Spring Training Tidbits: Week 1

After what seemed like an endless winter of zero free-agent moves (Harper, Machado, and a ton of other players are still contract-less and team-less) and cold weather, baseball is finally BACK.

It’s such an exciting time, watching the team reunite and get back to work, and I can tell they’re as excited, if not somehow more excited than I am.

Here are the first nuggets of news from week 1 of Boston baseball in Fort Myers:

Dustin Pedroia is ready for his comeback

The veteran second baseman has had a rough go of it the past two years, requiring multiple surgeries and procedures to repair his knee. But it’s looking like he’s poised for an epic comeback, and he has the full support of his teammates and coaching staff.

The now-35-year-old played through injury in 2017; he appeared in 105 games and still managed an impressive .293 batting average, 7 homers, and 62 RBIs. Despite his bad leg, he even stole 4 bases. But after offseason surgery last winter, Pedroia returned in June 2018, only to appear in three games before making what would become a permanent return to the bench, fewer games than he’s had surgical procedures on his left knee and leg in the last two years; he’s been on the DL as many times in the last two seasons as he had during his entire career.

Dave Dombrowski is hopeful that Pedey will appear in 120 or so games, and the front office has so much confidence in him that they did not offer midseason acquisition Ian Kinsler a contract, nor did they pursue any outside infielders.

It doesn’t feel like Pedroia’s career is over. In fact, he’s said he plans on vying for Comeback Player of the Year in 2019, and it feels like he could get back through sheer force of will. Need further proof of Pedroia’s determination? Chris Sale “I DARE you to rule him out… He’s out to prove a point this year. And that’s a scary thought.”

David Price has a new number

Price will wear 10 instead of 24 this season, and in typical Price fashion, he’s letting everyone speculate as to why.

Theories range from his goal of winning Boston’s 10th World Series, to his transformation from an 0-10 postseason starter to the dominant pitcher he was last October, to the fact that his son’s name is Xavier, nicknamed X, and the Roman numeral X equals 10.

Regardless, Price is raring to go, and said yesterday that he “didn’t come here to win one World Series.” Here’s hoping his new number will bring him even more good luck in 2019.

JBJ wants to be even better somehow

After winning his first Gold Glove in 2018 for his unreal antics in centerfield and being robbed of the award in 2017, Jackie, like many of his teammates, is focused on getting even better. He told reporters earlier this week that he considered 2018 to be his ‘worst defensive season’ and that he ‘can get better in centerfield.’

In addition to having an incredibly clutch postseason in which he won ALCS MVP and had 10 RBIs all on 2-out hits against Houston and a home run in the longest World Series game in baseball history, JBJ was, well, JBJ in the outfield. He played 1,137.1 innings in centerfield, and had 299 putouts with a .984 fielding percentage. He only committed 5 errors.

I’m all for players improving, but I hope JBJ is proud of his performance in 2018. He was a huge part of a championship season, and no one in Boston should have any complaints.

Chris Sale’s belly button is good to go and so is he

The best joke to come out of the postseason (besides the Yankees) was Chris Sale’s infected belly button piercing, or lack thereof. He announced yesterday that he’s in perfect health, from his pitching arm to his navel.

Sale is in a contract year, and has made it clear that he would love to stay in Boston, but he’ll need to stay healthy this season if he wants the Red Sox to bite; they have a lot of young talent they’ll need to pay over the next few years.

The legends have arrived at Spring Training

2004 icons Pedro Martinez and Derek Lowe are down at Fenway South helping their fellow champs prepare for the new season. Undoubtedly, David Ortiz will show up at some point when he’s done partying on a yacht in Saint Barth’s with franchise owner John Henry.

I just absolutely love how devoted former players are to this team. It makes me so happy to see how them return year after year, continuing to contribute to this franchise. It’s just

Former Sox around the league

  • Will Middlebrooks announced in a heartbreaking social media post that he will not be returning to baseball after an injury last year.
  • It’s weird to see Joe Kelly at Spring Training in a Dodgers uniform
  • Jacoby Ellsbury, who is somehow still a baseball player, will not be at the Yankees’ Spring Training facility in Tampa due to plantar fascia issues

Follow me on Twitter @gfstarr1 for daily tweets and soon-to-be game live-tweeting

Photo: Red Sox Twitter

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