At the moment, the City of Palms Park is mostly empty. Aside from Jonathan Papelbon, who's started his spring training early in hopes of rebounding from a disappointing 2010, the Red Sox are spread across the country. Even the equipment remains safely stored away in Fenway Park.
That's all due to change starting on Tuesday, when a truck will pull up outside of Fenway, pick up the necessary supplies from its depths, and start the 1,200-mile haul to Florida. This will be accompanied by the usual pomp and ceremony that only Red Sox Nation could dream up for so mundane an event, as team ambassadors meet and greet fans to finally, after four long and (especially this year) hard months of winter, welcome back the baseball season.
Though pitchers and catchers aren't due to report until Feb. 14, invariably, as Jonathan Papelbon has already done, some will choose to arrive early. Others have a head start. Jarrod Saltalamacchia, for instance, spent much of the offseason on the opposite side of the peninsula, taking a crash-course on catcher defense.
While Sox fans no longer get to enjoy the drama of wondering when exactly Manny Ramirez will show up for camp, there are still stories to follow for the entire month-and-a-half. Seeing Adrian Gonzalez and Carl Crawford in Red Sox paraphernalia that doesn't have to go over a suit will be a landmark moment, and the progress of the former's recovery from off-season surgery will be interesting to keep an eye on.
Also worth consideration are the unofficial position battles. Though the roster seems to be set publicly speaking, Hideki Okajima and Marco Scutaro are very likely to face pressure from Felix Doubront and Jed Lowrie respectively. Their performances in spring training could be enough to force a move from Tito.
Here are the key dates to keep an eye on as we move closer and closer to baseball season:
- February 8 -- Truck Day
- February 14 -- Pitchers and Catchers Report
- February 18 -- Position Players Report
- February 26 – First Games of Spring Training (vs. NU, vs. BC)
- March 4 – First Televised Game (vs. NYY)
- April 1 – Opening Day (vs. TEX)