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Spring things: A tale of three losses

FT. MYERS, Fla. -- It's only spring and the games don't mean a thing, but your world champion Boston Red Sox need to start playing some inspired baseball one of these days or run the risk of heading to New York for Sunday Night Live as the real not-ready-for-prime-time players. Here's a recap of their weekend woes:

Friday: Sox get sloppy in loss to Blue Jays

  • The Sox jumped all over Roy Halladay early as a Kevin Youkilis base hit drove in David Ortiz and Ramon Vazquez and a Jeff Bailey home run put them up 3-0 in the second. But that was all the scoring for the Sox on the day as a lackluster effort at the plate produced goose eggs for the next seven innings.

  • The local 40 also left their crisp defense in Ft. Myers, as they were shaky in the field from the get-go against the Jays. Making a rare appearance at first base, Ortiz couldn't handle a pickoff throw and made the first error of the afternoon. Second baseman Dave Berg made a throwing error for blunder No. 2, and Youkilis couldn't handle a grounder to third to complete the trifecta of errors.

    None proved costly, but Anastacio Martinez was hit hard all the same, yanked after 2 1/3 after giving up three runs on five hits, including a two-run homer by Gabe "Ruth" Gross (five homers on the spring). Matt Mantei got the third-inning save by coming in with his usual gas to retire the next two batters.

  • Old friend Shea "you heard of Jeff Bagwell?" Hillenbrand was in the lineup at third for his new team. He smashed a double in two trips. It will be fun to see Shea back at Fenway on a regular basis.

  • Since the Sox produced little offense, the remaining highlight in Dunedin was seeing highly touted prospect Ian Bladergroen, 22, make his debut at first base. With Roberto Petagine down and out with surgery, "the Blade," acquired from the Mets' farm system in the Doug Mientkiewicz deal, should get more action at first. He responded with flawless defense at the bag and banged a base hit in two trips to the plate.

    The Blade, who has the potential to be a major-league caliber power hitter, has played two seasons of organized ball prior to 2005, both at the Single-A level. In 2004, Bladergroen hit six homers and had a .285 average for Brooklyn; he sported a .342 average with 13 dingers for Capital City last year.

  • Jeremi Gonzalez should be one of the pitchers cut today. He hit a batter in the sixth and gave up a long home run to light-hitting John McDonald in the seventh. To add insult to injury, the very next batter, John-Ford Griffin, took Going-going-Gonzo deep again.   Continued...

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