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Monday, April 2, 2012
Takeaways from Fort: Breaking camp

By Rick Weber



FORT MYERS, Fla. -- A few takeaways from the Fort, where “getaway day” included a 4-2 Red Sox victory over the Nationals, who could take over Boston’s former digs at City of Palms Park in 2014 and join the Red Sox and Twins in southwest Florida:

Worthless paper: What do the pundits’ predictions mean? Not a lot, according to outfielder Darnell McDonald.

Most preseason magazines and publications have the Red Sox finishing third in the AL East and failing to secure either of the two wild cards. Sports Illustrated even warns that the Blue Jays could topple the Red Sox, whom SI describes as “fundamentally the same team” despite the arrival of Bobby Valentine.

“A lot of them had us winning the World Series last year, so that stuff doesn’t mean anything,” McDonald said. “That’s why we play the game. How many picked the Cardinals to win last year? It’s all about playing well at the right time and finishing strong. Everything else will take care of itself.”

Aaron Cook
Aaron Cook capped a stellar spring (1.91 ERA) with five strong innings against the Nationals.
Valentine’s only prediction as the Red Sox break camp is that the team will look like it has put in the work.

“From our room -- the coaches’ and manager’s room -- I think we’re very satisfied that every facet of the game of baseball has been prepared, and I think prepared properly,” Valentine said before the game.

After the game, summing up six weeks in Florida, he quipped: “I didn’t think I’d last this long so it’s kind of a pleasant surprise for me. It was great. Me personally, I enjoyed it. We played the way I thought we would. Got a lot of work done. So I’m ready to leave Florida, and I think the guys are too.”

Pleasant surprise: Aaron Cook was brilliant in five innings, giving up just two hits and one run while commanding a very effective sinker.

Cook, who missed all of the Rockies’ spring training last season and was on the 60-day disabled list with a fractured finger, finished spring training with a 1.91 ERA in 15 1/3 innings.

“It’s been very productive,” Cook said. “To be able to go out and stay healthy all spring, not miss any starts and not have any setbacks, that’s something that hasn’t happened the last couple of years. So to take that away this year is a definite plus.

“I’m going to go to Pawtucket, make a few starts, just try to stay ready, build my pitch count, get deep into games and see what happens.”

Said Valentine, “Coming in, I didn’t expect him to be giving us five pretty good innings the last day of spring training, so it’s a very pleasant development. It’s great to have that kind of depth in our starting rotation.”

Serious sellouts: The Red Sox sold out all 16 home games and set a team spring training attendance record with 151,713.