The moving van leaves for Florida on Red Sox Truck Day at Fenway Park on Monday. Nancy Lane/Boston Herald

A new year of baseball began Monday, and with it, a chance to love the Red Sox again.

Since 2003, Truck Day has served as the unofficial first day of the Red Sox season. 20,400 baseballs, 1,100 bats, 200 batting gloves, 200 batting helmets, 320 batting practice tops, 160 white game jerseys, 300 pairs of pants, 400 T-shirts, 400 pairs of socks, 20 cases of bubble gum, and 60 cases of sunflower seeds are headed from Fenway Park to the Red Sox spring training facilities in Fort Myers, Florida. in the capable hands of Al Hartz, who’s making the journey for the 27th consecutive year.

Perhaps, stowed away somewhere in the 53-foot vehicle, is a little bit of hope, too.

Because even after watching the Red Sox trudge to back-to-back last-place finishes (three over the last four), fans still showed up to stand outside on a frigid February day to send a truck on a 1,480-mile road trip. According to a team employee, an estimated 50 to 75 people braved the cold. That’s far from the packed crowds of happier Truck Days past, but it’s not nothing.

“Red Sox fans come out in the freezing cold to see an equipment truck go off to Florida, and it’s a reminder of what really matters, which is our fans and how much they care about this team,” Red Sox President and CEO Sam Kennedy told the Boston Herald.

They know where they stand with their fans, though. “The hate comes when you don’t get it done on the field,” Kennedy said frankly.


When it comes to sports fandom, the fine line between love and hate is often blurred, and frequently crossed. Fans can go from loving their team to hating them and back again, often in the nine innings of a single ballgame. Sometimes, from one at-bat to the next.

The prevailing fan sentiment these days may be hate – or more likely, frustration – but it’s certainly not apathy. Neither love nor hate can be felt unless one cares, and sports fans in this town can’t stop caring, even if they want to. The majority of Red Sox fans love to love their team, they don’t want to hate them. And even when they say they’re out, they’re always waiting to be pulled back in.

During the long offseason, there is nothing to do but talk, stew, and wait for baseball. Its return each year brings with it endless possibilities, and therefore, hope that this season will be better.

“We’ve had a really difficult couple of years, and we have a long way to go,” said Kennedy of repairing the club’s relationship with fans. “We have a lot of work to do, but hopefully, we’re gonna win their hearts and minds back.”

There wasn’t a cloud in the sky as the equipment truck departed just after noon. As the crowd dispersed, a family walked down Van Ness Street, their young daughter waving a bright red flag twice her size. On it, a baseball and the words “Believe in Boston.”

Clayton Kershaw has agreed to a contract to return to the Los Angeles Dodgers. The 35-year-old lefty is recovering from shoulder surgery. David Zalubowski/Associated Press

DODGERS: Free-agent pitcher and longtime Dodgers icon Clayton Kershaw agreed to a new contract to return to the team, according to multiple people with knowledge of the situation not authorized to speak publicly. The agreement keeps the veteran left-hander in Los Angeles as he embarks upon the most uncertain stretch of his decorated 15-year career.


The terms of Kershaw’s contract were not immediately known, but the pitcher is scheduled to have a physical later this week, sources said. Starting Thursday, teams can place players on the 60-day injured list – which would make sense timing-wise for Kershaw, given he will miss much of the upcoming season after undergoing shoulder surgery in the offseason.

After experiencing shoulder troubles late last season – when he managed a sterling 2.46 ERA in 24 regular-season starts before being battered in the playoffs by the Arizona Diamondbacks – Kershaw underwent a procedure in November to repair the gleno-humeral ligaments and capsule of his left throwing shoulder.

The operation was Kershaw’s first surgery as a player. It will likely keep him off the mound until at least the second half of the upcoming 2024 season. And, as the left-hander nears his 36th birthday, it will present perhaps the biggest obstacle yet in his bid to maintain dominance late into his Hall of Fame-caliber career.

ATRBITRATION: Baltimore outfielder Austin Hays, Los Angeles Angels outfielder Taylor Ward and Houston utilityman Mauricio Dubón won their salary arbitration cases, giving players a 3-2 advantage with 13 cases still pending.

Hays was awarded the $6.3 million he asked for over the Orioles’ proposed $5.85 million. Brian Keller, Allen Ponak and Jasbir Parmer made the Hays decision after hearing arguments on Jan. 30. The 28-year-old Hays hit .275 last year with 16 homers and 67 RBI, earning $3.2 million. The 2023 All-Star is eligible for free agency after the 2025 season.

Ward had asked for $4.8 million compared to the team’s offer of $4.3 million. His case was decided by Jeanne Vonhof, Margaret Brogan and Parmer, who conducted the hearing Friday. The 30-year-old Ward hit .253 last year with 14 homers and 47 RBI, down from a .281 average with 23 homers and 65 RBI in 2022. His season ended July 29 when he was hit on the head by a 91 mph fastball from Toronto’s Alek Manoah and sustained facial fractures.


Dubón won his case for $3.5 million over the team’s offer of $3 million. The Gold Glove winner’s hearing was Monday before John Woods, Jeanne Charles and Janice Johnston. The 29-year-old Dubón hit .278 with 10 homers and 46 RBI in his first full season with Houston, which acquired him from San Francisco in May 2022.

ASTROS: José Altuve and Houston agreed to a $125 million, five-year contract that covers 2025-29.

Houston announced a new multiyear deal for Altuve without disclosing financial details.

Altuve has a $26 million salary for 2024 in the final season of a $163.5 million, seven-year deal. The eight-time All-Star second baseman would have been eligible for free agency after this year’s World Series.

His new agreement includes a $15 million signing bonus, payable upon the contract’s approval by Major League Baseball, a person familiar with the terms told The Associated Press. The person spoke on condition of anonymity because those details were not announced.

Altuve will have salaries of $30 million annually from 2025-27 and $10 million apiece in 2028 and ’29.

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