Red Sox face Pirates, open at home for first time in 7 years
BOSTON (AP) The Red Sox returned to Boston from spring training to find the city blanketed by a fresh coat of snow that arrived less than 48 hours before they were scheduled to open the season.
By the time they arrived at Fenway Park for one last workout on Sunday, the snow had melted off the field and been cleared away from the seating bowl, and the ballpark was ready for Monday's opener against the Pittsburgh Pirates - a rematch of the first World Series in 1903, won by Boston five games to three.
''You get home and there's snow on the ground,'' said second baseman Dustin Pedroia, who with his 11th straight opening day start would be just one behind Carl Yastrzemski's franchise record for the most consecutive Red Sox openers at the same position. ''I guess I'm kind of like a housefly; you can't get rid of him. I just try to show up every year and win.''
Workers hosed down the seating area on Sunday, when temperatures rose into the 50s a day after a rare April storm that dropped a couple of inches of snow in Boston and as much as half a foot in the surrounding area. The Fenway field was clear and green - though a little smaller after the expansion of the century-old dugouts and the addition of two rows of seats between them. (The Pesky Pole down the right-field line also was refurbished.)
All in all, the Red Sox were glad to be back.
''You know what you're getting into coming up here,'' said Rick Porcello, who is from New Jersey and pitched the first six years of his career in Detroit. ''I'm pretty familiar with it, pitching up here all my life.''
Porcello said he will be starting his first season opener since high school, a position he earned by virtue of collecting the AL Cy Young Award with a major league-leading 22 wins last season - including a 17-3 record in his last 20 starts. It became an even easier decision for manager John Farrell when 2012 Cy Young winner David Price came down with elbow/arm soreness, joining Drew Pomeranz (and relievers Carson Smith and Tyler Thornburg) on the disabled list to start the season.
Pirates righty Gerrit Cole is also making his first opening day start, trying to forget about a 2016 season in which he went a career-worst 7-10 record with a 3.88 ERA. He'll have Andrew McCutchen behind him as usual, but in right field instead of center.
Farrell wasn't ready to commit to an opening day lineup yet, saying he was waiting to see how the flu-stricken Mitch Moreland came through the workout. The bug worked its way through the team, and coaches Mike Brenly and Victor Rodriguez were sent home early from the team's barnstorming trip to Annapolis, Maryland.
''I don't think we're completely out of the woods,'' Farrell said. ''But I don't think to the point where we're going to be missing anybody tomorrow.''
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