of "wake up Dale" and "here we go again." You may recall Sveum sent many a runner to his demise at the plate last season, which may be causing him to be a little gun-shy this season.

  • The City of Palms Park crowd was literally half asleep by the bottom of fifth inning. They must have been exhausted from pushing and shoving for autographs all morning. Seriously, these fans seem spoiled from the World Series victory. There's more yawning at the park than cheers these days. And by the eighth inning, the place clears out.

  • Jay Payton needs to play. He went 2 for 3 on Saturday and every time I look up, he's on third base. I don't know who should sit (maybe Kevin Millar at first?), but Payton has been swinging a hot stick all spring and needs to find some at-bats besides spelling Trot-Johnny-Manny in the outfield and taking a few DH at-bats from Ortiz.

  • Meanwhile, Mark Bellhorn has been ice cold at the plate all spring. Too bad Payton can't play second.

  • Rays youngster BJ Upton took Jack Cressend deep in the eighth, prompting calls of "Ster-oids! Ster-oids!" Get used to hearing that at Fenway this season for sure. Oh, and that bomb blew another Sox lead, making it 4-4 as the pen failed again.

  • George Lombard tried to start a Sox rally in the bottom of the eighth. He hit a would-be home run that was just foul but followed up with a base hit that he turned into a double on sheer hustle. Hanley Ramirez had a chance to put the Sox back on top, but the hot-hitting shortstop popped up after sending his bat flying into the stands a few pitches earlier. Tim Hummel walked to keep the inning going, but Adam Hyzdu grounded into a double play that was bobbled in the field. Fans were stunned that Hyzdu could not leg out the bobbled grounder and get the run in from third. He's slower than he looks on paper.   Continued...

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