|Roster takes shape||03.31.09 at 11:01 am ET|
According to multiple reports, Chris Carter will be the Red Sox choice to fill the backup first baseman/outfielder spot until Mark Kotsay makes his return from back surgery (expected to be sometime in May), beating out Jeff Bailey. Red Sox manager Terry Francona would only say that players have been spoken to inform them what the club’s thinking is heading into the final days of spring training. While there is always a possibility that help could be brought in from the outside, Carter’s status is a testament to his camp thus far. The 26-year-old came into the spring having improved his conditioning significantly, and enters Tuesday hitting .359 with six home runs.
In other news from City of Palms Park, Julio Lugo (knee) and Mark Kotsay will both join the team when they head to New York to play two exhibition games with the Mets. Lugo will return to Fort Myers after the Sox leave for their West Coast trip, April 10, while Kotsay will make the trip to Anaheim and Oakland.
John Smoltz threw his second bullpen session of the spring, tossing 46 pitches. He is slated to execute another side session Friday and might be ready to face hitters in a batting practice environment when the Sox head to the West Coast. In other Smoltz news, the hurler beat Tiger Woods in their round of golf Monday — albeit with Smoltz getting three strokes a side.
The Red Sox’ lineup against the Rays Tuesday could very resemble what fans will see Opening Day: Ellsbury CF, Pedroia 2B, Ortiz DH, Youkilis 1B, Drew RF, Bay LF, Lowell 3B, Lowrie SS, Varitek C. Clay Buchholz will take the mound for the Sox, with Justin Masterson, and Ramon Ramirez closing things out.
|Familiar surroundings for Smoltz||03.31.09 at 1:00 am ET|
KISSIMMEE, Fla. — Yes, John Smoltz played golf with Tiger Woods Monday. But before that he also was reunited with his old team, the Atlanta Braves. After meeting with his former teammates and former team, this is what Smoltz had to say:
(Is he looking forward to June?): “No, I refuse to do that. Does me no good. There’s no missions, there no game plan for anything other than –– my job is hard enough as it is to get to the position where I want to be. And when I say hard enough, people are going to draw conclusions based on things they hear or see, and that’s not going to be a good indicator of what I know.”
“I’ve over time, proved that, even here, over there –– I would say things that people didn’t believe. And then they would go, ‘oh, yeah, he was telling the truth.’ There’s a lot of things I know about my body and what I can do. Certainly, that’ll be my same assessment. It’ll just be a newer team, but trust my past.”
(Anything surprise in the process with the Red Sox?): “I wouldn’t say surprised, as much as you get a year older, you work a little harder, maintain the habits that you had, you learn some new philosophies and some new training, and you adapt. I’ve adapted well, I think. And been patient at the same time.”
|Farrell on Daisuke||03.30.09 at 4:46 pm ET|
KISSIMMEE, Fla. — Talking after the Red Sox’ 4-3 loss to the Braves at Champion Stadium, John Farrell joined others in the Sox’ clubhouse in feeling encouraged by Daisuke Matsuzaka’s 75-pitch, five-inning outing in which he gave up two runs on two hits. Here is what the Sox’ pitching coach had to say:
“I thought he threw the ball good for an eight-day layoff, given the inconsistency of his spring to date with locations and different venues. He didn’t have to overwork in any one inning, or any extended inning. Seventy five pitches through five innings was ideally what we were hoping to get to today.”
“Today is the first look in game situation. I thought the tempo of his game was good. There was a good flow to it. There wasn’t a lot of time in between pitches, which to me is an outward sign of some confidence and some relaxation. I thought he pitched to contact very well. There were a couple of pitches he didn’t make with 3-2 counts with a cutter and a slider, but overall I thought it was a very good outing for him.”
|Rocco on Rocco||03.30.09 at 3:45 pm ET|
KISSIMMEE, Fla. — Rocco Baldelli went deep again, Monday at Champion Stadium, in the Red Sox’ game against the Atlanta Braves. It was his second home run in as many games. After getting four at-bats in the leadoff spot, serving as the Sox’ designated hitter, Baldelli talked about some things …
“I mean, I feel alright. I could always be seeing the ball better, making more hard contact consistently. But I feel pretty good, and I’m happy with how spring training is going so far.”
