KISSIMMEE, Fla. — Reunion day here in Kissimmee, the Disney suburb where the Houston Astros train. The Red Sox haven’t arrived yet, but manager Terry Francona will reunite with former bench coach Brad Mills, now manager of the Astros.
“It should be a fun day,” Mills said this morning. “I was very close to Tito and I learned so much from him as I go about putting our team together. We still text and talk when we can. He’s busy getting those guys ready up there, but it’ll great to see the guys like Pedroia and Youk and they certainly provide good competition for our team as we try to get ready.”
The other reunion is the Johnson family.
Sox first base coach Ron Johnson will get to see his son Chris, a third-base prospect who will start at third base while his dad will coach third base.
“Ron and Chris don’t get to see each other very often so it’s nice to reunite father-son. We’ll probably have Chris bring out the lineups and I think Ron will for the Red Sox so that will be kind of neat. We’re very impressed with Chris and he’s done a nice job in our camp,” Mills said.
Johnson will likely start the season at Triple A Round Rock, but still has a shot at making the team if veteran first baseman Lance Berkman’s knee remains a concern closer to camp breaking.
Koby Clemens, son of the Rocket, will likely get into the game at some point this afternoon.
Roy Oswalt is starting for the Astros today and opposes Jon Lester.
We’re also told the Astros have something planned for Dustin Pedroia’s locker in the visiting clubhouse. We’ll inform later.
Update: Here are today’s lineups:
Update: Terry Francona had no hard news to report as the bus left Fort Myers at 7:30 and didn’t arrive here until about 10:15. The big story today is the brain surgery Ryan Westmoreland is scheduled to undergo in Phoenix later today. Francona said he wasn’t certain whether Josh Beckett felt well enough to throw his side session today, feeling under the weather the last few days.”He was going into the ballpark at about 11:30 to do some stuff and we’ll see how he feels,” Francona said. “When I last talked to John (Farrell) I think we wanted him to throw tomorrow.” Francona said Beckett was still slated to throw Friday in a game “as long as he can throw that side session.”
* * *
Asked whether Brad Mills looked strange in that Astros uniform, Francona said, “He looks good. And he’s happy. This probably should have happened a long time ago. He’s a good baseball guy, he’s an even better person. There’s no reason he shouldn’t be enjoying what he’s doing.”: Asked about the Francona managerial tree, of which Mills is the first limb, Francona said, “I’m very proud, but what gets lost is that we probably did a lot of things around here because of Millsie. So people say he’s just like me, but in many respects I’m much like him.” It’s ironic that Francona was called this offseason by Astros GM Ed Wade, who had fired Francona as the Phillies’ manager. “I would have fired me too,” Francona said. Wade and Francona have actually become good friends and Wade made his decision on Mills based a lot on Francona’s endorsement. Wade had also had Mills as a coach in Philly.
* * *
Chris Johnson said he was thrilled to be able to see his father, Ron, coach third while he plays third for the Astros today. “We haven’t seen much of each other at all,” Chris said. “I’m so happy that he finally got to the big leagues to coach. He taught me so much about the game growing up. I didn’t see him much growing up and at times I didn’t understand why, but now that I’m in the same job, I understand completely. He is exactly what he appears to be. He’s a fun guy, who loves people and loves what he does. I have that same passion for the game.”. . . Jason Varitek was in the Sox lineup hitting third. He spent some time visiting his ailing father earlier today.