Greetings from overcast Fort Myers, a relative term, I know, given the spectacular spring we've had this year. Contrary to popular opinion, I haven't been vacationing down here, despite the absence of my byline (or blogs) this week.
I've been doing some work for our Opening Day special section, though that's left me plenty of time to watch our lads as well as the WBC, which is probably the best sporting event many of you didn't get to see much of. A terrific tournament, IMO ... talk about great theater: Puerto Rico-Cuba, Japan-Korea, then US-Mexico last night. It had the same passionate fervor as soccer's World Cup, IMO, but obviously not on that scale, or for similar stakes. But the crowds were awesome, and while they need to tweak some of the tie-breaker stuff and maybe the timing of the tournament and the umpiring (Earth to Bob Davidson), I think this thing will only grow in a big way. I would have liked to have seen Jason Varitek get more than one bat-shattering at-bat yesterday. As for Roger Clemens, who knows? If I had to wager, I'd say he'll be pitching for somebody at some point this season.
There were fans camped in front of the ticket office here at 6:30 this morning (no, I didn't get here that early, I rolled in about 8:30) for the annual St. Patrick’s Day green-jersey game. Hope they weren't excited about seeing Hanley Ramirez -- he's not on the travel squad for the Marlins, who left just about everyone of consequence back home. Though with their ravaged roster, who can tell?
The Sox are rolling out pretty close to a regular lineup: Coco, Loretta, Nixon, Ramirez, Lowell, Snow (DH), Youkilis, Gonzalez, with Trent Durrington catching. Jonathan Papelbon is hurling.
Alex Cora, fresh off playing for PR in the WBC, is flying to Tampa tomorrow and will play for the Sox in Dunedin. Terry Francona said he expects Jason Varitek and Mike Timlin back from Team USA tomorrow, with Jason catching part of Sunday's game.
The roster was trimmed by seven yesterday: reliever Cla Meredith was optioned to Pawtucket, while right-hander Matt Ginter, left-handers Craig Breslow, Mike Bumatay and Phil Seibel, infielder Jed Lowrie and outfielder Luke Allen were re-assigned to minor league camp.
There are two lefty relievers still in camp: Lenny DiNardo, starting tomorrow in Dunedin, and Mike Holtz, the 33-year-old journeyman who last season pitched in Japan and has a dozen whiffs in 6 innings this spring.
Francona and GM Theo Epstein met with David Wells this morning in the wake of his grousing about possibly getting skipped over the first time in the rotation when the season opens. If I had to guess, I'd say Wells might make his first start April 12, but I certainly wouldn't rule out his getting traded. Texas has interest.