The Red Sox tradition of playing a morning game on Patriots Day is getting tweaked for 2007. With the start of the Boston Marathon pushed up to 10 a.m., the Sox have obtained permission from Major League Baseball and the players' union to start their Patriots Day game, traditionally an 11:05 start, an hour earlier.
Sox spokesman John Blake said a final determination of the start time has not yet been made, allowing for the possibility that the game could begin at 10:30. On the team's website, the start time is still listed as to be determined. But it appears likely that the game against the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim will begin at 10 a.m.
But both Katy Feeney, MLB's senior vice president for scheduling and club relations, and Gene Orza, chief operating officer for the union, said yesterday that they'd signed off on the game starting as early as 10, with one stipulation: The previous afternoon's game must begin no later than 1:05. The Angels will be broadcasting the Monday game back to the West Coast at 7 a.m., giving their fans the novelty of listening to a ballgame during the morning rush hour.
The Angels have never played the Sox on Patriots Day.
"While we aren't 100 percent certain, we're fairly confident this will be our first 7 a.m. start in club annals, albeit on the East Coast," said Tim Mead, the Angels' vice president of media relations.
Feeney said MLB received a letter from Boston city officials explaining the need for the earlier start, which is why MLB was willing to grant the waiver, once the players' union also signed off on the deal.
"I guess they'll be serving scrambled eggs," said Feeney, noting that the Angels, who are returning to the West Coast after the game, probably won't mind the earlier start because they'll get a head start going home.
The Sox have played at home on Patriots Day every year since 1961, with the exception of 1965 and '67 (offdays), and 1995 (work stoppage).
General manager Theo Epstein continued in his effort to gain the Sox additional protection in their five-year, $70 million deal with outfielder J.D. Drew, who remains a free agent pending the resolution of contract language. Epstein, according to a source familiar with negotiations, is trying to induce Drew's agent, Scott Boras, to agree to language that would give the Sox some relief in the last two years of the deal if Drew is unable to meet certain performance requirements because of his surgically repaired right shoulder . . . Keith Foulke, closer on the 2004 World Series champions, is expected to sign with a team today, but it won't be the Red Sox. The free agent could be close to striking a deal with Cleveland.
Gordon Edes can be reached at email@example.com.