OAKLAND, Calif. - Call it a leap of faith, but reliever Bryan Corey has found a place in Boston for him and his family to stay this summer.
"I'm going to treat this like I'm on the team, I made the team, and I'm going to be here the whole year," said Corey, who gave the Red Sox four outs out of the bullpen on a day manager Terry Francona planned not to use Hideki Okajima and Jonathan Papelbon.
"It becomes unsettling for your family to be up in the air on a lot of different things," Corey added. "I think when you're settled off the field, that helps. If things need to change, we'll change as they go, but hopefully, they don't and I'll be here all year."
With Josh Beckett on the disabled list until Sunday, when he is expected to be activated and pitch in Toronto against the Blue Jays, and Mike Timlin on the DL for at least another week, the Sox have three relievers competing for one spot: righthanders Corey and David Aardsma, and Javier Lopez, who has the advantage of giving Francona a second lefthander out of the pen.
Corey broke into the big leagues in 1998 with the Arizona Diamondbacks. A decade later, he has pitched in just 48 major league games, including three this season, the first time in his career he has broken camp with a big league team. More times than he wishes to recall, he has been one of the last players cut, which was his experience with the Sox last year.
A never-ending audition? "That's a very good way to put it," he said, "and I don't know if there will be any point in my career that will ever change, because of the way things have gone for me.
"But every time Tito gives me the ball, I feel a little more confident with how things are going for me."
Francona has said he doesn't want the relievers to feel like their job is on the line every time they pitch, but Corey said it is difficult to feel otherwise.
"The way I've always seen it, I have very little or no room for error," he said. "I know that when I've scuffled a little bit, it's cost me a job in the big leagues . . . But I hope I can put a good showing together and help this team win."
For openersBartolo Colon
, the former Cy Young Award winner, is scheduled to open the season tonight for Triple A Pawtucket, which three years ago had a rehabbing Curt Schilling
as its first-night starter. The PawSox are playing the Indianapolis Indians, Pittsburgh's affiliate. If Colon pitches well during his Pawtucket stint, which figures to go at least three starts as he builds up arm strength, the assumption is that he will join the Red Sox' rotation as the No. 5 starter. PawSox publicist Bill Wanless
notes that 14 players on the team's roster have big league experience, including nine of the 12 pitchers. An interesting sidelight is that first baseman Brandon Moss
, once he plays tonight, is believed to be the only player ever to appear in openers for both the Red Sox and PawSox in the same season.
The Sox' Double A team, the Portland Sea Dogs, open tonight in New Britain, Conn., against the Rock Cats, the Twins' affiliate. Sea Dogs PR man Chris Cameron
notes that the roster, besides having 17 players back from the team that made the Eastern League playoffs last season, will have eight of Boston's top 30 prospects, as ranked by Baseball America: Justin Masterson
(No. 4), Michael Bowden
(No. 7), Kris Johnson
(No. 13), Mark Wagner
(No. 20), Aaron Bates
(No. 21), Dustin Richardson
(No. 22), Bubba Bell
(No. 25), and Hunter Jones
(No. 27). Masterson, Bowden, Johnson, and Richardson will be in the rotation, along with holdover Chris Smith
. Wagner, the organization's defensive catcher of the year in 2007, will share duties with John Otness
. Bates, who hit four home runs in a game last season and was a California League All-Star, will be the first baseman. Bell, the MVP of the California League, will be in the outfield, while Jones returns to the bullpen.
The Sox will not be working out in Toronto today. They were told that Rogers Centre, which recently hosted a motocross event, is not available while workers try to get it ready for the Blue Jays' home opener. "I saw something while I was channel-surfing the other night," Francona said. "I didn't realize it was live." Josh Beckett
is scheduled to throw a side session in Fort Myers, Fla., today before flying to join the club in Toronto, but the Sox will be looking for an indoor facility for Tim Wakefield
and Mike Timlin
to play catch . . . In the aftermath of Tuesday's disputed double by Sox catcher Jason Varitek
- replays appeared to confirm it was a home run - Francona reiterated his support for some type of review system utilizing replays. Varitek hit a drive that appeared to hit on top of the yellow line designating a home run and carom off the billboard behind it, but umpires ruled the ball in play. "I wish they would put a fifth umpire in the booth," Francona said. "I think it would be a great teaching tool. If they want to have some of these younger umpires come into the league and have a rotation, it would give them the built-in day off, but then on that day off, they're seeing what we're seeing. And they could also interject in the game if they wanted to in a way that would be simple." . . . Do spring training records bear any correlation to how a team performs in the regular season? Baseball statistician John Dewan
looked at the playoff qualifiers over the last dozen seasons, a total of 96 teams. Of that number, 66 had spring training records that were .500 or better. That's 69 percent. Thirty teams were below .500 and still made the playoffs. The Sox were 10-13-2 in exhibition play. They were 15-12-4 last season, when they won the World Series, and 9-20-1 in 2006, when they failed to qualify for the postseason . . . J.D. Drew
had a single in five trips in his first start of 2008. He grounded out with the bases loaded in the first after Rich Harden
struck out Manny Ramírez
and Mike Lowell
. . . Coco Crisp
had two singles and scored a run as he got the start in center field, with Jacoby Ellsbury
on the bench. Francona said he didn't decide until after talking with his coaches following Tuesday's game who would get the nod yesterday. He liked the matchup of Crisp against Harden. "We're four games into the season and they've both played," Francona said of Ellsbury and Crisp. "One has [started] three games, the other has played two. It's more communicating with the guys than a dilemma. I don't know that there's an answer right now that is etched in stone. Maybe there will be. If there isn't, it will be my job to make it work."
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