The Sox are back (sort of!)

The Sox are back (sort of!)
February 27, 2014, 11:30 am
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If you don’t think that today’s Red Sox Spring Training opener (and split-squad double header) is a big deal, then I’ve got some news for you —
You’re right. It’s not. But be honest, what would you rather talk about this afternoon: Want to take another ride on the RONDO NEEDS TO GO rollercoaster? How about re-living the Bruins loss to the worst team in hockey? LeBron’s facemask? The polarizing Johnny Manziel? What about Aaron Hernandez beating up a guy in prison?
OK, that last one is tempting. But let’s keep it positive. The Red Sox are back! Sort of. This afternoon, they’ll take the field for the first time since October 30 at Fenway, when Koji Uehera struck out Matt Carpenter to clinch the title. Of course, this time around they won’t be playing the NL Champs, or even other major leaguers. Instead, they’re up against the incumbent last place finishers in the ACC (Boston College) and the seventh-place squad in the Colonial Athletic Conference (Northeastern).
The kids from Northeastern will be the big losers AND winners on the day. Losers because they drew a match-up against the Sox starters. Dustin Pedroia, David Ortiz, Mike Napoli, Xander Bogaerts, Will Middlebrooks, Jackie Bradley Jr. and Jonny Gomes will all suit up against and presumably thrash the Huskies in the opener (1 pm).
Northeastern is also the winners because they’ll walk away with far better stories to tell their grandchildren — the diving stop they made on a Dustin Pedroia line-drive; the time they held on (and chatted with) David Ortiz on first base; that fastball that got lodged in Mike Napoli’s beard.
In terms of actual news, Grady Sizemore is batting leadoff and playing centerfield. The three-time All Star hasn’t a played a game since 2011. The Sox hope that he can return to some semblance of his previous form, and if he can, then — hey, free Grady Sizemore (basically). Not that today will tell us anything about Sizemore’s long-term prospects. It will be a success if Grady can just make through the game without hurting himself. But he’s got to start sometime, and that sometime is now.
Brandon Workman will be on the mound against the Huskies, and will be followed by Burke Badenhop, Henry Owens (another reason to pay attention) and Noe Ramirez — who we all hope might someday make the team, if only for the string of YES Ramirez headlines.   
The BC game starts at 7, and poor BC. They’ll still probably end up getting their butts kicked, but without all the fanfare. It’s like parents telling their son that they hired one of the Red Sox to come by his birthday party — and in walks Brock Holt. In fact, no one in Boston’s Game 2 lineup even comes close to matching the star power that BC will face this year against Florida State and closer Jameis Winston. But what are you going to do?
Matt Barnes starts against the Eagles. He’ll be followed by a few other promising prospects (Rubby De La Rosa and Alex Wilson).

Maybe you’ll watch? No. No, you won’t. Because for some reason, neither game will be on TV. (Why, NESN? Why?). Either way, for today at least, it may in fact be a little more interesting to obsess over Rondo and LeBron and Johnny Football and who Aaron Hernandez is beating up in jail. We’ve still got more than a month until the Sox start playing for real, and then six or seven months of baseball after that. Maybe you want to pace yourself. Focus on other things.
But while you’re doing that, the Sox will be lurking.
Only 32 days until the title defense is officially underway.
Follow me on Twitter: @rich_levine