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Clay Buchholz allows first run, Red Sox fall to Tigers

03.18.11 at 4:27 pm ET
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FORT MYERS, Fla. — Clay Buchholz allowed his first run of the spring and the Red Sox allowed five unearned runs in an 8-3 loss to the Tigers Friday afternoon in a split-squad contest at City of Palms Park.

[Red Sox-Tigers boxscore].

Buchholz was hit hard but managed to get through the first four innings, allowing a long solo homer to right by Brennan Boesch in the second. It was the first run Buchholz allowed 11 innings this spring. Buchholz, who allowed just five hits in three previous appearances, allowed his fifth hit of the day to open the fifth.

[Buchholz talks about his outing on Friday.]

Buchholz threw 76 pitches (41 strikes) on the day, his longest outing of the spring.

“I thought he fought his command a little today, right from the beginning,” Red Sox manager Terry Francona said. “But he increased his workload by about 20 pitches, which was good. He’s got two more starts. I just didn’t think he commanded as he normally will.”

Kevin Youkilis then committed his first error of the spring before Francona pulled Buchholz for Hideki Okajima.

Adrian Gonzalez also committed his first error of the spring on the second batter Okajima faced. Okajima allowed a three-run homer to Ryan Raburn to cap off the fifth for Detroit.

“If a guy gives up a home run on March [18], I don’t think that means we’re not going to bring him into a game,” Francona said of Okajima. “When the season starts and guys get into the their roles, whatever happened in March doesn’t really matter. I’d love for everybody to go out and never give up runs but I don’t think you penalize guys. We’re just trying to get our team ready.”

All four Detroit runs in the fifth were unearned.

Dustin Pedroia drilled his first homer of the spring to left in the first inning off Tigers starter Max Scherzer to put the Red Sox up, 1-0. The Red Sox fell to 12-10-1 in Grapefruit play, with a nightcap to follow in Port Charlotte against the Rays.

Read More: adrian gonzalez, Boston Red Sox, Clay Buchholz, Detroit Tigers

Could Kevin Youkilis be on the verge of making Gold Glove history?

03.18.11 at 12:27 pm ET
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FORT MYERS, Fla. ‘€“ While many were focusing on Marco Scutaro‘€™s fine play in the field during the Red Sox‘€™ spring training game against the Braves Wednesday, lost was another exceptional moment with the glove.

Kevin Youkilis dove to his left, scooped up Martin Prado’€™s grounder, and threw out the Atlanta baserunner. Great play. Few noticed.

The relative silence regarding Youkilis’€™ performance at third base wasn’€™t hard to figure out. People had seen him play a solid 219 major-league games at the position, so expectations were already set.

It might be time to amp up those expectations.

The question is this: Can Youkilis become the first player since Darin Erstad to win a Gold Glove at two separate positions?

‘€œI don’€™t see why not,’€ said Red Sox third base/infield coach Tim Bogar. ‘€œHe did it on the other side of the field. In my mind, the one thing is throwing for the whole season, and he’€™s been fine with it this spring. That just comes with using his lower half, and he’€™s done that this spring.’€

Youkilis does have his Gold Glove, winning the award in 2007 for his work at first base. And few are going to doubt his abilities when it comes to that side of the diamond, where in 575 games he totaled a .997 fielding percentage (making just 13 errors).

But even though his time at third base has been sporadic throughout the past few years, his fielding percentage at the position is better than two-time Gold Glove-winner David Wright‘€™s number since ‘€™05.

Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: Evan Longoria, Gold Glove, Kevin Youkils,

‘Interesting decisions’ to make on Tim Wakefield and the Red Sox bullpen

03.18.11 at 10:33 am ET
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FORT MYERS, Fla. — In several different ways and on several occasions, Terry Francona was asked Friday morning about the role – and future – of Tim Wakefield on the Red Sox.

Francona has been around long enough to avoid stepping on that landmine.

Asked about the intense competition among the team’s relievers, Red Sox manager Terry Francona said Friday the next two weeks leading up to Opening Day in Texas will be ‘stressful’ for he and the pitchers in the bullpen.

“I would never sit here and talk about someone being [on the roster],” Francona said. “I can’t do that. That’s so disrespectful to players. I would never do that. That would be awful. You guys [media] are going to start nitpicking and try to make the bullpen.”

The projected pieces of the Red Sox bullpen includes closer Jonathan Papelbon, set-up men Daniel Bard and Bobby Jenks, righty Dan Wheeler with righties Wakefield, Alfredo Aceves, Matt Albers and Scott Atchison and lefties Hideki Okajima, Andrew Miller and Dennys Reyes competing for the final one or two spots.

“If I sit here and tell you everybody that’s in the bullpen, then whoever’s not, is going [to know]. That’s not a good way to do it.”

Francona was asked specifically about the plans for the knuckleballer Wakefield, who could share middle and long relief roles with Aceves if the team chooses to keep both.

