|03.01.11 at 3:29 pm ET|
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.”
|03.01.11 at 12:40 pm ET|
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.
Jed Lowrie 2B
Mike Cameron DH
Ryan Kalish CF
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.”
|03.01.11 at 10:10 am ET|
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.
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.
|02.28.11 at 7:18 pm ET|
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.”
|02.28.11 at 6:00 pm ET|
(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.”
|02.28.11 at 1:39 pm ET|
It will be the first game action for Jenks, who threw 26 pitches in his session Monday.
‘I’ll look forward to getting in games come April,’ he said of the excitement regarding see game action. ‘Right 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.
‘I’ve never thrown this late before,’ he explained. ‘I’ve never thrown four bullpens before seeing live hitters or live BP. I guess it’s working.
‘That 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, ‘Big time. I’m feeling really good today. I just have to build off of this and continue working.’
|02.28.11 at 11:56 am ET|
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.
|02.28.11 at 10:46 am ET|
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.
|02.28.11 at 9:02 am ET|
FORT MYERS, Fla. ‘ Monday marks the debut for Carl Crawford in a Red Sox uniform, with much anticipation revolving around where he might be hitting in the lineup as the Sox take on the Twins at City of Palms Park. And (drum roll, please) ‘¦
Carl Crawford LF
David Ortiz DH
J.D. Drew RF
Brent Dlugach SS
Drew Sutton 1B
Yamaico Navarro 3B
Besides Crawford, also of note is the fact Ellsbury remains firmly entrenched in the leadoff spot. For his career, the outfielder has been the leadoff man 261 times, while hitting elsewhere on 88 occasions.
In the top spot, Ellsbury has totaled a .279 batting average and .330 on-base percentage.
‘I would take pride wherever I hit in the lineup,’ said Ellsbury when asked if he viewed himself as a leadoff hitter. ‘I just like being in the lineup.’
As for Crawford in the No. 3 hole, it has been the third-most utilized spot throughout his career, having hit second the most, followed by leadoff. Hitting third, the outfielder has a .294 average with a .338 on-base percentage. He does have the highest rate of home runs-per-game (hitting 14 in 201 games) of any other spot.
Also, the players met with the Major League Baseball Alumni Association before heading out on the field. Check back for more info as the day unfolds ‘¦
|02.27.11 at 3:54 pm ET|
FORT MYERS, Fla. ‘ The Red Sox went through fielding and batting practice at City of Palms Park prior to heading across town to take on the Twins in the Grapefruit League opener at Hammond Stadium. Prior to the workout, Sox manager Terry Francona touched on a variety of items with the media:
‘ Francona said the feud between White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen and Red Sox reliever Bobby Jenks is “over,” having exchanged messages with Guillen and White Sox coach Joey Cora. “I spoke to Bobby, went back and forth with Ozzie, and I’m confident that will be over.”
The Sox manager added: “I don’t care if they like each other, but Bobby is a Red Sox and they need to move on. It doesn’t need to happen. He played for the White Sox, now he plays for the Red Sox.”
‘ Reliever Dennys Reyes threw 32 pitches off a mound Sunday, leaving the Red Sox brass confident that he was ready to throw to hitters Tuesday. “[Pitching coach] Curt [Young] was ecstatic.”
‘ Regarding Felix Doubront, who has been shut down for 10-14 days due to tightness in his pitching elbow, Francona said that strength and conditioning coach Dave Page has taken the opportunity to help the lefty’s conditioning while he wasn’t throwing. “Any time you’re missing in one area, you try and make up in another.”
‘ When asked about the Red Sox’ Sunday night starter, Josh Beckett, Francona said that he has noticed a difference in his demeanor, starting with the pre-camp meeting all players go through with the manager and their respective coach. “Determined, I think is the right word,” Francona said. “He’s focusing on a lot of things he knows he needs to do. Some of it on his own, some of it starting with Curt.”
‘ Francona said that pitcher Brandon Duckworth, whom was slated to follow Clay Buchholz in the scheduled progression of pitchers for the Red Sox Sunday night, was a candidate for a role in the Sox bullpen. “Health probably the biggest thing,” said Francona when asked what the team would be primarily looking at from Duckworth. “He’s a veteran guy and he knows what he’s doing. As long as he’s healthy he should be able to go out there and do pretty well.”
‘ The topic of shortstop prospect Jose Iglesias came up, and how he has progressed from a year ago. “I think he has a better understanding that he’s a young player, in camp. I think he’s very aware of settling in and proving his worth on the field,” said Francona, who noted the importance of Iglesias having his father with him this spring. “He’s an exciting player, though. His defensive skills are obvious to everybody, and as he develops patience at the plate he should turn into a pretty good hitter because can get the barrel of the bat to the ball.”
‘ Finally, the topic of the Mayor’s Cup came up. The award is given to whichever team between the Red Sox and Twins win the most head-to-head battles. This season the two clubs face each other five times, three of which will come in the next three days.
“[Twins manager Ron Gardenhire] can say all he wants, but he moved up [Carl] Pavano two days, and we’re bringing in [Clay Buchholz] second,” Francona joked. “It’s like facing the Yankees opening day, it’s too much too soon.”
Reminded that the Red Sox have won the last four Mayor’s Cups, Francona quipped, “It’s hard not to be arrogant,” and continued, “If we lose the first two we’ll think about bringing somebody back early.”
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