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Red Sox Roundup: What happened in Fort Myers on Monday

02.15.11 at 7:42 am ET
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FORT MYERS, Fla. — The switch flips today.

Tuesday marks the first official Red Sox team workout of the spring, with pitchers and catchers (as well as some of the early-arriving position players) fanning across the fields at the minor league training facility in Fort Myers. Thus begins the buildup to what is shaping up to be a season of enormous anticipation and expectations for the Red Sox. (For those in Fort Myers looking for information on the workouts, click here.)

On Monday, all the pitchers (save for left-hander Dennys Reyes, who is working on his visa and slightly delayed) and catchers were present and accounted for. Here were the storylines from Monday:

John Lackey felt that his first season with the Red Sox was better than some of his detractors might have realized, even as he noted that he “definitely could have pitched better.” In an effort to build on his strong second half, he showed up in terrific shape, having lost more than 10 pounds thanks to offseason cardio workouts.

Krista Lackey, the pitcher’s wife, is described as doing well after having been diagnosed with and treated for breast cancer this offseason.

–Red Sox manager Terry Francona said that outfielder Mike Cameron is healthy following his season-ending surgery on a sports hernia and eager to get the season underway. Cameron — who was slated to be the Sox’ everyday center fielder last year — will be asked to play quite a bit of right field during spring training, a position where he is likely to get somewhat regular playing time (in place of starting right fielder J.D. Drew) during the season.

–Sox shortstop prospect Jose Iglesias is thrilled that, in about a month, his father will be joining him in the U.S. Iglesias, who defected from Cuba in 2009, has been apart from almost all of his family since arriving in the States.

–Newly acquired right-hander Dan Wheeler arrived in his new clubhouse. He said that the pieces are in place for the 2011 Red Sox bullpen to experience the same sort of turnaround that he was a part of in Tampa Bay in 2010. Francona, meanwhile, noted that Wheeler will not be restricted to work as a situational right-hander, as he has the ability to retire hitters from both sides of the plate.

–Yankees co-owner Hank Steinbrenner showed that the apple doesn’t fall too far from the tree, blustering in Yankees camp that the Red Sox have “got a lot to prove … after last year.” For more of his thoughts on Boston, click here.

Daniel Bard was humble, even as he acknowledged that he faces a significant career decision in the wake of a prestigious honor on Sunday.

Read More: dan wheeler, Daniel Bard, dennys reyes, Hank Steinbrenner

John Lackey’s wife ‘good’ after breast cancer diagnosis

02.14.11 at 11:39 pm ET
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FORT MYERS, Fla. — While addressing the media Monday at the minor-league training facility, John Lackey was asked about where he worked out in the offseason. “Actually, I was in California most of the time because my wife was getting some treatment out there,” he said.

Later, Lackey explained to WEEI.com that the “treatment” Krista Lackey was undergoing throughout the offseason was to combat breast cancer, which the Red Sox‘ pitcher’s wife was diagnosed with just prior to Thanksgiving.

Lackey, who was wearing a pink “Power Balance” bracelet on his left wrist as a way to further breast cancer awareness, explained that Krista “was doing really good,” and the University of New Hampshire graduate had caught the disease at a very early stage. The pitcher also wore sneakers with the Lance Armstrong motto “Livestrong” printed across them.

Lackey said at his introductory press conference with the Red Sox following the 2009 season that Krista, a Maine native, was a driving force in terms of encouraging the pitcher to sign a free-agent contract with the Sox.

After an offseason in California where Lackey explained he lost 10-12 pounds primarily through additional running, the 32-year-old was optimistic he could improve on a ’10 season in which he went 14-11 with a 4.40 ERA.

“There’€™s definitely room for improvement. I think experience of a year here will help, for sure,” he said. “I think I did some good things in the second half and hopefully just kind of keep that moving.’€

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

John Lackey: ‘I definitely could have pitched better’

02.14.11 at 5:38 pm ET
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FORT MYERS, Fla. — Let’s get this out of the way: John Lackey does not regret his decision to sign a five-year, $82.5 million deal with the Red Sox after the 2009 season. To the contrary, as he watched the moves being made by the club this offseason, when All-Stars Carl Crawford and Adrian Gonzalez were added and the bullpen was reinforced with the likes of Bobby Jenks and Dan Wheeler, he felt precisely the opposite sentiment.