(On his timing): “That’s all I really was [intent] on doing coming into here. I would have been very pleased to come in and just get on the field consistently, and just get in some kind of baseball shape, and I think I have, and I feel good. Just getting out on the field and even playing centerfield, which I haven’t done in a little while, to get out there and run around, more than I had, and make some plays, it felt good.”
(Hitting with power in spring training) “No. I usually don’t hit tremendously well in spring training. Feels like I forget how to hit in the offseason, and then it takes me a little while when I get back. But it’s not something I’ve ever really worried about or pressed too much when trying to get ready for the season. I don’t know how many AB’s I’ve got, but I think I’ll be ready to go … I don’t hit that many home runs. I just try to hit the ball, that’s all I really try to do. I don’t really get caught up in that other stuff.”
(How his legs are holding up): ”Better than they did last spring – but I didn’t make it through last spring training , so that’s not really saying much.”
(On getting some extra at-bats last Thursday in a minor league game): “I told Tito and Mags and those guys that –no one keeps track of how many AB’s you get in spring against right and left handers, but I had only had a couple against lefties all spring. I just mentioned it to them. They set it up for the off day, and it was good to go out there and get about 7 AB’s against left-handed pitching.”
|Daisuke finishes up strong||03.30.09 at 2:31 pm ET|
KISSIMMEE, Fla. — It would appear as though Daisuke Matsuzaka has thrown his last pitch in his first spring training outing, tossing 75 pitches (46 strikes) while allowing two runs (one earned) on two hits and three walks while striking out two against the Braves, at Champion Stadium.
Matsuzaka did walk Kelly Johnson in the fifth, but otherwise had a strong final frame, sandwiching Matt Diaz and Yuniel Escobar fly outs around a Jordan Schafer ground out. He threw 14 pitches in the inning, nine for strikes.
Matsuzaka seemed to be focused on working a brisk tempo, although his most uncomfortable instances came while pitching with runners on base. He leaves with the score tied at 2-2.
|Matsuzaka, Wakefield hit some bumps||03.30.09 at 2:17 pm ET|
KISSIMMEE, Fla. — Daisuke Matsuzaka threw 25 pitches in the fourth inning, allowing two runs on one hit, a walk and a costly error by Red Sox first baseman Kevin Youkilis. Through four, Matsuzaka has thrown 62 pitches.
Matsuzaka had started strong in the fourth, getting Yuniel Escobar to fly out on two pitches before jumping out to an 0-2 count on Chipper Jones. But Jones ultimately worked a walk, before moving to third on Brian McCann’s double into the right-field corner. Atlanta then got on the board with the first two runs when Youkilis couldn’t handle a hard grounder toward the line off the bat of Garret Anderson.
Matsuzaka, who threw 15 strikes in the inning, rebounded to strike out Jeff Francoeur and end the inning with a Casey Kotchman pop-up.
The Red Sox did manage to tie it up in the fifth when Rocco Baldelli hit a two-run homer over the left field wall.
Back in Fort Myers, Tim Wakefield struggled a bit in his outing against the Reds’ Single A affiliate, Sarasota, allowing five runs (three homers) on five hits while striking out five and not walking a batter over five innings. He didn’t walk a batter and failed to issue a walk in the outing at the Sox’ minor league facility.
|Daisuke economical once again||03.30.09 at 1:53 pm ET|
KISSIMMEE, Fla. — Daisuke Matsuzaka needed just eight pitches (five strikes) to get through his third inning of spring training (and the Red Sox’ tilt with the Braves at Champion Stadium). Matsuzaka, who is scheduled to go five innings, has thrown 37 pitches through his first three frames. In the third, the hurler got Matt Diaz to fly out on the first pitch, Jordan Schafer to fly out to right, and Kelly Johnson to ground out on the second pitch.
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