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Adrian Gonzalez says his spring went perfectly

03.29.11 at 7:33 pm ET
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FORT MYERS, Fla. ‘€” Red Sox first baseman Adrian Gonzalez hit his second homer of the spring (and second in three games), a towering solo shot to left, in the final game of Grapefruit League play, as the Sox and Rays played to a 1-1 nine-inning tie Tuesday. After the contest, Gonzalez — who finished the spring with a .308 average in 10 games spanning 26 at-bats — said that the spring had gone as well as he could have hoped as he recovered from the surgery to repair his right shoulder labrum.

‘€œI think so,’€ Gonzalez said when asked if his spring went perfectly according to blueprint. ‘€œComing here, I knew that if everything came out as planned I would be ready for Opening Day. Then I came here and I was ready earlier than I’€™d hoped, I got more at-bats than I thought I was going to get, and I feel really good going into the season.’€

Gonzalez appeared to build progressively into comfort at the plate. He got enough at-bats that he was able build strength to the point where he could resue using his normal bat, and he also saw enough pitches that he feels that, in leaving Fort Myers, his timing is where it needs to be for the regular season.

‘€œ[Timing] feels good. I think after that minor league game, things started to click and I started to feel more comfortable at the plate,’€ he added, referring to a game against Sox minor leaguers last week in which Gonzalez got six at-bats against Sox pitchers.

Now, after an offseason of anticipation following his trade to the Red Sox in December, Gonzalez said he is eager for the start of the regular season schedule.

‘€œDefinitely, it’€™s been on my mind for a couple of days. It’€™s getting closer every day, which is awesome,’€ Gonzalez said. ‘€œBeing able to get out of here is one of those final steps for knowing that you’€™re real close.’€

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Sources deny reported Red Sox deal for catcher

03.29.11 at 4:23 pm ET
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FORT MYERS, Fla. — Two team sources denied a report that the Red Sox have acquired catcher Mike McKenry from Colorado for reliever Daniel Turpen.

“Twitterverse ahead of reality,” said one of the sources.

Sox GM Theo Epstein had said on Monday that the team would explore trade options to acquire veteran catching depth. All the same, as of now, the team has not made a trade involving the 26-year-old McKenry, a catcher who is out of options. It was unclear whether such a trade was being negotiated.

McKenry spent most of last year in Triple-A where he hit .265 with 10 home runs. He appeared in six major league games last season. The 26-year-old McKenry spent the last five seasons in the Rockies system.

Turpen, who was in the bullpen for the Sox on Tuesday but did not pitch in the contest against the Rays, was acquired at the July 31 trade deadline last year in exchange for Ramon Ramirez. He was selected by the Yankees in the Rule 5 draft (an experience about which Turpen raved, given his opportunity to share a clubhouse with the likes of Alex Rodriguez and Derek Jeter and to see how they prepared), but returned to Boston in mid-March. He was informed of the rumor following the game, but admitted that without confirmation of it from any parties involved, he was unsure how to react.

“I’ve never been a part of a rumor before. Last year, [the trade to the Sox] was from out of nowhere. I thought I was in trouble when I got called into the office,” he said. “It’s baseball. It’s a business.”

Even so, he said that he’s been in a bit of a spin cycle since last July. He had spent his entire career with the Giants, but has now moved to the Red Sox and Yankees and back — in addition to the rumored deal to the Rockies — in the last eight months.

“It’s been very weird,” Turpen said. “The trade last year, getting used to that. Then Rule 5 is a very weird experience. You don’t know who you’re going to play for, whether the Red Sox, the Yankees, [another team] on waivers, or what’s going to happen. The whole spring has been kind of crazy, but I’ve been trying to learn as much as I can.”

Turpen, 24, spent all of last year in the Double-A Eastern League, first with the Giants’ affiliate in Richmond, then with the Portland Sea Dogs. The 2007 fourth-rounder with the heavy sinker was 7-6 with a 4.30 ERA, 60 strikeouts and 28 walks in 69 innings last year. He did take pleasure in seeing the Giants win the World Series, both because he got to enjoy the sight of many of his former teammates celebrating and because he was mindful that Ramirez became a key element in the San Francisco bullpen, without whom the Giants might not have reached the playoffs.

“To see a guy who is there because I was there was a cool experience,” said Turpen.

Read More: colorado rockies, daniel turpen, mike mckenry, ramon ramirez

Buchholz rebounds in successful final tuneup for season

03.29.11 at 3:28 pm ET
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FORT MYERS, Fla. — When Clay Buchholz got tattooed last week by the Marlins for 11 runs in four innings, it wasn’t exactly the way he wanted to enter the regular season. Granted, he wasn’t about to panic about one rough spring start in a meaningless exhibition game, but all the same, it wasn’t the ideal platform for the start of his season.

