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John Lackey ‘just tired of talking about last year’

03.02.11 at 3:06 pm ET
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FORT MYERS, Fla. — After turning in his first spring training out of the season, John Lackey reiterated that he is solely focused on the 2011 season and not concerned what transpired in ’10.

“Honestly, I’m just tired of talking about last year,” said Lackey after pitching two innings against the Braves at City of Palms Park Wednesday, allowing a run on four hits. He threw 41 pitches (25 strikes), one of which former Red Sox Alex Gonzalez hit for a solo homer. “I’m ready to move forward and work on this year.”

Lackey explained that he threw all fastballs in the outing in an attempt to build up arm-strength. He did make an alteration in his approach compared to last spring training, when the righty didn’t walk a batter until his final outing of the spring.

“I threw a bunch of two-seamers last year during spring training, trying to pitch more to contact,” he explained. “I think I threw one two-seamer today and the rest were four-seamers. I’m trying to get my arm strength and I’m ahead of schedule for where I was last year.”

As for his assertion that he feels markedly better at this point in the exhibition season compared to a year ago, Lackey said, “Last year coming into spring training I basically wanted to make it through spring training healthy because I hadn’t done it for two years before. I think it will be a fine line of pushing it a little more this year and still making it through healthy.”

Lackey, who was followed up by reliever Scott Atchison, said his plan is to work on his cutter before his next start, which will most likely be Monday at City of Palms Park against the Orioles.

For more spring training coverage, see the Red Sox team page at weei.com/redsox.

Red Sox notes Wednesday: Adrian Gonzalez ‘doing great’ and ‘definitely ahead of schedule’

03.02.11 at 11:14 am ET
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FORT MYERS, Fla. — Red Sox manager Terry Francona said Wednesday that Adrian Gonzalez is getting much closer to playing in a spring training game than was first expected. Meanwhile, John Lackey starts the first Red Sox spring training game of 2011 that doesn’t feature the Twins or a college team in the other dugout.

Jacoby Ellsbury CF

Dustin Pedroia 2B

Carl Crawford LF

David Ortiz DH

J.D. Drew RF

Jed Lowrie SS

Jason Varitek C

Lars Anderson 1B

Nate Spears 3B

John Lackey P

Meanwhile, Gonzalez took another 75 swings off a tee and soft toss on Wednesday and is much farther ahead of schedule to make his Red Sox game debut in spring training, according to Red Sox manager Terry Francona said.

[Click here to listen to Francona update Gonzalez's progress toward a first spring training game.]

“Adrian did a total of 75 today,” Francona said before the Red Sox game against the Braves at City of Palms. “He did a bunch. He’ll have a re-gen day [Thursday] and then he’ll get back at it the next day. [He will] probably incorporate a little bit of cage BP, where it’ll be tee, soft toss and then some BP in the cage. I think he’s definitely ahead of the schedule. He’s doing great.”

Gonzalez, who has been steadily building strength in his surgically repaired right shoulder and the team has reported no issues with his progression. Francona stopped short of commiting to a timetable for his first Grapefruit League game.

“Again, it’s completely up to how he’s feeling but it’s so early in camp and we’ve played three games and his progression is way farther along then I think we thought it would be,” Francona said when asked if he could play in a game by late next week.

Other Wednesday nuggets:

– Francona announced that regulars Jason Varitek, Darnell McDonald, Jed Lowrie, Ryan Kalish and Daniel Nava will travel to Tampa for Friday night’s game against the Yankees, with Clay Buchholz making his second appearance of the spring, and first start.

– Francona will make the trip with the team up to Tampa but will not go to Sarasota for the game against the Orioles as he has a team community commitment on Saturday following the game with Florida at City of Palms.

– With Josh Beckett officially scratched for Thursday and continuing his rehab from Monday’s mild concussion, Stolmy Pimentel, who was originally scheduled for relief, will move up and take Beckett’s place against the Phillies.

[Click here to listen to Francona update Beckett's progress Wednesday morning.]

– There was a lot of love shown before the game between the two clubs. Jonathan Papelbon mugged Braves DH Eric Hinske with a bear hug. Francona was happy to see Tim Hudson starting the game as he called him “one of my buddies” from Francona’s days as scout and eventually bench coach of the 2003 A’s.

