So Soon?

It seems we usually spend most of spring training tapping our toes, checking our watches and waiting — always waiting — for April 1. Opening Day. It can’t get here soon enough.

This year, we were ecstatic that baseball would count a full week earlier, as the Red Sox and A’s fly to Japan for a pair of late-March regular season games. Long plane flight? Previous complaints by "certain" Yankee pitchers who struggled after such a trip? Tish-tosh. These are the defending World Champs! They overcame a lot more than a 17-hour plane ride last season. Give me a first-class flight over a 3-1 ALCS deficit with C.C. Sabathia on the mound any day.

Then Coco Crisp came down with a groin strain that has reduced the
alleged position battle with Jacoby Ellsbury to even more of a farce.
No biggie.

Then Julio Lugo tweaked his back. A couple games, we were told. A
week later, Lugo is saying he might not make the flight to Japan.

Then Josh Beckett tweaked his back even worse. He didn’t feel good
today, and an Opening Day start is looking less and less likely —
especially with a half-day plane ride in the offing.

Meanwhile, Daisuke Matsuzaka looked terrible in his last start; Jon
Lester has been his usual inconsistent self; and Clay Buchholz, Kyle
Snyder and Julian Tavarez all seem intent on not winning the
fifth-starter job.

Of course, this is only spring training, we tell ourselves. Keith
Foulke didn’t look good in March 2004. He turned out all right. Even if
Beckett misses a couple starts, how is that any different from last
season, when Beckett missed a couple starts and still won 20 games? The
Red Sox are simply being ultra cautious with him and Lugo. No sense
ruining a player’s season to win two games in Japan. And, really, the
2004 Yankees struggled after (or because of) their trip to Japan, and
still won 101. In the grand scheme of the season, these spring bumps
are minor — almost inconsequential, even routine.

We tell ourselves these things. They make sense. They are rational,
logical, grounded statements. But you try telling that to the little
Red Sox fan inside — the one who grew fat and happy on worry and
cynicism for more than two decades. He raises his voice when things go
bad. Two World Series haven’t silenced him yet. 2004? He asks. 2007? He scoffs. How about another 2006? He
looks at that Japan trip and sees missed opportunities for Beckett to
rebound, fewer games for the kids to get themselves straight.

Opening Day is just two weeks away. The Red Sox leave for Japan in
eight days. So soon? We can wait a little. Let’s let this spring go on
a while longer.

25 comments… add one
  • “Jon Lester has been his usual inconsistent self”
    Yankee scrub!
    But for a breath of fresh air, let me, unlike so many others here, declare Lester’s start today as completely meaningless, in that it occured during a prep spring training outing. I know he will be fine, regardless.
    I’m a Red Sox fan. As such, I don’t care about march, april or may. Nor do I give a rat’s ass about june or july. As long as they come through, and not choke like the Yankees are prone to do when the chips are down, I’m ok with a few spring hiccups.

    Dirty Water March 11, 2008, 1:06 am
  • Can we please get rid of this Red Sox troll? I know it’s best just to ignore him, and we do, but I remember guys like WoostaYF being banned in short order, mostly because they were engaged all the time by other members. I really am not looking forward to having to see his flame-bait tripe during the regular season.

    AndrewYF March 11, 2008, 1:10 am
  • “Of course, it may not be a question of it he’s ‘good enough’. There is a pretty good possibility that Lester or Buchholz gets knocked around so much he needs to go back to AAA, and Colon is the only option”
    “Mm, darn. Jeez, the Sox really do have zero leverage with Crisp, if Marquis is the best offer they can get”
    What is it they say about glass houses?

    Dirty Water March 11, 2008, 8:57 am
  • Cool it DW. Stick to the facts, and spare us all the “choke” bs. We all want to get things kicked off on the right foot this season. Let’s keep this all on message, thanks.

    YF March 11, 2008, 11:27 am
  • I, for one, am sick of DW too.

    Atheose March 11, 2008, 1:00 pm
  • Add me to the list.

