FORT MYERS, Fla. - Doug Mirabelli left no doubts as to his preference yesterday. In short, he loves being on the Red Sox.
"Everybody that knows me knows that this is where I always want to be," said the 37-year-old catcher, who is entering his eighth season with the club. "I don't want to leave here. And I told [general manager] Theo [ Epstein] that. He knows until they force me out of here, I'm never leaving."
To that end, Mirabelli took a $200,000 cut in salary to remain a part of the team, in his role catching Tim Wakefield and giving Jason Varitek a rare breather. He joked about that yesterday, along with his desire to match a Red Sox icon.
"I'm looking for Ted this year," said Mirabelli, a reference to Ted Williams, baseball's last .400 hitter. "Actually if I did combine those last two years, it wouldn't have reached Ted."
He's right. He hit .191 in 2006 and .202 in 2007. But according to Varitek, that isn't the extent of Mirabelli's contributions.
"Doug's been an instrumental part with me and my career," Varitek said. "He's got great eyes . . . and understanding from the bench. Great awareness of what guys are going through, hitting-wise and catching-wise, a great sounding board. He always knows what's going on, and that is such a big part of people who don't play every day.
"We complement each other extremely well with the staff."
Old college try
Josh Beckett will make his first start of the spring against Boston College Feb. 28, according to pitching coach John Farrell. Farrell told the Japanese media that Beckett will get the start against BC in the first game (1:05 p.m.) of a doubleheader against college teams. Daisuke Matsuzaka will not pitch until the next day. Matsuzaka confirmed to Sankei Sports he will pitch against the Twins at Hammond Stadium Feb. 29 at 7:05 p.m. . . . Wakefield, the only teammate of Roger Clemens on the Red Sox who still remains with the team, said he didn't get a chance to watch last week's hearings, and said he didn't really want to watch them anyway. "It's unfortunate," he said. "I want to back Roger. I believe his story, and I hope he clears his name." . . . Dustin Pedroia arrived at the player development complex yesterday around lunchtime. He was the second major league position player to show up at camp; Kevin Youkilis came in Thursday. Pedroia went out to the field to play catch around 2 p.m., after most of the other players had headed out, then spent some time in the batting cage.
Pitchers were on the fields in the morning doing agility drills, including manager Terry Francona's favorite, where he hits soft baseballs at pitchers to test their ability to field. They also did fielding practice. The players followed that up with the second part of their conditioning test, a mile-and-a-half run. The starters also threw bullpen sessions . . . Bench coach Brad Mills was out on the field in the afternoon playing catch with his son, Beau, who was drafted in the first round by the Indians last season.
Park it here
There is no public parking available at the minor league complex. Shuttle bus service from the Broadway Gate at City of Palms Park (where parking is free) will begin at 7:30 a.m. today. Shuttles will run until one hour after the end of the workout. Tickets for a round trip on the shuttle are $2 per person, with those age 5 and under riding for free.