The season will begin tomorrow at 4 PM.
James Shields (2008: 3.56, 125 ERA+; Spring 2009: 14.1 IP, 8.16 ERA) / Josh Beckett (2008: 4.03, 115 ERA+: Spring 2009: 27.2 IP, 3.25 ERA)
It has been 170 days since Tampa Bay's David Price got pinch-hitter Jed Lowrie to ground into a game-ending fielder's choice at Tropicana Field, saving the Rays' 3-1 victory, and clinching the American League pennant.
The two teams will meet this afternoon at Fenway Park, as the 2009 regular season begins.
I don't think they've gotten any worse. If anything, they've gotten better. It will be interesting. It might be a preview of what's to come.David Ortiz:
Yeah, why not. [Let's] see what they have from the beginning.
Red Sox against Shields and Rays against BeckettRays Red Sox
Akinori Iwamura, 2B Jacoby Ellsbury, CF
Carl Crawford, LF Dustin Pedroia, 2B
Evan Longoria, 3B David Ortiz, DH
Carlos Pena, 1B Kevin Youkilis, 1B
Pat Burrell, DH J.D. Drew, RF
Matt Joyce, CF Jason Bay, LF
Dioner Navarro, C Mike Lowell, 3B
Gabe Gross, RF Jed Lowrie, SS
Jason Bartlett, SS Jason Varitek, C
Ortiz is 7-for-14, 1.214 SLG; Pedroia is 5-for-10; Ellsbury is 1-for-10; Yook is (ack) 0-for-17.
The last time the Red Sox began the season at home was 2002: Pedro was shelled and the Blue Jays grabbed a 12-11 win. I remember watching that game (and cursing Ugueth Urbina) at the Riviera in Manhattan (in those dark ages before EI).
The last time the Red Sox began a season with a win at home: 1995. With Aaron Sele on the hill, Luis Alicea leading off, and Kevin Kennedy as manager, Boston blanked the Twins 9-0.
It's my 34th Opening Day as a Red Sox fan, and another summer of little white boxes and fine-pointed pens.
Opening Day Roster:
SP: Beckett, Lester, Matsuzaka, Wakefield, Penny***
RP: Lopez, Delcarmen, Ramirez, Masterson, Okajima, Saito, Papelbon
C: Varitek, Kottaras
INF: Ortiz, Youkilis, Pedroia, Lowrie, Lowell, Green
OF: Bay, Ellsbury, Drew, Baldelli, Carter
John Smoltz was given Curt Schilling's locker, next to Jason Varitek's. When Smoltz is ready to pitch in a game, he'll go down to A ball, either Greenville or Salem.
It really doesn't matter what organization level it is. I have nothing to gain being down there anyway because the statistical information is not a good gauge for me, it's really about getting my work in.Rocco Baldelli's locker is between Dustin Pedroia and Mike Lowell.
Terry Francona, on telling Chris Carter he had made the roster:
You would think it would be great, but about a minute into it he hadn't breathed yet. It wasn't quite as fun as I anticipated it. I thought he was going to pass out.Carter:
I'm just happy and excited and I'm ready to go. I really believe in this team and I'm really confident. Every day we play is going to be a great game.***