There wasn't a lot of action down in Fort Myers today for the Red Sox, position players underwent physicals and then participated in conditioning tests in the afternoon. A few of the Sox spoke to the media today, including Mike Lowell, Jon Lester, Terry Francona and Jason Bay.
Lowell said, "I feel very excited to be here. I'm kind of tired of being in the therapy room, doing all that stuff. I want to be out on the baseball field. But I'm good, I've been hitting for about three weeks, I've throwing for a while. I'm not worried about anything from that standpoint."
Lowell has progressed very well since having surgery on his hip back in October, and says with the right plan he could be playing in spring training games before the season starts. Doctors haven't cleared him to do any running, with the exception of light jogging, so busting down to first base to beat out a double play is the last hurdle.
Jon Lester, who has been in camp since February 9th, is full of optimism for the 2009 season, both for himself and the Red Sox. A main concern about Lester is his durability after throwing a career high 239 innings last season. "I'm not worried about it. As a starting pitcher, you kinda have to expect that. You want the innings, the workload. I'm not going to treat it any different. I'm just gong to go pitch and hopefully get back up those numbers again this year."
I don't think Francona and pitching coach John Farrell treat Lester with kid gloves, he proved last season he is a horse, but I think there will be a conscious effort in each start to watch his pitch count closely and pull him from the game to let the bullpen close out the last few innings. As a competitor it's not really in any athlete to want to come out of a game, but Lester is one of the aces of the pitching staff, no sense in blowing his arm out in July.
Red Sox Manager Terry Francona also spent a few minutes with reporters touching on defense as well as the short stop position. Francona said the short stop situation will "sort itself out"; translation - the job hasn't been given to Jed Lowrie just yet. As I've stated, if Lugo can show he can play better defense then he did a year ago he has a shot to win back the starting gig at short, however not too many people are in his corner.
It's undeniable that defense is going to win the Red Sox a number of games this year, much like the Rays last year. The have Gold Glover's in Youk and Pedroia and on the right side of the infield, and former winners Lowell and Tek at third and catching. The outfield is quick and all have average to great arms, say what you want about JD, and I've said a good amount, but he's got a cannon from right field.
Francona's thoughts on the Sox D, "We have the makings of a very good defensive team and it's something that's maybe more important to us now than maybe it was a few years ago. Again if you score, however many runs you score, if you hold the other team down, I mean as long as we win, that's what we're shooting for, but there's different ways to do it. There's a cumulative effect on pitching staff, when you're catching the ball and it ends up where it's supposed to."
Jason Bay commented on the Sox lineup for 2009, "I think that there's four or five guys who can hit third or fourth in any other lineup, then there's a situation where you try to jam guys in there." There is where I am differing from a lot of other Sox fans, sure Manny isn't in the line up this year, but you have 4 guys after Ortiz who are all capable of 30 home runs and 100 RBI. I know health is going to factor into it and they won't all get 100 RBI, but between Youk, bay, Lowell, and Drew (although I'm not confident in Drew just because he hasn't done it here yet) I like to think those guys are going to drive in 300 runs between them. We shall see.
Also in case you missed Arod held a press conference about his steroid use, he's still claiming he was stupid and naive....