Red Sox Notebook: Barry Bonds, Manny Delcarmen, Alfredo Aceves & More
By Brian Phair
This is a busy and exciting time for the MLB, with pitchers and catchers reporting to camps in Arizona and Florida within the next several days. The Boston Red Sox are no exception and have already seen a large influx of players reporting to Spring in advance of the official dates. The sight of players warming-up and playing catch in Fort Myers could melt away even the coldest of Boston winter days and warm the hearts of fans across the country. Besides Red Sox nation, there was an interesting MLB-related story yesterday about everyone’s friend, Barry Bonds. With so much action this week, let’s get right to the Red Sox Notebook for the 2nd week in February.
Spring Training Early Arrivals:
Maybe the most anticipated Spring Training arrival in recent memory, Adrian Gonzalez, arrived earlier this week. He was rehabbing from the shoulder surgery he had in October in San Diego with Padres trainers, but when they needed to pack-up and head to their Spring Training facility, Gonzo decided to take the cross-country trek to Florida early. On the injury front, both Gonzo and Theo Epstein seem to think he should be ready to go on Opening Day in Texas, which is great news for the Red Sox.
Another 2 players worth mentioning in more depth are Jarrod Saltalamacchia and Josh Beckett. Salty has been in camp all week working with bullpen/catching coach Gary Tuck. He knows the importance of hard work and the pressure he will feel as the Sox starting catcher in 2011. He seems focused and ready to prove his doubters wrong, which is a great sign. Beckett is noticeably healthy according to multiple sources. He suffered from back issues last season and needs a bounce-back season in 2011. If he is healthy, then I have to believe he will be poised for a strong 2011 campaign sitting in the 3rd starter spot for the Sox.
Besides Gonzo, Salty, and Beckett, some other notable players in camp already are pitchers Jon Lester, John Lackey, Daisuke Matsuzaka, Daniel Bard, and Jonathan Papelbon. Kevin Youkilis has also arrived to begin working out at 3rd base once again.
The Red Sox made a move on Tuesday and signed former New York Yankees pitcher Alfredo Aceves. The Sox know that pitching depth is key to success over the long MLB season, so by adding another starter (and potentially reliever if needed), they give themselves options. He signed a major-league deal, but does have 2 options left, so he will likely begin the season in AAA Pawtucket. In order to make room for Aceves on the 40-man roster, righty Robert Coello was designated for assignment.
Just a quick note on Boston-native and former Red Sox reliever Manny Delcarmen. He was traded by the Sox to the Colorado Rockies last season, but now finds himself in Seattle. He signed a minor-league deal with the Mariners on Thursday. There were rumors Delcarmen had the option to sign with the Tampa Bay Rays, but they didn’t pan out and he opted for the northwest.
The major MLB headline last night was that Barry Bonds had 6 of the 11 charges against him in the steroid saga dropped. According to ESPN.com, Bonds still faces the same punishment, this was just a testament to the “troubles prosecutors have encountered since indicting him for the first time in 2007 for allegedly lying to a grand jury about his steroid use…Each count carries a potential sentence of 10 years in prison. However, federal sentencing guidelines for a first offense on these charges generally call for a total sentence of 15 to 21 months.” Bonds pleaded not guilty. If you take 1 thing away from both the Bonds and Clemens steroid sagas, it’s don’t lie to prosecutors or to any official in court, because the end result isn’t pretty.
Most Red Sox fans should remember the voice of Sean McDonough, former NESN broadcaster. Chad Finn had a great write-up on the Quincy, MA native in this morning’s Boston Globe. He has been working at ESPN for the past several years and recently, ESPN announced he will be returning to baseball, joining Rick Sutcliffe and Aaron Boone in the Monday Night Baseball booth for this upcoming season. He is one of my favorite broadcasters and to this day, every time I turn on a game and hear his voice, it makes me smile. He is knowledgeable and insightful, which is more than I can say about a lot of the other national TV personalities. The article is definitely worth a read.
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Going off topic for a minute, I want to congratulate Ray Allen on breaking Reggie Miller’s mark of 3-pointers all-time in the NBA. Growing up 20 minutes from UConn and then spending my undergraduate life on campus, Allen has always been a hero of mine. He is the epitome of class and is the best pure-shooter of his generation, and one of the best all-time. He is 1st and foremost a family man, followed by a teammate and leader, with concern about personal records and accolades at the bottom of the list. After spending time in Milwaukee and Seattle, Ray has finally gotten the media attention he deserves in Boston.
In many ways, I owe my sports addiction and writing career to him. I had a life-changing moment in 1996, while watching the Big East Championship game. It was UConn vs. Georgetown, Ray Allen vs. Allen Iverson. With 13.6 seconds left on the clock, down 1, Allen hit a ridiculous-flailing jump shot to take the lead and secure the victory for the Huskies. That shot gave UConn and Jim Calhoun their 1st ever Big East Championship and was a game that elevated the program’s status to new heights. Every single time I watch highlights from that game, I get emotional remembering my dad and I huddled around our TV in my living room at home, full of anxious energy and nerves. I had never before been so intensely emotional about a sporting event, and realized how amazing sports can be, both as an escape from the real world and just as plain entertainment.
UConn’s 75 to 74 win over Georgetown and Dickie-V’s call after Allen’s jumper will forever be ingrained in my memory as the quintessential turning point in my life. Hats off to you, Ray!