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Fenway visit for Westmoreland

By Peter Abraham
Globe Staff / April 6, 2010

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Ryan Westmoreland, the Red Sox prospect who had brain surgery in March, has returned to New England for the second phase of his rehabilitation. That will take place at the Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital in Boston.

The outfielder, who turns 20 later this month, had surgery at an Arizona hospital March 16 to repair weak blood vessels in his brain stem. He and his family were guests of the Red Sox at Sunday night’s season opener against the Yankees and watched the game with general manager Theo Epstein from his box behind home plate.

“It was great,’’ Epstein said yesterday. “It was really meaningful for us to see him after this really difficult month.’’

Epstein said the invitation to the opener was an opportunity to give Westmoreland “a little break’’ from his rehabilitation.Westmoreland is receiving physical and occupational therapy at Spaulding. According to a Red Sox press release, he is “making steady progress and is in great spirits.’’

Westmoreland, considered one of the best outfield prospects in the game, was stricken early in spring training. Tests at Massachusetts General Hospital revealed the rare condition.

A native of Portsmouth R.I., Westmoreland was in the early stages of his career after being taken in the fifth round of the 2008 draft.

Wait is over
Jon Lester has known for months he would open his season with a start against the Yankees. That moment comes tonight.

“I’ve been thinking about the Yankees for a while,’’ Lester said Sunday. “Into the fire right away. I’m looking forward to it.’’

Lester was 1-1 with a 4.43 ERA in four starts against the Yankees last season. Three of those games came at Yankee Stadium. The lefthander held the Yankees to two runs over six innings at Fenway Park April 24.

Lester had a 3.12 ERA in six spring training starts. He is 3-1 with a 3.88 ERA in eight career starts against the Yankees.

The Yankees will be pitching A.J. Burnett. The righthander was 0-2 with an 8.85 ERA against the Red Sox last season in four starts. He gave up 20 earned runs on 22 hits in 12 2/3 innings at Fenway.

The teams had yesterday off following Sunday’s 9-7 victory by the Red Sox, a game that stretched for nearly four hours and featured 24 hits.

No recession here
The Red Sox and Yankees will have just under $369 million in talent on the field this season.

According to USA Today’s survey of salaries, the Red Sox have a team record payroll of $162.4 million, a 33 percent increase from last season. The only team spending more was the Yankees, who checked in at $206.3 million, 2 percent more than last season.

In Alex Rodriguez ($33 million), CC Sabathia ($24.2 million), Derek Jeter ($22.6 million), and Mark Teixeira ($20.6 million), the Yankees have the four highest-paid players in the game.

The leading Red Sox earner is John Lackey, whose $18.7 million salary this season ranks 12th.

Record for NESN
Sunday night’s game drew a 19.7 rating for NESN, the highest for a season opener in its history. The previous high was 17.9 last season. The game was the highest-rated program in the Boston market in every major demographic.

Peter Abraham can be reached at pabraham@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @peteabe.

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