Last week I made my way to sunny Florida for my fourth annual spring training trip. I first went down back in 2008 as my employer (at the time) sent me down, and I’ve been instantly hooked since. I mean, who doesn’t want to get out of the cold up north and see some early baseball with the sunshine? Unlike last year, there was no rain and thus no rainouts as I enjoyed nothing but perfect blue skies weather.

The first game I attended was March 18th’s tilt between the Tigers and Red Sox at the Sox home park in Fort Myers. This was the last year at their current facility as they are building a new complex next to my family’s condo in Fort Myers, which works out perfectly for me in the future.

 

Fort Myers

 

 

City of Palms Park

Besides a fire breaking out in the right field concessions (seriously), that was really all the fire power the Sox could get going even with all the big guns in the lineup. Dustin Pedroia homered in the first inning, but that was about it for Boston (we missed it too because we were moving slow after the major St. Patty’s Day hangover that morning). The Tigers rolled to an 8-3 victory behind some fireworks as Brennan Boesch, Ryan Raburn and Andy Dirks all went yard for Detroit. Nothing else real notable from this game other than the fact that I found it unbelievable that pitcher Brandon Duckworth was still making a go at pitching in the Majors when he came on the mound for the Sox in the ninth. He didn’t fare too well either, giving up two runs and a home run. My guess is you won’t be seeing him pitch in Fenway anytime soon.

 

 

See, there really was a fire in right field.

 

On the following day, my friends and I followed the Red Sox up I-75 through construction to see them take on my hometown Pirates in Bradenton at McKechnie Field.

 

McKechnie Field

 

 

Bradenton

Since 1887, baby!

The Red Sox struggled for the second day in a row as the Pirates put up a five-spot in the bottom of the fourth inning thanks to two RBIs each from Lyle Overbay and pitcher Kevin Correia, who was named the Pirates Opening Day starter this week. And just as the Sox were drawing close, John Bowker ripped a two-run homer in the seventh to give the Pirates the lead and eventually the win 7-5. Josh Beckett, who looks to rebound from last year’s troubles, was hit around by the Buccos allowing five runs in 4.2 innings though four of those runs were unearned as the Red Sox played sloppy defense with two errors.

 

The losing did not stop there for the Red Sox even though my short trip did. Boston has not won a game all of this week since I returned home from Florida, a streak that is at 10 games and dropped them to 12-19 this spring. I know it’s only spring training, but is it a sign of things to come from a team that is being picked as the favorite to win the World Series this year? We will find out soon enough.

At the end of the trip, it was another successful voyage to spring training. I miss it already. It did two things for me. It held me over to see some live baseball until Opening Day later this week, and it made me start planning my fifth trip down there for next March already.

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