And so, it was with satisfaction that Buchholz delivered a far more impressive performance on Tuesday, one very much in line with the vast majority of his spring. Against a lineup that featured several Tampa Bay regulars, Buchholz logged four innings, allowing one run on a hit and two walks while striking out three. As opposed to the Marlins game, when he missed up in the zone, Buchholz was down with his pitches on Tuesday, a common characteristic throughout a spring in which he had a 3.43 ERA while allowing 22 hits and seven walks in 21 innings. He struck out 15.

It was the final measure of a comfortably quiet spring for Buchholz. For the first time in his career, he was pitching to prepare for a season rather than to prove something to Sox brass.

“It was basically a completely different feeling, coming in, obviously knowing what I wanted to do rather than what I had to do. I feel like every time out I didn’€™t have to gain the trust of anybody,” said Buchholz. “Years past, it was basically going out and trying to showcase and if things went well, go from there. This year, my main focus coming into spring was work on my pitches, work on different situations, different counts, and I basically worked on everything that I needed to work on through the spring. It feels good.”

Now, Buchholz recognizes that the expectations for him and the Sox are high. The 26-year-old is coming off a season in which he went 17-7 with a 2.33 ERA. He is viewed as an anchor of a team that is expected to compete for a World Series, perhaps logging 200 innings in the regular season and then pitching into October. Buchholz is not shying from those realities, at the same time that he acknowledges that they cannot affect how he approaches his work.

“I think everyone is expecting us to go out and be the No. 1 team in our division and try to compete for a championship in Oct.,” said Buchholz. “I know as a pitcher, once you release the ball, you can’€™t do anything to control it. … Hopefully, your preparation is right and you can go out and do what you need to do.”

For Buchholz, there is a checkmark next to the preparation for the season. Now, starting on Sunday, he will have the opportunity to see how his offseason and spring training results will translate to performance.

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Francona: Red Sox remain undecided about Opening Day lineup

03.29.11 at 11:53 am ET
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FORT MYERS, Fla. — Opening Day is just three days away, yet Red Sox manager Terry Francona said that he is still mulling his Friday lineup against left-hander C.J. Wilson and the Rangers. Wilson has some of the most dramatic left-right splits in the game. Last year, left-handed hitters had just a .144 average, no homers and a .400 OPS against him, while righties hit .236 with 10 longballs and a .679 OPS.

As such, Francona said that were it the middle of the regular season, he likely would be inclined to sit most of his left-handed hitters against Wilson. But, given the prestige associated with Opening Day, he is going back and forth with the decision.

“It’€™s not just a lefty, but who the lefty is,” said Francona. “That’€™s why I’€™ve been so hesitant to talk about the lineup because C.J. Wilson is one of those lefties where, on normal days, if it’€™s July … that’€™s the day you’€™d give your righties a shot. But it’€™s Opening Day. So there’€™s some thought, I think, that needs to go into that.

“He is so tough on lefties, it gives me pause to think. How much, I’€™ve got to see. I’€™ve actually been trying to wait till we get on the plane and get out of [Fort Myers], just because we’€™ve got a game in Houston and I’€™m kind of trying to separate it. It’€™s not a huge secret. I just kind of want some time to look at the whole series.”

Yet it’s worth noting that almost no one on the Sox — left-handed or right-handed — has a good history against Wilson. Here is how members of the Sox have performed against the Opening Day starter: Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: adrian gonzalez, C.J. Wilson, carl crawford, Dustin Pedroia

Minor Developments: Doubront’s next steps, Workman’s weapon and more

03.28.11 at 8:00 pm ET
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FORT MYERS, Fla. — The Pawtucket rotation likely will feature Alfredo Aceves, Andrew Miller, Brandon Duckworth, Matt Fox and Kyle Weiland to start the season on April 7, but left-hander Felix Doubront will join their ranks early thereafter.

The 23-year-old was told that he likely will open the year on the disabled list. That said, after elbow stiffness set him back in late-Feb., he is reaching a point where he won’t be far behind other prospects out of the gates. He will pitch two innings in a game on Tuesday and then spend seven to 10 days making another pair of appearances in Fort Myers. If all goes according to plan, he would then head to Pawtucket to take his turn in the rotation. Once stretched out, he will represent a versatile depth option for the Sox, capable of starting or relieving.

“They’re going to stretch me out to be ready,” said Doubront, who impressed while forging a 4.32 ERA and striking out 23 batters in 25 innings in his major league debut last year. “I’ll throw innings down in Pawtucket, and when they need me, I’m going to be there as a reliever or whatever.”

While Doubront’s injury early in camp cost him a shot at a job in the Sox bullpen, it did have a silver lining. He was able to use the period of downtime to focus on his conditioning and strength, potentially putting him in a better position to withstand the rigors of a season that could last deep into Sept. or even Oct. Given that Doubront ended up being shut down last Sept., the pitcher is willing to trade an early-season injury for an ability to finish a major league season.

