The Boston Red Sox, a season removed from a world championship, are set to open the 2015 regular reason today in Philadelphia against the Phillies, the first time in team history that Boston will open against a National League opponent. The Red Sox, who followed the 2013 championship season with a last place finish in the American League East, the second such finish in three seasons, will be managed for a third year by John Farrell. Boston will play an additional road series in New York against the Yankees before opening Fenway Park next Monday versus the Washington Nationals.
Some of the new faces are already familiar to fans of the Boston nine. Outfielder Hanley Ramirez, who came up through the Red Sox farm system as a shortstop and appeared in two games with Boston before being part of a trade in November 2005 for Josh Beckett and Mike Lowell, returns to the fold, as does starting pitcher Justin Masterson, who appeared in 67 games for Boston in 2008 and 2009. Other new players include third baseman Pablo Sandoval, who played for seven seasons in San Francisco and won three World Series with the Giants, including last season, and pitcher Rick Porcello, who came as part of a trade with Detroit for Yoenis Cespedes.
The 2014 Red Sox baseball season was one of disappointment as Boston was unable to repeat as World Series champions and finished last in the American League East for the second time in three seasons. Even so, as this year draws to a close, we look forward as always to another season of baseball, hopefully ending as it did in 2013 with another World Series title for the local nine.
Some dates to mark down on your calendar:
12 February: Truck Day
20 February: Pitchers and catchers report to Fort Myers
25 February: All players report to Fort Myers
05 March: First official spring training game (versus Minnesota)
06 March: First spring training game at JetBlue Park (versus Miami)
06 April: Opening Day versus Philadelphia at Citizens Bank Park
10 April: First game versus New York at Yankee Stadium
13 April: Opening Day at Fenway Park (versus Washington)
01 May: First game versus New York at Fenway Park
Should David Ortiz appear tonight for the Red Sox against the Yankees at Fenway Park as the designated hitter, and by all accounts he will, he will set a new Major League Baseball record for most appearances as a DH with 1644 games, surpassing former slugger Harold Baines. Ortiz already holds the record for most starts in league history by a DH with 1625, well ahead of Baines at 1565 starts.
Big Papi is far and away the leader in most offensive categories as a designated hitter: most plate appearances (7188), most hits (1779), most doubles (450), most home runs (385), and most RBI (1256). Counting only players with at least 2000 plate appearances as a DH, his OPS of .941 ranks second to Edgar Martinez (.959).
Everything related to how Boston has responded over the past year to the Marathon bombing may be summed up by what David Ortiz said from the heart five days later in the first Red Sox game at Fenway Park.
This jersey that we wear today: it doesn’t say Red Sox, it says Boston. … This is our f**king city, and no one is going to dictate our freedom. Stay strong!
Does anyone recall what happened at last year’s Opening Day ceremonies at Fenway Park? Neither do I…
The only thing that might be memorable from that day were two things: one, the Red Sox won 3-1 over the Orioles, extending their home opener win streak to nine, and two, it proved to be the last game in the consecutive sellout streak. The next night, the streak ended at 820 games, which included postseason games at Fenway Park.
Today, that does not matter. After taking two-of-three in Baltimore, Boston returns to its home field for a celebration that should match or perhaps surpass the celebrations held at the home openers in 2005 and 2008. After the defending World Series champions were showcased at the White House earlier this week, now comes what should be the final mention of last year’s success: a pregame ceremony complete with all the trimmings (gold, to be specific) and the presentation of rings to players and team personnel.