    SF March 11, 2008, 1:16 pm
  • don’t call me a troll for this but….the sox showed up fat and full of themselves this spring. this spat of injuries has everything to do with a lazy winter. while some sox where shopping new agents to cash in on expiring contracts or world series fame, it seems like most did little else. the only guy playing with something to prove so far this spring is sean casey. i hate to think that we’re going to see a repeat of ’05. if the sox start the season as listless as they’ve meandered through spring, we could be buried by the middle of may. color me worried.

    sf rod March 11, 2008, 3:19 pm
  • Um, the Sox nearly won the division in ’05, and made the playoffs while winning 90-something games. All while losing Schilling to a near career-ending ankle injury. That’s nothing to be ashamed of. I assume you mean ’06?

    AndrewYF March 11, 2008, 3:52 pm
  • Unlike some alleged Sox fans, I do care about April, May, June and July. (Wow, 2/3s of the season to ignore? Sounds like a fun way to enjoy Baseball.)
    That said, I’m not getting too bent out of shape about this spate of injuries. If not for the looming Japan trip, these things wouldn’t seem as big a deal as they do now. And as unfortunate for the international game as it would be to have to leave all the convalescent back home, the Sox could be better off viewing the A’s series just as spring training games that happen to count in the standings. I know that sounds harsh, but MLB had to know that this sort of problem with scheduling real games in March would crop up from time to time.

    FenSheaParkway March 11, 2008, 3:56 pm
  • the april of ’05 was to be ashamed of. 12-11, all against AL east opponents, with players dropping like flies due to silly injuries. as it stands right now, i hope we can get to 12-11.

    sf rod March 11, 2008, 4:01 pm
  • I, for one, am perfectly happy if some key players find that they have injuries, or hang nails, that prevent them from making the trip to Japan.

    LocklandSF March 11, 2008, 4:07 pm
  • Playing regular season games overseas is a bad idea in any sport. My Dolphins lost a home game to London this year. (not that it mattered but…) Play preseason games overseas, not games that count. That travel effects the players and the games, no question. I’m just glad it isn’t the Yankees this time!

    krueg March 11, 2008, 4:25 pm
  • this spat of injuries has everything to do with a lazy winter
    How, exactly, do you know this? Beckett has back spasms because he was lazy and didn’t work out? Or are you just taking that one photo of him with a “gut” and sportsradioing this to an extreme? Every photo I have seen of Beckett shows him looking in damn good shape. He’s a pitcher, shit happens. Curt blowing out a 40+ year-old shoulder that was frayed several years ago is the product of laziness? How so? Didn’t David Ortiz show up chubby last year, much better this year? Didn’t Manny apparently bust ass and actually go to boot camp this off-season? Was Manny’s injury list last year due to in-season laziness? What’s the point of this charge, exactly, and how is there any empirical proof that the off-season and the specific injuries acquired are due to laziness and not just chance, age, the stresses of athletics?
    I think that until there’s a spate of very similar injuries (a la groin-gate for last year’s Yanks, and even that was a tenuous charge for many people) then there’s no way to draw the kind of conclusion that is drawn by sf rod. The Sox may have been lazy, drinking in their success, that very well might be true. But I don’t think the injuries, pretty random, illustrate that in any scientific fashion.

    SF March 11, 2008, 4:31 pm
  • I thought London wasn’t that bad, only because it’s actually not _that_ far – 7 hours from NY or so. Which is vaguely (give or take an hour) the time to the West Coast.
    Though it’s probably less dramatic for baseball only because you get some rest in between, and (err, at least in percentage) 2 games out of 162 isn’t as bad as 1 out of 16. Still though..

    Lar March 11, 2008, 4:36 pm
  • If not for the looming Japan trip, these things wouldn’t seem as big a deal as they do now.
    This was exactly the point I was trying to make. At frist, I thoguht it would be cool to have games count so soon; now, I wish we had all the way to April 1 to get over some of this stuff.
    I don’t agree with the “lazy-winter” theory. I think it’s valid for 2005. Francona himself has admitted that, but this year it’s just some bad luck that hopefully will work itself out before too long.

