They'll be back in Boston pretty soon. Mandatory Credit: Steve Mitchell-US PRESSWIRE
April's here, everyone. Pretty soon the games in the win-loss column will count. Sometime today, Bobby Valentine will officially announce the winners of the fourth and fifth rotation slots (Doubront and Bard, most likely). The Sox will then play the final Mayor's Cup game against the Twins, finalize the rest of their roster, and get set for the regular season. So as we bid farewell to spring training, what have we taken away?
Obviously there's been drama, most of it circling around the assorted position battles. A strong start by Jose Iglesias led to some debate as to his readiness to play in the bigs. Felix Doubront came to Fort Myers seemingly determined to come away with a rotation slot, and he may well have done it. There's been frustration, too, with Carl Crawford's injury issues most notable. There's also just been the traditional fun of spring training. We've gotten to watch guys like Pedro Ciriaco turn into clutch sluggers for a month, which is fantastic to see even when we know well it won't translate to anything in the regular season.
My favorite moment of spring training came at the end of the March 22 matchup against the Yankees. Down 4-3 in the bottom of the ninth, Bobby Valentine ordered a suicide squeeze. In a spring training game. Now, of course, practicing plays like that isn't uncommon in the spring, but given the situation and the opponent, it was hard not to see the move as a nifty little shot across the Yankees' bow. The Sox, of course, tied the game one batter later, knotting things up at 4 apiece and sending the game to extras.
Or, it would have, had Joe Girardi not picked up his ball and gone home. The New York manager claimed his team was out of pitchers, and the game was called a tie. Spring training, where Yankee-trolling and ties happen.
It wasn't a moment with any big roster-building implications. It certainly didn't make any difference in the meaningless Grapefruit League standings. But that bunt, and the controversy that boiled up right after it, was a fun reminder that actual bloodsport with the Yanks is on the way. And the Rays, Rangers, Angels, Tigers... man, I can't wait for there to be real baseball.
Anyway, consider this your end of spring training thread. Any fun moments that stood out, any roster surprises, any guys with jersey numbers in the 80s you're going to miss. Chat away.