Red Sox notebook

So eager for a real game, they’ll play two

By Peter Abraham
Globe Staff / March 3, 2010

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FORT MYERS, Fla. - It’s finally time for the Red Sox to play some games.

City of Palms Park opens today with a split-squad doubleheader. The Sox will face Northeastern at 1:05 p.m. before taking on Boston College at 6:05.

“It’ll be fun. It’s that time,’’ manager Terry Francona said. “We’ll get comfortable and get in that routine.’’

The Sox will start 20-year-old Casey Kelly against the Huskies before veteran newcomer Boof Bonser faces the Eagles. They are scheduled to pitch only one inning each. There are 16 relievers lined up behind them, each expected to get one inning.

Northeastern will have senior lefthander Dan Zehr on the mound. Coach Neil McPhee, in his 25th season, has the Huskies off to a 3-1 start. Florida native Frank Compagnone is hitting .545 in the early going. Senior Tony DiCesare of Lynnfield is off to a .500 start and has seven RBIs. Freshman Alan Pastyrnak of Bristol, Conn., is hitting .467.

BC (3-3) has selected junior righthander Geoff Oxley as its starter. A former summer-league teammate of Sox prospect Michael Bowden, Oxley has appeared in one game this season.

BC is led by junior infielder Mickey Wiswall of Stoneham, a preseason All-ACC pick. Sophomore Anthony Melchionda of Braintree is hitting .407 with 10 RBIs, while senior John Spatola of Milton is at .364 with 10 RBIs.

Last season, coach Mik Aoki’s team made the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 1967.

NESN will carry the second game.

Cutoff men
The Sox had an abbreviated workout scheduled yesterday, and it got a little shorter when rain swept through during the morning. The position players stuck to the covered batting cages and wrapped up their day quickly. The skies cleared in time for those pitchers scheduled for bullpen sessions to go outdoors. Josh Beckett, Jon Lester, Jonathan Papelbon, Hideki Okajima, and Tim Wakefield were among those who got on the mound. The only aspect of the workout the Sox skipped was the sliding drills the coaching staff had planned. Those will be held today . . . Mike Cameron took his cuts in the batting cage, a sign that the groin strain on his left side is not serious. Just to make sure, Francona does not plan to use him before Friday. “He’d have to say he’s feeling great,’’ Francona said. “He feels fine. It’s not an issue.’’ Cameron has yet to run hard since feeling the twinge of discomfort. But he expects to do that in a day or two.

Return to Tampa
Rhode Island native Rocco Baldelli, who hit .253 for the Sox last season, has accepted a position as a special assistant with the Tampa Bay Rays and will work with minor leaguers. Baldelli has not officially retired but has a shoulder injury that keeps him from playing, according to the St. Petersburg Times. “I don’t think I’m ready to retire,’’ Baldelli told reporters at Rays camp in Port Charlotte. “I’m only 28 years old. But at this point I can’t really do what I want to do on the field. I wasn’t comfortable going to spring training this year, because I wouldn’t be able to perform.’’ Tampa Bay executive vice president Andrew Friedman said, “It was a no-brainer for us. We think from all the time Roc’s been in this organization, all the positive relationships that he’s formed, the experiences he can share with our young players, it’s something we’re very excited about.’’

Pitching distaff
Wakefield gave a pitching lesson to 18-year-old Eri Yoshida, a Japanese woman who throws a sidearm knuckleball. Yoshida has played in independent leagues in Japan and the United States, taking inspiration from watching videotapes of Wakefield. She threw to minor league catcher Ryan Lavarnway while Wakefield watched and offered advice. “I was impressed,’’ Wakefield said. “She spun a couple, but for the most part, it was very good. She was able to take the spin out of a lot of them and they had quite a lot of movement on them.’’ The 5-foot-1-inch Yoshida said she was nervous to meet her idol, with whom she posed for pictures later. “I never thought I could ever feel this happy,’’ Yoshida said through an interpreter. Wakefield was genuinely flattered that Yoshida sought him out. “It’s an honor to have somebody carry on a knuckleball tradition, and somebody that’s doing it because she likes what I do,’’ he said. “It’s pretty cool to have someone come over to the States from Japan.’’

Peter Abraham can be reached at Follow him on Twitter @peteabe.

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