It's been nearly two weeks since spring training games began for the Red Sox, which means that, even through all the days off and two at bat games, players have collected some decent playing time. And, as usual when dealing with tiny sample sizes, that's resulted in both some amazingly good and some strikingly bad stat lines.
So who's hot and who's not in spring? Let's take a look at some of the extreme performances.
1. Oscar Tejeda
Far from a household name, Oscar Tejeda was one of the bigger breakouts in the Sox' system last year, making good contact with regularity and putting on a surprising show of power for a middle infielder. So far it's more of the same in spring training, just a bit more extreme. Through 23 at bats, Tejeda has collected nine hits, including two triples and a home run-good for a line of .391/.440/.696.
It can't hurt that he's done it in some clutch moments, too. That lone home run he hit? It came during Thursday's game against the Rays, with the Sox down a run in the bottom of the ninth with two outs. All-in-all, he's picked up eight RBI-the highest mark on the team.
2. Jose Iglesias
At .381/.435/.381/, Iglesias' production isn't quite that of Tejeda's, but any evidence that Iglesias has some kind of bat-even if it's a largely powerless contact onee-is great news. After all, Iglesias' defensive stock is the same that it's always been. If he can avoid being a black hole in the lineup, then there's a place for him in this team's lineup in the future.
What's almost certain, though, is that Jose Iglesias will not be breaking camp with the team, and he's probably nothing more than a September call-up at this point. Since the Sox signed the defensive maverick, fans and pundits alike have been talking about Iglesias coming up to replace an injured player or to take over the shortstop position, but there's no way the Sox take such an aggressive approach with a player who struggled to hit in Double-A last year (albeit with an injured hand).
3. Mike Cameron/J.D. Drew
Two of the players most likely to find themselves platooning in some form with one another, Mike Cameron and J.D. Drew have both been playing like all-stars to start the spring. His .308/.438/.538 line seems like a super-charged version of his 2008 and 2009 seasons, without any of the troubles he encountered in 2010.
Meanwhile, at .400/.400/.467, Cameron is only really beating him in the average department, but he's looked very healthy so far this year, even flashing some speed with a stolen base and infield single. Hopefully Sox fans will get to see what they should have had last year.
4. Clay Buchholz
If there's one guy on the team who's likely to have a letdown season, it's Clay Buchholz. His peripherals just did not match up with his ERA, and even he has acknowledged that it's going to be nearly impossible to match his incredible 2010. The good news, though, is that so far it's looking like the drop is going to be a small one. He's held opponents scoreless through the first nine innings of spring, inducing a lot of weak contact, and allowing only two walks. His changeup has looked absolutely filthy, and when that pitch is on, it's just hard to deal with Clay.
5. Bobby Jenks
Jenks has only made three appearances so far, but so far so good. He's spotting his fastball brilliantly, and throwing a strong curveball that's got hitters off balance. The results? Three innings, one hit, four strikeouts, bad contact. It's hard not to like how the Sox' bullpen is shaping up right now.
1. Daisuke Matsuzaka
After four years with Daisuke, Red Sox fans' patience is not so much wearing thin as it is completely gone. So it's no surprise if they don't give him the benefit of the doubt when it comes to a bad spring training. So far, Matsuzaka just hasn't been good. At all. 13 runs, 11 of them earned, in just under nine innings. Three home runs, more walks than strikeouts. It's not just difficult to find something encouraging about his performance-it's downright impossible.
2. Jed Lowrie
Terry Francona has made it clear from the beginning that Jed Lowrie and Marco Scutaro are not in a positional battle. If they were, though, it's pretty clear who would be winning-and it's not because Marco Scutaro is doing particularly well. Instead, just as Jed Lowrie was going about his incredible hot streak last year the right way-drawing walks and hitting home runs, the sort of things that don't so much depend on luck-he's currently slumping in entirely the wrong way. Five strikeouts in 21 at bats, no walks, and not a lot of power are all contributing to a disappointing .238/.238/.333 performance.
3. Kevin Youkilis
After starting off with a bang in the college double headers, Youkilis' spring has slowed to a crawl. With just four hits in 19 at bats, Youkilis has just been finding a lot of gloves when he puts the bat on the ball. It's nothing to worry about, exactly, but it would certainly be better to see him lacing line drives and home runs all over the place.
4. Dustin Pedroia
There has been a distinct lack of lasers so far this spring, with Pedroia sitting at .167/.250/.222 through seven games. What's worse is that the lasers have turned into double play balls about as often as not. Pedroia says his foot is feeling great, which is certainly good news, but if Pedroia is a bit rusty after such a long DL stint, it's not a huge surprise.
5. Carl Crawford
So far, of the Sox' two big offseason acquisitions, one hasn't played, and the other took ten tries to get his first hit. Everybody panic!
The good news is that Crawford has been reaching with some regularity since that opening dry spell, and has already picked up a few stolen bases on the occasions he has reached first.
We've still got four weeks left before the season proper starts, which leaves plenty of time for guys to work their way out of or into slumps. After seeing what happened last year, when the Sox started off as cold as ice, maybe it's a good thing to get this stuff out of the way in March, when nobody's really counting.