Most Major League Baseball teams have already begun their Spring Training game schedules against the Major League teams in their Spring Training states of Arizona and Florida. Some even began on Wednesday, February 26. The defending champion Boston Red Sox, though, will begin their Grapefruit League play on Friday, February 28. They will host the Minnesota Twins at 1:00 at Jet Blue Park at Fenway South. For more information on the Red Sox’ Spring Training schedule, see here.
The Red Sox spent Thursday hosting two college teams: the Northeastern University Huskies and the Boston College Eagles. They have started their games this way for the past few years. It allows some of the pitchers to face live hitting without the worry of potential failure against the Major League hitters. MLB.com’s Ian Browne quotes manager John Farrell as describing the benefits of playing these two exhibition games. Says Farrell,
“Even after a long layoff of the winter, to have pitchers come out and throw one or two innings, just to get in the flow of things is nice. Same thing with your everyday guys going through their pregame routine. Regardless of the opponent, this is still our workday, and it’s the beginning of what the game schedule will hold for us, and that routine is important.”
Players take the games seriously, especially those who may have an outside chance at making the Opening Day roster or at least making the roster some time later in the season. For example, top pitching prospect Henry Owens, who pitched to Northeastern, knows what he needs to do to ensure a chance later on. The Red Sox tweeted a comment from Owens about his Thursday outing:
Owens on throwing today: I felt good, a lot of positives a few negatives. I need to get ahead in count. Last year is now 100% last year.
— Boston Red Sox (@RedSox) February 27, 2014
Owens will likely make his Major League debut this summer.
I can only assume that for the college players, this double header is a major thrill. Here are guys on each team who all have aspirations of making it to The Show one day. Here is a chance for them to show some Major League scouts, coaches, managers, and players what they can do. They know who is watching, and they will give it their all every chance they get.
The Grapefruit League schedule begins on Friday, and the regular season on March 31 at the Baltimore Orioles. The Red Sox’ defense of their World Series title has begun.by