I am not a fan of spring training. While it's always nice to have baseball back come the first few games, before long it turns into a torturous wait for April that drags on and on and on.
That being said, this year's offering has a few trump cards that might make it a bit more tolerable than usual. Four, in fact. And, interestingly enough, not a one of them involves a roster spot.
The first two will, however, suit up and see some in-game action. The Red Sox have a long list of non-roster invitees, including the young Deven Marrero surprisingly enough. But while it's interesting to see someone who has never played above Lowell getting an opportunity to come to camp with the stars, it's not necessarily going to be all that fun. Even against the weaker competition found in spring training, there can't be much hope for Marrero to really have much success in whatever game time he sees. And seeing a guy struggle just isn't much fun.
No, what will be fun is watching Xander Bogaerts and Jackie Bradley get their chances both at the plate and in the field. Not to invite any bad mojo here, but the last time Red Sox fans were anywhere near this excited about even one prospect was Lars Anderson back in 2008. This year, however, we've got two to pay attention to. How does Xander look at short? Will his continued development bring even more power to the table? Is it true that Jackie Bradley can take a middle-middle fastball and move it outside for ball four with his mind?
Our time with Bogaerts could be short given that he'll be heading off to play in the World Baseball Classic with the Netherlands (though in some ways that accomplishes the same goal). Still, the future is getting awfully close, and now we get our first chance to see it going up against some real players, albeit in fake competitions.
What about the other two trump cards? There we've got nostalgia and old friends to thank, because for the first time in many years, Jason Varitek and Pedro Martinez are in camp.
We've yet to get that coveted picture of Pedro and Tek in uniform with one another (despite Tim Britton's best efforts), but hopefully it will not be long in coming. Bonus points for getting David Ortiz in there. Photographic evidence or not, though, having two of the all-time Red Sox greats (and, in Pedro's case, simply the best of all time) back with the team is pretty fantastic. We obviously hope that Pedro can do some good when it comes to the actual performance of the pitchers on the mound and maybe Tek can teach Ryan Lavarnway how not to look ridiculous behind the plate.
But really I just want to hear anecdotes about Pedro and Tek hanging out with the veterans and telling stories to the rookies. Because it's really the trivia that breaks up the doldrums of spring training.