With 10 days to go, what do we know?
Page 2 of 3 -- Spring grade: B+
C, Jason Varitek: Tek is the new captain of the Red Sox, a role hes played for a couple of years even though he never had the C on his uniform. He was universally named by his teammates (especially the pitching staff) the most important free agent the Sox needed to retain last season. Because he's been working with Schilling and platooning with Mirabelli and the young guys, Varitek has only 21 at-bats in 11 games this March and his five hits have resulted in a .238 average. He has been rock solid behind the plate and working with the new pitchers, but like his partner Doug Mirabelli, he needs to keep working at stopping the opposing speedsters from stealing bases at will.
Spring grade: B
LF, Manny Ramirez: He picked up where he left off as the World Series MVP this spring. Hes batting .400 in 30 at-bats with a .767 slugging percentage. Hes second behind David Ortiz in total bases with 23 and has been spraying line drive rockets all over the field of late. More surprisingly, Manny has been playing an above average outfield, making some tough catches, tracking down some gap shots quickly, while not making an error on the spring. And Manny remains one of the most popular players with the fans, and always looks like hes having fun on the field and with his fans, a far cry from the guy who wanted to tear up his check and go back to Cleveland just a couple of years ago.
Spring grade: A
CF, Johnny Damon: The Queer Eye appearance, the book, movie star aspirations ... there isnt much more room on the married mans plate these days. Recently plagued by cellulitis, Johnny pulled up lame on Wednesday with cramps. Its been a busy spring for the rock star even though hes only played in eight games to date. In 20 at-bats Johnny has a double as his only extra base hit to go with six total bases and a .250 average. In the field, hes shown his usual ability to track down most anything that stays in the park. Hes crashed into the wall going after balls, and even showed an accurate, albeit not strong, arm in throwing out Rafael Palmeiro at the plate on Wednesday.
Spring grade: B
RF, Trot Nixon: Trots back, and his back problems seem long gone and hard to find. Unfortunately, after a hot start to the spring, Trot was stricken with a case of the flu, which slowed his momentum. In 24 at-bats Trot is slugging .583 with a couple of home runs and a double in his seven hits and a .292 average. Hes also been a patient presence at the plate with six walks. More importantly, Nixons played an outstanding right field, making a remarkable diving catch in right center in one spring game and an over-the-wall grab of a home run in another. Hes playing the outfield with abandon, just like the old days. What a difference a full season of Trot Nixon will make to this team if he can stay healthy. Continued...