– Another AGon made trip for the Braves as former Red Sox shortstop Alex Gonzalez greeted fans behind home plate. 2B Dan Uggla, LF Martin Prado made the trip from Disney, as did Budding superstar RF Jason Heyward and fellow Sports Illustrated coverboy 1B Freddie Freeman.

Read More: 2011 Spring Training, adrian gonzalez, Atlanta Braves, Boston Red Sox

Josh Beckett passes concussion test, but will miss scheduled start

03.02.11 at 10:14 am ET
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FORT MYERS, Fla. — Josh Beckett, who suffered a mild concussion when hit in the head with a ball during batting practice Monday, passed his physical examination Wednesday morning, but will still miss his scheduled start against the Phillies Thursday. Minor-leaguer Stolmy Pimentel will replace Beckett as the Red Sox‘ starter against the Phillies.

“He passed his test, which means he’s allowed to do some activity. Now again, they have to monitor his activity,” said Red Sox manager Terry Francona. “He’ll do some biking and some light throwing and then we’ll see how he progresses from there.”

Beckett told WEEI.com before taking the medical staff’s examination that he felt better than Tuesday, although the pitcher did feel progressively worse as the day went on. Beckett explained he had still battled feeling uneasy when doing physical activity the day after experiencing the concussion.

Francona explained that if all goes well the plan is for Beckett to make his next start with the usual four days of rest from the time of his scheduled Thursday start.

“How he gets to that start is up to how he feels and how he and [pitching coach] Curt [Young] decide to do it,” the Red Sox manager said.

“The No. 1 thing is to make sure he’s OK and he tolerates his activity. He’s only missed one day of throwing. We’ll see where he’s at.”

Beckett suffered the injury when batting practice pitcher Ino Guerrero hit a ball back into the infield from the outfield during practice, hitting the righty on left/front side of his head. The pitcher immediately went to one knee before being guided off the City of Palms Park field by Red Sox medical personnel.

For more spring training coverage, see the Red Sox team page at weei.com/redsox.

A reminder the Red Sox might not be perfect after all

03.01.11 at 11:30 pm ET
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John Henry on Big Show: MLB fined him $500K for revenue sharing comments

03.01.11 at 4:51 pm ET
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Red Sox principal owner John Henry, in an interview on The Big Show, said that he was fined $500,000 by Major League Baseball for comments that he made about the sport’s current financial system. In late-2009, Henry told the Boston Globe that “seven chronically uncompetitive teams, five of whom have had baseball’€™s highest operating profits,” had received over $1 billion in revenue sharing money.

Major League Baseball took objection to the public comments — which, Henry noted, were subsequently validated by leaked documents about team profits — and fined the Sox owner. As such, he was relucant to discuss the state of baseball’s economics.

“There’€™s not much I can say, because the last time I made a comment, I was fined $500,000. The large markets aren’€™t allowed to give their opinions,” said Henry. “Did you know I was fined $500,000? … I made statements which turned out to be true, or at least there were various documents that were leaked after that. But anyway, the large clubs are not allowed to talk about it.”

Henry said that the Sox received a letter from MLB following recent comments by Yankees co-chairman Hank Steinbrenner that voiced similar criticism of the revenue sharing system. He also noted that small-market teams are allowed to comment on baseball’s economic system.

Some other highlights from the interview:

–Henry said that the long-term deal for Carl Crawford did not represent a change of business model, noting that the team has made long-term commitments in the past to Daisuke Matsuzaka and J.D. Drew, and tried to sign Mark Teixeira to a long-term deal.

–Asked about the Teixeira deal, Henry repeated his stance of the past two years that the slugger — as he said in his introductory press conference — wanted to sign with the Yankees from the outset.

–He said that, had there been massive public funding for a new ballpark, the Sox might have found it more economically compelling to have moved into a new park than to renovate Fenway. However, since there was none available, the team has spent $285 million on renovations with an eye towards remaining in Fenway for decades to come.

–Henry said that while there will be some money for the club to make moves at the trade deadline, it will be limited given where current payroll expenditures are for the 2011 Sox.