“These guys have a stressful couple of weeks ahead of them. I’m not going to make it worse,” Francona said when asked if Wakefield’s spot on the roster was assured. “We’re going to have decisions to make. It’s going to be tough on some guys because they probably deserve to make the team.”

[Terry Francona explains the intense competition for spots in the Red Sox bullpen, including Wakefield.]

Wakefield will start Friday night’s split squad game against the Rays in Port Charlotte. Wakefield will be making his fourth appearance of the spring but his first start. He has had an effective spring, allowing nine hits and only two earned runs in 6 2/3 innings for a 2.70 ERA.

Aceves is 0-1 with a 3.48 ERA in four appearances, including two starts. He has allowed 10 hits in 10 1/3 innings.

“Their styles aren’t similar but they both can pitch out of the bullpen and they both can start. We’re going to have some interesting decisions to make here come this last week. Fortunately, guys have really shown well and it’s going to be interesting.”

Of course, those “interesting” decisions won’t be made by Francona alone as GM Theo Epstein, asst. GM Ben Cherington and pitching coach Curt Young will all have input.

“Curt and I and Theo and Ben will sit down – as we have been – and try to make the best decisions, not only for Opening Day but for the organization. It’s going to be tough,” Francona reiterated.

Wakefield is 44 while Aceves is 29. Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: 2011 Spring Training, alfredo aceves, ben cherington, Boston Red Sox

Why Jarrod Saltalamacchia has entered the world of Twitter

03.18.11 at 9:32 am ET
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FORT MYERS, Fla. — Spelling Jarrod Saltalamacchia’s name just got even more confusing.

In the last few days, the Red Sox catcher has entered the 140-character world that is all the rage, building a whole new identity that can now be found when typing “@Jarrod_Salty39″ into a Twitter search. That’s right: Saltalamacchia is now a social media maven.

At the suggestion of a friend, the backstop dove into the world of Twitter (along with teammate @JacobyEllsbury) Thursday. As of this writing, Saltalamacchia had picked up 2,324 followers despite having only posted three items.

“For me it was just to be able to connect with fans at a bigger level,” Saltalamacchia said Friday morning. “We’€™re at the field and nobody understands when we’€™re done with the day we have family to go home to. If we have time to sign or talk, we do it, but if we don’€™t we go home. It’€™s kind of a way to get out to the fans a little bit and thank them.”

Thus far, Saltalamacchia admits he really hasn’t grasped the intricacies of the phenomenon. He follows just four accounts (three sponsored by Major League Baseball, and, of course, Charlie Sheen). He still hasn’t even begun to track the posts of his Twitter mentor, former teammate C.J. Wilson (@str8edgeracer), whose account has a whopping 49,859 followers.

“I had no idea of how to do it. But through a friend I learned about it and it sounded pretty good cool,” Saltalamacchia said. “It’€™s a great thing to do. I picked up on it and I’€™ll try to figure it out the best I can. I’€™m trying to get the hang of it.”

Read More: Charlie Sheen, jarrod saltalamacchia, Twitter,

Red Sox send down Lars Anderson, Juan Carlos Linares

03.17.11 at 4:44 pm ET
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FORT MYERS, Fla. ‘€“ Following the Red Sox‘€™ 8-5 win over the Mets at City of Palms Park Thursday, the team optioned first baseman Lars Anderson to the minor leagues, and also reassigned outfielder Juan Carlos Linares to the minors.

Both players appeared in the Sox’€™ victory, with Anderson going 1-for-4 with two strikeouts, and Linares ‘€“ playing center field ‘€“ finishing 0-for-2 with a strikeout and run scored.

Anderson leaves big league camp hitting .161 in 13 games, having hit two home runs. He struck out six times and walked once in 31 at-bats.

‘€œLars, defensively, is like night and day, he’s come so far,’€ Red Sox manager Terry Francona said. ‘€œHe just needs repetition, and that’s what we told him. I think he came into camp and he didn’t knock the ball all over the ballpark. We tried to reassure him that what he did during the season will show what kind of hitter he is.’€

The 26-year-old Linares made a positive impression on the major-league staff, hitting .320 (8-for-25) with a home run and nine runs scored. The Cuban has positioned himself to be in the conversation if the Red Sox find themselves needing outfield depth during the regular season.

‘€œLinares is really interesting,’€ Francona said. ‘€œObviously the major-league staff didn’t know him really well. At first blush you look at him and you’re like, ‘I don’t know if this guy can play center field.’ And then you see him run around out there and he can actually play all three outfield positions, he’s very aggressive at the plate, and he hustles on every ball that is in play. He’s a pretty exciting guy.’€

Read More: juan carlos linares, lars anderson,

John Lackey effective but Jonathan Papelbon struggles in Sox win over Mets

03.17.11 at 4:10 pm ET
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FORT MYERS, Fla. — John Lackey celebrated the news of his place as the No. 2 starter in the rotation by going out and scattering five hits and allowing one run over 5 1/3 innings as the Red Sox beat the Mets, 8-5, [boxscore] in the traditional afternoon game on St. Patrick’s Day at City of Palms Park. Carl Crawford and Jed Lowrie each went 2-for-3 with an RBI to pace the Red Sox offense.

