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Spring things: Advantage Adam

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  • So far the Cardinals-Sox rematch last Wednesday was the only home game where there were more ticket seekers than ticket sellers on the street in Ft. Myers. And there was a whole new scalping twist on Saturday against the Orioles. One of the regular ticket resellers was selling upgraded tickets inside the park. The familiar scalper was working the aisle actively, trying to sell box seats to fans already in the park with standing room only tickets. Now that's initiative.

  • Down at the Sox training facility, where you can spend some quality time with Dewey Evans, Carl Yastrzemski, Johnny Pesky and other Sox instructors, Frank Malzone thinks Kelly Shoppach has all the tools to be a great catcher ... but he doesn't think Shoppach will ever be able to handle major league pitching well enough to crack the Sox starting lineup.

  • The Rockies' Todd Helton is the latest victim of steroid accusations. Wayne Hagin, a current Cardinals (and former Rockies) radio announcer told a St. Louis ESPN Radio station the following: "I'm going to say something that is the absolute truth, and he will be mad at me for saying it if it gets out, but Todd Helton, a tremendously gifted baseball player, he tried it," said Hagin in the radio interview. "I know he tried it because Don Baylor told me. He said to me, 'I told him to get off the juice, that he was a player who didn't need that, get off it. It made him into a robot at first base defensively, and may have altered his swing. He got off of it, but he is not unlike so many athletes who have tried it because they wanted to get into that level playing field."

    Baylor, Helton's former manager in Colorado, later denied the claim, saying he once advised Helton to stop taking creatine, not steroids. Hagin also retracted his statement and said he meant creatine when he said "juiced." Whatever. Helton then said on SportsCenter that the "witch hunt will end when they find a witch" with the new steroid testing program. And he played the Rafael Palmeiro card, emphatically denying that he ever used steroids.

    One thing that can't be disputed is that Helton was a stud even before entering the majors. We talked to someone who played at Western Carolina against Helton when he was at the University of Tennessee, who said Helton was the most powerful hitter he ever saw. In three years at Tennessee, Helton hit .372 with 38 home runs, breaking the Vols' career homer mark. As a pitcher in his junior year, Helton accumulated a 19-5 record, which included a 3-1 victory over Clemson in the World Series.

  • Curt Schilling said he "felt good" and was comfortable during his minor-league session today. He threw only 18 pitches over the first two innings, 38 pitches total, but was tagged for a couple of doubles and a two-run home run by Chip Ambres in the third inning. Bill Mueller led off every inning against Curt, who had three strikeouts and no walks on the day. The good news on Schilling remains that his surgically repaired ankle is not really bothering him right now. I wouldn't bet on him appearing in a regular season game before April 20 at the earliest. So get comfortable with your Wells, Clement, Tim Wakefield, Bronson Arroyo rotation to start season, with lefty John Halama ready to step in when the Sox need a fifth starter. 

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