Quoth John Flaherty:
Schilling threw batting practice Saturday for the first time this spring and was clearly a different pitcher than the one hampered by a surgically repaired right ankle last season.
"If you didn't know he had surgery you wouldn't even have thought it," said catcher John Flaherty, who was behind the plate. "He had to throw probably 70 pitches, I would think. In that short period of time, it was incredible. I know I was dying back there, I don't know how he was doing."
Beckett also looked filthy, according to reports I've read. Papi says his swing is "a mess" - but that always happens to him.
FOX Sports now favors the Red Sox to win the AL East:
Boston last season had the best offense in all of baseball, and most of the principals are back for 2006 (albeit another year older). In center, Coco Crisp should roughly approximate Johnny Damon's level of plate production, and the right-handed fly-ball stroke of shortstop Alex Gonzalez should play reasonably well at Fenway. Also, among J.T. Snow, Kevin Youkilis and Mike Lowell (who's a strong rebound candidate) they should be able to cobble together solid production at first and third. Expect the Sox to once again lead the majors in runs scored.
The rotation should be improved. Curt Schilling is reportedly at last recovered from ankle surgery, David Wells showed up to camp on time, and Josh Beckett is newly in the fold. If nothing else, the Sox have a surfeit of arms they can run through. Tim Wakefield, Matt Clement, Bronson Arroyo and, if need be, Jon Papelbon give the Sox rotation depth that they haven't enjoyed in quite a while. It won't be a league-leading corps, but expect Boston starters to improve as a unit.
According to ERA, the Red Sox bullpen was the worst in the AL last season. In 2006, things are bound to get better. Keith Foulke is throwing with more velocity this spring, Mike Timlin returns, Craig Hansen will work a full season, Papelbon will open the year in the pen, David Riske comes over from Cleveland, and Julian Tavarez and Rudy Seanez were signed on the free-agent market. That's going to be a vastly improved unit.
Overall, the Sox will thump, play capable defense, trot out a solid rotation and benefit from a significantly ramped-up bullpen. That all adds up to an AL East crown.
Also, savor this assessment of the Yankees:
[...]the Yanks have belatedly gotten around to adding a legitimate center fielder. They overpaid for Johnny Damon, but he does plug the sucking organizational chest wound that's been with them for about half a decade.
"The sucking organizational chest wound..." Now that is just some fantastic language.
Found this on Sam's blog:
And just had to run away with it and slap it up here, because how do you NOT, like, get color copies made of it and start slapping it up on telephone poles around Boston immediately? Not that I'm...going to do that...
Meanwhile, from the opposite end of the "happiness" spectrum:
And checking in from the "creepy" files:
Dear Jesus, that scares me.
Now if you'll excuse me, tonight these guys are going to kick my ass--and I'm gonna like it. So probably no update tomorrow, and if any, it will be later in the day.
Never mind. Concert postponed. I'll be back up in your ass with the resurrection tomorrow after all.