[Lackey talks about the honor of pitching Opening Day at Fenway and being named No. 2 starter.]

Lackey, who will start the home opener vs. the Yankees on April 8, was stretched out on the sunny, 80-degree day, throwing 78 pitches (46 strikes) and was taken out with one out and a runner on in the sixth. Thursday was his longest outing of the spring, as he improved to 2-0 with 1.72 ERA in four Grapefruit League starts.

[Lackey explains his start on Thursday and how much better he feels this spring.]

The only troubling outing by Red Sox pitching Thursday belonged to Jonathan Papelbon, who gave up a three-run double after hitting a batter and walking two in the ninth. He then surrendered a run-scoring double before manager Terry Francona pulled him with two outs. In six outings this spring, Papelbon has a 12.60 ERA.

Drew Sutton homered and also had a pair of hits for the Red Sox, who improved to 12-9-1 in Grapefruit League play this spring. They will have a split squad on Friday, playing the Tigers at City of Palms at 1 p.m. and the Rays in Port Charlotte at 7 p.m.

Read More: 2011 Spring Training, Boston Red Sox, carl crawford, drew sutton

Why Josh Beckett is the Red Sox’ newest fourth starter

03.17.11 at 2:18 pm ET
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FORT MYERS, Fla. — The biggest news of the day (besides the fact they ran out of corned beef in the press box)? Josh Beckett being slated as the No. 4 starter to start the season.

Jon Lester will be No. 1, John Lackey No. 2, Clay Buchholz No. 3, and Beckett in the fourth spot, with Daisuke Matsuzaka coming in at No. 5.

So why are the Red Sox taking this route? Here are some suggestions:

1. When Terry Francona says the Sox want to put Beckett in the best position to get off to a good start, he means it.

You’re talking about finding some success for a guy who still has a season that included a 6-6 with a 5.78 ERA. While he is coming off a Sept. which included a respectable 4.50 ERA for the month, that same stretch included hitters batting .316 against him. Simply put: Beckett has to get that bad taste of ’10 out of his mouth as soon as possible.

7.22 Beckett pointed out that he got off to a bad start in ’09 (ERA) and went on to have one of his best season in the bigs, saying, “I look back at ’09 and I started off terrible and I put together a three- or four-month stretch there that I’ve never been in that kind of position before. That’s as good as I’ve ever pitched in the big leagues, in ’09. Take away a couple of August starts and that’s probably the best year I’ve ever had. I got off to a horrible start and had a bad August. It’s always important.”

But this is different. He has never had to rebound from such depths as he found himself in last season.

2. The Indians offer the best chance to find some out-of-the-gate success.

One of Beckett’s best outings in ’10 came against the Indians, an Aug. 3 outing in which he allowed one run on three hits over eight innings. With the possible exception of Travis Hafner (5-for-15), none of the current members of the Cleveland hitters have had significant success against Beckett, with catalysts Grady Sizemore (3-for-16, .188) and Orlando Cabrera (10-for-43, .233).

The Rangers would have been a different story. In two outings against Texas in ’10, Beckett allowed 13 runs in 12 innings, giving up seven in seven innings the first time around, and six (and 10 hits) in five frames on Aug. 13.

3. It offers Beckett a bit more time to make sure he has everything where he wants it.

Most came away from the righty’s latest outing in Bradenton encouraged by what Beckett delivered. His changeup — a pitch he prioritized the first few innings — was effective. The fastball hit 94 mph. And his curveball, while still not as powerful as it was in ’07, found its target more consistently than during his struggles in ’10.

One element of Beckett’s repertoire that still needs to be uncovered is the darting two-seam fastball, that served as a primary weapon when he went on the aforementioned run during the ’09 campaign.

Beckett did say Thursday that he was extremely encouraged by Wednesday’s bullpen session, one which allowed for the correction of a few flaws in the pitcher’s delivery.

4. Lackey may be better equipped to take on the Rangers.

While the righty has experienced some ups and downs while pitching in the American League West when facing the Rangers, his success against Texas last season was definitive. In one July 17 outing, Lackey held the Rangers to two runs over seven innings in picking up the win.

Lackey has had trouble throughout his career with a few of the Rangers’ hitters (Ian Kinsler and Josh Hamilton are both hitting over .400 against the hurler for their careers), the new Sox’ No. 2 starter has far and away the most familiarity with the Texas lineup. Lackey has started more games against the Rangers than any other pitcher in the past decade (33).

Read More: Clay Buchholz, Indians, john lackey, Jon Lester
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