Red Sox-Phils: Prelude to October?

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Red Sox-Phils: Prelude to October?

By Sean McAdam
CSNNE.com

FORT MYERS, Fla. -- It's difficult to assign too much significance to spring training games, with their casual atmosphere, patchwork lineups and wholesale mid-game substitutions.

But that didn't stop some from viewing Thursday's Phillies-Red Sox Grapefruit League meeting as a potential sneak preview of the 2011 World Series.

Those people, apparently, didn't get the memo to Terry Francona.

"Who are we playing today?'' Francona asked reporters gathered for his morning media briefing.

It could be that Francona was having some fun with the hype. Or his ignorance could have been genuine.

Either way, it didn't take away from the pregame talk. The Phillies were good enough to get to the NLCS and though they fell shy of reaching their third straight World Series (they won in 2008, and lost to the Yankees in 2009), adding lefty ace Cliff Lee in the off-season has made them the prohibitive favorites in the National League.

Similarly, the Red Sox' offseason acquisition spree has positioned them as the American League team to beat.

As might be expected for a team traveling 2 12 hours on a bus, the Phils didn't field their 'A' team against the Red Sox. In fact, of the players who made the trek, only outfielders Ben Francisco and Shane Victorino will be in Philadelphia's Opening Day lineup.

Still, this wasn't about March. This was about thinking ahead to October and what could be. And while neither team was silly enough to proclaim itself likely pennant winners, the Sox and Phils weren't shy about praising one another.

"We might see this matchup in the World Series," agreed Phils manager Charlie Manuel. "But at the same time, it's like anything else: you've got to go out there and play. Expectations are high and I'm sure that's good. I look at it as good.

"I like to think that, after the last four or five years, expectations on our guys are kind of what they put on themselves. The World Series is where we want to go. I know Terry Francona - I was his hitting coach at one time. And I know that's where he wants to go. Basically, I imagine our thinking is kind of alike.

"It's actually what the players think and what they expect of each other and the team. High expectations from the media and the fans is absolutely great. But you still have to go out there and play and you've got to play the best baseball."

Phils general manager Ruben Amaro went a step further.

"Boston is the best club in baseball I think,'' he said. "Their combination of speed, power, pitching and bullpen -- they're a hell of a ballclub. They don't have a lot of holes."

In adding Carl Crawford and Adrian Gonzalez, the Red Sox might have given themselves the best lineup in either league. Meanwhile, the Phils added Lee to a rotation which already boasted Roy Halladay, Roy Oswalt and Cole Hamels, forming the game's most talented collection of starters.

Francona was ecstatic when Lee chose the Phillies over other suitors. Then again, he had his own team's interest in mind.

"I was glad, but I think everybody kind of thought it was a foregone conclusion that he was going to go to the Yankees,'' Francona said. "And if he didn't go to the Yankees, he was going to Texas. They're both in our league and one's in our division, so I was really glad. Facing Cliff once in interleague's a lot better than facing him four or five times a season."

The Sox and Phils have met in interleague play every year but one since 2003 and will play a three-game set this season in Philadelphia in the final week of June.

That meeting itself is almost four months away. But on a beautiful March morning, if you tried hard, you could almost see all the way to October.

Sean McAdam can be reached at smcadam@comcastsportsnet.com. Follow Sean on Twitter at http:twitter.comsean_mcadam

Here are before and after photos of Pablo Sandoval's weight loss

Here are before and after photos of Pablo Sandoval's weight loss

Pablo Sandoval has put in work.

The Boston Red Sox third baseman has lost significant weight since his shoulder surgery. According to a post from his trainer, Sandoval has lost 35 pounds. He started at 275 pounds in June 2016 before the surgery. Sandoval told MassLive.com he took the after photo (in the Instagram post below) in December 2016.

According to the post, Sandoval's wife took over Sandoval's nutrition, and helped him restructure his diet. And then he spent five days a week at Bommarito Performance Systems in Miami, according to a lengthy feature on ESPN.com.

"He's like a new Panda," Sandoval's personal assistant Josmir Romero told ESPN.com.

There's no doubt: Sandoval looks a lot more fit. If he keeps this weight, his belts won't be in danger of bursting this season.

Bommarito Performance Systems featured on ESPN! Incredible article on BPS client and 3x World Series Champ Pablo Sandoval (@kfp48) and his journey to being the best shape of his life! Here is an excerpt from the article: ”Having watched Ferrer help Red Sox first baseman Hanley Ramirez overcome a 2015 shoulder injury and revive his career last season, Sandoval decided to enlist the strength and conditioning specialist to oversee his workouts. The days began at 7:30 a.m., Ferrer said, with an hour long "turf workout" to improve Sandoval's agility. After a series of core-strengthening exercises, they moved to the weight room, alternating upper- and lower-body lifts every other day. The Red Sox received frequent progress reports -- "Panda watch," if you will -- because Ferrer is close with Boston strength and conditioning coach Kiyoshi Momose. Meanwhile, Sandoval put his new wife, Yulimar, in charge of his diet. She worked with a nutritionist to come up with healthier meals for Sandoval and cooked for him throughout the off-season. "Part of [Sandoval's] issues in the past didn't work ethic. It was other aspects of his life when we start talking about nutrition and those types of things," Dombrowski said. "This winter, I would say he was more committed to the total program." Said Ferrer: "I'm actually really pleased with his progress this off-season. I said that to Kiyoshi multiple times. The Red Sox wanted him to get down to, I think, in the 240s, and he's right there. But with him, I think it's just about his strength levels. He's a strong guy. He's powerful. He took our workouts very seriously all off-season. He's definitely ready to play baseball right now.’” Click the link in our bio to read the full article! #KungFuPanda 🐼  #PabloSandoval #Boston Redsox #RedSox #Soxnation #Bommaritos #HanleyRamirez #ElNino #MLB #Baseball #Baseballtraining #miggy #miguelcabrera #Venezuela

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David Ortiz has new interpretation of 'spring training'

David Ortiz has new interpretation of 'spring training'

Big Papi's "spring training" involves a beach chair -- not a baseball bat.

The former Boston Red Sox slugger made it clear on Instagram that he has no interest in returning to Jet Blue Park to begin training for the 2017 MLB season.

He announced in Nov. 2015 he would be retiring after the 2016 season, and he appears completely content with that decision despite speculation of his return to MLB. Ortiz posted a video on Sunday of himself in a beach chair reclined and relaxed.

"What's up [Instagram]. Oh, so good be retired. At the beach with the familia, the ladies. Big Papi in the bulding. This is my spring training. How 'bout dat? Enjoy. See you when I see you. Peace," he said, and then chuckled.

Ortiz's video came a few days after Hanley Ramirez said that if Ortiz made a return to baseball, he would be doing it, in part, for Ramirez, because they miss each other.

WBZ's Dan Roche then tweeted out Ramirez's comment on Thursday, and Big Papi waited no time to respond. Within 16 minutes, Ortiz had responded to reiterate he would not be returning to the Sox.