What Kind of Impact Will Former Red Sox Favorites Have on the 2013 Team?
The 2013 Red Sox roster is nearly unrecognizable from the ones that won World Series titles in 2004 and 2007. Aside from a few dependable guys like David Ortiz—the last remaining member from the '04 team—and Dustin Pedroia, this year's team is looking a little short on veteran leaders.
But some old, beloved faces have resurfaced in Boston and have found a new way to impact the Red Sox.
While they most likely won't be coming out of retirement and reclaiming their old roles on the field, their experience and undeniable passion for the Red Sox organization could prove very helpful in shaping this year's team.
Former fan favorites Jason Varitek, Pedro Martinez and Tim Wakefield will all be around during spring training to dispense their knowledge, experience, leadership and anything else short of actually playing that could be helpful for the younger Red Sox players especially.
How many young players get the opportunity to work with legends they grew up watching? There's no doubt those kids will soak in every second.
The exact roles in which the old dogs will be operating are still evolving at this time, but they all seem to have a single goal in mind. They want to bring back the Red Sox they knew, which is not a team that's riddled with communication, chemistry and attitude issues like the 2012 group.
And most importantly, the Red Sox aren't a team that finishes last in their division.
One thing's for sure: These guys know how to win.
The big question is, can they get this Red Sox team to do so?
Wakefield is the most recent to announce a return and is scheduled to make an appearance around spring training this week.
Wakefield retired just before 2012 after 17 seasons in Boston, which he closed out after recording 200 career wins. Most known and missed for his lethal knuckleball, Wakefield's signature pitch is making a comeback to Fenway via the arm of Steven Wright.
Acquired at last year's trade deadline from Cleveland, Wright has only been seriously throwing the knuckleball since 2010. But a few years have been enough to prove the formerly conventional pitcher has what it takes to pitch in the exclusive fraternity of Wakefield and R.A. Dickey.
Red Sox manager John Farrell even suggested in an interview with WEEI that Wright throws his knuckleball harder than Wakefield.
Still, nearly two decades of major league experience as a knuckleballer could prove extremely valuable to Wright and his potential with the Red Sox. Wakefield will join the team in Fort Myers to mentor Wright and help cultivate his natural talent to bloom in the big leagues.
Wright said he looks forward to the opportunity: "It's nice to get another view, and what he did to make himself successful, and for him to pass it along to me, I'll try to take as much as I can and implement it into my routine."
Nick Laham/Getty Images
Also back to help in the pitching department and as big of a star as ever around spring training is Martinez, who's been brought on as a special assistant to general manager Ben Cherington.
Martinez's legend should be enough to get him the eyes and ears of every pitcher at camp.
The three-time Cy Young award winner collected 117 wins over seven seasons in Boston and was a key contributor to the 2004 World Series victory. He lays claim to the best winning percentage (.760) in franchise history.
Martinez, 41, will place much of his focus on the younger pitchers and has already worked with Clay Buchholz, Rubby De La Rosa and Felix Doubront, who showed up to Florida out of shape, again. Hopefully Martinez will serve as an example as where you can get if you put in the work and hopefully, the players will listen.
Martinez discussed his strengths as a mentor to ESPN:
I think they need people like me that could probably relate to the players, relate to the front office, have the good communication and the interest that they need right now. I think the players still see me as a player and they can naturally communicate with me. I'm also a veteran, a real old veteran, and I think I can offer some advice how to handle different situations.
And then of course there's The Captain. Varitek, 40, also comes on as a special assistant to Cherington.
One would be hard-pressed to find a Red Sox fan that scoffed at the idea of Varitek's return to help out the organization. In fact, he received many endorsements from players and fans as a candidate to replace Valentine before Farrell was brought on board.
Tek spent 15 seasons behind the plate in a Red Sox uniform, including both World Series wins, and retired his letter "C" in a tearful press conference just before the 2012 season.
Varitek screams "mentor" and he's already knee-deep in working with catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia this spring training.
So can the ghosts of Red Sox past single-handedly bring back the glory? Probably not, but they'll definitely help start the engine for the long trek back to Titletown.
And regardless of the result, isn't it just good to have them back?
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