04/01/2013 8:45 PM ET
Newcomers show grit sought by Red Sox
By Ian Browne and Bryan Hoch / MLB.com
NEW YORK -- For all the Jackie Bradley Jr. hype that has engulfed the Red Sox in recent days, it was easy to forget that several other players had a chance to wear the Boston uniform for the first time in a regular-season game on Monday afternoon.
And there were key contributions from some of them in an 8-2 victory over the Yankees.
One of the biggest plays of the day came from Jonny Gomes in the top of the ninth. Lauded for his clubhouse demeanor, Gomes has perhaps not received enough credit for his all-out play on the field.
It was on full display when Jacoby Ellsbury hit one deep into the second-base hole and Robinson Cano bobbled the ball for an instant. Not only did Jarrod Saltalamacchia score from third, but Gomes never stopped running and hustled home from second.
The respect a play like that generates from teammates was evident by the reaction in Boston's dugout, as just about every player came over to greet Gomes.
"When you break it all down, that's an extra run for the team, and it's an extra RBI for my teammate," said Gomes. "When we have each other's backs like that, when we go the extra 90 feet for our teammates, that kind of stuff becomes contagious, and we're putting pressure on the defense. Granted, it was one run, one RBI, but a lot more goes into that."
In the top of the second, Shane Victorino, who signed a three-year, $39 million deal to come to Boston, laced a clutch two-out single to right to help keep a four-run rally alive.
"Any time you get a 'W,' that's what makes it fun," said Victorino.
Victorino went 2-for-6 on the day with three RBIs. Gomes was 2-for-4 and drew a walk. Mike Napoli, Boston's new starting first baseman, went 0-for-5.
The two key new members of the bullpen did their jobs. Koji Uehara was first out of the bullpen and mowed through the Yankees with a 1-2-3 sixth inning.
Joel Hanrahan had a non-pressurized situation in his first game as closer, blowing through the Yankees in a flawless ninth.
"Well, again, I think the players that were targeted to be brought in here, there's a track record and a history of those individuals to be quality teammates, talented players," said Red Sox manager John Farrell. "So the things we have control over will help us respond to challenges, and that's how we have one another's back in this clubhouse. That will be a key for us going forward throughout the entire year."
Not awestruck, Bradley keys Boston's win
NEW YORK -- Before his Major League debut had even started, Jackie Bradley Jr. was charged up.
Not only was this the start of his career with the Red Sox, but Bradley was at Yankee Stadium for Opening Day. As he was announced during pregame introductions, Bradley trotted out to the first-base line and then spotted his family in the stands, acknowledging them with a smile.
"It was exciting. Big crowd," said the 22-year-old Bradley. "I was enjoying every second of it. I was taking it all in. It's very memorable. I'll never forget it and I was so glad my family was able to come up here with me."
There was still a game to play, however. And the beauty of Bradley -- perhaps the reason the Red Sox were comfortable about summoning him up to the Majors less than two years after drafting him -- is that he can channel the adrenaline of the moment.
It was evident all day long, as Bradley helped lead the Red Sox to an 8-2 victory.
First, there was his first Major League at-bat in the top of the second inning. One of the best pitchers in baseball -- New York's CC Sabathia -- had him pinned in an 0-2 count.
Most young hitters would be tempted to take a monster swing to try to reverse the momentum. But Bradley knew he had to chip away at Sabathia. And that's what he did, working a walk, his first of three on the day. Bradley became the first Major Leaguer with three walks in his debut since 2000 -- when the Twins' Danny Ardoin did it -- and the first Red Sox rookie to do it since Joe Lahoud in 1968.
"I was definitely anxious. You want to swing the bat," Bradley said. "But I knew I needed to stick with my approach and make him work a little bit and see some pitches. I was just trying to see a pitch up and saying to myself 'Don't swing at the put-away pitch.'
"He was making some tough pitches. I was able to lay off them and got it back in my favor. He elevated a two-seam fastball that I knew didn't have a chance to come back down. He had some good movement today."
Bradley loaded the bases with that walk and he wasn't done. Jose Iglesias came up next and hit a grounder that shortstop Eduardo Nunez fielded in the hole. Nunez thought he had a play at second. Bradley had other plans, roaring in to beat the throw as a run scored to make it 1-0. Boston would go on to score four runs in the inning.
"Probably the key to that four-run second inning was Jackie beating out that throw to second base -- to not only extend the inning, but give us a chance to put up a crooked number," Red Sox manager John Farrell said.
Then came the catch in the bottom of the third. With Brett Gardner on second and two outs, Robinson Cano hit a laser to left field. Off at the crack of the bat, Bradley raced toward the wall and made a tremendous catch to save a run and end the inning.
"I knew right off the bat it was going to be over my head," Bradley said. "It was one of those balls where you run back and pick a spot where you think it's going to land and I work on that quite a bit often. I happened to look back up at the right time and there it was coming right at me."
Bradley's debut also included his first run scored and first RBI. Perhaps he will get his first hit on Wednesday, when the Sox resume action against the Yankees.
Though Bradley played in some high-energy settings for the University of South Carolina, he had never seen anything quite like Yankee Stadium.
"It's huge," said Bradley, the Red Sox's No. 2 prospect, according to MLB.com. "It's really nice. It's big. I started looking up into the sky, seeing how far it goes up."
During Day 1 of his Major League service time, Bradley had absolutely no complaints.
"Everything is better, obviously," said Bradley. "Just being able to enjoy my family. We all went out to dinner last night. Just being able to walk around, we saw Rockefeller [Center] and people skating around the skating rink. It's the small things I really enjoy."
Bradley became Boston's youngest Opening Day starter in left field since Hall of Famer Carl Yastrzemski, who broke in at the age of 21 in 1961.
