BOSTON — The 197-day wait is over.
The Red Sox returned to Fenway Park on Monday for their home opener against the Washington Nationals. They arrived at the ballpark on the heels of a 14-4 loss Sunday night to the New York Yankees at Yankee Stadium, but the blowout defeat did little to rattle Boston?s optimism for 2015.
?It?s always good to come home to our home crowd, to Fenway Park in particular,? Red Sox manager John Farrell said before Monday?s game. ?We?re coming off a very productive spring training (and) a chance to spend a week on the road to jell together as a team. We?ve been challenged in a couple of ways, but more than anything, to get back in front of our home crowd is what we?re anticipating.?
The Red Sox opened the season with a 4-2 road trip through Philadelphia and New York that featured both highs and lows. Monday?s home opener marks the beginning of baseball in Boston, though, and it’s a welcome sight after a downright treacherous winter in New England.
?Hopefully it means a hard, cold winter is once and for all behind everyone,? Farrell said. ?The warm weather is upon us, it?s a great day weather-wise (Monday).
?But yeah, I spent a majority of the winter here and can empathize to a certain point what everyone in New England dealt with and the challenges that were presented. Hopefully this is a chance to put all of that behind us mentally and really tangibly with a great day on hand.?
The Red Sox certainly hope to use Fenway Park to their advantage this season, especially with an offense that?s well-equipped to take advantage of the Green Monster in left field. The unit already looked potent on the road, but returning home could mean some very high-scoring affairs.
?We?ve got, particularly our left-handers in Pablo (Sandoval) and David (Ortiz), when they?re going well, they?re going to use that wall to their advantage,? Farrell said. ?And we?ve seen it in a number of at-bats already with Pablo. His ability to go to left field is evident. But to say that their approach is going to change because of the wall being there, their natural swings are going to play to that, the left-handers.
?We also know that this can be a high number of doubles ballpark, but it?s going to be key with how we get out of the batter?s box. Nothing can be relied on, particularly to the pull side, for some of our right-handed hitters.?
There inevitably will be missteps along the way with regard to the weather and/or the Red Sox?s performance in front of the home crowd. But it?s hard to beat a warm, sunny and boisterous Fenway.
Baseball is back in Boston. And not a moment too soon.
Thumbnail photo via Jonathan Dyer/USA TODAY Sports Images