“Thank God this happened now and not during the season,” said Doubront. “I tried to do more shoulder program, work out everyday, no matter what. I used that time off to build my shoulder, my body, my legs. That was really good.”

–Right-hander Brandon Workman was positively nasty against some of the Red Sox‘ younger minor leaguers. In an inning of work, he splintered a pair of bats, showing off the vicious cutter that was his bread and butter at the University of Texas last year.

–The Red Sox haven’t ruled out having 19-year-old third baseman Garin Cecchini start the year at a full-season affiliate, but because he was not able to play in games at all last year while recovering from his knee surgery (without which he likely wouldn’t have been available to the Sox in the first round, let alone where they got him in the fourth), the likelihood is that he will open the year in extended spring training. Though he has been wearing a knee brace this spring, he has not otherwise been limited.

–Meanwhile, 2010 third-round pick Sean Coyle — whom the Sox signed away from a commitment at UNC for $1.3 million — seems like the most likely player drafted out of high school to begin the year with a full-season affiliate. One Red Sox evaluator called the 19-year-old second baseman — who already shows surprising pop and excellent speed, particularly in light of his 5-foot-8 frame — “very advanced.” While the decision does not appear to be final, an assignment of Coyle to play in Greenville seems a very real possibility.

Read More: Brandon Workman, felix doubront, garin cecchini, sean coyle

Dennys Reyes, Matt Albers talk for first time as official members of the Red Sox

03.28.11 at 12:58 pm ET
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FORT MYERS, Fla. — It was a good day for Matt Albers and Dennys Reyes.

The pair of relievers were informed Monday that they had been identified as the final two players to make the Red Sox‘ 25-man roster, with pitchers Alfredo Aceves and Hideki Okajima being sent to Triple-A Pawtucket.

The down-to-the-wire dynamic wasn’t anything new for either pitcher, with Albers having had to wait until the final days of camp for a decision regarding his major league fate for the past four seasons, and Reyes experiencing last-minute decisions numerous times (including when he had an opt-out close with the 2004 Royals).

Here is what each told WEEI.com after learning the news:

ALBERS

(How how it feels) It feels good. All the work, pitching well and having the right attitude paid off. Especially making a team the caliber of this team. It’€™s a good feeling

(Anxious after tough outing Sunday?) Kind of a little bit. You just kind of don’€™t what what’€™s going to happen. I didn’€™t look too much into it. You’€™re going to have days you don’€™t throw the ball well. I knew today was going to be the day I was going to find out, so it was nice to just get some news.

(What was said in the meeting?) They just said go get ‘€˜em but understand this is just the beginning. Now the season starts. Making the team is just the first part of it. Now the games start to count.

(Was there more competition than you thought there would be?) Maybe a little bit I guess because I was one of the first ones to sign, but they had told me they were going to go out and get some guys. You try and not play the numbers game and see who’€™s here, but I figured they brought me in to try and earn a spot and if I did well I would have a spot on the team and that’€™s what I was able to do.

REYES

(How it feels to get the news) It’€™s exciting. It’€™s another goal that you have in your life, coming here and competing with all these good pitchers and I respect all of them and to win the competition is really neat. But it’€™s another step. I have to work harder now that I’€™m on the team and I have to show them I can help win some games.

(Was he optimistic about chances?) It was going to be 50 percent chance. One or another. I stayed positive the whole time. Every time out I tried to show them I could throw at this level and thankfully they gave me this opportunity.

(Nervous about the decision?) It hasn’€™t been too nerve-wracking. You can only do what you can do. I think what I did was do my best, and there was nothing more I could do than that.

(How would this rate to other last-minute decisions he has had to go through?) It was kind of the same. The only thing I knew was that you can’€™t control their decision. You just have to give everything you have.

Dennys Reyes, Matt Albers make Sox bullpen; Hideki Okajima, Alfredo Aceves sent to minors

03.28.11 at 9:40 am ET
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Hideki Okajima will start the season in Triple-A along with fellow reliever Alfredo Aceves, Red Sox general manager Theo Epstein announced Monday morning. Epstein divulged the team’s final roster moves in preparation for Friday’s season opener at Texas.

The assignments of Okajima and Aceves to Pawtucket makes room in the Boston bullpen for left-hander Dennys Reyes and righty Matt Albers. Reyes and Albers are on major league contracts (after the Sox purchased Reyes’ contract Saturday) and do not have options.

Reyes, who turns 34 on April 19, pitched in 59 games for the Cardinals in 2010. He had a 3-1 record with a 3.55 ERA and a WHIP of 1.45. After giving up a hit and a walk in one inning Sunday vs. the Orioles, his spring training ERA sits at 2.70 and his WHIP is 1.40 in 10.0 innings.

