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Former Red Sox reliever Brendan Donnelly calls it quits

03.09.11 at 8:42 am ET
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Brendan Donnelly, a member of the 2007 World Series-winning Red Sox club, told MLB.com that he is retiring after pitching nine seasons in the big leagues. Donnelly appeared in 38 games for the Pirates in 2010, going 3-1 with a 5.58 ERA.

The 39-year-old right-hander spent one season with the Red Sox after being traded from the Angels for pitcher Phil Seibel. With the Sox he pitched in 27 games, going 2-1 with a 3.05 ERA before succumbing to Tommy John Surgery, making his final outing with the Sox on June 10, 2007. He rebounded the following season to pitch in 15 games for the Indians in ’08, and 30 games with Florida the following season.

Donnelly was drafted in the 27th round of the ’92 draft by the White Sox, who released him the following season. He bounced around the minor leagues — including spending a stint with the Independent League Nashua Pride — before helping the Angels win a World Series in ’02.

The pitcher was named in the Mitchell Report, but has stood firm in his denial that he used any performance-enhancing drugs, releasing the following statement after being identified:

“In 2004 I was having multiple health issues and was concerned about not getting on the field fast enough. I made a phone call to (Kirk) Radomski about a substance called Anavar. Once I learned Anavar was classified as a steroid I realized that was not an option. That was the end of it. Yes I called him. But I did not purchase or receive anything from him and have never taken Deca or Anavar. I fully support the current drug testing program put in place by Major League Baseball and agree with their efforts to widen the testing.”

In regard to his decision to retire, Donnelly told MLB.com, “”Maybe it’s time that I should be home more,” he said, “and start the next chapter of my life.” He also explained that while the lack of interest from clubs after he was released by Pittsburgh in ’10 was part of the impetus to call it quits, the reality that his wife, Rhonda, is six months pregnant also factored in.

Josh Beckett solid, Sox sweep spilt-squad contests

03.08.11 at 4:31 pm ET
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FORT MYERS, Fla. ‘€“ Josh Beckett made his first start since suffering a concussion last week, pitching 3.2 strong innings vs. the Astros in the Red Sox‘ 3-2 victory at City of Palms Park on Tuesday.

Beckett allowed three hits and one run while walking one and striking out four. He threw 55 pitches, 30 for strikes.

Daniel Bard and Jonathan Papelbon each pitched a scoreless inning out of the bullpen for the Sox. Bard, who had struggled in his first two spring appearances, struck out two batters in a perfect frame, while Papelbon fanned one in his inning of work.

Ryan Kalish had three hits in the leadoff spot, Jarod Saltalamacchia had a pair of hits and Carl Crawford added a double, his first extra-base hit of the spring. In the win, the Sox rallied from a 2-0 deficit, picking up runs in the fifth, six and eighth innings. Nate Spears singled home Paul Hoover for the go-ahead run in the eighth inning.

Dennys Reyes pitched a scoreless eighth for the win and Matt Fox struck out the side in the ninth to pick up the save.

The Sox also picked up a win in the other split-squad contest, knocking off the Cardinals by an 8-7 final at Roger Dean Stadium in Jupiter, Fla. Jacoby Ellsbury was the story for the Sox in the victory, collecting three hits and stealing a base in the leadoff spot. Kevin Youkilis also had a hit and scored a run for the Sox, and Darnell McDonald had a pair of hits and an RBI.

The Sox host Baltimore at 7:05 on Wednesday night, with Clay Buchholz scheduled to start.

Read More: Jacoby Ellsbury, Josh Beckett, Red Sox,

Josh Beckett feels ‘good’ after start

03.08.11 at 3:25 pm ET
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FORT MYERS, Fla. ‘€“ On Tuesday, Josh Beckett made his first start since suffering a concussion last week. Beckett pitched 3.2 innings vs. the Astros at City of Palms Park, allowing three hits and one run (which was in large part due to Josh Reddick, who lost a ball in the sun in right field, turning a sure out into a Drew Locke two-out RBI double) while walking one and striking out four. He threw 55 pitches, 30 for strikes.

“My curveball was good,” said Beckett. “We [Beckett and pitching coach Curt Young] changed a couple of things in my delivery and are still making adjustments but the adjustments came faster with my breaking ball.”

Beckett used his curveball to strike out Chris Johnson (looking) to end the first inning and Humberto Quintero to end the second (swinging).

Beckett — who said he felt no lingering symptoms from the concussion — is next scheduled to start on Sunday vs. the Pirates at Bradenton.

Read More: Josh Beckett, Red Sox,

Adrian Gonzalez hopes to play next week

03.08.11 at 12:04 pm ET
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FORT MYERS, Fla. ‘€” Adrian Gonzalez participated in batting practice on the field at City of Palms Park for the second time in three days on Tuesday and feels he is “getting closer” to playing in a spring training game.

