Notes: Familiar faces in Fort Myers

Notes: Familiar faces in Fort Myers

FORT MYERS, Fla. -- The Dodgers brought several familiar faces with them Monday for the three-hour and 20-minute trip from Vero Beach. Manager Grady Little, bench coach Dave Jauss, players Nomar Garciaparra, Rudy Seanez, Damian Jackson, Ken Huckaby and Matt White, and Bill Mueller, now a special assistant to the general manager, all spent time in a Red Sox uniform.

For Little, who managed the Sox in 2002 and '03, there was nothing special about returning to City of Palms Park.

"I feel like we got one game here [Monday] and one game [Tuesday] against the Twins," he said. "I feel like it's a long bus ride over here."

The last time the Dodgers and Red Sox faced each other in the regular season was June 11-13, 2004. Of the 27 players who saw action in the final game of that series, just five remain on their team's respective roster: Jason Varitek, David Ortiz, Mike Timlin, and Manny Ramirez with Boston, and Olmedo Saenz with LA. Two players in that game have switched sides, with Alex Cora now playing for the Sox and Garciaparra with the Dodgers.

Meeting with reporters in the visitors' dugout before the game, Little seemed slightly confused when a reporter asked for his thoughts on Varitek, until he realized Varitek had sneaked into the group, holding his black bat like a microphone.

"Jason Varitek knows what I think about him," Little said of his former backstop, after the two exchanged hugs. "A lot of people talk about who's the best catcher in the game right now. If you're talking about anyone besides that kid, you might be off base a little bit."

N) blisters for Beckett: Josh Beckett, who pitched three scoreless innings on Monday, said since joining the Sox last season, he's had no signs of the blisters that plagued his pitching hand while he was with the Marlins.

Beckett said he believes the blisters may have been caused by his eczema.

"It's something I still have to be careful with," he said. "We've done a lot of testing to see if I'm allergic to stuff and everything like that. The conclusion we came up with since I've been with the Boston Red Sox, I have eczema and whenever I have eczema outbreaks, that's usually whenever my finger gets sore. Last year we were able to keep that stuff under wraps so hopefully we can do the same this year."

Beckett said he is using a product called CoQ10 to treat the eczema.

Yaz in the house: Former Sox great Carl Yastrzemski, now a player development consultant for the team, made his Spring Training debut Monday at City of Palms Park.

Hello again: Garciaparra was given a warm welcome by the crowd in his first appearance in a Sox home park since being traded to the Cubs at the 2004 non-waiver trade deadline.

"[I] feel good, doing great," he said. "Spring Training, like always, just trying to get ready. It's early in Spring Training, so just [taking] it slow. We have a long way to go.

"I feel good. [I] did everything I wanted to do in the offseason to get ready, like I normally do. [I'm ready to] play hard and do what I have to do."

Garciaparra, who renewed acquaintances with some of his former teammates on the field before the game, said he looked at his return to Fort Myers as just another Spring Training game.

"I look at it as just a long trip," he said. "The bus trip is long.

"[There are] people to say hi to. There's a lot of guys, familiar faces, that I can't wait to say hi to. It's going to be nice to see everybody. I remember last year, when they came out [to Vero Beach], guys came out and got to see their faces and stuff. I'm looking forward to seeing them again."

Garciaparra said while he has memories of playing here, nothing stood out.

"Fort Myers looks like a city compared to Vero," he said. "Like a giant city. Yeah, that's how it looks. I know it will be packed like it always is. I' m sure there's probably red all over the streets."

On new Sox right fielder J.D. Drew, Garciaparra said, "J.D. is a great player, [he] helped us out a lot. [We're] going to miss him for sure. He plays the game the way he knows how to play it. He goes out there and does his business. [It will be] tough to fill Trot [Nixon's] shoes, that's for sure. Trot's unbelievable."

Now pitching: Jon Lester threw eight pitches in a "B" game against the Twins on Monday morning. His next outing will be a simulated game on Saturday in which he will pitch two innings. He is then scheduled to pitch in the first Minor League game March 16.

Mike Timlin, hampered by a left oblique muscle, threw between 20 and 25 pitches in a side session on Monday.

"We'll see how he bounces back [Tuesday] and there's a chance he could face hitters [Wednesday]," Sox manager Terry Francona said. "This was not an extended side. This was more of a touch and feel, shake the rust off, get throwing this way, just see how he feels. And he came through it pretty good."

Craig Hansen and Abe Alvarez are expected to face hitters Tuesday morning on the back field at City of Palms Park, while the team travels to Jupiter to face the Marlins.

Pitching coach John Farrell will stay to observe, then meet the team in Jupiter for the afternoon game.

Matsuzaka ready for seconds: Fresh off his strong outing against Boston College, Daisuke Matsuzaka is set to face the Marlins on Tuesday in Jupiter in his first appearance against a Major League team.

Matsuzaka allowed one hit and no runs over his two-inning stint against BC, notching three strikeouts. In that start, Matsuzaka didn't get a true gauge of the Major League strike zone because college umpires handled the game.

"What I would really want to see is how the batters would react and also want to make sure what the strike zone in the U.S. is all about," said Matsuzaka. "I will be able to so [Tuesday] for the first time."

With nearly 100 media members expected to be on hand, the Marlins have set up an auxiliary press area in the outfield.

Seanez shoulder shrug: Seanez, who pitched a scoreless seventh inning for the Dodgers on Monday, said before the game he was hampered by shoulder ailments for most of last season before being released by the Sox on Aug. 28, but felt that he couldn't say anything at the time.

"It was a just a tough year, mostly physically, but I enjoyed it," Seanez said. "I wish I would have been a little bit healthier that way I probably could have pitched more. But it didn't work out, and [both sides] moved on."

"I don't know if it was tendinitis, bursitis or both -- my shoulder was killing me -- but you deal with it and you try to deal with it as best you can."

Seanez was 2-1 with a 4.82 ERA in 41 games with Boston before signing with San Diego on Aug. 31, where he posted a 1-2 record and a 5.68 ERA in eight games.

"I didn't like the way I finished up [in Boston] but I can't do anything about that," he said. "Just move on. Went to San Diego. They went to the playoffs, so it's kind of funny."

Seanez said if he doesn't make the Dodgers, he would consider retiring to concentrate more on ultimate fighting, which he's been involved with for several years.

Coming up: The Red Sox travel to Jupiter to face the Marlins on Tuesday at 1:05 p.m. ET.

Maureen Mullen is a contributor to This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.