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Red Sox Tuesday notes: Jon Lester starts, Adrian Gonzalez update

03.01.11 at 12:40 pm ET
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FORT MYERS, Fla. — Jon Lester had seven potential major leaguers behind him on the field as the 19-game winner from 2010 made his first spring training start Tuesday at Hammond Stadium against the Twins.

Marco Scutaro SS

Jed Lowrie 2B

Mike Cameron DH

Kevin Youkilis 3B

Ryan Kalish CF

Darnell McDonald LF

Jarrod Saltalamacchia C

Josh Reddick RF

Drew Sutton 1B

Jon Lester P

Red Sox skipper Terry Francona announced a change that will have Daisuke Matsuzaka and Tim Wakefield each pitching against Florida on Saturday at City of Palms while Alfredo Aceves and Dennys Reyes pitch in Sarasota against Baltimore. Aceves was impressive Tuesday while Reyes threw batting practice back at City of Palms. Clay Buchholz will start Friday night in Tampa against the Yankees. John Lackey is still on track to pitch Wednesday afternoon against Atlanta at City of Palms.

“Aceves is going to start up in Sarasota on Saturday,” Francona said. “We’ve kind of changed it around a little. Because Friday night is Buck and a late night coming back. We’re going to have Daisuke start here and Wake follow him and they’ll probably go three and three. Curt wanted to watch Daisuke and we’re probably not going to get back till two in the morning.”

After hitting off a tee and soft toss hitting on Monday, Francona said Adrian Gonzalez is expected to start hitting from a machine sometime this week. “That’s probably coming up this week. Probably a week of that until [live batting practice].”

– As for Josh Beckett, Francona said he will meet with pitching Curt Young and come up with a game plan in the likely event the pitcher is not cleared for his start on Thursday against Philadelphia at City of Palms. “We have plenty of pitching. I don’t know who will be the starter. That’s where we have to talk with him and see what is in his best interest. We’ll figure. Those things happen. You don’t want to see those things happen. Ino feels terrible,” Francona said of the outfield fungo mishap that produced Beckett’s mild concussion.

Francona said he can related with Beckett since he had numerous concussions in his athletic past.

“I’ve had four or five of them,” said Francona. “[Former pitching coach] John Farrell got smoked in Japan [in 2008]. You know who I’m amazed don’t get hit are the fans down the lines because there’s balls hooking and they’re looking for autographs and talking. Yankee Stadium has that net that goes up and every stadium should have that.”

Read More: adrian gonzalez, Boston Red Sox, Daisuke Matsuzaka, john lackey

Josh Beckett doesn’t want to make Ino Guerrero feel any worse for ‘very stupid’ mistake

03.01.11 at 10:10 am ET
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FORT MYERS, Fla. — The day after, the Red Sox can joke about one of their Top-3 starters getting beaned in the head with a line drive off the fungo bat of batting practice pitcher and coach Ino Guerrero in the outfield.

Tuesday morning when a stray ball was thrown toward Dave Magadan while the batting coach was fielding first base for a Dustin Pedroia throw, skipper Terry Francona chirped, ‘Where’s Ino?’

But Josh Beckett refrained from joking about Ino but rather felt badly for him.

“He feels terrible,” Beckett said. “Was it stupid? Yes. It was very stupid. I think he realizes that now. No sense in making him feel worse than he already does.”

But Beckett did joke about one possible benefit of the mishap.

“Maybe this will get all the pitchers from shagging [fly balls] from now on,” Beckett said.

Beckett was checked out by Red Sox medical staff on Tuesday morning after suffering a mild concussion from getting hit by a fungo on Monday.

“I feel alright, feeling better today. I feel like I got hit in the head,” said Beckett, who is being held out of any baseball activity on Tuesday.

Beckett wasn’t sure if he’ll be cleared to make his next start against Philadelphia at City of Palms Park.