The big right-hander drew a clear conclusion over the winter.

‘€œPretty cool, huh? I made a good decision,” said Lackey. “One of the reasons you come to a place like this is that they have the capability to do that sort of thing, and they have a chance to win a ring every year. It’€™s really fun to be in a place like that.’€

Of course, by the end of last year, the injury-decimated Sox were not in position to chase that goal. They were left to go home following the last day of a regular season that had yielded 89 wins, a mark that fell short of both the Rays and Yankees in baseball’s deepest division.

Lackey said that he did not spend a great deal of time dwelling on a 2010 campaign in which it was tough to know what to make of him. He finished the year with a 14-11 record. That victories total tied for the second-best mark of his career. He threw 215 innings, his biggest workload since 2007 and the third highest mark of his career. He had 21 quality starts, tied for eighth in the American League and most of any Red Sox pitcher.

However, his 4.40 ERA was his worst since 2004 and his third worst of his nine-year career, and his 1.419 WHIP was the worst of his career. Opponents hit .277 against him with a .339 OBP (tied for the worst of his career), .426 slugging mark and .765 OPS. And while Lackey did have quality starts in nearly two-thirds of his outings, they often seemed to be of the six-inning, three-run variety, rather than a truly dominant performance.

And so, in assessing his season, Lackey identified both reasons for satisfaction as well as areas of improvement. Read the rest of this entry »

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Red Sox spring training workouts start on Tues.

02.14.11 at 5:28 pm ET
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FORT MYERS, Fla. — The Red Sox will open their minor league training facility to the public on Tuesday for their first official workout of spring training. Here are the details, as provided by the Sox in a press release:

The Boston Red Sox open their 19th Spring Training camp in Fort Myers, Florida, TOMORROW, Tuesday, February 15 when 30 pitchers and seven catchers will participate in the team’€™s first official workout.

All workouts from February 15-25 will take place at the Player Development Complex, which is located at 4301 Edison Avenue in Fort Myers. On most days the workouts will begin at approximately 9:30 a.m. Any changes to that start time will be announced.

The workouts are open to the public. THERE IS NO PUBLIC PARKING AVAILABLE AT THE PLAYER DEVELOPMENT COMPLEX. Free parking is available at City of Palms Park. Continuous shuttles will run between the Broadway Gate at City of Palms Park and the PDC beginning at 8:00 a.m. each day until one hour after the completion of the workout. The cost of the roundtrip shuttle ticket is $2.00 per person.

Concessions and merchandise will be on sale during these workouts.

The team’€™s first full-squad workout is scheduled for Saturday, February 19. The Red Sox will have 61 players in Major League camp with 14 infielders and 10 outfielders joining the pitchers and catchers.

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Daniel Bard forced to choose between music and baseball?

02.14.11 at 3:03 pm ET
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A lot of questions were raised after Red Sox fans watched the group ‘Lady Antebellum’ clean up at the Grammy’s Sunday night. Daniel Bard has some of the answers:

Managerial musings: Francona says Cameron is at full strength

02.14.11 at 2:24 pm ET
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FORT MYERS, Fla. — Red Sox manager Terry Francona ran the usual gamut of topics in his daily session with the media at the Red Sox’ player development complex. But perhaps the most noteworthy piece of actual information came at the end, after the manager had explained that the Sox were not going to use the shuttle run as a conditioning test out of concern for players such as Dustin Pedroia and Mike Cameron who are returning from injury.

That, naturally, prompted an update about how Cameron is doing in his return from late-season surgery to repair his sports hernia.

“He’€™s good. He feels terrific. But the idea is to keep him that way. I’€™m kind of looking forward to, he’€™s so excited about how he feels, I’€™m kind of looking forward to that, because last year was tough for him,” said Francona, who said that the 38-year-old does not face restrictions in camp.

After signing a two-year, $15.5 million deal with the Sox after the 2009 season, Cameron spent virtually all of his first year limited by injury. With the winter acquisition of Carl Crawford, Cameron will be expected to serve as the team’s fourth outfielder, a role that he has shown a willingness not just to accept but embrace.

