Big League Stew contributor David Brown continued his spring swing through Florida's Grapefruit League on Sunday with a trip to Fort Myers to see Josh Beckett(notes) and the two-time recent World Series champion Boston Red Sox. Check back throughout the day here for reports from Fenway South. Also follow Dave's Twitter feed for updates on what's happening on Monday.
Good morning, Stewies from Quahog and elsewhere!
First of all, I'd like to say this post is sponsored by Funai (TV and Blu-ray).
Secondly, how about the look on Josh Beckett's face? It's not often he'll slip and put such a pleased expression on his kisser for the press. Beckett is ... let's say he's more interested in pitching than he is talking to us — and, really, I would be too.
Despite the look of happiness, Beckett isn't about to get all verbose and super effusive on certain topics. Like with Joe Mauer, he's in the process of negotiating a contract extension with the Red Sox. Also like Mauer, he's not going to be entertaining questions about it.
"That stuff is going to work itself out," Beckett said. "I'm really not too concerned with it. I don't really have anything to say about contract stuff today or probably any time during Spring Training. I definitely don't want to let that be the focus of what I'm trying to do."
A reporter quickly asked another question about the contract and Beckett politely repeated his fancy "no comment." On the inside, he probably was thinking, "Are you deaf?" Kudos for being polite. Plus 1 for Mr. Beckett!
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Speaking of Lackey, he was a popular guy along the autograph line. Patient and friendly, he signed for about half an hour, cracking jokes and making self-deprecating comments the whole way. That, plus his attitude and abilities on the mound, will quickly endear him to Red Sawx fans.
One note: notice in the middle of the photo, someone is holding lamp shade for him to sign. I was also getting video of this, hoping that Lackey would actually sign a lampshade. I think it was for one of those lamps that looks like a bat. It would have been like — kind of — when Carlos Pena(notes) of the Rays signed the taco. But Lackey didn't sign the shade, disappointing the lamp shade lady, her absent husband for whom it was intended, and me.
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Hey, it's Victor Martinez(notes) making a funny contorted face! V-Mart is spending his first spring training with Boston. Terry Francona didn't even try to hide how excited he was to get him for a full season, but he's also worried about abusing a switch-hitting, middle-of-the-order-quality catcher. When to DH him? When to put him at first base? When to give him a day off entirely? This is why Tito gets paid the big bucks.
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If you know anything about how the Red Sox conduct spring training — and, guess what, I didn't — you'll know they open camp at a player development facility away from the downtown stadium in Ft. Myers. There's almost no parking at this facility for fans — and there are a LOT of fans here — so the thing to do is take a nice, air-conditioned bus from the stadium downtown to the complex about 3 miles away.
The buses teem with vacationing New Englanders, along with snow birds and expatriates, while a DVD of the 2004 season plays on TVs. A DVD you can buy, a sign says, for $5 at the gift shop. Five bucks? Somebody was overproduced.
Anyway, it struck me that while riding this bus, with the Boston accents chirping away and the video playing on a loop of Manny Ramirez(notes) and David Ortiz(notes) acting all goofy, I was in what would be a Yankee fan's hell.
A guide mentioned that they're building something called "Little Fenway," which apparently will have a new stadium, practice facility and parking lots for the thousands here to see the Red Sox up close and personal.
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Finally, here's a shot of Jon Lester(notes) and Peter Gammons gabbing it up on Red Sox cable TV. Gammons, who cut his teeth in Boston media before blowing up (figuratively) seemed almost as popular as some players.