Spring things: Winners win when theyre winning
ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. -- My buddy Rath called from LA the other day to complain that I was putting too much emphasis on the Red Sox winning and losing (mostly losing) these spring training games. He reminded me that it's all about staying healthy, taking a look at the young kids, pitchers getting their work in, honing the fundamentals ... whatever. As another friend Rick Crosby always emphasized at the blackjack table, "Winners win when they're winning." And thankfully, the Red Sox played tough and won one yesterday when it appeared they were doomed yet again.
If you want to get to the games beyond City of Palms, you've got to get in the car and go. And that means long drives to the other team's park on highways that are always crowded, always have an accident or construction to slow you down, or narrow to two lanes with a nearly comatose driver hanging in the passing lane (soon to be a ticketable offense in Florida). Point is, it's not easy getting to the road games, which is why most of the New Englanders flocking to Fort Myers opt to hit the beach when the Sox travel to one of their Grapefruit League opponents. Oh and there's the half-assed directions online.
Even though I had been to Progress Energy Park (PEP), Home of Al Lang Field in St. Petersburg (sounds like the Angels were involved in the naming of the place) perviously, I was religiously following my directions that I wrote up just before hitting the road. Those directions led me to Naimoli park, the Rays minor league facility, where I got to see some minor leaguers playing catch ... way on the other side of town.
And don't even think of stopping at Hardee's for a "quick" bite and directions, because the employees there will cost you another half-hour for the effort. They were more confused than I was. Luckily, after all the driving hassles, I was still able to bang into PEP before the end of the first yesterday.
Starters are all right
The first three innings featured a classic pitcher's duel. Scott Kazmir, who handcuffed the Sox last season, limited the red shirts to a few harmless singles over the first three while Bronson Arroyo was shutting down the Rays in his third outing of the spring.
In the fourth, Arroyo struck out Josh Phelps on all fastballs, and pitched like a No. 1 starter, not a bullpen go-to guy. No score after three yesterday.
Ring the bell
Mark Bellhorn, who was just 2-for-16 on the spring, finally got a big hit yesterday. In the fourth, Bellhorn he smashed a two-strikes double down the line, which scored David Ortiz. He came up again in the sixth, with Edgar Renteria on second and Kevin Millar on first, and the PA system blared the sound effect of a bell "ding" and a horn "toot" to pay tribute. Bellhorn responded by roping a two-out double in the gap, working old friend Casey Fossum to drive the ball for another RBI. Continued...