The pitchers and catchers have reported.

As you allow that marvelous fact to sink in, let’s observe some issues for Boston’s major league spring training camp.

And, for fun, we’ll include some trivia questions.

The Boof: Easily the best name in camp belongs to pitcher Boof Bonser. Obtained in a trade with Minnesota, Bonser will be stretched out as a starter, the Red Sox say. But he seems destined for the bullpen as a long reliever.

Bonser, injured in 2009, last pitched in the majors in 2008 and had a 5.93 ERA as both a starter and reliever. Boston believes he will do better.

Bonser, 28, a first-round draft pick of the Giants in 2000, was traded to the Twins before the 2004 season, along with Joe Nathan and Francisco Liriano, for A.J. Pierzynski.

He pitched in the Eastern League for two seasons, in 2003 with Norwich, and 2004 with New Britain. And, yes, Boof is his legal name, but not his original one. He used to be John Bonser. But he was always called Boof.

”It’s just a name growing up that my mom gave me. It stuck and I decided to change it,” Bonser explained six years ago after a game at Hadlock Field.

Trivia: Bonser came from Gibbs High School in St. Petersburg, Fla. What Gibbs alum played third base for the miracle New York Mets in 1969?


Bullpen opening II: Relievers Billy Wagner and Takashi Saito are gone, so the Red Sox have two vacancies in the bullpen. Besides Bonser, the Red Sox will be looking at others, including lefty Brian Shouse, 41; Scott Atchinson, 33; Joe Nelson, 35; and an option I’ll mention later.

Sea Dogs fans may remember Nelson relieving for Portland early in the 2004 season. He carried a 1.78 ERA and soon was promoted, eventually making three appearances for Boston.

Nelson, who pitched for the Rays last year (4.02) features a fastball and a good change-up. He’s a Keith Foulke-type pitcher without the abrasive personality.

Trivia: Nelson received a World Series ring for his 2004 appearance. What other Sea Dogs pitcher began the season with Portland and earned a ring?

Sixth starter: While the bullpen has openings, the starting rotation is overflowing with six pitchers. Barring injury, Boston knows four of its starters – Josh Beckett, Jon Lester, John Lackey and Daisuke Matsuzaka.

That leaves Tim Wakefield and Clay Buchholz. Wakefield turns 44 in August, the same month Buchholz turns 26.

The likeliest scenario is that Wakefield begins the year on the disabled list because he is returning from back surgery.

But what if Wakefield is healthy and ready to go? Boston HAS to do something.

That is when pitching coach John Farrell puts his arm around Buchholz and points to the bullpen. Yes, Buchholz could be this year’s Justin Masterson – available as a starter but used as a reliever.

Trivia: Name the former minor league starter who began his career as a reliever when he arrived in Portland.


Mike Lowell: He appears to be the odd man out. Boston has starters at the positions he could play – third, first or DH.

But why not keep Lowell around, especially as a DH? If Boston trades Lowell, it will not get much for him, and likely will pay most of his salary.

Are the Red Sox so convinced that David Ortiz will turn things around? Remember Ortiz hit .238 with 28 home runs and 99 RBI, after improving in the second half of the season.

Lowell hit .290 with 17 home runs and 75 RBI in 96 fewer at-bats last year. Ortiz hit 22 of his home runs against right-handed pitching. Lowell batted .301 against lefties. Hmmm.

Boston is not likely to platoon Ortiz – at the beginning. But if the big lefty gets off to another slow start, why not have a veteran bat for insurance?

Trivia: Ortiz took over as DH in 2003. Who was the DH for much of 2002?


Utility: Veteran Bill Hall, obtained from Seattle for Casey Kotchman, appears set for the backup role. He played third base and the outfield last year. He’s also played second base, and was the Brewers starting shortstop in 2006.

Hall’s problem is his batting. After hitting .291 in 2005, his averages have been .270, .254, 225, and .201 last year. If that trend continues, he’ll hit around .179 this year.

Hall will not be another Nick Green, who became a starter last season because of injuries. If there is an injury, Jed Lowrie would be summoned from Pawtucket, assuming that’s where he is.

Trivia: Speaking of Green, with which team did he sign this year?


Jeremy Hermida: He is considered the fourth outfielder. But Hermida, 26, could play a bigger role if Mike Cameron, 37, is not hitting.

Cameron, a defensive whiz, is a .250 hitter who has averaged 23 home runs in the past four seasons. If he does not produce similar numbers, can Boston afford to keep him in the field?

Hermida is a player with potential, although his career .265 average and 57 home runs over four-plus seasons don’t show it.

If Hermida produces, a platoon scenario may be in order. Cameron hit .271 against lefties last year. Hermida, a left-handed bat, hit .274 against right-handers.

Trivia: Hermida was the Marlins’ first-round draft pick in 2002. Can you name the former Sea Dogs who were Marlins’ first-rounders in 2000 and 1999?


Trivia answers: Ed Charles. Abe Alvarez. Manny Delcarmen. Carlos Baerga. Dodgers. Adrian Gonzalez and Josh Beckett.


Staff Writer Kevin Thomas can be contacted at 791-6411 or at:

[email protected]


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