Albers, 28, ranked third among American League relievers last season with 75 2/3 innings pitched for the Orioles. He had a 5-3 record with a 4.52 ERA and a WHIP of 1.48. Albers pitched Sunday against his former team and allowed his first two walks and first run of spring training. His 2010 spring training ERA is 2.84 with a WHIP of 1.26 in 12.2 IP.

Aceves, 28, went 3-0 with a 3.00 ERA and 1.17 WHIP in 10 games for the Yankees last season. This spring he has a 4.05 ERA and 1.20 WHIP in 13.1 IP.

Okajima, 35, has spent four seasons with the Red Sox, but he had his worst season in 2010. Okajima went 4-4 with a 4.50 ERA and 1.72 WHIP in 56 games. This spring he has a 5.14 ERA and 1.57 WHIP in 7.0 IP.

Read More: alfredo aceves, dennys reyes, Hideki Okajima, matt albers

Red Sox Weekend in Review

03.28.11 at 7:55 am ET
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FORT MYERS, Fla. — It’s down to the end. The Red Sox are packing up the clubhouse at City of Palms Park as they get ready to break camp on Tuesday following their final two Grapefruit League games.

The team made several moves over the weekend to whittle the roster towards the 25 players who will open the year on the big league roster. Here is a look at the transaction-filled weekend.
Read the rest of this entry »

The Red Sox’ Rollie Fingers?

03.27.11 at 4:38 pm ET
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FORT MYERS, Fla. — It’s just policy.

Like most organizations, the Red Sox have a number of rules about appearance that their minor leaguers must follow. Some govern the appearance of a player’s uniform — no baggy pants, no untucked shirts. Others govern aspects of personal appearance, including a prohibition on beards or goatees.

It’s a very standard aspect of most organizations’ approach to player development. While teams don’t want to strip their players of their individuality, there is a desire to create rules that help to establish expectations for the professionalism of player conduct.

Not all teams implement such standards. The A’s famously have permitted their minor leaguers to make the 2004-05 Johnny Damon look clean-shaven by comparison. But by and large, the rules are part of baseball’s old-school tradition; enough coaches come from that old-school tradition that it can benefit players to follow them.

That said…While the Sox have the rule in place preventing their minor leaguers from growing beards and goatees, prospects are perfectly free to grow mustaches. And some Sox minor leaguers are trying to seize the opportunity for hirsute pursuits in noteworthy fashions.

Josh Reddick has often featured a lip warmer in his minor league career (though he was told by then-Portland manager Arnie Beyeler to shave it immediately and to shed a mohawk when he received his first big-league call-up). Of the players currently navigating the minor league complex, Lucas LeBlanc and Tyler Wilson have cultivated what the American Mustache Institute might describe as momentous mouth gardens.

But of the impressive mouth brows featured in camp this year, it would be difficult to find one superior to that proudly worn by pitcher Caleb Clay. Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: american mustache institute, caleb clay, clay zavada, Johnny Damon

Lester on Opening Day honor: ‘I don’t think I’m any more important than the other four guys in our rotation’

03.27.11 at 4:12 pm ET
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FORT MYERS, Fla. — Red Sox left-hander Jon Lester had his final spring training tuneup for his Opening Day assignment against the Rangers on Friday. In a camp game at the minor league complex, Lester — facing a lineup primarily of Red Sox Double-A and Triple-A prospects — allowed five runs (four earned) on nine hits (including a two-run homer by Luis Exposito) over five innings. He struck out five and walked none.

While the line was less than perfect, Lester said that he was pleased with the effort. He had a chance to work with all of his pitches, and while there were some well-struck balls, a number of hits were of either the broken bat or grounders-finding-holes variety.

“There’€™s always things to work on. I was able to do that today. On a lot of pitches I threw, I felt like I threw pretty good and didn’€™t get the results I wanted. A lot of broken bat hits off the end. Made one mistake to a guy (Exposito) that’€™s pretty strong, hit the ball a long way,” said Lester. “I felt like overall it was better than what the results showed as far as hits. That’€™s a positive thing.

“Pitched out of some jams, had some errors, kind of overcome that, learn how to deal with that,” added the left-hander. “I think it was pretty good as far as preparing for a season. Kind of everything that could happen in a game happened.”

Now, Lester is done pitching in Fort Myers, where he went 1-1 with a 3.38 ERA, 16 strikeouts and seven walks in 16 innings in Grapefruit League play, while also making a pair of starts at the minor league complex. His next assignment will occur against the Rangers, when Lester gets his first career Opening Day assignment.

The 27-year-old views that start as an honor, albeit one that he tried to downplay. Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: Jon Lester,
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