“It’s kind of hard to say. They’re not even letting me go out today,” Beckett said of his postponed sidework of Tuesday. “I think it’s all going to be up to them.

“If I have to miss Thursday, I don’t think it’ll be Wednesday when I pitch. I think it’ll definitely be before then. If they push me back, they push me back.”

[Josh Beckett talks about the day after getting hit in the head.]

“I think getting rid of some of the headache stuff I had [Monday] is probably good, still no activity today,” he said. “You go through a lot of emotions. At first, you’re [ticked] because you don’t know what happened. I tried to walk and got real dizzy and took a knee. I had no idea what happened.”

“He got hit in the head with a baseball but he’ll be okay,” added Francona.

This isn’t the first time Beckett has been hit in the head by a batted ball. Last April 10, as a matter of fact, he took a line drive off the bat of David DeJesus in the bottom of the 7th. He did not miss a start.

Read More: Beckett concussion, Boston Red Sox, Ino Guerrero, Josh Beckett

Beckett suffers mild concussion

02.28.11 at 7:18 pm ET
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FORT MYERS, Fla. — The Red Sox have released a statement saying Josh Beckett suffered a mild concussion after being hit in the left side of the head with a baseball during the team’s batting practice prior to its game against the Twins at City of Palms Park Monday. He was sent home from the park and will be reevaluated Tuesday.

Beckett, who is scheduled to start Thursday against the Phillies, was standing in left-center field when a ball deflected off of coach Ino Guerrero‘s fungo bat. After being escorted off the field by the team’s medical staff, the pitcher didn’t have to go to the hospital, instead being treated at the park. The Sox planned to check in on the pitcher again on Monday evening, and then evaluate him on Tuesday to determine what — if any — activities he can do.

“I think it hit him in the temple,” said manager Terry Francona. “Bet you it felt like a bolt of lightning. That’s really not what you’re expecting. It’s just a fluke thing. Fortunately, it hit Beckett in the head. It’s better than hitting him in the shoulder.”

Beckett pitched in his first spring training game of the season Sunday night, giving up a run on two hits over two innings. He threw 23 pitches, 15 of which were for strikes. After the contest, he said, “If I’m healthy, the numbers will be there.”

Read More: concussion, Josh Beckett,

It was the day Carl Crawford became a Boston Red Sox (sort of)

02.28.11 at 6:00 pm ET
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(Carl Crawford’s first at-bat as a member of the Red Sox)

FORT MYERS, Fla. — Signing the contract was one thing. Conducting a press conference was another. And showing up to spring training offered a new perspective.

But the true reality check for Carl Crawford came Monday at City of Palms Park. That was when he played in a baseball game as a member of the Red Sox for the very first time.

“It felt good just to put on the uniform and get out on the field,” he said. “I was a little nervous at first, but I was just happy to get it out of the way.

“I was trying to take it all in. I was thinking about, ‘I’m actually in a Red Sox uniform.’ I was trying to take it all in and focus on the game at the same time.”

The actual game (a 7-6 Red Sox win over the Twins; for a recap, click here) was uneventful for Crawford, who played left field and hit third. He went 0-for-3, flying out to left field twice before striking out swinging against Minnesota lefty Glen Perkins.

But the results meant little on this day. Just being there was the thing. Take, for example, the dynamic of playing next to center fielder Jacoby Ellsbury.

“We plan on taking away base hits,” Crawford said. “I think we’re going to thrive off each other. That’s definitely the goal, to take away as many base hits as possible.”

Then there was the talk regarding his spot in the lineup.

“That would be fine with me,” he said when asked about hitting third during the season. “I have no problem with it. I’m going to play the way I play no matter where he puts me ‘€¦ Anywhere I go, I’m going to play the way I play.”

Crawford was even asked about whether or not he had talked to the Angels’ Torii Hunter since signing with the Red Sox. His response, “No … At some point I’ll talk to him. We’re still cool.”