    Paul SF March 11, 2008, 5:39 pm
  • the only thing i have to go on is the 8 or so games i’ve seen this spring. with a short spring you’d hope to see them playing with a little more zeal. to my eyes, the only guy’s going after it are casey, moss, kottaras, and thurston. i could care less about pictures of josh’s fupa or dusty p’s gunt. what i do care about is first ball swinging and guy’s not electing to travel with the team to some of the further away games. the effort so far doesn’t look like a team that’s gonna be ready to play meaningful games in 10 days (to me). sorry to ascribe a general lack of effort to laziness. maybe you’re seeing something different.

    sf rod March 11, 2008, 5:40 pm
  • Lar: London was bad. Preperation time was cut short, the field was awful and it was a circus. Maybe we win two games last year if that game was in Miami??? (haha)

    krueg March 11, 2008, 5:52 pm
  • I don’t think this is much different than any other ST. The guys fighting to win jobs are, well, fighting. The guys who have been there before and know what they need to do know there’s no need to fatigue yourself in the middle of March.
    If you’re Tampa or Kansas City, you want to see fire and hustle. If you’re Boston or New York, you want to see maturity and readiness. What I fear is that these little injuries are going to do some damage to their readiness.

    Paul SF March 11, 2008, 5:57 pm
  • krueg – Fine, maybe not London per se.. ;)
    Still though, I thought half the preparation lost was due to stuff like media days, etc, which was due to the novelty of being in London itself rather than anything. What I mean is that if there was a London team (historically, say) there wouldn’t be much things about it..
    I do mostly agree with you though. Just saying it wasn’t all bad.. haha..

    Lar March 11, 2008, 6:03 pm
  • I know you were making that point, Paul. I was just trying to back you up. It’s sort of like the Red Sox (and A’s) also got their Daylight Saving Time date moved up with the rest of us.
    “Sunshine at 6:30pm already?”
    “Games that count already?”

    FenSheaParkway March 11, 2008, 6:45 pm
  • Not literally, SFP. Of course I care about the whole season. My point was that it’s too early to judge so I’m not going to get overly concerned about what is happening.
    I also say there is more than a little truth to many players not wanting anything to do with Japan, so a few of them may come up with a boo-boo for the bye.
    I object to Andrew and A YF being given a call option to bash the Red Sox as they please, yet it is my retaliation that is objected to. That’s not square.

    Dirty Water March 11, 2008, 8:51 pm
  • That’s your problem DW. I don’t bash the Sox exclusively. And from what I’ve read, Andrew doesn’t either. We both point out good and bad things regarding your team. I have yet to read anything similar from you regarding the Yanks, so you come across as nothing more than a humorless troll.

    A YF March 11, 2008, 9:38 pm
  • “the sox showed up fat and full of themselves this spring. this spat of injuries has everything to do with a lazy winter. while some sox where shopping new agents to cash in on expiring contracts or world series fame, it seems like most did little else. the only guy playing with something to prove so far this spring is sean casey” -sf rod
    Are you serious? Who are you talking about? It was reported that Beckett, Youkilis, Pedroia, Ramirez, Lester, Delcarmen, Matsuzaka and Buchholz all worked out like mofos this winter. I don’t know what Coco and Lugo were up to, but I really didn’t get the impression that our team is like you think they’ve been. To me, they seem like a team that is getting ready to defend their title.

    Pat (SF) March 11, 2008, 9:42 pm
  • Varitek just homered… ah, spring games….

    Anonymous March 12, 2008, 1:28 pm
  • The Sox look good today, knock on wood. Buchholz was sailing along and ran into some trouble in the fourth, but otherwise they’re in the lead for the Mayor’s Cup — the postseason bellwether.
    (Massarotti notes today that the Twins have dominated the series with Boston except two years: 2004 and 2007).

    Paul SF March 12, 2008, 3:31 pm

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