April 2, 2004

Optimism. Johnny Damon: "This is still the best team out there. It's going to be tougher because of the injuries, but we've got pretty good players filling in." ... Curt Schilling: "I feel every bit as good about this team's chances of going all the way as the day I came here, if not better." ... Terry Francona: "I feel good about everything, I really do. Now it's time to play, regardless of who's hurt or whatever. Our job is to win. We have to find a way to be one run better. Nothing else matters."

Schilling said deferred to catcher Jason Varitek for his entire outing yesterday, letting him call every pitch. "I wanted to see how he worked with my stuff. He gave me a lot of confidence going into the year." Varitek: "It's about working together. It's not about me. It's a trusting building block but it's not up to me. He's the guy throwing the ball." Terry Francona: "That would be the first time I've ever heard Schill never have the last word, in my life. It may be a first and last." ... In five spring starts, Schilling was 2-1 with a 1.91 ERA.

Francona received encouraging reports on Byung-Hyun Kim, who threw off the mound for the first time since March 10, and Pedro Martinez. "Pedro was outstanding. And I heard BK was better. Right before the game, [Dave Wallace] told me, 'You want something to pick up your day? These guys were outstanding.' That was good." ... Derek Lowe and Tim Wakefield will start the two exhibitions against Atlanta. ... Francona's one dress code rule? "They just need to not dress worse than me and they'll be fine."

Sarah at RallyCuff says calling David Ortiz "Ortizzle" is "obviously the brainchild of some person posessing a crippling amount of dorky whiteness." She believes the correct translation should be "Orteezy."

Two Red Sox preview sections today: the Providence Journal and the Boston Globe.

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