With being a football fanatic to distract me through most of the winter, I'm not normally pining for baseball as much as the next Sox fiend by the time pitchers and catchers report.
After that, though, it's quite a different story.
For me, the wait from 'pitchers and catchers report' to 'actually playing real baseball' is the most interminable of the sports year. What few games are broadcast this early in the season are utterly meaningless -- utterly. Inferences and predictions are equally meaningless this time of year.
Even if you tune in to see the familiar faces, you won't always find them. What real joy and intrigue there is to take from Spring Training, once we've moved past the first-day-of-school feeling of the initial reports to the Fort, can usually be found in the minor leaguers invited to camp (provided you're unhealthily obsessed, anyway).
This year, though, there's not much new there, either. As Don Orsillo and Peter Gammons rather drily pointed out, by the end of last season, more than a few of the "bench guys" who played last night -- Nava, Kalish, et al -- actually already have been regulars.
There is one player in camp this year, though, who is a real novelty to see. Still far too young to be on the big club's radar last year, no matter how dire the injury-plagued straits they found themselves in, this player has nonetheless been talked up since he first defected from Cuba to join the Red Sox around this time last year. And during his appearance in last night's exhibition, at least, 20-year-old shortstop Jose Iglesias did not disappoint.
His best play, and arguably the best play of them all in this weekend's contests with the Yankees, came in the bottom of the seventh last night. A chopping grounder bounded toward short, and then...
You really have to watch the video here to get the full effect of this play -- the eye-popping speed of it, especially, even this early in the spring, how quickly the ball was smothered and the play was turned.
Jose Iglesias has moved quickly from single-A to double-A, where he will probably begin the season. It will be some time yet before we see him on the field at Fenway, if we see him at all. But I'm still tempted to get too excited about Iglesias already, to start counting chickens when I know we're still looking at eggs.
This goes back to the fact that the most recent generation of prospects, which includes pillars of the 2011 Red Sox like Jon Lester and Kevin Youkilis, at one time also counted a homegrown shortstop among their number. But by the time we were thinking seriously about his name up on the scoreboard at Fenway, he was gone, off to make a name for himself in the National League.
This just probably shows how spoiled I / we have become in the world of the Henry-owned Red Sox, but I want so much at this point for there to be a shortstop equivalent to Youkilis or Dustin Pedroia in the infield, a once-and-future franchise guy. I've been wanting that since at least 2005.
And so, I also want the promise in this diving, flipping, hot-shot play to be borne out long-term. Premature as it may be, right now, I just really, really want this kid on the team.