FORT MYERS, Fla. -- Ah, baseball.
Never did that pop into the mitt or the crack of the bat feel as satisfying as it did for these Red Sox on Wednesday morning as they took the field for the first official pitchers/catchers workout of Spring Training.
The last month was too often filled with uncomfortable subplots -- be it the mutual parting of ways between former manager Alex Cora and the club or the blockbuster deal that sent superstar Mookie Betts and veteran starting pitcher David Price to the Dodgers.
Wednesday, it was back to work on a warm and pleasant day at the Fenway South complex in Fort Myers.
It is where interim manager Ron Roenicke -- not expected to carry that interim tag for long -- spoke to the group in the morning and then ran his first workout.
“Yeah, I can’t wait,” new father and catcher Christian Vázquez said of the start of Spring Training. “I can’t wait to see everybody in the bullpens, you know. It’s good to be a dad, but I miss the ballpark. I miss the game, and I’m ready to get back to the field.”
In the coming weeks, the Red Sox look forward to proving what kind of team they can be -- knowing full well there will be doubters given the caliber of the players they just traded.
“We need to stay together like a family,” said Vázquez. “And, you know, show everybody that we can do it. It’s not saying. It’s doing. So I think we got a good chance to do it.”
And it will have to start with pitching -- which was the downfall of a disappointing 2019 season.
“We have Chris Sale, one of the best lefties in the game, and Eddie [Rodriguez], a big year last year, 19 wins and good ERA. So I think we’re in good shape,” Vazquez said.
Lefty starter Martín Pérez, slotted for the middle of the rotation, is one of the newcomers determined to help. When he watched Pedro Martinez on television during his youth, Perez dreamed of one day pitching for Boston.
“I told my mom, ‘I’m going to be there one day.’ Now I have a chance to pitch for this organization, and it’s really exciting,” said Pérez. “I’m going to do my job and stay here for a long time. It’s exciting. To be part of this organization is real special for me. We’re going to do special things, and we have to stay together and good things are going to happen.”
Now that Spring Training is here at last, you are probably wondering about the particulars.
With Spring Training set to begin soon, here are the nuts and bolts:
First pitchers and catchers workout
Full squad report date
First full-squad workout
New faces to know
OF Alex Verdugo
2B José Peraza
C Kevin Plawecki
INF Jonathan Arauz
LHP Martín Pérez
RHP Austin Brice
LHP Matt Hall
RHP Chris Mazza
LHP Josh Osich
LHP Jeffrey Springs
Top prospects to know
2B-SS Jeter Downs (No. 44 on MLB Pipeline’s Top 100 Prospects list)
1B Triston Casas (No. 77)
3B-1B Bobby Dalbec
RHP Bryan Mata
OF Jarren Duran
RHP Tanner Houck
LHP Jay Groome
Where is the facility?
This marks the ninth year that the Red Sox have held Spring Training at JetBlue Park at Fenway South. It is a beautiful complex located on Daniels Parkway in Fort Myers, Fla., approximately a 10-minute drive from the airport.
Can fans attend workouts?
All workouts at Fenway South are free and open to the public. Most workouts will start at 10 a.m. Fans may enter the complex through the West Gate beginning at 9:30 a.m. Additionally, tours of JetBlue Park are available throughout workouts and on all non-game days in February and March from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Tickets for tours may be purchased from the JetBlue Park box office beginning at 9:45 a.m. and cost $10 per person, with children 12 and under able to enter for free.
As has become tradition, the Red Sox will play their first game against Northeastern University, a seven-inning exhibition at 1:05 p.m. ET on Feb. 21.
First Grapefruit League game
The Sox will host the Rays on Feb. 22 at 1:05 p.m. ET to open their Grapefruit League slate.
First TV game
Fans will get their first chance to see the 2020 Red Sox against Northeastern on Feb. 21. In fact, the first three games will all be televised. That includes the aforementioned game against the Rays as well as the first road game at the Orioles on Feb. 23.
One other notable game
The Yankees make their only trip to Fort Myers on Feb. 29 as MLB’s most storied rivalry resumes.
Last game in Florida
The Sox play their final Grapefruit League game on March 24 -- at home against the Braves.
Boston will open its 2020 season in Toronto against the up-and-coming Blue Jays on March 26 for the start of a four-game series. First pitch is scheduled for 3:37 p.m. ET.