As the Hot Stove tends to its last bits of tinder, and pitchers and catchers get ready to report for duty in less than a month, a group of past, present, and future Red Sox stoked the flames at Jillian’s Saturday for the seventh “New Stars for Young Stars” benefit.
With Fenway Park looming next door, the subject most on the players’ minds was getting down to the business of playing ball. One veteran was happy to finalize his contract, the youngsters were eager to prove themselves, and everybody sounded ready for spring training to begin.
“A lot of it is excitement, enthusiasm, and maybe a little bit of anxiety,” said lefthanded reliever Craig Breslow, who came to terms on a two-year deal. “We put in all the work in the offseason and everybody feels great now.
“It’s just a matter of putting on spikes and running around on grass as opposed to sneakers and a hardwood floor.”
Breslow, 32, was the Sox’ final arbitration-eligible player left unsigned. He got a two-year, $6.25 million deal with a team option for 2015 worth $3.9 million.
Breslow pitched in 23 games for the Red Sox after being acquired from Arizona at the trade deadline.
Meanwhile, free agent lefty Rich Hill believes it’s only a matter of time before he has a place to pitch.
“I’ve been working at Boyle’s in Woburn with a couple of the other guys and it’s been going really well,” Hill said. “The biggest thing is health. Coming into this season is really the first time that I feel I’ll be healthy for the whole season since 2010.”
Hill has been with the Sox the last three years and could be back for a fourth.
“I’ve talked to John [Farrell] a couple times and they say they are highly interested,” he said.
After his first full season as a pro with Low Single-A Greenville, 2011 first-round pick Blake Swihart is hoping to grow into his role as the organization’s top catching prospect.
“I’m very excited and ready to go right now,” said Swihart, 20. “I’ve been preparing my body for the full grind of the season.
“I got a little taste of it last year. I didn’t play every day, but I was able to get the feel of the season and now my body is prepared and ready.”
Another first-rounder, Deven Marrero (2012), will contend with a little more than just the baseball grind as he finishes up his studies at Arizona State, with an eye toward graduating in May.
“I’m kind of used to playing and taking classes,” said Marrero.
After playing in 64 games with the Lowell Spinners last season, the shortstop is also learning about the offseason grind.
“I work out with [Royals first baseman] Eric Hosmer every day,” said Marrero. “He’s been teaching me the ropes on how to handle the offseason.”
Others in attendance Saturday included Clayton Mortensen, Chris Carpenter, Brandon Workman, Anthony Ranaudo, Garin Cecchini, and Doug Mirabelli.
The event was an opportunity for fans to get autographs, shoot pool, and bowl with players, with proceeds going to the Jimmy Fund.