The boys come together at Camelback Ranch on Sunday afternoon. They can’t get started a moment too soon. Real winter weather in the Midwest and financial distress have made this winter insufferable. So let’s play ball.
Quite happily, 4/5 of the rotation and all of the starting field positions appear to be set heading into spring. There only seem to be three significant roster battles:
DH – With the potential Damon signing looming in the background, we appear headed to a “DH by committee” plan which will primarily include Andruw Jones and Mark Kotsay. Earlier in his career A. Jones was an absolute stud for the Braves. If he can get his body right and find some of that magic, it would be outstanding for the Sox. That’s what this Sox fan is hoping for!
Fourth Bench Spot – Castro (Flowers needs to go to Charlotte to work on his defensive game), Kotsay, Jones, and Vizquel appear to be locks for bench spots, which leaves the need for another infielder, IMO. As happened last spring, this appears to be a battle between Nix and Lillibridge. Unless Lillibridge shows some real maturity at the plate, which he clearly lacked last year, this seems to be Nix’s job to lose.
Fifth Starter – Garcia and Hudson appear to be the main combatants here. I suspect that Garcia will get the spot because of his experience and his relationship with Ozzie. Frankly, I’d prefer that Hudson return to Charlotte to get a consistent spot in their rotation. Regardless of who fills this spot, I am thrilled not to have to be worried about the health and wellbeing of Jose Contreras and Bartolo Colon anymore!
The bullpen will be some combination of Jenks, Putz, Thornton, Linebrink, Randy Williams, Pena, Dolsi, Carlos Torres, and Nunez. I have a hard time getting a good read on this, but there should be enough talent there to carry us into the regular season, and if not, “Coop will fix ’em!”
THIS JUST IN – As I am writing this WSCR in Chicago is reporting that the Sox have withdrawn their offer to Johnny Damon.
Looking forward to getting a great season started. We’ve got one of the three best rotations in the AL, and an overall better defensive team than we did last year. If Ozzie ball can score some runs, there is no reason to think that this team can’t win the division!
After a train wreck of an outing Friday night, Bartolo Colon led the Sox to an 8-0 beating of the Twinkies this afternoon. Everything that went wrong Firday night went right today.
Bartolo gave a strong, strong performance in the start. The bullpen shut the Twins down. The bats produced, loudly! Heck, even Mike MacDougal got someone out. In fact he got six guys out!
Have to give Ozzie and Mac credit for coming back out there today after an abysmal eight pitch, no strike, one to the backstop performance last night.
As we roll the rotation over to the top tomorrow w/ Buehrle, if the bats are really beginning to warm up, you have to like the teams chances to get itself on a roll.
Also, if Bartolo can give outings of this quality on any sort of a consistent basis, this team can be near the top of the AL Central for the whole of the year!
An extremely strong pitching line from Contreras and Colon in the last game of spring training against the D-backs. No runs, one walk, nine strikeouts (Three for Jose, Six for Bartolo). Ozzie and Coop have to love that!
Monday its for real against the Royals
In other news from Arizona Bartolo and Jose got rocked for thirteen yesterday by the Angels. Ozzie and Coop claim that they aren’t worried. IMO, they’re the only two people associated with the team who aren’t!
Apologies to Bartolo, he’s not just out of shape. I mean he is out of shape, but he has other health issues as well. According to reports in the Sun Times, they cleaned bone chips out of his pitching elbow during the offseason.
Not sure how I missed that, but there it is. My bad, Bartolo.
All about the pitchers again today.
Poreda had a good outing, and is making a strong showing for the final bullpen spot.
Danks struggled, but didn’t seem to shaken by it in the post game interviews.
Contreras is progressing ahead of Colon at this point which boggles the mind given the fact that JC actually ruptured his achilles, while Colon was simply out of shape. The question has to be asked, how out of shape was he when they contacted him?
Buehrle returns to the team after heading home for the birth of his second child.
Welcome back Mark, and congrats.
Those were the words used by Sox pitching coach, Don Cooper, as he described the progress being made by Bartolo Colon and Jose Contreras. According to Coop the next major milestone will come for these two when they pitch their first innings in live action sometime around March 14.
In other news of “hope and optimism” Clay Richard pitched four scoreless innings against the Rangers yesterday.
It is far too early to get too geeked about any of this, but the apparent development of the Sox rotation is extremely good news. Now if we could only find a viable candidate for centerfield!