–Henry expressed his hope that both manager Terry Francona and GM Theo Epstein would remain with the Sox for years to come, but noted that both perform exhausting jobs that make it uncertain whether they are sustainable. Towards that end, Henry also noted that he and CEO Tom Werner have discussed that they can’t remain owners forever, but that they still love their roles with the Sox, and have no idea to see those roles change anytime soon.

A complete transcript is below. To listen to the complete interview, visit the Big Show’s Audio on Demand page.

Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: adrian gonzalez, carl crawford, Hank Steinbrenner, John Henry

All in a (routine) day’s work for Red Sox

03.01.11 at 3:29 pm ET
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FORT MYERS, Fla. — Jon Lester and Jonathan Papelbon are arguably the most important anchors of the starting rotation and bullpen respectively for the 2011 Red Sox.

And both made their spring debut on Tuesday afternoon in a 5-0 win [game recap] against the Twins at Hammond Stadium.

Lester allowed one hit and one walk while striking out one in a scoreless two innings of work. He needed just 27 pitches to get through his first Grapefruit League start, throwing 18 for strikes.

As for Papelbon, he needed far fewer pitches in registering a perfect fifth inning. In throwing just six pitches, Papelbon got two groundouts and a sensational diving grab by minor league infielder Brent Dlugach that resulted in a separated left shoulder for the tough-luck prospect.

“It was good, good to get up and down twice, got the pitch count up a little bit, felt good,” Lester said. “Threw a few good pitches, threw a few bad ones and just move on to the next one.

“No matter if it’s Day 1 of spring training or the 34th start of the year. It’s strike-one. It’s the same mentality as far as if I’ve got two outs or no outs. It doesn’t matter. You’ve got to practice that right now, just like your routine, just like your whole warm-up session, the whole deal. It’s something we haven’t done for four or five months. You’ve got to get back into it, remember everything, remember how it feels. The quicker you can get your mind right, the quicker it is to get on a little bit of a roll during the season.”

Lester, sounding like a focused starter already, said he treats these spring training starts just like the regular season in terms of effort. “You have to,” he said Tuesday. “If you don’t that’s how you get hurt.”

Asked what his goal is in 2011 after missing 20 wins in his final start of 2010, Lester responded with two words, “World Series.”

As for Papelbon, he said there’s a little more of a fine line to getting his routine work in.

“Obviously, for us routine is everything,” Papelbon said. “I think every year you learn things that are going to help you succeed and things that aren’t going to help you succeed and differentiate between the two and move on from there.”

For Papelbon, his mechanics are what he’s focused on this season. And he feels he’s ahead of schedule.

“No question,” said Papelbon when asked if he felt locked in Tuesday. “I felt as locked in as I probably am going to get all spring and hopefully I’ll be able to continue that throughout the rest of the spring and into the season.”

[Click here to hear Jonathan Papelbon explain why he was satisfied with his six-pitch outing from Tuesday.]

“I was pleased. It’s something I’ve taken from the end of the season, last couple of months of the season last year and was throwing the ball really well and I’ve tried to take it into this spring and it’s looks like I’ve been able to do that.

With one out and Alexi Casilla at the plate, the Twins shortstop attempted to lay down a bunt on the third base line. The ball hung in the air long enough for Dlugach to read it and race down the line and make a dive for it. He landed awkwardly and remained still for several minutes before getting up slowly and making his way off the field.

Alfredo Aceves relieved Lester and impressed with two scoreless innings, allowing one hit and one walk in putting up two “potatoes.”

“I always keep in mind to throw what I call ‘potatoes,'” Aceves said. So, what exactly are “potatoes?”

“It means zeros on the scoreboard,” Aceves explained. “I keep in mind that. Zero, zero, zero, no matter what, if I’m behind in the count or bases loaded, I have zeros on my mind.”

As for starting or relieving, both of which he did with the Yankees, Aceves said he’s not particular.

“For me, it doesn’t matter if you start or are a reliever, or whatever, you’ve got to get outs, get people out.”

Read More: alfredo aceves, Boston Red Sox, Brent Dlugach, Jon Lester

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
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