BOSTON -- On the eve of the 2014 Boston Marathon, the Red Sox put together a stirring pregame ceremony on Sunday night in recognition of those affected by the tragic bombings that took place at the finish line last April.
In the outfield, there were a series of canvases bearing inscriptions of goodwill from all 50 United States, several local communities and also all 30 Major League Baseball teams.
Doctors, nurses, EMTs and rehabilitation therapists lined the field as the Red Sox thanked them for their vital role in aiding the recovery of the victims.
People who are walking again despite injuries sustained during the tragedy were invited on to the field. And so, too, were many who will run in Monday's marathon.
And the Red Sox wound up coming back from a 5-0 deficit to pull off a walk-off, 6-5 victory over the Orioles.
"Another emotional roller coaster here at Fenway, tear jerker there for a minute," said left fielder Jonny Gomes. "It really sunk home how much healing is still going on, a year down the road, and how important it is on us as Red Sox to help the healing. Seeing those people out there, you find out how much easier it is to help heal than it is to heal. That being said, I think the Red Sox and Red Sox Nation are doing a good job of doing their part."
The Red Sox took time to remember Krystle Campbell, Sean Collier, Lingzi Lu and Martin Richard, the four fatalities associated with the bombing that took place on April 15, 2013.
Lu's family traveled from Japan and set foot in Fenway Park for the first time on Sunday, and they had the honor of saying "Play Ball" into the microphone shortly before the start of the game.
The University of Massachusetts Marching Band performed during the ceremony and played the national anthem.
Jim Gallagher, the president of the One Fund, which has spent the last year raising money for the victims, threw the first pitch to David Ortiz.
"It was unbelievable," said Red Sox second baseman Dustin Pedroia. "To see everybody out there, it was pretty special. This is a special place."
Victorino, Middlebrooks nearing return to Sox
BOSTON -- Within the next week, the Red Sox could have their entire starting nine together for the first time this season.
Right fielder Shane Victorino, who took Sunday off after opening his rehab assignment on Saturday, will continue for Triple-A Pawtucket on Monday and Tuesday.
Victorino could be back in Boston's lineup as soon as Wednesday, for the middle game of a three-game series against the Yankees.
Third baseman Will Middlebrooks, who has been down since April 5 with a right calf strain, will start his assignment for Pawtucket on Monday. He will take Tuesday off and then play again on Wednesday and Thursday. Middlebrooks could be back in Boston's lineup by Friday in Toronto.
Most recently, Middlebrooks had been sidelined with the flu. But he was able to get in a good workout on Sunday.
The return of Victorino will create a tough roster decision, considering the logjam in the outfield. One possibility would be optioning Jackie Bradley Jr. back to Pawtucket. Otherwise, a move would have to be made involving Mike Carp or Daniel Nava.
"Those [discussions] have been ongoing," said manager John Farrell. "Those talks aren't going to initiate when [Victorino's] deemed ready to come back to us. We've looked at every available combination of outfielders that are here with us, and ultimately there will be a roster decision made. We'll get to that in the coming week."
Sox preparing for quick turnaround to Patriots Day
BOSTON -- Though the annual Patriots Day game has long started at 11 a.m. ET at Fenway Park, it has never been preceded by a Sunday night game, as will be the case this time.
The Red Sox will adapt as best as possible.
Pregame work will obviously be scaled back on Monday.
"It will be an abbreviated one," said manager John Farrell. "Anything that we would do, hitting-wise, would be done in the cage. For Marathon Monday, the traditional start time has been there, but this is the first time we're coming off a night game. We're thankful for [Sunday broadcaster] ESPN on most occasions, but we have to deal with the schedule given to us."
And the Red Sox all know how much Monday means to the city of Boston, considering the bombings that took place at the finish line of the marathon last year.
"There's certainly a recognition of what this weekend represents in Boston and what we experienced a year ago," Farrell said. "The overriding thing is that we feel a greater sense of pride, having been part of a community that rallied around a tragic event and, on some small level, we were part of the healing process. Hopefully tomorrow's anniversary -- not by date but by event, the anniversary -- is another day of healing for those who have been a victim."
Scuffling Bradley gets break from starting lineup
BOSTON -- After a nice hot streak earlier in the month, Jackie Bradley Jr. has struggled at the plate over the past nine days, going 3-for-30 entering play Sunday.
He was out of the lineup for Sunday's game against O's right-hander Ubaldo Jimenez, but manager John Farrell said that the center fielder will be back in there for Monday morning's Patriots' Day game.
Despite the numbers, Farrell sees progress in Bradley's approach from last season.
"Overall, yes," said Farrell. "Again, more of a known commodity of what pitchers are trying to do to attack him. I think he's just become more familiar with the Major League environment."
Bradley had 18 strikeouts in 50 at-bats entering play Sunday.
"Even he acknowledges the frequency of strikeouts have been greater than what he's experienced at the Minor League level," Farrell said. "He's also facing very good pitching every night he walks on the field. It's a different challenge at this level. Along the way with young players, there's going to be some ebb and flow to the performance, and we have to remain patient to that."