Red Sox Notebook: Home Opener's Finally Here

Some news and notes surrounding the Red Sox as they prepare to open the 96th season at Fenway Park Tuesday against the Tigers:

—The Sox are 62-45 in home openers, including 53-42 at Fenway Park and 9-3 at the Huntington Avenue Grounds. The Sox have won three straight home openers since falling to the Blue Jays in 2004. Josh Beckett has been the winning pitcher in each of the last two home openers (Mariners in 2007, Blue Jays in 2006).

—The Tigers will be the Sox' opposition in the home opener for the seventh time. The Sox beat the Tigers in the Fenway opener in 1980, 1990 and 1994 and fell in 1957, 1984 and 1988.

—This home opener is the Sox' earliest by date since 2002, when they faced the Blue Jays on April 1.

—The Sox and Tigers last played July 7-9, when the Tigers swept a three-game series in Detroit in the final games before the All-Star Break. The Sox were 3-4 last year against the Tigers.

Daisuke Matsuzaka is scheduled to start for the Sox Tuesday. He will be the sixth pitcher to start the Fenway opener with just one big league season under his belt. The others: Jim Bagby Jr. (1939), Earl Johnson (1941), Dick Newsome (1942), Don Schwall (1962) and Brian Rose (1998). Matsuzaka is no stranger to opening days: He started the first game of the major league season March 25, when he opposed the Athletics in Tokyo, and he also started against the Athletics April 1 in the Sox' first game in North America.

—Sox players and field personnel will be honored before the game with the presentation of the 2007 World Series rings. The 2007 World Championship flag will also be raised in centerfield. The Boston Pops will perform the National Anthem. Pre-game festivities are scheduled to begin around 1:15 p.m.

—The World Series rings will arrive by police escort at 6:15 a.m. The rings will be handed to Sox executives on the field at Fenway. Boston mayor Thomas Menino will participate in the event.

—The Sox were swept by the Blue Jays in Toronto over the weekend. The three-game losing streak is their longest since Sept. 16-19, 2007, when they felt to the Yankees in the finale of a three-game series at Fenway Park and were swept by the Jays in Toronto.

Mike Timlin began his rehab assignment at Triple-A Pawtucket Monday. He started for the PawSox against Lehigh Valley and gave up two hits and struck out one in a scoreless inning. He threw 18 pitches, including 12 strikes. He is eligible to come off the 15-day disabled list but is expected to make one more rehab appearance at Pawtucket. Timlin was placed on the DL March 28 (retroactive to March 20) due to a two-stitch cut on his right ring finger.

—Bartolo Colon, who allowed only one hit over five innings in his Pawtucket debut Thursday, was placed on the 7-day disabled list by the PawSox Monday (retroactive to April 4) due to a right oblique strain.


Diehard managing editor Jerry Beach can be reached at diehardmag@yahoo.com. To receive a free issue of Diehard, call 888-501-5752.

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