Two Victories and Sunshine Highlight My First Day in Paradise

60031105.jpgPARADISE — The name in the dateline isn’t a real place. It’s simply my state of mind when I’m in spring training.
Yesterday was Day 1 on my annual pilgrimage to check out the fortunes of the Pale Hose. And it couldn’t have gone better, with the exception of an unfortunate injury which I’ll explain shortly.
My plane landed in Phoenix around 1030 a.m. local time, about an hour and a half before the Sox and the Rangers were about to get it going in the latter’s winter home of Surprise. I jumped into my rental car, checked into the motel and got to the game just moments before C.J. Wilson threw the first pitch to Lastings Milledge. And did I mention the weather was gorgeous?
The Sox jumped out to a three-run lead and fell behind 6-4 before rallying for three runs in the ninth and walking away with a 7-6 victory.
The Ups:
Mark Teahen has been embarrasing in the field so far this spring, but he’s on fire at the plate in his bid to win the third base job…He was 3 for 5 against the Rangers, including a two-run homer. He’s now batting .529…Minor leaguers Michael Restovich, the late-inning DH who once played for the Twins, and Drew Garcia delivered the key ninth inning hits to pave the way to the victory…Philip Humber started on the mound for the South Siders and pitched three scoreless innings, giving up a pair of hits and striking out two…Gregory Infante relieved Humber and pitched two perfect frames while Kyle Cofield was perfect in his one inning of work…Nate Jones got the win, despite giving up a run, two hits and two walks.
The Downs:
Without question, the biggest downer was the right thumb fracture suffered by Dayan Viciedo after he was hit by a David Bush pitch in the eighth inning. It’s especially frustrating since Viciedo came into camp in great shape and making a case, both offensively and in right field, that he should make the club. He’ll be out of action three to four weeks. Oh, by the way, yesterday was his 22nd brithday…Brandon Hynick got lit up after coming in at the start of the sixth trying to protect the three-run lead. He gave up five runs, four hits and two walks.
Riding high from the come-from-behind win, my next stop was dinner with Sox communications guru Scott Reifert and then it was on to Salt River Fields at Talking Stick, the brand new spring training home of the Diamondbacks and Rockies located on an Indian reservation in Scottsdale, for a game under the lights with the D-backs. As I mentioned to Scott, it’s Camelback Ranch on steroids–just a spectacular venue.
The Sox completed the Thursday sweep with a 5-3 win.
The Ups:
Gordon Beckham got things off right with a two-run homer in the first inning (pictured above) and went 3 for 4 on the night…Alexei Ramirez was 2 for 4 with an RBI and former Angel can’t-miss prospect Dallas McPherson went 2 for 3 with a run batted in…Gavin Floyd  gave up only a homer to Russell Branyan in 4 2/3 innings and Sergio Santos and Brian Bruney each pitched a scoreless/hitless inning with Bruney recording the save…I would be remiss if I didn’t mention that another “up” was seeing Scottsdale residents and Sox fans Jill and Lee Weiss in the house. I’m sure their good karma made a difference.
The Downs:
While Teahen is tearing it up at the plate, Brent Morel isn’t. After his 0 for 4 last night he’s now hitting .143. I still feel confident he’ll be the starter at third because of the wide gap defensively between the two…Carlos Quentin also took the collar in four at bats and is at .136 on the spring.
Sox host the Cubs today at Camelback Ranch

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