“We’re at the point where you have to push it a little I guess,” Gonzalez said at his locker on Tuesday afternoon. “Tomorrow I’ll hit again on the field, and we’ll see how it responds to hitting back-to-back days. Right now the plan is to take it easy on Thursday, give it a rest, and start planning out for some game action next week sometime, or maybe even earlier, I don’t know.”

Gonzalez took 25 swings on Sunday and by our count it looked to be the same total Tuesday. He said his shoulder “felt fine” and has responded well to the increased activity.

Gonzalez wanted to clear up what he views as a misconception regarding the offseason surgery to repair the labrum in his right (non-throwing) shoulder.

“The one thing about this surgery — and the reason I don’t make a big deal out of it — is that I played through it last year,” Gonzalez said. “So the worst-case scenario is that I’m going to be the hitter I was last year. It’s not something that I lost games over and I’m trying to recover from ‘€¦ it isn’t really a surgery I needed but it is a surgery that’s going to help me a lot.”

Red Sox Tuesday Notes: Josh Beckett returns, Daniel Bard has been ‘fighting it’ on the mound

03.08.11 at 10:46 am ET
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FORT MYERS, Fla. – Red Sox vs. Astros at City of Palms Park today at 1:05, with Josh Beckett making his first start since suffering a concussion last week. Terry Francona said Tuesday that Beckett will be on a normal pitch count, so look for somewhere in the 50-pitch range. Spilt squad today, as Jacoby Ellsbury, David Ortiz and Kevin Youkilis headline a group travelling to Jupiter to face the Cardinals, with Stolmy Pimentel getting the start for the Sox.

Bill Hall made the trip for the Astros, and Francona was asked about what the veteran added to the Sox in his one season with the club in 2010.

“He’s a great guy,” said Francona of Hall, who hit 18 HRs and knocked in 46 runs in his 119 games last season. “I think he had kind of a resurgence for his career. He took a role that probably wasn’t his first choice and ran with it. Because of that, he’s going to get to play every day. Good for him. Short stay here, but good for him.”

Francona said that he did speak to Astros’ manager (and former bench coach under Francona) Brad Mills about Hall during the offseason, and gave Hall “the highest recommendation.”

Should be an interesting scene in Port Charlotte on Thursday, as Francona confirmed Tuesday that Carl Crawford will travel to play against the Rays.

Adrian Gonzalez will take batting practice on the field at City of Palms Park on Tuesday. He took Monday off after taking batting practice for the first time this spring on Sunday.

Outfielder Juan Carlos Linares has impressed this spring (batting .333 in 15 at-bats), and Francona hinted at a possible larger role for the 27-year-old as the regular season progresses.

“The last three or four games he’s swung the bat well,” said Francona. “He has the ability to play all three outfield positions. An intertesing guy, most guys come over and go to rookie league but because he’s advanced he went right to Double-A. And he’s probably on our radar at some point for maybe helping us this year if things go well.”

Daniel Bard was scheduled to throw in the bullpen Tuesday, but he’s going to pitch an inning in the game vs. the Astros instead. Francona mentioned that Bard — who has allowed five hits and four runs in 1.2 innings this spring — has felt good in the bullpen but has been “fighting it” on the mound in game action.

Francona has been pleased with the progress of rehabilitation for Felix Doubront (left elbow tightness), though he wouldn’t put a date on a possible game appearance for the left-hander.

“This kid is too important in terms of what we’re doing — long term — to gamble on a week in spring training,” Francona said.

Terry Francona and others impressed with up close look at Jon Lester

03.07.11 at 8:37 pm ET
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FORT MYERS, Fla. ‘€“ For Jon Lester, it was simply a simulated game on Monday, three innings, 46 pitches thrown to a series of non-roster invitees to make up for a missed start due to the flu.

“Worked on a few things,” Lester said nonchalantly about an hour and a half after the outing.

For Terry Francona — who watched the session from behind the cage, no more than five feet and directly behind the catcher — it was an education.

“You never really to be that close to him when he’s pitching,” said Francona on Monday. “His stuff is amazing. That cutter and two-seamer? When you actually get to sit right behind the cage there, it’s fun to watch.”

But Paul Hoover had an even better view.

Probably you know Hoover if you’re reading this, but maybe you don’t. A quick backstory: Hoover is 34 years old and has played in 40 major-league games over seven seasons. In 105 career plate appearances, he has hit exactly zero home runs, or as many as Lester, the man he caught in the three-inning simulation.

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John Lackey on start: ‘Good step forward’

03.07.11 at 5:11 pm ET
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FORT MYERS, Fla. ‘€“ John Lackey was in command on Monday in his second start of spring training, allowing just a single hit and no runs in his four innings of work against a split-squad Orioles group.

