Saturday, March 8, 2014
The truck pulled out Saturday and the scary part about the so-called Red Sox Nation is that nearly everyone knows what I’m talking about.
The Red Sox equipment truck left Fenway Park for its annual drive down to the team’s spring training camp in Florida. The drive even comes complete with corporate sponsorship – “Spring Training Truck Day Presented by JetBlue” and plenty of vital information: "The truck will contain 20,400 baseballs, 1,100 bats, 60 cases of sunflower seeds …”
While several players are already at the Red Sox complex in Fort Myers, spring training officially begins next Saturday when pitchers and catchers have to report to town. The first official workout is Feb. 17 and soon the rest of the team will show up.
Think there will be enough sunflower seeds?
LOOK WHO’S ON FIRST: One experiment that went well last spring was Daniel Nava adding first base to his defensive resume. He adjusted so well, Nava was considered the top backup behind Mike Napoli.
This year, Ryan Lavarnway appears willing to give first base a try.
“We’re going to throw it against the wall and see if it sticks,” Lavarnway told radio station WEEI in Boston.
Lavarnway, 26, is stuck in the middle of a crowded group of catchers. Ahead of him are veterans A.J. Pierzynski and David Ross. Behind him are prospects Christian Vazquez and Blake Swihart. Vazquez is slated for Triple-A, as is Dan Butler, while Swihart will be in Double-A.
Lavarnway is still a good catcher – and certainly insurance if Pierzynski or Ross go down – but his forte has been his offense, like when he hit a combined .290 with 32 home runs for Portland and Pawtucket in 2011.
His numbers have slipped, although he did hit .299 in 25 major league games last year with one home run.
Maybe if he focuses less on catching – and he worked extremely hard to become a good catcher – Lavarnway can become the offensive machine the Red Sox envisioned.
NOT ALL prospects make it to the big time. That is obvious. But it is surprising when the prospects never get out of the Class A level. Infielder David Renfroe, a Red Sox third-round draft pick in 2009 and the recipient of a $1.4 million bonus, recently announced his retirement. Renfroe, 23, batted .222 for Class A Salem last year.
THE TEXAS Rangers may have discovered something with a couple of former Sea Dogs/Red Sox.
Texas signed reliever Daniel Bard and outfielder Che-Hsuan Lin with the idea of converting him into a pitcher.
Bard, 28, is hoping his out-of-control days are behind him after undergoing Thoracic outlet syndrome surgery. The procedure removes part of a rib on his throwing arm side to take pressure off a nerve.
Josh Beckett had the same surgery last year and reportedly told Bard about it.
Bard needed something. Control problems led to his release by both the Red Sox and Cubs.
Lin, 25, was signed by the Red Sox in 2007 as a free agent out of Taiwan. Known as a superb outfielder with a strong arm, Lin reached Portland in 2010, batting .275 – his best average as a pro. He made it to Boston for nine games in 2012, batting .250 (3 for 12)
Lin played Triple-A for the Astros last year before signing a minor league deal with the Rangers.
FORMER SEA Dogs infielder Tony Thomas signed a minor league deal with the Twins. Thomas, 27, had bounced between Portland and Pawtucket the past three years.
Boston had acquired Thomas from the Cubs in 2011 for reliever Robert Coello, who had gone from Portland to Boston the year before.
Coello, 29, has signed a minor league deal with the Yankees.
Kevin Thomas can be reached at 791-6411 or at: