Wednesday, June 09, 2004

Oh Happy Day

As Silvio likes to say, "Just when I thought I was out....". The Ninth unfortunately had to miss last night's game, so I can't relay much about how Pedro actually looked. From all tell however, he was spectacular. Best start of the year, perhaps the best in a long while. Fastball consistently in the mid 90's with sharp curveball and control. Sounds like a blast, too bad I missed it. Luckily, the evening was captured on TiVo (get one - now) and will be perused at my leisure - the way God intended it. So last night, we had a dominant Pedro, tonight we have the return of Nomar. Holy Christmas.

Nothing has been announced officially yet, but Dirtdogs has him coming back this eve, and they're right far more than they're wrong. This brings up a few points of interest. Firstly, be prepared for lots of days off. The average manager is pretty careful with the returning injured, and Francona has shown an extreme, shall we say, sensitivity, to this issue. I would expect him to start tonight and tomorrow (one of the two at DH), then have Friday off, followed by starts in both weekend games. Monday is a travel day, so his next game off will probably be Thursday, which is a day game after a night game. Managers hate that. He also will probably sit on Saturday, for the same reason. Fans are able to accept this sort of thing early on, but take this as a warning, it will go on longer than you wish. Obviously they're using mittens with Nomar (and their other wounded), so don't expect to have your Everday Eddie back quite yet.

Another issue is the lineup. Does Tito break Nomar in in the two hole, or does he give him back his usual three slot? Or perhaps will he try out the Manny/Nomar switch he discussed in Spring Training? Hard to say. My guess is tonight's lineup will look like this:

Damon CF
Youkilis 3B
Garciaparra SS
Ramirez LF
Ortiz DH
Varitek C
Millar RF
Daubach 1B
Reese 2B

Maybe Bellhorn gets the start, and the 6-8 hitters could move a bit, but that's my best hunch. Looks a lot better, doesn't it? But let's not get too greedy. Word is Nomar extended his rehab mostly to get his timing right, and we'll probably see some residue from that tonight. Usually against returning players, pitchers go with lots of offspeed stuff and fastballs on the hands. They figure either your bat is slow or your timing is off, and for a few days they're probably right. So look for that. But, let's not forget Nomar's triumphant return from wrist injury in '01 -- first game back: game-tying home run. Can't you hear Doughnuts now? "Welcome Back Nomar Garciaparra....". Ah promos. Anyway, the point here is: we're all very excited to have Nomar back, but we should temper our enthusiasm with reasonable expectations. He might be great, but he probably won't. He'll miss some days, and he'll take some ugly swings, and responsible fans ought to prepare themselves. Honestly though - screw responsibility. I hope he hits one out.