Red Sox

Paoletti: O's, what a pain!


Paoletti: O's, what a pain!

By Mary Paoletti

On Monday, I took a breather from my NHL playoffs binge to check the Red Sox schedule.

"Three games with Baltimore," I thought. "Nice."

An 8-2 Boston streak was coinciding perfectly with the Orioles' 2-8 skid.

"How gloriously palindromic."

I didn't really think that. That'd be ridiculous if my inner monologue sounded so pretentious.

My real thought was much different. I let it fly aloud to my editor.

"Do you think it's safe to say, 'Oh, good. It's just the lowly Orioles,' again?"

He laughed.

I was thinking about those first few weeks of this 2011 season. Remember? The "Whipping Boy of the A.L. East" started out on a 4-0 tear and eventually positioned itself atop the division. And they stayed there, moving to 6-4, until the middle of the month. My hometown team was 2-9 through the same stretch.

Those weirdos who don't care about the hockey were in a lazy panic.

"What's going on?! Order was supposed to be restored!" they sobbed for five seconds before sobering up. "Well, it is only April."

"Carl Crawford is a bum! Worst trade in the history of--" they began, before getting distracted by something shiny.

It was half-hearted whining at best.

Not even the most sadistic of Sox fans believed that the division would shake down as it was. I didn't either. If there's one thing I've been able to count on in recent years, it's the Orioles being bad at baseball.

Baltimore's "Glory Years" -- 18 consecutive winning seasons from 1968 to 1985 -- are pretty dusty these days. Cal Ripken Jr. and his Iron Man streak (2,632 consecutive games played) kept people in seats during the 80s and 90s. But the team's last winning season was 1997, the year Ripken set his mark. The O's lost to Cleveland that year in the ALCS. Ripkin retired in 2001. Baltimore has never recovered.

Yet, they're still a pain.

Buck Showalter's club is currently up 2-0 in this three game tilt at Fenway South. Their .455 divisional record is better only than Boston's .435 mark. Be honest: if I asked you which club would break Boston's streak over its knee, would you have said Baltimore? No, you liar, you wouldn't have. This team's biggest push in the last 10 years was giving away the "Mr. Potato Head Sports Spud" at home games or something.

But that plastic potato might get the last laugh. No series with The Birds is "safe."

The Red Sox could get swept tonight. I doubt it would have major implications for the rest of the season. If history means anything, it's going to take more than three April wins against the Sox for Baltimore to prove any more than a nuisance.

But what a damn nuisance it is.

Mary Paoletti can be reached at Follow Mary on Twitter at http:twitter.comMary_Paoletti

Tyler Thornburg wants a normal spring, but don't be surprised if it's bumpy


Tyler Thornburg wants a normal spring, but don't be surprised if it's bumpy

MASHANTUCKET, Conn. — Don’t confuse the goal of a normal spring training with the likelihood one will follow.

Tyler Thornburg’s time with the Red Sox has been an ordeal. He’s optimistic he can have a regular spring training after undergoing surgery to treat thoracic outlet syndrome in June, a surgery that included the removal of a rib which is now on display at his parents’ house. 

He said Saturday, in fact, there’s a “very good chance” of a normal spring. But there’s also a chance his build up to regular-season form runs unevenly. And that would be OK.

“I started throwing Oct. 2, that’s when they kind of gave me the go-ahead to go tossing,” Thornburg said Saturday at Winter Weekend. “So I’ve been building up slowly since then, just trying to make sure we don’t have any setbacks or things like that, and ramp it up at a good pace. I’m throwing at 120-140 feet, so it’s about the pace I’d normally be on, granted I’d know 100 percent before where I was [under normal circumstances]. So things could be a little different."

Consider a few other things Thornburg said Saturday at Foxwoods.

“I don’t really think any of us really know how quick I’m going to bounce back necessarily as far as how quickly the recovery’s going to go in spring training after an outing,” Thornburg said. “But hopefully I mean it’s fantastic, and we can kind of just keep going.”

A bit of natural uncertainty. He missed an entire season, and the reason he missed an entire season is had a lot going on medically. 

What appeared to be a shoulder injury was far from your usual, say, rotator cuff matter. His was a nerve issue.

“Two of the neck muscles were incredibly hypertrophied, like overgrown, and they just started squeezing on the brachial plexus, where all the nerves run down,” Thornburg said. “I’d be sitting there watching a game and just a nerve thing would hit me and I’d almost get knocked over by it. As well as the first rib was getting pulled up and my hand would just turn red some days if I was just standing there, cutting off the blood circulation. Then all the scar tissue and buildup along the nerves they had to go and dissect all that off there.”

So the injury wasn’t simple, and now, the recovery process is really a whole body matter. 

"There’s a lot off things your arm has to get used to between using different muscles, as well as my arm was kind of working through a scenario where it was trying to overcompensate for this and [trying] to relieve that,” Thornburg said. “So just worked a different way. Now your body has to remember how to actually properly work again. It’s a lot of neuromuscular stuff.”

Thornburg noted the possibility too he could be ready to go to start the season but not really ready to go back to back yet. Would the Sox then carry him on the big league roster, or continue to build him up elsewhere? 

Velocity won’t be there right away for Thornburg, he said: “But I mean that’s what spring training is for for most guys anyway.”

There’s a lot of optimism, but naturally, there’s a lot to be seen. 

“The rehab process, it's been a massive rollercoaster,” Thornburg said. “It really has. But I mean, I've been trying to take it week to week which has been a lot easier. There's the good days and bad days, just different kinds.”


Kimbrel's newborn daughter treated in Boston for heart condition


Kimbrel's newborn daughter treated in Boston for heart condition

MASHANTUCKET, Conn. — Coming off a phenomenal season, Red Sox closer Craig Kimbrel spent the offseason in Boston. Not to be closer to Fenway Park, but for proximity to something far more important: the city’s first-rate medical community.

Kimbrel’s daughter, Lydia Joy, was born in November with a heart issue.


“It’s been a lot,” Kimbrel said Saturday at Red Sox Winter Weekend at Foxwoods. “My wife and I, we’ve kept it kind of private. But when she was born, she had some heart defects so we decided to stay in Boston and work with Children’s Hospital and just been going through that ordeal and it’s had its ups and downs but she’s doing great right now."

Focusing wasn't always easy in season, but Kimbrel said his daughter's condition has motivated him even more.

“They always say when you have a child, things change and they have," he said. "I’m definitely more focused towards her and her needs and our family needs. It’s just one day at a time and give everything I got. It’s real easy to look at her and understand everything I’m doing is for her and it makes it a lot easier.”

Kimbrel and his wife, Ashley, found out early in the 2017 season that they would be staying in Boston for the winter and were preparing.

“Everything has kind of gone as planned so far,” Kimbrel said. “She’ll have another surgery during spring training, so I’ll come back to Boston for a week and do that, but it’s been good. It’s definitely been tough, but one of the happiest, joyful times of our life.”

"Being in Boston, we feel blessed, because the doctors are the best in the world. Being able to work with them has been great.”

Kimbrel said his wife has stayed in touch with Travis Shaw’s wife. The Shaw family has had a similar experience, Kimbrel said.

“It seems like they’re doing pretty good,” Kimbrel said. “It’s been very encouraging to see.”