Redsox.com reported that 15 players turned out for the workout, which was held less than 24 hours after the Sox landed in Los Angeles following a 9 ½-hour trip from Japan. "You hear all the horror stories, but I don't want to talk about feeling tired," Terry Francona told redsox.com. "We feel OK."
The workout was held in advance of the Sox' three-game exhibition series against the Dodgers that begins Friday. The Friday and Sunday games will be played at Dodger Stadium while the Saturday game will be played at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum, where a crowd of 115,000—which would be the largest crowd to ever see a professional baseball game—is anticipated.
The main topic of conversation Thursday, though, was the Japan trip, which saw the Sox win a pair of exhibition games against the Hanshin Tigers and Yomiuri Giants before they split a season-opening two-game series against the Athletics.
The Sox were treated like icons in Japan, and Francona said he was pleased with how his club conducted itself under the white-hot spotlight. "I thought our players handled what they were asked to handle," Francona said. "There were 29 [public] appearances and all our guys did what they were asked to do. They did it respectfully."
Beckett keeps getting better: It appears as if Josh Beckett could pitch for the Sox during the first weekend of the regular season. Beckett, who is on the 15-day disabled list due to back spasms he suffered while warming up for a Grapefruit League start March 8, started a minor league game for the Double-A Portland Sea Dogs Thursday and allowed just one hit and no walks while striking out six over four innings against the New Britain Rock Cats, the Eastern League affiliate of the Twins. He threw 47 pitches.
"Josh did well today," Sox minor league pitching coordinator Ralph Treuel told redsox.com. "He felt really good about himself…just another part of the process for him getting ready for his next outing."
That will likely occur during an intrasquad game Tuesday. If he comes out of that with no complications, he could start the finale of a three-game series against the Blue Jays Apr. 6. "The best-case scenario is he can pitch the last day in Toronto," Francona told reporters in Los Angeles. "For me, it's good, because he's healthy. He's not limping around. Everything is going great, which is why there's not a lot of anxiety from that standpoint."
Trio of minor leaguers released: The Sox made three more cuts from minor league camp Tuesday, when they released pitcher Ben Howard, catcher Dan Milano and infielder Pedro Vasquez.
Howard, who played in the majors with the Padres and Marlins from 2002 through 2004, was signed as a minor league free agent over the winter. Milano was selected by the Sox out of Northeastern University in the 20th round of last year's draft and hit .273 with one homer and six RBI in 33 at-bats with short-season Single-A Lowell. He is the first member of the class of 2007 to be released by the Sox. Vasquez, who was signed as an undrafted free agent out of the Dominican Republic in 2005, hit .224 with six homers, 32 RBI and 15 stolen bases between Lowell and Single-A Greenville last year.
Diehard managing editor Jerry Beach can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. To receive a free issue of Diehard, call 888-501-5752.
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