With less than 48 hours until the Atlas Van Lines 18-wheeler rolls away from Fenway Park on route to warmer weather, the east coast is getting pounded with another winter storm. It’s a good thing for Sox players that Spring Training is held in one of the few remaining places left without snow, Fort Myers, FL and a few players are taking advantage of that weather a few days earlier than required.
More than a week before pitchers and catchers are required to put on sunscreen and run drills, 4 veterans, have already arrived and started working out. Ian Browne of MLB.com reported that Kevin Youkilis, Jon Lester, Jonathan Papelbon and Manny Delcarmen have all arrived in FL and are beginning to work out and get ready for another grueling season. The most notable of them, in my mind, is Manny Delcarmen.
Of the 4 veteran players who arrived early, Manny Delcarmen is the only one who will need to prove his worth and fight for a spot in the bullpen. Although Delcarmen will almost certainly be on the opening day roster, his struggles last season have him entering 2010 with the need to prove he has put 2009 behind him. By arriving early, Delcarmen is showing his commitment to improvement and his dedication to securing a spot in the late inning rotation.
In 2009, Delcarmen had a mediocre 4.53 era with a 5-2 record in 64 games, which by many accounts is not terrible, but his inconsistency forced Francona to use him as an inning eater, and not as a 7th inning set-up guy late in the season. The Sox had and still have high expectations for the young native Bostonian, because he has shown his ability by finishing with a 2.05 era in 44 games in 2007 and a 3.27 era in 74 games in 2008.
With Delcarmen’s determination and his early start, this could be the beginning of an excellent season for the reliever. At very least, it proves to the Sox that Delcarmen is willing to put in the extra effort to reach his potential and earn the confidence of Francona and Farrell. Delcarmen has the potential to play a huge role in the ‘pen in 2010 and could provide some stability in the setup role.
Spring Training represents a fresh start for all players, rookies and veterans alike. The 2010 version of the Red Sox will be unlike any other club before it and that excites the hell out of me. At this moment, the Red Sox could be the best team in baseball, but every member of the club needs to commit the time and effort in Spring Training. It’s a tall task to win the best division in baseball, but the Sox are hungry after last year’s ALDS loss and are ready to hoist another trophy in November.