Some advice to fans suffering from mid-2000s Boston Red Sox nostalgia: Hop on the next flight to Fort Myers, Fla.
The Red Sox’s spring training facility at JetBlue Park has been teeming with notable alumni since camp opened in late February. Most recently, we learned how former Boston pitcher Derek Lowe is sharing some pitching tips with Rick Porcello. But Lowe is just one of many members of the Red Sox’s 2004 and 2007 championship teams to descend on Southwest Florida.
Here’s a list, for those scoring at home:
— Lowe, invited by Porcello to help him with his sinker.
— Ex-third baseman Mike Lowell, invited by Sox manager Alex Cora to work with Rafael Devers.
— Former ace Pedro Martinez, who is officially employed as a “special assistant” to president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski and works with Red Sox pitchers.
— Ex-catcher Jason Varitek, who holds the same title as Martinez and works with the team’s catchers.
And we haven’t even mentioned Boston Celtics head coach Brad Stevens’ spring training cameo in late February.
So, what to make of this mini-reunion in Fort Myers? While Red Sox staffers Martinez and Varitek work with the team on a daily basis, Ortiz’s attendance is new — he avoided Red Sox spring training in 2017 — and Lowe and Lowell had no official obligation to pay a visit, either. Why are they all in town this spring, imparting their wisdom on Boston’s young roster?
You can thank Cora. The Red Sox’s new manager made plenty of friends during his four-year tenure in Boston from 2005 to 2008, and he clearly sees the benefit of those friends working with his squad. The Sox obviously aren’t the only team to bring alumni to spring training — most other clubs do the same thing — but Cora seems especially intent on giving his players as many resources as possible.
There’s a potential downside to this approach, of course: Too many voices in the room impedes a team with several young leaders — think Mookie Betts, Xander Bogaerts and Jackie Bradley Jr. — from developing its own identity. So far, though, it seems the Red Sox’s old guard is making nothing but a positive impact, bringing its championship experiences to a club that may have similarly high expectations in 2018.