“I was happy with fastball location today,” said Lackey, who gave up four hits and a run in two innings vs. the Braves in his first start of the spring March 2. “My rotation on my four-seam fastball was nice, nice and true. I still haven’t started throwing my cutter yet, but I’ll probably be ready to do that next start. So it was a good step forward.”

Lackey needed only 39 pitches in his four innings. The Sox were expecting Lackey to throw somewhere in the 55-pitch range, so the right-hander threw an extra 16 pitches in the bullpen following the start.

Read More: john lackey, Red Sox,

Jon Lester: ‘Felt almost too good’

03.07.11 at 3:34 pm ET
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FORT MYERS, Fla. ‘€“ Jon Lester met with the media about an hour and a half after pitching in a simulated game Monday afternoon. Lester, who was scratched from his start on Sunday with flu-like symptoms, threw 46 pitches (to Ryan Lavarnway, Nate Spears, Che-Hsuan Lin, Hector Luna and Oscar Tejeda) in the three-inning simulated game.

“I think so,” Lester responded when asked if he was happy with the outing. “Worked on a few things. Started today with something I’m not used to — a lot of 1-1 counts — and I had to pitch a little differently. But I think everything went well. Felt good, felt almost too good. But everything is fine as well as fine physically.”

Lester is scheduled to make his next start on Friday against Minnesota.

Read More: Jon Lester, Red Sox,

MLBPA director Michael Weiner discusses revenue sharing, CBA status with media on Monday

03.07.11 at 3:08 pm ET
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FORT MYERS, Fla. ‘€“ Major League Baseball Players Association executive director Michael Weiner was in Red Sox camp Monday to give his annual address to the players. But this isn’t just another year, as the collective bargaining agreement expires in December. Weiner met with the media following his session with the players, and are some highlights of the nearly 20-minute Q&A with the media:

How did the meeting go with the players today?

This meeting is different than meetings in other years because this is a bargaining year. Most of my talk is about how bargaining works, what roles players will have, how they will stay informed, what kind of input they’ll have. It was mostly just expelling to them how bargaining works. This is a big year.

Is it important to get dialogue established between both sides sooner rather than later?

I know we are and I believe the owner’s side are more prepared this time around. We did have our first formal session a couple of days ago in Tampa and that’s ahead of schedule. I don’t think we had our first formal session in 2006 until knee-deep into April.

John Henry was reportedly fined $500 K for for comments in 2009 about the league’s revenue-sharing system. What is the union’s take on revenue sharing?

The players have a lot to say. Revenue sharing has been ‘€¦ we’ve spent as much time bargaining revenue sharing in the last three rounds of bargaining as any issue. From our perspective it’s crucial, because baseball is driven by local revenue unlike some of the other sports. I expect we’ll spend a lot of time on that this time around.

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Read More: John Henry, Josh Beckett, Michael Weiner, Spring Training

Monday notes: Jon Lester throws a simulated game

03.07.11 at 12:40 pm ET
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The Red Sox players met with MLPBA leadership (including executive director Michael Weiner and several former players, including Tony Clark, Bobby Bonilla and Rick Helling) on Monday morning, which pushed back the schedule of things here at City of Palms Park. Terry Francona‘s daily meeting with the media started at 10:05-ish, about a half hour later than usual. Not sure if you care, but it seemed a big deal around here.

Jon Lester was scratched from yesterday’s start vs. the Mets (flu), and threw a simulated game late Monday morning (46 pitches with Josh Beckett, Francona and Theo Epstein among the observers. Lester faced Ryan Lavarnway, Nate Spears, Che-Hsuan Lin, Hector Luna and Oscar Tejeda and struggled a little with his control, but for the most part overpowered the hitters. Lester did not speak following the session but appeared to have no complications). He’s on schedule to make his next start on Friday, and Francona indicated that missing a start this early in the spring isn’t a major issue.

“We’ll let him do his three innings out there [Monday], actually it could be good,” Francona said. “Work on his pitches, not at the point yet in the spring where you’re trying to throw fix, six innings.”

Francona wasn’t present for Adrian Gonzalez‘ batting practice session on Sunday at City of Palms Park — Francona was at Port St. Lucie for Sox-Mets — but was pleased with the reports.

“He’s doing great, he’s done so well that I don’t think it’s going to be much of an issue getting ready for the season,” Francona said. “He’s on the field, but as he feels better and ramps up his intensity and volume, then he’ll get into a game when he’s ready. Not before, really no reason to rush or cut corners because he’s doing so well.”

Francona said that there was “no timetable” for Gonzalez to appear in a spring training game, but wouldn’t rule it out as the next step in the rehabilitation process.

Andrew Miller gave up a three-run homer to Ike Davis in the loss to the Mets on Sunday. Francona viewed the performance as both good and bad, noting that he made a mistake to Davis in his first inning but “breezed” through his second inning of work. Francona still counts Miller as being in the mix to make the roster as a reliever.

Read More: adrian gonzalez, Jon Lester, Terry Francona,
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