Sox head north ready to go

FORT MYERS, Fla. -- While the Boston Red Sox were on the field playing the Washington Nationals, team officials were packing up City of Palms Park and preparing to head north.

The Red Sox topped the Washington Nationals 7-2 in front of 7,387 fans and came back to the clubhouse to find workers packing bags and boxes and loading them onto a truck bound for Fenway Park.

The Red Sox will conclude their exhibition schedule against Washington on Saturday at 4:05 p.m. at Nationals Park in Washington, D.C. They open the regular season against the New York Yankees Sunday at 8:05 p.m.

Boston was 16-14-1 in Grapefruit League play, but more importantly stayed pretty much injury free.

"Pretty much everybody stayed healthy and that's the key thing," reliever Daniel Bard said. "I don't think the stats really matter. It's really all about how you play starting Sunday."

Bard, Ramon Ramirez and Hideki Okajima each threw two-thirds of an inning Friday in relief of Clay Buchholz while Jonathon Papelbon pitched a scoreless ninth.

"It was nice to get one more outing before the season starts," Bard said. "It's fun for a couple of weeks down here but by now everyone is ready to get out of here."

Buchholz earned the win, going six innings and allowing just two hits. He said afterward that he is looking forward to heading north for several reasons, one being no more 7 a.m. wake-up calls.

"The last couple of days my body has felt that spring-training fatigue," Buchholz said. "Legs felt heavy. I knew I wasn't going to have my best velocity on my fastball. It was a good ending to a spring training that started mediocre for me.

"I think just not having to wake up at 7 a.m. every day for the rest of the season is going to be good. Right when you get here you're excited to go to the field every morning but about three-quarters of the way through you start thinking that it's time to get into the real baseball time and get a little bit more rest. It set in about a week and a half ago that I was ready to get out of here."

Tim Wakefield is expected to start Saturday's game against the Nationals and Daisuke Matsuzaka is also scheduled to pitch. Josh Beckett will face C.C. Sabathia in the regular-season opener Sunday.

The Red Sox broke Friday's game open in the sixth inning when they scored six runs. Jason Varitek had the big hit as he ripped a three-run double that extended Boston's lead to 7-1.

Boston's starting lineup, which figures to look like the one that will face the Yankees on Sunday, was 5-for-20 against Nationals hurler Scott Olsen and scored one run on a Mike Cameron single to right.

Left fielder Jacoby Ellsbury felt it was a real positive spring for the team.

"I feel like most of us are healthy," Ellsbury said. "That's the biggest thing is making sure everyone is healthy.

"We are ready to go for game one. Everybody is excited for this season to get under way."