FORT MYERS, Fla. -- Good morning from the Fort, where the suspense has lifted, kind of like the predictable fog that blankets the area.
The rosters have been posted for Thursday’s doubleheader against Northeastern and Boston College, and there are no big surprises. The regulars -- David Ortiz, Mike Napoli, Dustin Pedroia, Xander Bogaerts, Will Middlebrooks, Jackie Bradley Jr., Jonny Gomes, Mike Carp -- are all playing against Northeastern in the opener.
Boston College is bummed, but it’ll be a thrill for the Northeastern players.
“I’ll bet it’s going to be a blast for them,” outfielder Daniel Nava said. “A lot of them are probably from the greater Boston area. If I was in their shoes, I think it’d be pretty fun. I would have loved to have been them and been in college and played the Red Sox. Or for me, being from the Bay Area, playing the Giants when I was in college.”
Nava said a number of face-of-the-franchise Red Sox players -- including Pedroia, Ortiz and Jon Lester -- have mingled with the college players in past games.
“I know it means a lot to the college kids,” Nava said. “If Will Clark had come up to me, I’d have been like, ‘What? Will Clark is the best player of all time!’ That’s the equivalent for me. I would have done anything for Will Clark to talk to me. I know there are guys who go out of their way in batting practice to talk to guys and see how they’re doing.”
Nava will be seeking out BC’s Michael Strem, a freshman pitcher/infielder from St. Francis High School in Mountain View, Calif., Nava’s alma mater. It’ll be a favor for Nava’s former coach at St. Francis: Chris Bradford, who retired in 2004 with 634 wins but still teaches English at St. Francis. In addition to Nava, Bradford coached former major leaguers Eric Byrnes and John Gall. (At last year’s World Series, St. Francis was the only high school in America to be represented by two players: Nava and Daniel Descalso of the Cardinals.)
The intrigue in Thursday’s opener against Northeastern -- if there is such a thing as intrigue in a game like this -- centers around Grady Sizemore, who hasn’t played in an organized game since 2011.
“It’s an exciting day for me,” Sizemore said. “Definitely just being back there, I’m excited. I can’t wait to get there. Obviously, I’m not expecting too much. Just trying to go out there and have a good game and just get my feel back, get my timing back. Obviously, I want to go out and prove to them I can play, but I’m not trying to do that all in one day.”