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Armed and ready

Page 2 of 3 -- Spring grade: C-

Matt Clement: Matt’s welcome was not so great. After a long first inning against the Twins in the spring opener, the World Series champs heard their first boo-birds of the new season exactly five minutes into their title defense. Gotta love Sox fans. The theme for Clement this spring has been stretches of futility, though he’s also shows the ability to rebound. In four starts, Clement has a 5.54 ERA, having given up 17 hits in 13 innings. The good news is that he has 12 strikeouts and only two walks. He’ll take Schilling’s spot in the minor league game today.

Spring grade: B-

Bronson Arroyo: He had a tough start to the spring campaign, but has improved with every outing since. In his last start, against the Dodgers, Arroyo not only gave up just one run in six innings, he also picked up a base hit off former Sox starter Derek Lowe. Arroyo this spring has compiled a 2.87 ERA with just one walk to go with 12 strikeouts, making his case to stay in the starting rotation for the long haul. If the Nation were managing, Bronson would be your Opening Day starter. I’ll bring the sign to the Stadium that reads “Forget Johnson, We’ve Got Bronson.”

Spring grade: A-

Tim Wakefield: It’s not how you start in spring, it’s how you finish. Wake certainly started out strong, if you want to count his inclusion as one of the fab five who combined to no-hit Northeastern. Wake followed up the old college try against the Dodgers with three scoreless (and hitless) innings, despite giving up three walks in three innings. Suddenly the Nation felt better about the woes of its starting rotation. Against St. Louis, Wakefield went four innings on a windy day, giving up a run to the National League champs on four hits with a couple of walks and strikeouts. But he struggled badly in his last start against the Reds on Tuesday night, getting hit hard in 2 2/3 innings. The bottom line was six earned runs on eight hits, with three walks in his ugliest outing of the spring. Yuck. A 5.91 ERA in 10 2/3 innings of work is Wake’s tally to date with a team-high eight walks to go with seven strikeouts. I’d take Arroyo to start and put Wake in the pen when Schilling comes back, but I’m not the manager.

Spring grade: B-

Mike Timlin: The bullpen’s elder statesman has had himself a nice spring training so far in five outings. He has a 1.50 ERA in six innings of work, and more importantly, he hasn’t given up a home run.

Spring grade: B

Matt Mantei: The newcomer made his debut for the Red Sox by allowing a base hit to Boston College first baseman David Preziosi, which broke up the Sox’ chances at a double no-hitter against the big men on campus. But he’s been lights out ever since. Against the big boys, Mantei gave up a couple of hits against the Twins in one inning of work, but was throwing 95 mph gas in getting a strike out. He followed up a few days later in an early-inning relief situation, stopping the bleeding and shutting down the Blue Jays in recording two outs. Mantei had another scoreless inning against the Twins on March 13, but his velocity dipped a bit. He came back against St. Louis and had a busy inning, giving up two hits and a walk resulting in a run. In total, Mantei, who underwent shoulder surgery last June, has a 1.69 ERA in just 5 1/3 innings of work.   Continued...

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