Home support for Red Sox’s Kelly at Sarasota

Posted March 05, 2010, at 11:01 p.m.

Casey Kelly could have taken the scholarship and gone to the University of Tennessee, where they wanted him to play quarterback. He started at that position in high school, as well as pitching and playing short in baseball.

Instead he is pitching for the Red Sox and is on the list to throw Sunday against the Orioles.

What makes that interesting is it will be his first action against major league opponents this year. He worked against Northeastern University this week in his 2010 debut.

Sunday, he will pitch in Sarasota, the new spring home of the Orioles. Sarasota is where Kelly grew up and went to high school.

Baseball America ranked him 24th on the top prospect list this year. The righthander will have plenty of home support in the stands on Sunday.

While Kelly will probably not make the Sox roster, he is likely to pitch in Portland for the Sea Dogs to start the year. That will be fun for Maine Sox fans.

Looking ahead to the MLB season, there are dates to be remembered. The Red Sox will be in Philadelphia for a series starting June 11. Will they see each other again in the postseason?

Manny — yes, Manny Ramirez — will return to Fenway on June 18 with the Dodgers, if he hasn’t talked his way off the club before then. Ramirez has not been back to the Fens since July of 2008.

Boston gets to open Target Field, the new outdoor park of the Twins. That will be on April 12, and in the New England tradition, the topic will be the weather.

The Twins have not played out of doors since 1981. The average temperature in April in the Twin Cities is about 45 degrees. There was one April 12 rumored to have registered a 2 degree low mark.

At least the three games the Sox will play there are all day games. It will probably be in the 60s, just so the baseball gods can have a laugh.

Seattle is a hot stove topic. They should give the Angels a run in the West and have a shot at a solid April. They play seven against Oakland, four vs. Texas, three against the Orioles and three each vs. Kansas City and the White Sox in the first month.

Cliff Lee may make his Seattle debut against Oakland on April 5 and begin the chase for his second Cy Young award.

Mark McGwire is hoping his steroid use as a player quietly recedes from the sports pages as he pursues his batting coach job with the Cardinals.

While younger minor league players continue to be suspended 50 games for discovered use, McGwire continues his free ride back into the game.

He is lucky that the Cardinals will not be in New York to face the Mets until July 27. Still, be assured the New York fans will not forget and will verbally remind McGwire of his use. That should be interesting, if not quotable.

Of course, the whole thing starts with the Yankees and Red Sox in your Easter basket on April 4.

Until then, enjoy the spring games.

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