With the Patriots dominating the headlines in the Boston area papers, there isn’t a lot of news concerning the Red Sox even though spring training is just under 18 days away.
I had hoped to find a little more information on this to maybe bring you some snippets from what Terry Francona had to say to the Virginia Cavaliers baseball team at it’s annual Step Up to the Plate banquet to kick of their season. I can tell you Francona was on hand last night to talk the Cavaliers baseball team in front of a sold-out audience.
For those of you who didn’t know, Francona was the National Player of the Year in college baseball back in 1980 while he was student-athlete at the University of Arizona. One of his teammates with the Wildcats was none other than his bench coach, Brad Mills. The pair were also roommates while at Arizona.
While at Arizona, Francona was named the College World Series MVP as he helped lead the Wildcats to a national championship in 1980. After that he was selected in the first round by the Montreal Expos. He made his MLB debut in 1981 with the Expos and was a teammate of Mills from 1981-83.
Virginia coach Brian O’Connor was very happy to secure the Francona for the banquet.
â€œTiming is everything,â€ Oâ€™Connor said. â€œTo be able to get the world championship manager to come here to Charlottesville for this dinner is a great opportunity, and part of the reason that I am excited about Terry coming here, and specifically talking to our team, is that he has worn the college baseball uniform before.
â€œIn 1980 he was the national player of the year in college baseball at the University of Arizona, so he has been in our playersâ€™ shoes before and he can speak to being a college athlete. I think he will be great for our players and great for the fans that are in attendance, too, to hear from him.â€
Francona and Dustin Pedroia shared a special bond during the 2007 season. They played cribbage together before the games. As we all know Francona says he kicked Pedroia’s ass most of the time while Pedroia says the same but with him doing it to Francona.
We all know of Pedroia’s struggles early in the season when he was hitting around .180 but Francona never wavered from putting Pedroia in the lineup everyday.
“I wasn’t about to give up on someone who was so highly regarded by so many people in baseball, including myself.”
Pedroia has worked hard in the offseason, especially once he got his cast off. Hopefully, he can continue his great play at second base and at the plate as the Red Sox look to win the World Series again in 2008.
“I’m going to continue to work hard and do the things I’m capable of. I’m not going to hit 50 home runs,” said Pedroia. “My job is to play well at second base, get on base and let our big hitters drive me in.”
Nick Cafardo reports that the Red Sox have until November 10th to exercise the option on the contract of Manny Ramirez. He also states that the Red Sox will wait until the end of the season to see what Manny does at the plate to exercise the option.
Francona opens up Cavs’ season [DailyProgress.com]
Pedroia primed to build on success [MetroWest Daily News]
Show and tell [Boston Globe]