Ortiz not accustomed to missing openers
NEW YORK -- Just as the Yankees opened the season without Derek Jeter, Alex Rodriguez, Mark Teixeira and Curtis Granderson, the Red Sox were without a signature player for the rivalry's first matchup of 2013.
This was the first time since 2003 that David Ortiz was not in Boston's starting lineup on Opening Day.
Still recovering from a right Achilles injury, Ortiz has known for a few weeks that he wouldn't be starting the season on time.
But it still felt a little strange to him to be in the clubhouse on Monday morning, watching all of his teammates get ready to take their first steps of 2013.
"A little weird, but it is what it is, right?" Ortiz said. "Opening Day's the one time that you want to be good to go and be ready for the season, definitely. Not being able to, it's just a weird feeling."
The good news is that Ortiz continues to make progress and hopes to start playing in Minor League games fairly soon. Ortiz plans on flying back to Fort Myers, Fla., on Thursday.
Could Ortiz start playing in Minor League games by next week?
"That's our goal right now," said Ortiz.
Shortstop Stephen Drew is Boston's other position player starting the season on the disabled list, but he is also nearing a return to some form of game action. Drew suffered a concussion on March 7 after being hit on the helmet by a pitch.
"There are a couple of steps to that paperwork," said Red Sox manager John Farrell. "Once its filed, it's got to be cleared through MLB, then it's got to ultimately be cleared through the Players Association. It's in the midst of that. Once that is cleared, Stephen will be back in a game and taking live [at-bats]."
Drew is on the seven-day disabled list, retroactive to last Tuesday, so the Red Sox can activate him as early as Wednesday, though he obviously won't be ready that soon.
Red Sox, Yanks united in honoring Newtown
NEW YORK -- The Yankees and the Red Sox joined together on Opening Day to dedicate Monday's game to the victims of the Sandy Hook school shooting, their families and the greater community of Newtown, Conn.
Pregame ceremonies at Yankee Stadium featured a joint honor guard of Newtown police and firefighters, along with a moment of silence during which a list of the Sandy Hook victims' names were recognized on the center-field video board.
"Just honoring them, being there for them, is outstanding," Yankees closer Mariano Rivera said. "We cannot change what happened. I wish we could. But at the same time, we're trying to bring them a lot of good moments and just trying to take the tragedy away from their minds for a little bit.
"Hopefully, we will have a great game so they can enjoy and we will honor them the right way."
Monday's ceremonial first pitch was thrown by former Yankees outfielder and manager Lou Piniella, while Broadway star Constantine Maroulis performed the national anthem. A moment of silence was also held for former Yankees right-hander Bob Turley, who won the 1958 Cy Young Award and died on Saturday at the age of 82.
The Yankees and Red Sox took the field wearing special ribbons on their uniforms to honor those lost and affected by the Dec. 14, 2012, Newtown tragedy. The ribbons were also painted on the field in front of both dugouts, and Commissioner Allan H. "Bud" Selig has asked the other 28 Major League teams to follow suit in wearing the ribbon during their respective Opening Day games.
"I think it's important to say thank you," Yankees manager Joe Girardi said. "The town of Newtown went through so much during the last four or five months, and you think about being a responder. Sometimes we don't think about what they go through and how important they are during a situation like that.
"I think it's nice that we're getting an opportunity to say thank you for all that you do, because they're obviously going to do more as the future goes on."
On July 7, approximately 3,000 children, families and members of the Newtown community will be invited to celebrate summer recess by attending the Yankees' 1:05 p.m. ET game against the Orioles. The date will be proclaimed "Newtown Day at Yankee Stadium."
Though not starting, Nava enjoys spectacle
NEW YORK -- Daniel Nava entered Monday having played in 148 Major League games, but he'd never experienced the spectacle that is Opening Day.
"It's such a blessing," said Nava, who was not in the Red Sox's starting lineup against the Yankees. "Especially with it being in New York. This is different than being called up during the season. I talked to guys like [Jonny Gomes] and [Dustin Pedroia] and they all say it's something that's really special. They told me that the playoffs and this are some of the most fun parts of the year. Since I've never experienced it, I'm just going to have to accept it and soak it in. I'm excited."
The way the roster was shaping up, it seemed apparent a couple of weeks ago that the 30-year-old Nava was going to make the team. But he didn't count on that until manager John Farrell formally told him a couple of days ago.
"Not until I was told," Nava said. "Up until that point, I was like, 'All right; we'll see what happens,'" Nava said. "Once I found out, that was when I was going, 'OK, now I can start thinking about stuff like this.' With the road I've taken and journey I've taken, I don't assume anything. Fortunately, they did tell me, and that was great news to hear it rather than have to assume it."
Nava's road has been an interesting one, for sure. He was an equipment manager at the University of Santa Clara but couldn't afford to stay, so he transferred to the College of San Mateo (Junior College). Nava made it back to Santa Clara as a player for his senior season but went undrafted.
The Red Sox pried him out of the Independent League for the bidding price of one dollar in 2007. By June 2010, Nava belted the first pitch of his Major League career over the wall in right for a grand slam at Fenway Park.
But by last season, Nava had fallen so far off Boston's depth chart that he was not even on the 40-man roster and spent all of Spring Training in the Minor Leagues.
Nava rebounded again, though, and played 88 games for the Red Sox in 2012. Heading into this season, he figures to start against a lot of right-handed pitchers, particularly while David Ortiz is on the disabled list. Nava has also adapted well enough to a new position (first base) that he is the team's primary backup there behind Mike Napoli.
Ian Browne is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Brownie Points, and follow him on Twitter @IanMBrowne. Bryan Hoch is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @bryanhoch and read his MLBlog, Bombers Beat. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.