FORT MYERS, Fla. — The first spring training start is usually forgotten.

Sure, there was Boston College’s Johnny Ayers hitting a first-pitch double against Daisuke Matsuzaka (having heard the pitcher proclaim he would be throwing a fastball for his first pitch as a Red Sox). That will always be the be-all, end-all spring training debut tale.

Brian Johnson (Jasen Vinlove/USA Today Sports)

Brian Johnson (Jasen Vinlove/USA Today Sports)

FORT MYERS, Fla. — The first spring training start is usually forgotten.

Sure, there was Boston College’s Johnny Ayers hitting a first-pitch double against Daisuke Matsuzaka (having heard the pitcher proclaim he would be throwing a fastball for his first pitch as a Red Sox). That will always be the be-all, end-all spring training debut tale.

But most of the outings are along the line of 2016, when Sean O’Sullivan got the nod.

This year, however, there is something special about the honor of kicking off the exhibition season. At least that’s the case for Brian Johnson.

The lefty was informed Tuesday that he will be getting the nod to start against Northeastern Thursday.

“Yeah, just because it’s my first time being around each other feeling good. Knowing whether it goes good or bad, I still feel like myself,” said Johnson when asked if this start might be special for him.

Two years ago, spring training was where Johnson truly got on the Red Sox’ major league radar, leaving camp as a legitimate option if one of the chief members of the starting rotation was sidelined. But then came an elbow injury, which ultimately led to an uncomfortable major league debut on July 21, 2015 in Houston (4 runs on 4 hits and 4 walks in 4 1/3 innings).

And, finally, there was the anxiety issues that derailed his season at Triple-A Pawtucket, making him restart his season for nearly two months.

“This all started for me when that elbow injury happened,” Johnson said. “I didn’t know if I should say something. I knew I was on the cusp of getting called up. I have no feeling in my hand. I’m having to change arm slots in terms of knowing where the ball is going in the sense of being able to feel my hand. If you throw one, sometimes it felt like I was hitting my funny bone. I was thinking, ‘Is it going to be numb? What pitch is it going to do it on? Is it going to be in first inning, or the fourth inning?’ I never got comfortable and I always had that in the back of my head. I don’t have to worry about that anymore.

“Without a doubt it’s good to get back on the mound, especially after an up and down year last year. It’s good to get back out there.”

After Johnson pitches two innings, Jamie Callahan will come in for relief against the Huskies. The Red Sox will then send out Henry Owens to pitch the Grapefruit League opener against the Mets Friday at JetBlue Park, followed by Roenis Elias vs. the Twins in another home tilt.

Blog Author: 
Rob Bradford

Chris Sale joins us now! https://t.co/BuwxpSDKZ3 pic.twitter.com/uyBQ1njbiD

— Kirk and Callahan (@KirkAndCallahan) February 22, 2017

It’s apparent that Chris Sale has the right attitude to not just play in Boston, but flourish.

In an interview with Kirk & Callahan Wednesday from Red Sox Spring Training in Fort Myers, Fla., the southpaw said he’s unfazed by the pressure that comes with stepping inside Fenway Park on a nightly basis.

“It’s just a bunch of crap,” Sale said. “Working hard, being a good teammate and leaving it all out there when I’m out there. Those are the important things. It’s not this [or] that stat, this year [or] that year, or anything else. It’s about winning games and being a good teammate.”

While it’s been a drama-free camp so far for the Red Sox, Sale caused quite a stir with the White Sox last year. He was involved in a number of controversies, including an incident in which he cut up the team’s throwback jerseys prior to a game in July. Sale also feuded with White Sox management over whether Adam LaRoche’s teenage son would be permitted to hang around the team on a daily basis.

Though those issues may have expedited Sale’s departure from Chicago –– there are two years left on his contract –– he says the media exaggerated them.

“That’s another thing that I think gets blown out of proportion a little bit. I was there for, what, seven years, and there were maybe two or three incidents,” he said. “I think people make it out like we were at the Royal Rumble and boxing gloves were the next step. It was nothing like that, it couldn’t have been further from that. It’s just one of those things when you’re passionate about something and you have drive and you care a lot, stuff like that is going to happen.”

The Red Sox traded two of their top prospects, infielder Yoan Moncada and flamethrower Michael Kopech, to acquire Sale this offseason. He says the steep price the Red Sox paid to bring him aboard only further motives him to produce on the field.

“When someone makes a move like that, and they put all of their marbles out there, it’s exciting,” Sale said. “They put a lot on the line to get me here, and I’m very appreciative of that. I want to try to do everything I can to help this team get to the championship, get to the postseason, get to the World Series and win it. I’ve said it before: this was one of the best teams in the league without me. So I’m just here to help them push through and get over that hump.”

Despite finishing in the top 10 in Cy Young voting in each of the last five years, Sale has never pitched in the postseason. His performance on the mound will ultimately dictate whether the Red Sox play in October, but right now, he’s saying all of the right things.

Blog Author: 
Alex Reimer

MLBPA chief Tony Clark (WEEI.com photo)

MLBPA chief Tony Clark (WEEI.com photo)

FORT MYERS, Fla. — While the head of the MLB Players Association, Tony Clark, will be visiting every major league camp this spring training, it is a pretty good bet that he won’t be getting the kind of question sent his way 19 minutes into his session with the Red Sox media.

