Sunday, April 4, 2010
Updated: April 5, 12:44 PM ET
Red Sox's newcomers make an impact
By Joe McDonald
BOSTON -- Players around the big leagues don't have a true understanding of what it takes to be successful in markets like Boston or New York unless they have played for the Red Sox or Yankees.
The Rivalry was on center stage Sunday night at Fenway Park. The Red Sox came away with a 9-7 victory over the Yankees on Opening Night, and it was a group of newcomers who proved crucial for Boston.
It was as if Mike Cameron, Marco Scutaro, Adrian Beltre and Scott Schoeneweis have played in a Red Sox uniform for years, given all their contributions in the win.
Offensively, Cameron, Scutaro and Beltre went a combined 5-for-9 with three RBIs and two runs scored. Defensively, all were sound, too. On the mound, Schoeneweis worked one perfect inning in relief with one strikeout.
Whether players talk about it or not, there is pressure playing for these two teams.
"I think it's great for them because there's a lot of pressure here and it's good to see them get the hits out of the way," said Red Sox veteran Kevin Youkilis, who went 3-for-4 with three runs and two RBIs in the victory. "Sometimes there's a little added pressure on the new guys, and will they be able to do it? It was good to see that because that's a big deal. And not just for the fans to be on their side, but for the players, too."
Even during spring training, it was clear the newest members of the Red Sox made an easy transition into the clubhouse and on the field. It was on display again Sunday night, and their professionalism and contributions are very much welcomed.
"They might be a little stressed out, they might be a little nervous, but it's also an exciting thing," Youkilis said. "They get to be on a great team in a great organization. There are some great players we have here, and they are guys that'll do a lot of good things for this team all year."
The Red Sox inked the slick-fielding Beltre to a one-year deal with the hope he can add some offense to the bottom of the order. He went 1-for-3 with a pair of RBIs.
"It's always good to get off to a good start, especially me because I'm not a first-half player," said Beltre. "It's good to help the team offensively and defensively. It's always good when you do something to help the team win. It's one game, but hopefully it keeps going."
When Cameron, 37, signed to play center field, moving Jacoby Ellsbury to left, the talk continued to be the team's defensive additions. Well, Cameron went 2-for-3 with a run scored and was thrilled with everyone's contributions.
"The continuity about the guys who have already been here and have done it over and over again makes it easier for all of us to fall in line and get a feel for everything," said Cameron.
The shortstop position hampered the Red Sox for the majority of 2009, so an upgrade was an offseason priority for general manager Theo Epstein. Scutaro was added, and it was only fitting that he assisted on the first out of the game, retiring Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter on a groundout. Scutaro made the routine plays and the flashy ones, too. He even chipped in offensively with two hits from the No. 9 spot in the order, a place he'll be for most of the season.
"We have to keep it going," he said. "We still have 161 to go."
Of all the newcomers, Schoeneweis is the freshest. The Sox signed the left-handed reliever with only a week remaining in camp, and he showed the organization enough to put him on the Opening Day roster. The Milwaukee Brewers released him this spring before the Sox claimed him.
While Schoeneweis was with the Diamondbacks last season, his wife, Gabrielle, was found dead in their home from a drug overdose, and Schoeneweis considered retirement in order to take care of his four children. He changed his mind, and he wants to be a key component in Boston's bullpen.
"It's been kind of like a whirlwind, how everything happened so fast and it ended up being a good situation," he said. "I know it sounds cliché when I say it, but I'm really just happy to be here and excited to be in the big leagues. After the year I had last year, this is the fun part. It's nice to have that feeling as a player after you've really dealt with some adversity off the field. It's fun to just go out there and enjoy what you do and not worry about anything else. I have that feeling again that I haven't had in a long time."
There's still an entire season to play, but if the first-game performances by the Sox's newcomers are any indication of how the year might turn out, it's going to be a successful one.
|Adrian Beltre drove in two runs in his first game with the Red Sox.|
Joe McDonald covers the Bruins and Red Sox for ESPNBoston.com.