If you’re a NESN subscriber you’ll be able to enjoy 15 Red Sox Spring Training bouts starting with a weekend set against the Twins and the Rays on Saturday and Sunday, February 25-26, both at 1:00 PM Eastern Time. The full schedule has the 13 remaining games throughout March.
Boston will end the Spring slate with three games against the Washington Nationals, beginning March 30 with successive games at Fort Myers, Nationals Park, and then the US Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland. Tickets for that final game, part of the Nationals commitment to one exhibition game at the Academy per year through 2019, will be limited to midshipmen and select members of the US Navy.
It has been 30 years since a major league club played a game at the US Naval Academy. Exhibition games there trace back to 1971, when the Navy played in occasional games against the Red Sox, Astros, Orioles, Tigers, Royals, and Yankees. Eleven games into the 1972 major league campaign, the Sox thumped Navy 14-2 in a May 1 game that featured the club’s first home run of the season by Sox third baseman John Kennedy.
Here are some other news and notes for Red Sox fans:
- Pablo Sandoval showed up at Red jetBlue Park eight days early and in high spirits, reports the Boston Herald. It wasn’t too far a trip as Sandoval moved to Fort Myers, Florida over the winter. Still, photographs show a trimmer, fitter Panda, who you will recall missed all of 2016 recovering from shoulder surgery. Jackie Bradley says Sandoval has something to prove, “I’m glad to see his smile and his energy back. You can tell he has a chip on his shoulder. I love that.”
- When it comes to Sandoval, WEEI’s John Tomase writes, a thinner Pablo isn’t necessarily a better Pablo. A better predictor of future performance may instead be the company Panda’s keeping, and starting with Miguel Cabrera, it’s pretty good company, indeed. Sox hitting coach Victor Rodriguez has spent a lot of time with Sandoval this winter. “He’s in good shape, strong. Real strong,” Rodriguez says, “He’s got a good attitude. He’s here to show people what he can do.”
- Is Sox backstop Sandy León the Rodney Dangerfield of baseball? Despite finishing among the MLB elite at his position last year, León still has his fair share of doubters that he can repeat in 2017, Sean Penney writes.
- One-time Red Sox reliever Javier López announced his retirement this week. López, who spent four seasons with the Red Sox, was part of the 2007 World Championship team appearing in 61 games that season for a 3.10 ERA over 40.2 innings of work. But it was after he left Boston that he really came into his own, spending his final seven seasons with the Giants, earning three more World Series rings and putting together an impressive 2.47 ERA in 446 total appearances (251.0 IP). Last season, San Francisco honored López with the Willie Mac award, given to the club’s most inspirational player.
- The Red Sox signed Connecticut native Mike Olt, 28, to a minor league deal. Olt, who last played in MLB in 2015 with the White Sox and has been beset with injuries, says he’s “100% healthy” and called the signing “an opportunity of a lifetime.”
- The Sox are also taking a chance on two-time All-Star Carlos Quentin, signing him to a minor league deal this week that notably does not include an invitation to big league Spring Training. Quentin hasn’t played at the MLB level since 2014. Citing Bryce Brentz and Rusney Castillo, WEEI’s Rob Bradford explains the signing as a way to shore up for Pawtucket’s lack of outfield depth.