But perhaps the moment that symbolized the day came early in the morning, when Red Sox manager Terry Francona stopped by to say hi.

“He just looked at me, saw I was getting ready to go and said, ‘Man, I used to hate you.’ Yeah, I felt the same way too,” Crawford said. “It’s good we’re on the same team and we’re all together now.”

Read More: carl crawford, Jacoby Ellsbury, torii hunter,

Bobby Jenks slated to pitch Thursday against Phillies

02.28.11 at 1:39 pm ET
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FORT MYERS, Fla. ‘€“ After throwing for the second time to live hitters, Bobby Jenks said the plan is for him to pitch in the Red Sox‘€™ game against the Phillies Thursday at City of Palms Park.

It will be the first game action for Jenks, who threw 26 pitches in his session Monday.

‘€œI’€™ll look forward to getting in games come April,’€ he said of the excitement regarding see game action. ‘€œRight now, I’€™m going to go out there and work out things. Even though it’€™s a game situation, even though it’€™s spring training, there are still a lot of things to work on and get better at before the season comes.’€

Jenks explained that he is taking somewhat of a different approach this spring, easing more into the spring training games than ever before.

‘€œI’€™ve never thrown this late before,’€ he explained. ‘€œI’€™ve never thrown four bullpens before seeing live hitters or live BP. I guess it’€™s working.

‘€œThat was [pitching coach] Curt [Young'€™s] idea. He just wanted to get a better look, a better feel off the mound before we jumped into games.’€

Jenks threw four bullpen sessions prior to facing live hitters for the first time, Saturday. As has been the case for the past few seasons, the reliever didn’€™t throw off a mound prior to coming to spring training.

Regarding if he felt better than the first time he threw to batters, Jenks said, ‘€œBig time. I’€™m feeling really good today. I just have to build off of this and continue working.’€

Red Sox options with Hideki Okajima could include minors

02.28.11 at 11:56 am ET
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It was not the way that Hideki Okajima wanted to start his exhibition season.

After a 2010 campaign in which he struggled more than his season-ending 4.50 ERA would suggest, the left-hander is competing for one of the final spots in the Red Sox bullpen after having signed a one-year, $1.75 million deal to return to the club that non-tendered him in Dec. And so, without the guarantee of a roster spot, it was no doubt an unfortunate first step for the 35-year-old that he allowed four runs on five hits in his first spring inning of work.

The Sox are mindful of the fact that he was a critical member of their bullpen from 2007-09, and so they note that it is more important for the reliever to work to regain that form than to concentrate on the roster situation.

“We need Oki to be a good pitcher. He’€™s competing with himself,” manager Terry Francona told reporters in Fort Myers. “We’€™ve all seen what he can do when he’€™s right and how he can help that bullpen. That’€™s probably more how I look at it.”

That said, it is worth noting that if Okajima struggles this spring and the Sox wanted to build bullpen depth while giving the left-hander more time to find his rhythm on the mound, his contract status permits the team flexibility to do just that. Okajima has never spent a day in the minors since coming to Boston, and so he has all three of his options remaining. He has four years of service time, and so he cannot refuse an optional assignment should the Red Sox choose to send him to the minors. Nor is there anything in his contract that would prevent the Sox from sending him to the minors.

While Okajima would have to clear major league waivers if the Sox were to option him, that process is considered nothing more than a formality, since teams almost never claim players on that form of waivers.

Among the left-handers in competition for the final bullpen spots — a group that includes Okajima, Felix Doubront, Rich Hill, Dennys Reyes, Andrew Miller and Randy Williams — Okajima and Doubront are the only ones on the Red Sox’ 40-man roster.

Doubront, who has been shut down while building arm strength, will almost surely open the year in Triple-A. That leaves Okajima as the player who would require the least roster shuffling to keep in the majors.