While Cameron began last year as the Sox’ everyday center fielder — pushing Jacoby Ellsbury to left field for the week in which they played together — the Sox will have Ellsbury playing center when both are on the field this year. Francona anticipates that Cameron will see most of his work in right field — a position he has occupied for 139 games in his career, compared to just three in left field — on days when both he and Ellsbury are in the lineup. Cameron, who hammered left-handed pitchers for a .357 average, .438 OBP, .690 slugging mark and 1.128 OPS last year, will make a natural platoon partner for J.D. Drew, who struggled against southpaws last year.

Cameron, Francona said, will spend much of spring training playing right field. Meanwhile, on days that Crawford has off and when both Ellsbury and Cameron are in the lineup, the Sox skipper said that he was inclined not to move Ellsbury to left field, though he wants to talk to his outfielders before stating that definitively.

In other news of the day: Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: alfredo aceves, dan wheeler, Jacoby Ellsbury, john lackey

Red Sox morning notes: Good news for Jose Iglesias

02.14.11 at 12:08 pm ET
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FORT MYERS, Fla. — In a development whose significance stretches beyond the baseball field, Red Sox shortstop prospect Jose Iglesias is thrilled that his father will be joining him in about a month. Iglesias, 21, left behind his entire family when he defected from Cuba, but his brother is now in the U.S., and his father — who is currently in Mexico — will be joining them. The shortstop expects that his father will remain with him for the season.

That comes in stark contrast to the player’s first full year in the U.S. in 2010, when he had little contact with his family, and relied heavily on Red Sox baseball operations special assistant Alex Ochoa — a Cuban-American who spent much of last year with Iglesias — to help ease his transition. Iglesias, unsurprisingly, has a locker stationed next to fellow Cuban defector Juan Carlos Linares.

(For more on Iglesias and the transitional challenges faced by players coming to play baseball in the U.S. from Cuba, click here.)

A few other notes from the morning, while we wait for Sox manager Terry Francona and starter John Lackey to speak in a bit:

–Reliever Dan Wheeler arrived in Fort Myers and met with the media. The right-hander spent much of his time discussing his former team, the Rays — both the radical overhaul they endured this offseason when Wheeler, Carl Crawford, three other members of the bullpen (including closer Rafael Soriano) and first baseman Carlos Pena all left as free agents, as well as Tampa Bay’s bullpen of a year ago and its relevance for the Sox.

The Rays bullpen struggled despite a respectable 3.98 ERA in 2009, blowing 22 saves, tied for eighth most in the majors. Last year, with the offseason additions of Rafael Soriano and Joaquin Benoit, the Rays had the best ERA in the American League (3.33), the most saves (51) in the AL and the fewest blown saves (16) in the AL East (fourth fewest in the AL). Wheeler sees no reason why the Sox cannot enjoy a similar change of fortunes with their relievers in 2011.

“From year to year, bullpens, it changes,” said Wheeler. “There’€™s a good core nucleus here. I think there have been some key additions. There’€™s no reason to think that we can’€™t do the same thing here right now.”

–As for his role, Wheeler suggested that he did not have a defined sense of that with the Sox, but he was accustomed to pitching at just about any stage of the game for Rays skipper Joe Maddon, so he was not terribly concerned about gaining definition about his responsibilities.

“Usually, after the fifth inning, I’€™m ready to go whenever. We’€™ll have a better idea, a better feel for that, come season time,” said Wheeler, whose 0.975 WHIP over the last three seasons ranks 10th in the majors. “But there’€™s obviously guys that have been doing this in the roles they’€™ve been doing for the last couple of years, and that’€™s their job. I view myself as a guy that’€™s just going to come in here and help and take a little load off somebody else.’€

Matt Albers, who is competing for a roster spot, said that a few teams expressed interest in him after he was non-tendered by the Orioles in December, but the decision to sign with the Sox was fairly simple. He wanted the opportunity to play for a competitive team, and at the time, there seemed to be clear openings in the bullpen. Of course, that was before the signings of Bobby Jenks, Wheeler and a boatload of left-handed and right-handed pitchers, but Albers felt that his sinker/slider combination could help him secure a middle relief job. The 28-year-old is out of options.

Ryan Kalish enjoyed the conclusion of his time at Athletes’ Performance. He noted that he was in a group by himself because he was working on both his speed and power; most players are assigned to one of those two groups. Still, he enjoyed the chance to be around Manny Ramirez, Pat Burrell, Cody Ross and other established big leaguers.

Read More: dan wheeler, jose iglesias, matt albers, ryan kalish
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