The band was back together for a weekend.

For the first time since going their separate ways following the 2018 championship celebration, the Boston Red Sox gathered as a group at the team’s annual Winter Weekend at Foxwoods Resort Casino in Mashantucket, Connecticut.

Has there been a better time to be a Boston sports fan? The World Series champion Red Sox mingled with fans on Saturday, a day before everyone hunkered down to watch the New England Patriots beat Kansas City in overtime to earn a trip to the Super Bowl for a third consecutive year.

“It’s a pretty good time to be a fan around here,” said pitcher Rick Porcello.

He should know. Porcello spends most of his offseason in New England.

So does Brock Holt. Like Porcello, Holt married a woman from the Northeast and has become one of us.


“These are the best fans in baseball,” Holt said. “We spend a lot of our winter here.”

The celebration of 2018 continues, but the Sox are also focused on turning the page to 2019. Manager Alex Cora spent much of the past few weeks working with Hall of Famer Tony LaRussa, now a Red Sox vice president. The two have started a project researching what it takes to repeat a championship.

LaRussa, close friends with Patriots Coach Bill Belichick, has spoken with legends from every sport. He recently spoke with Bob Cousy about the challenges a team faces when it tries to defend a championship. As a member of the Celtics, Cousy won five straight championships between 1959-1963.

“Back to zero” is the phrase LaRussa and Cora like to use when talking about the coming season. Cora has stressed to his team that they need to begin 2019 with the same hunger they had last year, a hunger that led the team to a franchise-record 108 regular-season wins and a championship.

“They’re never satisfied,” Cora said. “Our players feel they can be even better this season.”

While the Red Sox haven’t added any significant names to the roster, they believe it’s a major bonus having World Series MVP Steve Pearce and hard-throwing righty Nathan Eovaldi with the team from the start of spring training. Both were acquired midway through the 2018 campaign.


The biggest strength on this team is still its starting pitching. Cora knows he will have to be careful this spring with a rotation that took on a heavy workload throughout October. He and pitching coach Dana LeVangie have already mapped out the plan for their pitchers.

“It’s just another example of how great our coaching staff is,” Porcello said. “They had already gotten together and prepared programs for all of our starting pitchers and relievers on what our workload was this past year and what our game plan is going into spring training. We’re going to taper our build up. We did it last year, and we pitched even deeper into last season.

“That’s part of why everyone loves coming to the ballpark every day. Our coaching staff, everyone in the front office, they’re all prepared and working as hard as they can to give us the necessary things to go out and win.”

Chris Sale echoed those sentiments, and said he is healthy and ready to report to Fort Myers, Florida. Sale, who lives in southwest Florida, said he’s been going to the ballpark four days a week to get his preseason work in. He understands it’s extraordinarily difficult to repeat, but said he and the Red Sox are ready to tackle that challenge.

“The World Series hangover is real,” Sale said. “You ride that wave. But we haven’t won the World Series yet this year. We know that and we’re prepared to do what we need to do.”

At Foxwoods, all the Sox needed to do was smile. It wasn’t quite time to turn the page yet. There’s still time to savor a fourth championship in 15 years.

Tom Caron is a studio host for Red Sox broadcasts on NESN. His column appears in the Portland Press Herald on Tuesdays.

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