The query came courtesy veteran WBZ reporter Jonny Miller:

“Tony, any concerns over the World Baseball Classic being played in South Korea with that idiot in North Korea with the button? Any concerns with playing in that area?”

After a quick smile and chuckle, Clark offered a succinct response.

“Well, I think where we’re at right now, we’re going to try to make the best of where we are. To the extent that they may have to be moved, I don’t believe we’re at that point yet based on where we are on the calendar. But should it ever need to be if something does happen that needs to be reflected in a full stop and an adjustment, then we would have to make that adjustment sooner rather than later.

“I think where we’re at right now we’re going to try to make the best of where we are. To the extent that they may have to be moved, I don’t believe we’re at that point yet based on where we are on the calendar. But should it ever need to be if something does happen that needs to be reflected in a full stop in an adjustment we would have to make that decision sooner rather than later.”

The Red Sox will be sending Xander Bogaerts to South Korea to participate with the Netherlands representative in the upcoming World Baseball Classic. The first round involving Pool A (Israel, Korea, Taiwan, Netherlands) kicks off in Seoul on March 6.

Blog Author: 
Rob Bradford

FORT MYERS, Fla. — They are behind everybody else, but not enough to alter the conversation.

Drew Pomeranz (Jasen Vinlove/USA Today Photo)

Drew Pomeranz (Jasen Vinlove/USA Today Photo)

FORT MYERS, Fla. — They are behind everybody else, but not enough to alter the conversation.

Steven Wright (shoulder) and Drew Pomeranz (elbow) didn’t throw their first spring training bullpen session until Monday, with most of the other pitchers having already thrown to hitters in a batting practice setting. But, according to John Farrell, both starters are still expected to have enough time to be ready for the first time through the rotation come Opening Day.

“Yes, based on where they are right now, with the number of days left in spring training, provided there are no setbacks, we’ll have ample time to get them to the mound to build up their pitch counts with a typical spring training,” the Red Sox manager said.

Farrell noted that the duo — who will remain the same schedule — is slated to throw the next bullpen session Thursday.

– Farrell said the plan is for the Red Sox to go watch the movie “Patriot’s Day” as a team after Wednesday’s workout.

“A team building opportunity. ‘Patriot’s Day’ is the movie,” he said. “Opened up to the players and their families. To me, that’s a part of our recent history, a significant moment, and I think it’s us and the coaching staff and I think really Pedey [Dustin Pedroia] is the only player remaining from that day’s lineup in our organization. Still, it’s a big part of who we are in Boston and I think it will be important for our guys to understand what we’ve gone to.”

– With MLB Players Association chief Tony Clark in town, the topic of rule changes came up with Farrell. One note interest was the manager’s suggestion that a pitch clock is seemingly inevitable.

“The one thing that is, as we’re seeing as it relates to pace of game and so much emphasis on it, I wouldn’t be surprised if in a short period of time, I’m not saying this year, but we’re probably going to be looking at a pitch clock overall,” he said.

Farrell added, “I think we’ve done a good job of not trying to change too many things at once and there’s been incremental changes along the way. Just because we are talking strike zone, pace of play, clocks, I don’t think we’ll see five or six things change at once.”

Blog Author: 
Rob Bradford

There are two ways to interpret David Ortiz’s beach selfie from over the weekend: Either the slugger is enjoying his retirement, or he misses baseball de

David Ortiz retired from baseball last season after 14 years with the Red Sox. (Greg M. Cooper/USA TODAY Sports)

David Ortiz retired from baseball last season after 14 years with the Red Sox. (Greg M. Cooper/USA TODAY Sports)

There are two ways to interpret David Ortiz’s beach selfie from over the weekend: Either the slugger is enjoying his retirement, or he misses baseball dearly and wants affirmation that he made the right decision to walk away. Regardless, Ortiz will be around Fenway Park this season –– and may announce some of the action on the field as well.

In an interview with Boston Herald Radio Tuesday, Red Sox president Sam Kennedy said there’s a chance Ortiz will show up in the broadcast booth sometime in 2017.

“It’ll be fun to watch the next stage of his career,” Kennedy said. “He’s got a lot of different interests. Broadcasting is certainly one. It’d be interesting to see if he goes into national broadcasting. We’d certainly love to have him part of our local broadcast team on a limited basis. He wanted to dip his toe into that water.”

Ortiz has been a part of Fox’s postseason broadcasts in the past, most recently during the 2014 World Series. His former teammates, Pedro Martinez and Kevin Millar, have carved out lucrative television careers with the MLB Network and TBS, respectively. Earlier this year, Ortiz reportedly met with the Red Sox to discuss joining the NESN team.

The Red Sox will retire Ortiz’s No. 34 at an undisclosed date this season.

Blog Author: 
Alex Reimer

John Farrell joins us now! https://t.co/BuwxpSDKZ3 pic.twitter.com/wkzTbqqxYD

— Kirk and Callahan (@KirkAndCallahan) February 21, 2017