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BOSTON (CBS) – The Boston Red Sox had a tough season-opening road trip, and are hoping it’s “Home, Sweet Home” when they take the field at Fenway Park on Friday.
But after that historic collapse last September, and a less than inspiring start to the 2012 campaign, there is no telling how Red Sox Nation will react when their boys of summer are introduced.
Could the Red Sox actually be booed by their home crowd on opening day at Fenway?
“That’s for the fans to decide, but I hope they are (behind us),” said first baseman Adrian Gonzalez.
“I think it’s going to be great; I think they’ll be excited to see us just like we’ll be excited to see them,” said fan-favored Kevin Youkilis. “I think it’s going to be a great opening day.”
Youkilis will probably be spared from any jeers, and could use a pick-me-up after going 2-for-20 on the season opening trip.
The most intriguing introduction will be that of starter Josh Beckett, who has drawn ire from fans for just about everything he’s done; from his involvement in the locker room “beer and chicken” buffets to his cross-country thumb exams this spring, Beckett will have a short leash from fan after his seven-run outing in Detroit. But his battery-mate is confident Beckett’s play will win the fans back this season.
“We need everyone to step up, we’re all accountable for the way we play,” catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia said. “Josh is a big key part (to our success); every one of our starting pitchers is. We’re looking for Josh to go out and pitch his game. He’s so good and has such good stuff he just has to go out there and pitch.”
“The fans in Boston are great; they expect a lot out of us but we expect more out of us. We’re looking to get home and have the home crowd cheer us on. We’re going to go out there and play hard,” said Saltalamacchia. “The crowd always pumps you up; it’s a great atmosphere and a great place to play. We’re obviously excited after a long road trip.”
One player that won’t hear any boos is team spark-plug Dustin Pedroia, who has eight hits over the first six games.
“We’re going to try to convince people with our play, that’s it,” the former MVP said. “It’s a long season and I feel if you play the game the right way for 162 days, you’re going to be there in the end.”
Pedroia On Fenway Opener:
“As long as I’ve been in Boston the fans have been so supportive of our team, through the ups and the downs. Our main goal is to win the World Series. I know last year we let people down by not getting to the playoffs and not winning. This year we feel it’s going to be different,” pledged Pedroia.
The Red Sox will put on a good show and the team will likely hear a mostly favorable introduction. There will be a few (thousand) beer, chicken, and other stale jokes throughout the afternoon, but the team will have the fans support if they play well.
Read: Red Sox-Rays Preview
A good showing against their division rivals from Tampa will help. A bad one and it could get ugly.
But the Red Sox are home for nine games, including Fenway’s birthday bash next weekend against the Yankees. Maybe some home cooking at Friendly Fenway is all they need to turn things around.