Beckett called on for Fenway opener

Beckett called on for Fenway opener

The unofficial New England holiday known as the Fenway Park opener arrives on Tuesday afternoon, when the Red Sox break out their home whites for the first time in the 2007 season.

The smell of sausages will be unmistakable throughout Yawkey Way in the hours leading up to the contest with the Mariners, as Fenway gets set to celebrate its 95th anniversary of baseball.

Whether you're a longtime member of the Red Sox or a newcomer like J.D. Drew, it figures to be a special day.

"I'm excited," said Drew. "I played there three times before. I know the passion that comes long with the fans and the atmosphere there. Not only that, I love that field. You go into that place, and there's just that nostalgia with that ballpark and a lot of history and a lot of excitement will be brought, especially with that first day. I'm looking forward to it."

Josh Beckett will probably tune out the pregame flavor as he'll be locked in on his second home opening start in as many years. Last year, Beckett fired seven strong innings en route to a 7-3 victory over Toronto. He'll try to perform similar heroics against Seattle this time.

The Mariners are led by Ichiro Suzuki, who is sure to have a reunion with Daisuke Matsuzaka, his teammate on Team Japan in the 2006 World Baseball classic.

Before Beckett makes that first pitch to Ichiro, there will be plenty of pomp and circumstance.

The 1967 Impossible Dream team, led by captain Carl Yastrzemski, will be recognized in a pregame ceremony. Harry Connick Jr. will perform what should be a stirring rendition of "America the Beautiful." There will be a flyover presented by The Green Mountain Boys of the 158th Fighter Wing from the Vermont Air National Guard.

And shortly before first pitch, Red Sox legend Johnny Pesky will proclaim to the crowd that it's time to "play ball."

"It lets the fans know that baseball is finally here and summer is here for the people that live up there in the North and deal with that bitter cold all winter," said Sox closer Jonathan Papelbon. "I think it's kind of like the realization that summer and baseball is here."

The first home batter to step into the Fenway batters box in 2007 will be Julio Lugo, who like Drew, came to appreciate the fabled yard in Boston's Back Bay as a visitor.

"It's going to be bananas," said Lugo. "It's going to be exciting to be there. I can't wait to play my first game over there and see what it's like to be part of the Red Sox at Fenway Park. Just the electricity you feel from playing there. There's so much history there. You're glad you've played in a place of that."

Pitching matchup
BOS: RHP Josh Beckett (1-0, 1.80 ERA)
Coming off a victory against the Royals, Beckett takes the mound in Boston's home opener for the second straight season. Against Kansas City on Wednesday, the right-hander tossed five strong innings, allowing a run on two hits while striking out five. In last year's Fenway opener, Beckett pitched seven stellar innings to beat the Jays. He's 1-1 with a 5.27 ERA vs. Seattle in two career starts.

SEA: LHP Jarrod Washburn (0-0, 3.00 ERA)
The veteran left-hander, who led the staff last season in quality starts with 16, is one-for-one in 2007 but settled for a no-decision as Seattle squandered a three-run lead in his first outing. Washburn has a 3-3 record and 4.66 ERA in his career against the Red Sox, going 0-1 in two starts against them last season.

Player to watch
Richie Sexson is 3-for-7 against Beckett, including a double.

On the Internet
 Gameday Audio
•  Gameday
•  Official game notes

On television

On radio
• WRKO-680 AM, Spanish Baseball Network (Español)

Up next
• Wednesday: Mariners (Miguel Batista, 0-1, 15.43) at Red Sox (Daisuke Matsuzaka, 1-0, 1.29), 7:05 p.m. ET
• Thursday: Mariners (Horacio Ramirez, 0-0, -.--) at Red Sox (Tim Wakefield, 0-1, 1.50), 4:05 p.m. ET
• Friday: Angels (John Lackey, 2-0, 0.75) at Red Sox (Julian Tavarez, 0-1, 9.00), 7:05 p.m. ET

Ian Browne is a reporter for This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.