Red Sox humbled by visit with wounded vets
BALTIMORE — For Red Sox first baseman Mike Napoli, the best part of the team’s trip to Washington on Tuesday was not visiting the White House and meeting the president.
The team’s less-public event at the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center was much more meaningful to Napoli. A group of Red Sox players and coaches met wounded veterans, some recently returned from overseas.
“Just to put some smiles on people’s faces meant so much. Being around those patients makes you appreciate your own life,” Napoli said. “One guy, both of his legs were gone and he had surgery a day or two ago. It was great to see his outlook and the attitude he had.”
What struck the Red Sox was how the soldiers wanted to get started on their rehabilitation and rejoin their units in the field.
“That’s truly something else, a character check,” Jonny Gomes said. “Are you really tired? Come on now. Are you really hungry? Come on now.”
Gomes has been a longtime supporter of veterans. He considered joining the Marines before the Rays drafted him in 2001.
“It’s pretty humbling to see how young these guys are,” Gomes said. “Not only how young they are, but how injured they are at a young age. To see the impact [the visit] had on them was pretty special.”
One patient’s wife was wearing a Yankees jersey.
“It was pretty funny,” Napoli said. “Everybody had a good time with it. It’s good we get to go there and help those people. We’re fortunate to be in that position.”
Dustin Pedroia visited several patients in their rooms.
“I just wanted to thank them for what they do for us,” he said. “It was a great day. We got to enjoy the White House and then see those veterans and what they do. The way those guys talk and their attitude, it makes you think.”
Manager John Farrell was proud of how the players represented the organization.
“That puts life in perspective,” he said. “When you see what others have fought for and what they personally have sacrificed, it’s a moment where you really pause to recognize what’s important. It’s humbling and it’s grounding.”
The Celtics, who played in Washington Wednesday, arrived at Walter Reed about 15 minutes after the Red Sox did. Farrell met Celtics coach Brad Stevens for the first time.
“Good day to share a common cause,” Farrell said. “[Stevens] was on his way to his bus and we were on our way to ours and had a chance to introduce and catch up for a moment.”
Victorino out sick
Shane Victorino was placed on the 15-day disabled list Monday with a strained right hamstring. Now he’s dealing with a case of the flu that has him staying in the team hotel.
“We wanted to keep him out of the clubhouse and not spread what he’s dealing with,” Farrell said.
Victorino will travel back to Boston with the team after the game Thursday.
Lefthanded reliever Craig Breslow left the team and will start a rehabilitation assignment with Triple A Pawtucket on Thursday. He is scheduled to pitch on consecutive days and will be evaluated from there.
Breslow is on the disabled list with a shoulder strain.
The Red Sox invited all 48 players from the 2013 team to attend Friday’s pregame ceremony at Fenway Park and receive their World Series rings.
“An invite has been extended to all of them, even if they’re on an active roster elsewhere,” Farrell said.
Ryan Dempster, who went on the restricted list in February, is expected to attend. The Red Sox are not expecting shortstop Stephen Drew, who remains a free agent.
There was a moment of silence before the game to honor the memories of Boston firefighters Michael Kennedy and Edward Walsh . . . The Red Sox released minor league outfielders Juan Carlos Linares and Scott Cousins. Linares, 29, was signed out of Cuba in 2010 and played four seasons in the organization. He twice was invited to major league spring training and played in the Arizona Fall League in 2010. Linares had an .811 OPS over 239 minor league games but never came close to a call-up. Cousins was signed to a minor league contract on Jan. 23. The 29-year-old has played parts of four seasons in the majors . . . According to MLB.com, the bonus pool for draft picks has gone up 1.7 percent from last season and the Red Sox will have $6.3 million for the 11 picks they have in the first 10 rounds of the draft. That figure will go up if Drew signs with another team and the Sox receive another supplemental first-round pick as compensation. The Sox will have $1.8 million to spend on international players. That pool is determined based on last season’s standings . . . One of the improvements made to Fenway Park during the winter was a new net behind home plate that has thinner mesh. The dugouts also were renovated . . . The Red Sox are now offering $9 standing room tickets for high school and college students. There are also six “theme nights” for students with $20 seats. That includes, yes, Toga Night April 8. Tickets and information are at redsox.com/student.