At the same time, because Okajima can be optioned, the Sox could easily send him to the minors if they wanted to avoid losing Reyes, who can opt-out of his minor league deal in the final days of March if he’s not added to the big league roster. The Sox would have to take someone else off the 40-man roster in order to do so, but that would likely not tie the Sox’ hands.

“When [Sox GM Theo Epstein] thinks somebody can help us, he’€™s not afraid to make it work,” said Francona. “At the same time, when we look at building our team, we look at building depth, also. If you lose a guy that’€™s a roster guy — or a guy you could send down — then, 10 days into the season, if somebody gets hurt and you don’€™t have anybody to call up, we certainly keep those things in consideration.”

There is still time for Okajima to demonstrate this spring that he can be a solid bullpen option for the Sox. That said, the pitcher also gives the Sox flexibility, since they are not in a position where they would risk losing him if he was sent to the minors.

Read More: Hideki Okajima,

Late morning Red Sox notes: The journey from Taiwan Cup to Mayor’s Cup for Terry Francona, Carl Crawford

02.28.11 at 10:46 am ET
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FORT MYERS, Fla. — Monday, of course, marks the debut of Carl Crawford in the Red Sox‘ lineup (hitting third), offering Sox manager Terry Francona a whole new round of excitement thanks to the anticipation of seeing the outfielder play in a Boston uniform.

While walking through the clubhouse earlier in the morning, Francona painted the picture of how things have changed, telling Crawford, “I hated you, and now I love you.”

Regarding Crawford, Francona has offered rave reviews, “I’ve always liked him. He’s been a model. He’s here early, he works hard, he’s upbeat, he’s a nice kid. I’m sure it’s a little different. Your first team is like family.”

Francona explained that he was familiar with Crawford even before the speedster started torturing the Red Sox on the basepaths, having managed him on Team USA in 2001 when in a tournament in Taiwan. The manager joked that he wasn’t sure what the group was playing for, (“The Taiwan Cup?” he quipped), but did remember that the team — which boasted Orlando Hudson, Josh Bard, and former Red Sox backstop Ken Huckaby — lost to Cuba in the finals.

– Francona did say not to make too much of Monday’s lineup, which has Jacoby Ellsbury leading off and Crawford hitting third.

“That’€™s today’€™s lineup,” the manager said. “We’€™re just trying to win the Mayor’€™s Cup. We’€™ve front-loading it for obvious reasons. Panic is setting in. It’€™s an obvious possibility. Who knows. We’€™re just trying to get ready for the season.” He was, of course, referring to the fact that the Twins are now 1-0 in what is for all intent and purposes a five-game series to see which Fort Myers-based team can claim the most head-to-head wins.

– Regarding Ellsbury, Francona reiterated that he did believe the team was best with the the center fielder at the top of the Red Sox’ lineup if he was hitting well.

“It’€™s been interrupted because of his health, but he was really starting to grow into it,” said Francona of Ellsbury’s progression in the leadoff spot. “At times we would hit down in the order just to protect him a little bit, but I think we’€™ve always said when he’€™s leading off and hitting well that’€™s probably our best lineup. There were times he wasn’€™t ready to be there so it didn’€™t seem like it made sense.”

Regarding how the Red Sox might make the determination about whether or not Ellsbury is ready to reclaim the leadoff spot, Francona said, “Just be ready. He came into camp swinging the bat way ahead of what I expected. He’€™s strong. He obviously spent a lot of time getting ready. The ball is coming off his bat great. So, obviously that’€™s good news. He missed probably 500 at-bats so if it looks like that one less at-bat a game early on would help him, that’€™s what we would do. But there’€™s no way to scientifically know. But we’€™ll watch his at-bats.

“Physically he really looks terrific. It’€™s obvious he spent a lot of time getting ready. If balls are beating him and he’€™s fighting it a little bit hitting him there would make it a little harder on him and we don’€™t want to do that.”

Adrian Gonzalez took 25 swings off a tee and 35 more off of flips. “It’s going well,” Francona said.

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