First, for the TMZ angle, we've got Kevin Youkilis, who's apparently engaged to one Julie Brady. Good for him! But the story goes from barely a bullet point to a minor media frenzy when you realize that this Brady is related to the other Brady, being Tom Brady's sister. Good on Youk for keeping it within the Boston, uh, family. Now can anyone dig up a connection between Kelli Pedroia and Paul Pierce?
Alright, now that that's over with, onto things actually baseball related, like the presence of quite a few players at Boston's new spring training facility down in Florida.
The Globe's Peter Abraham is on the scene with some iPhone-quality pictures, but assures us that the blurry figures in question include the likes of Jon Lester, Andrew Miller, and recovering pitchers Daisuke Matsuzaka and Rich Hill. It's now t-minus nine days and counting until the official date for pitchers and catchers to report, but chances are there will already be plenty of guys down there already by that point.
Of course, those who are down in Florida are without their precious truck-transported equipment, as we are still one day away from the unofficial opening ceremony of the season. There has been precious little hype surrounding the event this year, perhaps due to the less-than-rosy feelings surrounding the end of the year and the offseason, but that won't keep the fanatical few from making the pilgrimage to Fenway on what is expected to be a chilly, rainy Saturday.
Speaking of spring training, the Red Sox have released their broadcast schedule for spring training games. Here it is courtesy of NESN (games without broadcasts omitted):
Saturday, March 3: Boston College, JetBlue Park, 7:05 p.m. (NESN, WEEI)
Sunday, March 4: Minnesota Twins, JetBlue Park, 1:35 p.m. (NESN, WRKO)
Monday, March 5: Minnesota Twins, Hammond Stadium, 7:05 p.m. (NESN, WEEI)
Friday, March 9: Pittsburgh Pirates, JetBlue Park, 7:05 p.m. (NESN, WRKO)
Saturday, March 10: Tampa Bay Rays, JetBlue Park, 7:05 p.m. (NESN, WEEI)
Sunday, March 11: Baltimore Orioles, Sarasota, 1:05 p.m. (NESN)
Monday, March 12: Miami Marlins, JetBlue Park, 1:35 p.m. (ESPN)
Tuesday, March 13: New York Yankees, Tampa, 7:05 p.m. (WEEI)
Friday, March 16: Minnesota Twins, JetBlue Park, 7:05 p.m. (WEEI)
Saturday, March 17: Baltimore Orioles (SS), JetBlue Park, 1:35 p.m. (WEEI)
Sunday, March 18: Tampa Bay Rays, Port Charlotte, 1:05 p.m. (NESN, WEEI)
Tuesday, March 20: Toronto Blue Jays, JetBlue Park, 7:05 p.m. (NESN, WEEI)
Thursday, March 22: New York Yankees, JetBlue Park, 7:05 p.m. (NESN, ESPN, WRKO)
Saturday, March 24: Philadelphia Phillies (SS), JetBlue Park, 1:35 p.m. (NESN, WEEI)
Sunday, March 25: Toronto Blue Jays, Dunedin, 1:05 p.m. (NESN, WEEI)
Monday, March 26: Philadelphia Phillies, Clearwater, 1:05 p.m. (ESPN)
Saturday, March 31: Tampa Bay Rays, Port Charlotte, 1:05 p.m. (WEEI)
Sunday, April 1: Minnesota Twins, JetBlue Park, 1:35 p.m. (NESN, WRKO)
So, OTM, how long before we get completely and totally tired of spring training games? I'm going to guess March 10 after the Rays game, with a little spike when we hit the Yankees for the first time.
Throwing three-quarters for now results in less stress on the arm and elbow. Hill would prefer to go back to being a sidearm reliever, which he converted to last season. He was very effective against lefthanded hitters with the funky delivery. Will he come back as a "down-under'' pitcher?
"That's something we'll be talking about,'' Hill said. "I've felt really good throwing over the top throughout the whole rehab process, but it's really going to be about what's needed for the team.
Hill, of course, surprised everyone last year by making nine dominating appearances out of the bullpen last year, with his curve seemingly unhittable. It would be a shame to lose that weapon, but while Hill says it's about what's best for the team, it's certainly not best to have any player missing whole seasons after surgery.