Wearing a grey Patriots hoodie wrapped in a Dustin Pedroia Red Sox jersey, Kerry Burns made her way down Van Ness Street and raised her hands over her head for a brief moment among snowflakes that seemed to be growing as they fell from the sky.
“It’s the best day of the year!” she said as she spotted the Red Sox’ Florida-bound truck being loaded with equipment outside Fenway Park.
Burns was full of joy about Truck Day, Boston’s unofficial first day of spring, which she and her husband celebrate rather than Valentine’s Day. But Burns also has her worries about the Red Sox’ season. The list starts with the health and consistency of pitcher Clay Buchholz.
“He can be so lights out, and sometimes he’s just like he doesn’t show up,” she said. “He’s there, but he’s not there. I think consistency is a huge thing.”
As fans slowly trickled onto Van Ness to watch what has become a rowdy sendoff, Red Sox executive vice president Charles Steinberg said the season brings the chance to rise from the cellar of the AL East.
“I love that we have the chance to go from worst to first to worst to first,” Steinberg said. “Not everybody can do that. Not everyone wants to. But if you can get there, that would be very cool.
“I love that we see such enthusiasm from our players that they are already there. Twenty two guys are already at spring training waiting for the truck to arrive. What does that tell you about these players?”
The Sox acquired pitchers Justin Masterson, Wade Miley, Rick Porcello, Robbie Ross Jr., and Anthony Varvaro to try to bolster a pitching staff that was dismantled at last season’s trade deadline. But there still isn’t a headliner, such as Jon Lester, that fans can latch onto.
“Lester’s going to be hard to replace,” said Jim Maroney, from Burrillville, R.I., who echoed Burns’s sentiments about Buchholz finding consistency.
Nancy Mitchell, from Manchester, N.H., said she is simply unfamiliar with the names brought in during the offseason and was quick to point out the Sox’ “pitching issues.”
“I was kind of hoping for Cole Hamels, but that is still up in the air,” she said. “There’s still a shot.”
Said Kerry Burns: “I think they look good on paper, it’s just, how is that going to really play out?”
Jackie Bradley Jr., who struggled but had a few shining moments last season, needs to “earn his keep” this season, Mitchell said, as he sets out to compete in an overcrowded outfield.
“He’s got the potential,” Burns said. “It would be nice to see it.”
If Shane Victorino comes back healthy from offseason back surgery, he is Burns’s first choice to anchor the Sox’ outfield.
“Yeah, I’m looking forward to him hopefully coming back better after the surgery, so that would be exciting to see him playing like he should,” she said.
Though Burns and her husband, who live in Warwick, RI, have their fair share of concerns, they hold out hope.
“Just do what we did two years ago,” she said with a smile.
“There’s always hope because I remember in ‘86, I was young, and my dad had the champagne in the fridge and I remember going through that, so there’s always hope. That was the worst I’ve ever seen. But there’s always hope.”