BOSTON (CBS) — After a 2-1 trip to Baltimore and a visit to the White House to kick off their 2014 season, the Boston Red Sox are ready to return home for one final World Series celebration.
Before the defending champs take on the Milwaukee Brewers in their home opener, there is still some hardware to be dished out. The team will receive their 2013 World Series rings, the final time they’ll celebrate last season’s accomplishment.
Many will be receiving the first championship ring of their career. For Dustin Pedroia and Jon Lester, Friday will be a sequel to 2007’s World Series celebration and more bling for them to show off.
Then there is David Ortiz, who will be collecting his third World Series ring as a member of the Red Sox. For Big Papi, these celebrations never get old.
“I’m excited, who knows when we’ll get another one,” said Ortiz, who hit a ludicrous .688 in last year’s Fall Classic against the St. Louis Cardinals. “It’s just the appreciation for the way things went down last year. I’m excited, our hard work paid off.”
PHOTOS: Red Sox Ring Ceremonies
“It will be a great time,” said Pedroia, remembering back to the 2007 ceremony. “It’s pretty fun; the atmosphere in front of the fans, getting something your team works extremely hard for.”
For the first-timers like Mike Napoli, who came very close to winning a ring with the Texas Rangers in 2011, he isn’t sure what to expect. But he’s seen Boston throw a pair of these celebrations in the last 10 years, and knows it’s more than just getting handed a very expensive and unique ring.
“It’s going to be emotional. I’m going to be pretty anxious,” said Napoli. “It’ll be a good time – Boston knows how to put on a good ceremony. It’s going to be a fun day with all my teammates.”
“It’s a day a lot of people in this room have waited for,” said pitcher Jake Peavy, who will likely be in the bullpen preparing for a day’s work when his teammates get their rings. “It’s a special day for a lot of people in this room, a special day for a lot of fans and people in Boston. To have the honor to be in the starting lineup that day is something I don’t take lightly.”
Peavy will soak in the sights, but his focus will quickly shift back to the task at hand: the Milwaukee Brewers’ lineup.
“I understand we can only have so good a day if the Boston Red Sox don’t win, so I’m taking that responsibility with the utmost importance and I’m doing everything I can to get a win,” he said.
That goes in hand with the team’s approach to this season: one day, one game at a time. It was the same approach they took last season, and while they’re trying to turn the page on 2013, Peavy says it isn’t a bad thing to occasionally look back on that successful run to the top of Major League Baseball.
“I don’t think last year is ever going away,” he said. “But it’s not a bad thing to talk about and commemorate. You just have to realize, and the guys in this room know, you have to be focused on the job at hand during the season. So we’re all in on today.
“The talk and everything will die down, but I think the guys have done a really good job of all that has been said and done with turning the page and moving on,” said Peavy.
The Red Sox shared a few of their plans for the Fenway opener, but so far there is no word on who will sing the National Anthem or toss out the first pitch. The team is asking fans to be in their seats by 12:50 pm (the Fenway Park gates will open at 11:35 am), with the ring ceremony set to get underway around 1:00 pm.
While some new jewelry and one last hurrah for their worst-to-first turnaround will be tough to top, the best part of Friday for the team will be playing in front of their fans for the first time since clinching last year’s title.
“There is a feeling you get when you step on the field and hear the crowd that is like no other stadium,” said third baseman Will Middlebrooks. “There is nothing like Fenway Park.”
“Fenway Park is one of the most special ballparks around the league because of the history and all the greats that played there. I think anyone who loves baseball loves what Fenway is about and stands for,” said Peavy. “Any time you take the mound in that ballpark it’s special, and pitching for the home side is twice as special with the crowd behind you.”
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