FORT MYERS, Fla. -- No one knows the numbers game better
than Lou Merloni. That's why the Red Sox infielder doesn't need to be reminded of all the numbers that factor into his making
Boston's Opening Day roster.
There's the number of infielders vying for playing time. And the impressive offensive numbers Merloni has posted
so far in Spring Training.
Then, as has been the case the last four seasons with the Framingham, Mass., native, there's the number of options
-- specifically, the one remaining.
"I'm used it by now," Merloni said Monday, two weeks before the season opener with Toronto. "To be honest, I'm
at the point now where I really don't care [about roster spots] and that's the way I'm looking at it. I'm going to go out
there and play my best. If things go down or you don't make it, it'll affect you in certain ways but right now I'm not thinking
"Lou has an option remaining," Red Sox interim general manager Mike Port explained. "But it's an option that would
require him being placed on Major League waivers. It's a revocable waiver but still a waiver."
Translated, Merloni could be optioned before the team opens its 2002 season. However, should a team claim Merloni
off waivers, the Red Sox could only pull him off waivers by placing him on the 25-man roster.
The faces may have changed for Merloni, but the competition hasn't. This season, he's competing for a spot with
veteran infielders Carlos Baerga, Rey Sanchez, Quilvio Veras and Jose Offerman.
"I think it's always intense," Merloni said. "Every year it's been intense. Every year somebody's in here. There's
a new regime in here. New owners, new manager and a new GM. Maybe, there will be a change in how it's handled. We'll see."
Merloni would rather let his own numbers on the field this spring tell his story -- a team-leading 12 hits, a
.400 average (12-for-30) through Monday's action, two homers and only one error in 14 games.
"It's going well," said Merloni. "I feel real comfortable at the plate. No complaints so far. I'm working with
[hitting coach] Dwight [Evans] a lot about what I'm trying to accomplish at the plate, just getting pitches and not missing
"He's just teaching me to relax and slow everything down. There's no such thing as going too slow in your approach.
The slower you are, the better you see the ball.
Merloni leaves no doubt as to his goal for 2002.
"My goal is to be a starter," said Merloni, who turns 31 on April 6. "I'm not up here to be a utility infielder.
You get that label as you break through just because you're talented enough to play three positions, just because you're able
to play second, third and short. That's good to crack into the big leagues, but I have no intention of being a utility infielder
my whole life."
It would be difficult leaving his hometown team but if the right opportunity came, he wouldn't turn it down.
"If there's a guarantee to play somewhere every single day or stay here and play every sixth or seventh day, I
think I know what my preference would be," Merloni said. "Playing every sixth or seventh [day] is not an easy thing job to
do. But I don't want to go anywhere. I want to stay here. I've seen the injuries here and I've seen what can happen.
"I'm just waiting for them to one day say, 'If we have an injury, we don't have to go out and get anyone, we've
written by: Mike Petraglia
FORT MEYERS, FLORIDA- 2002 Red SOx spring training is currently
in action. Several good things have been seen during spring training thus far- Nomar Garciaparra's wrist has begun to feel
a lot better than before. Nomar's wrist had problems resulting in a wrist surgery last year, and hopefully he can get back
on track to hit an awesome season again this year like he did in 2000 and earlier. Also good news- Pedro Martinez reportedly
gained 20 pounds in preparation for the 2002 season, causing him to be stronger. Fortunately, Pedro is still the skinny, goofy
pitcher all Red Sox fans have grown to love! And don't forget Lou Merloni!! Hopefully he can have a successful, mostly injury-free
season like he did last year!! It would be great if Lou's batting during the season could reflect the awesome streak he had
at the end of the 2001 season!
ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. -- Lou Merloni may get to the ballpark
sometime this final week of the season and find himself batting cleanup.
The 30-year-old Framingham, Mass., native had
hit two home runs in 350 Major League at-bats before this season, and he hit his first this season Friday in a pinch-hitting
role at Detroit.
Then, Monday night against Tampa Bay, he hit two in a 10-3 loss to the Rays. That's three in the last
four games for the 5-10, 200-pound shortstop.
"I have no idea why," Merloni said. "I don't try to hit home runs. I just
try to hit the ball hard. All year long it's been a struggle. I've been missing good pitches to hit. Tonight, I missed good
pitches in my first two at-bats."
He hit a solo homer off his New England pal, Tanyon Sturtze, in the sixth and added
another in the ninth off Rays reliever Jeff Wallace. The homers were the only real highlights of the evening for the Red Sox,
who dropped below .500 again at 77-78.
"I know Tanyon from Worcester, [Mass.]," Merloni said. "He can't be too happy with
me right now. I'll bet he gives me some grief tomorrow."
The Red Sox had 14 hits, nine while scoring five runs against Rays starter Ryan Rupe.
Shortstop Lou Merloni, who had a career-high two homers on Monday against the Rays, had four of the hits, tying his career
high previously set June 30 at Toronto.
"It was Lou Merloni night tonight," said Kerrigan, thinking about all the Red
Sox fans in St. Petersburg calling for, "Lou, Lou."
"He had a great series," Kerrigan said. "His bat is real short right
now. He is real quick to the ball."
Merloni, hoping to earn a role with Boston next year, said he is not sure where he
"Last year, I thought I had a good finish, too, hitting .333 in September," Merloni said. "So we'll just have
to see what happens."
Merloni made a nice short-hop stop on a ball hit by Toby Hall in the fourth and threw on to first
to end the inning. But it was his hitting and scoring that had the Red Sox fans in the stands stirred up. He had two doubles
and two RBIs and scored three runs.
"The last couple of games here were good," Merloni said. "I've had some nights when
I hit the ball harder, but it's all about placement. And tonight I just really placed four balls."
the first one I hit in two years," Merloni said. "So I wasn't thinking about it. I never think about hitting home runs." (redsox.com)
(Lou about his homer on September 28th.)
Wednesday, October 3rd- Lou went 4-5 with 2 doubles, 2 RBI, and 3 runs scored!!! Man, Lou really knows how to turn
it on late in the season! (Unfortunately for the Sox, it's already too late. But maybe this will be a lesson for Kerrigan..
a lesson that he should learn about letting Lou playing more often!!)
Monday, October 1st (I think!!)- Lou hit his first multihomer
game of his career!!! WOOHOO!
Lou hit is first home run on September 28th!!! That was his
first homer since October 2, 1999. Okay, that's kinda sad.. but that's ok! Hey, I saw him hit one in McCoy during BP! I coulda
killed the kid that caught it for that ball..