SARASOTA, Fla. -- There are still two games remaining in Florida and another in Houston before the 2011 Red Sox play a game of consequence. But with less than a week to go, it seems as though the team will accomplish what every club hopes for each February and March: an injury-free spring training.
It's likely that the only member of the organization to start the season on the disabled list will be pitcher Junichi Tazawa, who is less than a year removed from Tommy John surgery.
None of the players expected to make the Opening Day roster is hurt, quite a change from last year in which the Sox endured a seemingly endless litany of injuries. Four regulars missed most of the second half of the season -- Dustin Pedroia (foot), Kevin Youkilis (thumb), Jacoby Ellsbury (ribs) and Mike Cameron (abdominal strain) -- and the Sox lost a total of 1,018 games with 19 different players spending time on the disabled list.
All four of the aforementioned players are completely healthy, with no residual issues. Just as critically, the Sox suffered no injuries during spring workouts or games.
Manager Terry Francona said the team's good health isn't an accident.
"We try to be really careful especially with pitchers,'' said Francona. "I know you can't help some things from happening. I think our medical staff really deserves a lot of credit.''
Francona said head trainer Mike Reinold and two staff assistants visited every member of the pitching staff over the offseason to make sure that winter programs were being followed.
"It's not just a phone call,'' said Francona. "Every guy got visited and we made sure their workouts were where they were supposed to be, so there were no surprises coming into camp.''
That means, when it comes to the final two roster decisions, the Red Sox can make their evaluations and personnel moves without regard to health.
"That's nice,'' Francona said. "Guys aren't limping and we haven't been thinking about it. Except for Felix Doubront, who felt some elbow soreness in February and fell behind, it's been basically guys competing and not, 'Well, we've got to back him up and his arm is sore.' "
Other clubs around the game haven't been nearly as fortunate.
The San Diego Padres lost projected Opening Day starter Mat Latos. Several other N.L. teams, including the St. Louis Cardinals (Adam Wainwright) Cincinnati Reds (Johnny Cueto) and Milwaukee Brewers (Zack Greinke), have all lost starting pitchers to spring injuries.
Closer (competitively and geographically) to home, the Yankees will start the season without outfielder Curtis Granderson and projected backup catcher Francisco Cervelli.
The Chicago White Sox will be without front-line starter Jake Peavy for at least the first month and Texas, the Red Sox' first opponent of the season, just learned that Tommy Hunter will open the season on the DL with a groin injury.
Not so with the Sox, for whom an injury-free spring could be attirbuted to good planning and, perhaps, after last year, some good karma.