Today is probably my fifth favorite day of the baseball year, the first day of spring training games.
The other four in order are:
- Opening Day
- First Day of Playoffs
- All-Star Game
- Pitchers and Catchers Report
- First Spring Training Game
The Red Sox kick off their 2007 Spring Campaign at 7:05pm (NESN) against the Minnesota Twins. Curt Schilling's slated to get the start against Matt Garza. You obviously can't put too much weight on any of these spring games (no pun intended) however you most certainly can use them as a gauge.
Pitchers go into these games with a certain game plan, and hitters are a little rusty and just trying to make contact and get back into the groove. Obviously the big story tonight is Curt Schilling. Curt has been in the headlines ever since he announced on WEEI that he was not going to retire after this season. Shortly thereafter the Red Sox announced that they would not be picking up his option, and the great spin cycle began after that, but to be honest, this is the first day of the 2007 Spring schedule, I could care less about 2008 right now.
I complained about how Curt went about his contract situation a few days ago, however I do still like the guy a lot. He's never short on opinions, which can wear thin (unlike his waistline), however he's never short on effort, and I honestly don't think you can ask too much more from a ballplayer. And I absolutely love his confidence going into this season (something else he's never been short on). When asked if he could win 20 games this year he simply answered, "Absolutely, why can't I?" And I kinda have to agree with the big guy (now the pun is intended). He has one of the best offensive bats behind him and a solid defense. The bullpen, well, that's a little more we'll wait and see. However the effectiveness of a bullpen certainly translates to the more potential wins a starting pitcher can receive.
Further on in Jackie MacMullen's piece today Curt revealed that he has a new pitch this year, the changeup. I do remember a few of the times he threw it last year, however if he's confident enough to consistently throw the pitch more this season that's great news for Red Sox fans.
When Pedro Martinez was at his most dominant it was when he had his changeup working well, and it's also the pitch (aside from like 5 others including the mythical lochness monster like gyroball) that most baseball experts say makes Dice-K so effective as a pitcher. So we'll see.
Again I'm not putting too much weight in Schilling's start (I really can't help myself now) but I do look forward to cracking a cold one and watching the Red Sox play a live game on NESN. Remy, it'll be good to have you back :-)