Newcomers soak up Opening Night
Cameron, Scutaro see passion of Red Sox faithful firsthand
BOSTON -- The new guys tried to envision the excitement since signing with the Red Sox during the winter months. But they didn't truly feel it until Sunday, when they arrived for their first official day of work at Fenway Park with the season opening against the New York Yankees.
"It was actually kind of a normal day until I saw this," said center fielder Mike Cameron, speaking of the mob of reporters that surrounded his locker. "That makes my heart rate go up a little bit. It's cool. To be on this side and see what it's all about and experience it, it's going to be another great experience and another great chapter in my career."
For shortstop Marco Scutaro, the only challenge leading up to the game was just getting into the park. Like double-play partner Dustin Pedroia, his diminutive stature can fool people.
"Yeah, I had a hard time getting in," said Scutaro. "The [security] guy was like, 'Who are you?' The other security guy said, 'Man, what's wrong with you?'"
Opening Day always creates extra adrenaline, and that only intensifies when it's the first day with a new team amid a rivalry as storied as any in sports.
"I think I got about 25 texts this morning, with people saying they're going to be watching me play," said Cameron. "I said, 'What about the whole team?' I appreciate the fact that it's going to be special. Most importantly, what we're all here for is to try to get a victory."
One thing the new acquisitions will learn soon is that almost every day at Fenway feels like the adrenaline of Opening Day.
"There's no easing into it," manager Terry Francona said. "You know what, though? They're all veteran guys. I know our atmosphere is a little bit different than a lot of places, but I know on those day games after night games, they'll come to understand in a hurry how you're expected to show up every day. Our ballpark is full every night. There's going to be the same number of people here two Sundays from now that there is tonight. That's always the way it is. That's one of the cool things. I'm sure for the new guys, it's going to be different."
Red Sox place Dice-K on disabled list
BOSTON -- Though Daisuke Matsuzaka is eligible to be activated from the 15-day disabled list on April 19, it will likely be a little longer than that before he pitches.
Matsuzaka will officially start his Minor League rehab assignment for Triple-A Pawtucket on Saturday. His second Minor League start on April 15 likely won't be his last.
"No, I think he's going to need a little bit more," said Red Sox manager Terry Francona. "I think he needs to pitch a little bit. I don't think you just need to look at the radar gun, but you need to look at command with a fastball and his offspeed pitches. I think the more he pitches, the better off he'll be."
Matsuzaka pitched four innings out of the bullpen for Boston in Saturday's exhibition game at Washington. He gave up two hits and a run, walking three and striking out one.
Dice-K would have pitched next on Thursday, but due to a technicality, a player who is on the DL can't pitch until a week after he appeared in a game in which admission is charged.
Matsuzaka pitched in two Grapefruit League games this spring and also pitched twice in Minor League games.
When he returns, the Red Sox will have to figure out how to finagle him into a rotation that already includes Josh Beckett, Jon Lester, John Lackey, Tim Wakefield and Clay Buchholz.
Francona arrives early to work
BOSTON -- Red Sox manager Terry Francona, a creature of habit, likes to get to the ballpark in the morning, even for night games. But it didn't take him long to realize that 11 a.m. ET was overly ambitious for Sunday night's 8:09 p.m. season-opening matchup against the Yankees.
"I got here way too early today," said Francona, who officially started his seventh season as Boston's manager. "There's only so much you can do. Yeah, the feeling is always the same. There's a lot of excitement, a lot of anxiety, and then when you start at 8:09, that anxiety builds up. I'll be excited for all the first-pitch stuff and all the pageantry and everything. I'll be more excited or happier when we get into the grind of playing baseball."
He had visions of getting in a workout, but Francona was perhaps a little too excited to focus on that.
"Yeah, it was a mistake," Francona said. "I was going to exercise. [Instead], I just ate twice."
But he didn't spend the whole day in his office. With the sun shining on a day that felt more like midsummer than early spring, Francona soaked it in for just a bit.
"I walked outside today, because I didn't have anything else to do," Francona said. "The field looked great, the stadium looked great. It's a nice feeling. We probably caught a huge break. I think everyone was ready for 8 o'clock tonight to be bundled up, but it will be a nice night."
Indeed, it was 67 degrees at first pitch.
Using bench will be balancing act early on
BOSTON -- For the first time since 1999, when Scott Hatteberg caught Pedro Martinez in Kansas City, somebody besides Jason Varitek was behind the plate in a Red Sox opener. The start, as expected, went to Victor Martinez, who will get the bulk of playing time behind the plate this season.
When will Varitek get his first start? Typically, Red Sox manager Terry Francona can plot that stuff out a few days ahead of time. But it is more tricky this season, considering Boston has three off-days before its eighth game. Instead of Varitek catching a certain pitcher, he's more likely to be utilized for a day game after a night game, or when there are several games in a row.
"If you're asking me when [Varitek] is going to catch, I don't know," Francona said. "It will be more conventional. Saying that, we have a lot of days off this week. You don't know if somebody takes a foul tip or something. We'll try to stay ahead of it.
"One of the things we talked to our guys about yesterday was trying to be patient early in the season, because up to this point, everyone has had their at-bats and has been on a schedule. Then the season starts, so you're balancing trying to keep the regulars sharp and also not letting the guys that aren't playing sit too long. It's certainly a challenge."
All four players on the Boston bench this season -- Varitek, Mike Lowell, Jeremy Hermida and Bill Hall -- have been everyday players in the past.
Westmoreland attends home opener
BOSTON -- Top Red Sox prospect Ryan Westmoreland, who underwent surgery last month to repair a cavernous malformation in his brain, attended Sunday night's contest.
In fact, Westmoreland, who was accompanied by his parents, was in manager Terry Francona's office before the game and was visited by some of the Red Sox players, including second baseman Dustin Pedroia.
Westmoreland, who is 19, hails from Portsmouth, R.I.
At the request of the Westmoreland family, the Red Sox haven't been giving many updates on the outfielder's recovery. The most recent update issued by the club was on March 18, when it was revealed that Westmoreland was released from the intensive care unit of St. Joseph's Hospital and Medical Center in Arizona.
At that time, Dr. Robert Spetzle, who performed the surgery, said that "Ryan is right on track and we expect progressive improvement."
Ian Browne is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.