The 25-Man Roster. With Nomar Garciaparra beginning the season on the disabled list (along with Trot Nixon and Byung-Hyun Kim), Cesar Crespo will likely make the club. He will join Ellis Burks, Brian Daubach, David McCarty and Doug Mirabelli on the bench. ... After being told he would not make the club, Terry Shumpert exercised an clause in his contract that allowed him to become a free agent.
Tim Hamulack, Bobby Jones and Ramiro Mendoza are fighting for the final two spots in the bullpen. Bob Hohler believes Mendoza will be the long man and Jones (8 games, 0.93 ERA, .156 opponents' batting average) has a slight edge over Hamulack (9 games, 1.74, .093). The rest of the pen: Alan Embree, Keith Foulke, Mike Timlin and Scott Williamson.
The Sports Retort's excellent and lengthy 2004 preview:
Part One: A Look Back at the "Cowboy Up" Sox
Part Two: The 2004 Pitching Staff
Part Three: Player Notes (Pitchers)
Part Four: The 2004 Position Players
Part Five: Player Notes (Position Players)
Part Six: Outlook in 2004 and Beyond
American League East (LA Times)
1. New York: "With a very deep lineup, the Yankees should emerge with a seventh consecutive division title."
2. Boston: "Strengths: Schilling joins what may become a rotation for the ages with the hard-throwing Pedro Martinez and Derek Lowe, who has a team-high 38 wins over the last two seasons. Foulke ends the closer-by-committee disaster that last season yielded 36 saves among 10 pitchers. An offense that led the major leagues with 961 runs and a .289 batting average returns. ... Weaknesses: Seven players, including stars Martinez, Lowe and Nomar Garciaparra, are eligible for free agency after the season, creating a potential distraction. First-year Manager Terry Francona has a reputation for being too chummy with his players. ... Outlook: The Red Sox matched the Yankees pitcher for pitcher in a classic off-season duel between the archrivals. Boston is poised to end its run of six consecutive second-place finishes but could be susceptible early with Trot Nixon (back), Byung-Hyun Kim (shoulder) and Garciaparra (Achilles' tendon) starting the season on the disabled list."
Bronson Arroyo pitched in the tie with Pittsburgh (the Pirates ran out of pitchers) and will now be off until the home opener on April 9. Terry Francona has said he may get some bullpen action in Sunday's opener. ... The Globe notes that Pokey Reese (.194 average this spring) and Mark Bellhorn (.176) have started only six exhibition games together at the positions they will play during the first few weeks of the season. ... Probable matchups for the opening series in Baltimore:
Sunday, April 4: Pedro Martinez vs. Sidney Ponson
Tuesday, April 6: Curt Schilling vs. Eric DuBose
Wednesday, April 7: Derek Lowe vs. Kurt Ainsworth
Thursday, April 8: Tim Wakefield vs. Matt Riley