Yaz makes rare Fenway return to throw out first pitch


Yaz makes rare Fenway return to throw out first pitch

By Art Martone

BOSTON -- For 23 years, he was a Fenway fixture on Opening Day.

And then, when he retired in 1984, Carl Yastrzemski disappeared.

"When I retired, I kinda said, 'That was it,' " said the 71-year-old Hall of Famer. "I stayed away . . . It was difficult for a couple of years, but after that it got easier.

He made a rare appearance at the renovated old ballyard Friday, throwing out the first pitch prior to the Red Sox' Opening Day game against the Yankees. And he thinks he knows why he got the call to open the season.

"I'm undefeated," joked Yastrzemski, who threw out the first pitch before Sox victories in both the 2004 and 2007 World Series. "Terry Francona already told me he wants me to come back tomorrow if they win."

There's no chance of that; Yaz flew up from Florida Friday morning and will fly back down Friday night. But he doesn't believe they need him as a good-luck charm.

"A slump is a team thing," he said. "It's the way it happens in baseball, and always has. For five, six games, no one hits. And then, boom.

"The reason for it? Who knows?"

But you'll forgive the Fenway Faithful -- who watched their team score more runs in the first two innings than it had in the last four games combined -- if they credit their long-beloved, but seldom-seen, star.

Art Martone can be reached at amartone@comcastsportsnet.com.

Farrell angered after Castillo fails to run out grounder

Farrell angered after Castillo fails to run out grounder

The Red Sox signed Cuban outfielder Rusney Castillo to a seven-year, $72.5 million contract bn August 2014. Over parts of three seasons, the 29-year-old has a .679 OPS across 337 plate appearances in the majors and spent the vast majority of the 2016 season at Triple-A Pawtucket.

Castillo had a chance to start things off on the right foot in 2017, but that ship has already sailed. On Thursday against Northeastern at JetBlue Park, Castillo didn’t run out a routine ground ball. He claims he lost track of the outs. Manager John Farrell isn’t happy about the situation. Via Evan Drellich of the Boston Herald:

“Disappointing for a couple of reasons,” Sox manager John Farrell said. “One, he has lost the number of outs. Still, regardless of another of outs, getting down the line is controllable. And for a player in his situation, every little aspect of the game is important. That’s something that was addressed in the moment. He needs to execute the game situation. And for that matter, every player. But that one obviously stood out.”

Everyone always makes far too big a deal about running out grounders. It’s a real nit to pick when it’s February 23 and your team just finished playing an exhibition game that is even more meaningless than the other exhibition games that will be played in the coming month.

That being said, Castillo has to prove himself to merit inclusion on the 25-man roster and that means dotting all his i’s and crossing all his t’s. Even if he went hitless all spring, Castillo could have at least said he couldn’t have done anything else better. But on day one, he already gave his team a reason to count him out.

Moreland, Travis homer to lead Red Sox past Northeastern 9-6 in opener

Moreland, Travis homer to lead Red Sox past Northeastern 9-6 in opener

Mitch Moreland and Sam Travis hit three-run homers and left-hander Brian Johnson started and pitched two scoreless innings to help the Red Sox win their spring training opener, 9-6, over Northeastern University on Thursday in Fort Myers, Fla.

Johnson, who made one spot start in his MLB debut with the Red Sox in 2015 but then was derailed by injuries and anxiety issues last season, struck out three and walked one Thursday. He's expected to start the season at Triple-A Pawtucket, where he went 5-6 with a 4.44 ERA in 15 starts in 2016.

Moreland, the left-handed hitting first baseman signed to a one-year deal after spending his first seven seasons with the Texas Rangers, and Travis, a right-handed hitting first base prospect coming back from knee surgery last season, each hit three-run homers in a six-run third inning.

Pablo Sandoval, attempting to reclaim the third-base job after missing nearly all of last season after surgery on his left shoulder, went 1-for-2 with a double. 

The Red Sox open Grapefruit League play Friday afternoon when they host the New York Mets at JetBlue Park.