The first televised Red Sox game has come and gone, and I'd like to give my opinion on the early play of some of the Sox.
Arroyo certainly was not on his game Saturday, but it wasn't expected that he would dominate the Pirates. His stat line doesn't tell the whole story, however. His breaking ball looked sharp, and his changeup seemed to be hitting the spots, even though it was getting hit. He was wild at times, but for the most part I was happy with his performance.
Alvarez came in and hit a batter then walked a batter, but his outing was the best by any Sox pitcher yesterday. In 2.1 innings, he gave up one hit, walked one, and struck out two in relief of Arroyo. His curveball looked real good, and despite the walk, he was hitting the corners.
I really want Alvarez to breakout this spring training and maybe win a spot in the Red Sox `pen. It will be tough for him, but I think he can get the job done.
Hansen wasn't spot on like he usually is, but he was able to work out of an inning where he gave up a hit and two walks. His fastball wasn't hitting his normal high-90s range, but that could be attributed to either A) it being spring training, or B) the radar gun. Maybe even both.
Jerry Remy noted that Hansen was added a two-seam fastball to his repertoire. That's pretty scary, because his normal four-seamer has so much movement as it is. His two-seamer could look like a sinker if he's able to perfect it.
Nunez had a nice inning in relief, compiling two strikeouts and giving up just one hit. His fastball had great speed on it - 95 m.p.h. - and looked like he was in good, ready-to-pitch shape. His spring will be interesting to watch. If a guy like Rudy Seanez fails during spring, Nunez may find himself with a major league job.
After looking at Nunez's career stats, he's a very interesting pitcher. He's 29 years old and he's only pitched 15 innings in the big leagues, all with the Tampa Bay Devil Rays. He was signed as an undrafted free agent by the Dodgers at the age of 18. He pitched just 22 innings (22 really poor innings) in the Dominican Summer League before not pitching for three more years. In eight minor league seasons, he has great numbers: 3.61 ERA, 9.10 K/9, 0.39 HR/9. This season will be very interesting for Nunez.
Harris will be an interesting player to watch this spring. He can play the infield and outfield, and he can swing the stick a little bit with plus speed on defense and on the base paths. I'm not sure there is a place on the bench for him, however. He went 1-for-3 yesterday starting in center field.
Loretta looked really good yesterday. He went 2-for-2 and played a solid second base. He looked like he was ready for the season. He was making solid contact on the ball and didn't look overmatched like some hitters do during spring training. I'm going to love watching Loretta play this season. He may become my new favorite player after the departure of the one and only Bill Mueller.
Nixon had a hit and an RBI in yesterday's game in two at-bats. His RBI was a hard-hit ball to right field. He looked healthy and in good shape. Let's all hope he stays that way and can put up a great season.
Lowell had a few balls hit hard his way early in the game, and handled most of them with ease. There was one where it hopped awkwardly and he had to go to the back hand and was unable to grab it, but even if he did snag it, he would have needed a really strong and accurate throw to get the runner.
Minges, who DH'd yesterday, went 1-for-4, struck out twice, but knocked in two runners. Minges is another player to watch this spring. He won't make the big league team, but his time in Pawtucket - where he should start the season - could be big. He hit 19 home runs in the Texas League (AA) last year in 429 at-bats. He hit .324 with a 956 OPS. Overall, a good season. His 2006 test will decide his future: is he a minor leaguer for life, or can he break out and find a starting job?