Quite the quartet we have here: A Hall of Famer (Molitor), a should-be Hall of Famer (Trammell), the coolest cat in the '70s baseball not named Oscar Gamble (Washington and his trusty toothpick). . . and Mickey Klutts, who only happens to be the most appropriately named player in the history of baseball.
Klutts had the most obscure existence of our '78 Rookie Shortstops here, but even he owns a certain dubious claim to baseball fame: He was the anti-Ripken. In parts of eight big league seasons, he somehow managed to spend more days on the disabled list than he had at-bats. Entering the 1983 season, he had been on the DL for 538 days and had come to the plate 483 times. He got 43 at-bats with the Blue Jays early that season, got hurt again, and never played another major league game. We're presuming he's still on a rehab assignment somewhere.
I bring up Mickey Klutts now only because -- well, because I'm a sucker for the obscure, as you long-suffering readers are all too aware, but also because I was reminded of him and his particular gift for physically impairing himself when I read this headline yesterday from Ft. Myers:
BACK IS FRONT AND CENTER Drew still dealing with occasional discomfort
Yup, it's not officially baseball season until J.D. Drew reveals he has a lingering injury from the previous year. Play ball!
Good ol' David Jonathan Drew. He's like our very own modern day Mickey Klutts . . . except, you know, good. The guy is more fragile than Mr. Parker's leg lamp. Given how important a relatively healthy and productive season from Drew is to the Mannyless Red Sox lineup this season, we can only cross our fingers and hope that Terry Francona's don't-sweat-it report on the condition of his right fielder is more accurate than the one Drew gave reporters Sunday.
But beyond his typically enigmatic situation, there are very few dramas to get worked up about regarding these Red Sox. Actually, there are none, really. Which might explain why Francona looks younger this spring than he did last October. Life without Manny suits him well.
Oh, there are somewhat ominous signs that Julio Lugo won't go quietly to the bench if Jed Lowrie wins the shortstop competition, but he's not important enough to become truly disruptive. He can either get used to it or get lost. And every other little ripple on this ocean is unlikely to become a wave.
Mike Lowell has been candid in talking about his frustration with the team's offseason pursuit of Mark Teixeira, but you know he's too much of a pro to let it fester. Jason Varitek looks like he's in fantastic shape, and judging by his comments, he's handling his frustrating offseason with typical stoicism. (I'll admit, I did snicker when he cited his homer off James Shields in the ALCS as a reason he should continue to bat lefthanded. It was his one hit in the series! In 20 at-bats!)
Papi looks trim and fit and ready, so does Josh Beckett, and you know how important that news is -- they may be keys 1 and 1A to the Red Sox' fortunes this season. In fact, after hearing Papi speak today, I'm convinced a bounce-back season is in the making. Put him down for 40 homers, and at least two walkoffs.
And the positive reports and optimistic quotes keep on coming. Takashi Saito says his elbow feels swell, and wouldn't that be the steal of the offseason if a former closer with a career 1.95 ERA and 229 adjusted ERA can contribute in a meaningful way? Dustin Pedroia, still ticked off about last season's ending, clearly isn't one to rest on his MVP laurels, not that we ever imagined he would. And if you're not excited about John Smoltz sliding into the rotation sometime around June en route to October, then I guess you missed a lot of brilliantly pitched baseball games on TBS the past two decades.
Yes, the Red Sox are making it very easy believe the season ahead will be one to remember. Hope springs eternal and all that.
For now, though, it's enough just to have them back.
Yes, even you, J.D. Now rub some dirt on it and get out there.
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As for today's Completely Random Baseball Card:
Happy Presidents' Day, everyone.
About Touching All The Bases
Irreverence and insight from Chad Finn, a Globe/Boston.com sports writer and media columnist. A winner of several national and regional writing awards, he is the founder and sole contributor to the TATB blog, which launched in December 2004. Yes, he realizes how lucky he is.