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Francona updates on Lowell, Daisuke

03.01.10 at 1:18 pm ET
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FORT MYERS, Fla. — On a day when Japanese girl knuckleballer Eri Yoshida made an appearance in camp, these were some of the updates from Red Sox‘ manager Terry Francona:

– On Mike Lowell: It was the first time back live in the cage and it sounds like it went really well. Tomorrow will hit on the field. I’m sure at some point we’ll have to build in days off … When Mikey swings the bat good like that, he’ll get excited. There has to be a progression, not only with his thumb, but running the bases and repeating some things. I don’t think we can put a time table on it yet. I don’t think it will be in the next five, six days. I don’t think that’s realistic.

– On Daisuke Matsuzaka: Dice had a great day. He ended up getting really aggressive, way out there, 180, 200 and then finish up on the mound. That was about as good a day as you can have. I don’t think you can throw the ball like that and not be totally healthy. Probably start thinking toward the end of the week, getting him some real mound work where he’s throwing some sides, throwing to hitters and going through that progression. But that was a really, really good day.

– On Mike Cameron: He went out and was with the outfielders during their drills just to be with them, didn’t do them but did everything else. Hit, felt better and just tried to continue that progression. But he’s improved.

On Tug Hulett: Left-hand hitter. He’s been a little slowed down with his shoulder coming into camp. He is on his second day of throwing. He had to spend about a week strengthening that. He’s going to be a little bit behind as far as his throwing program goes. He’s that left-handed bat that can potentially play of the middle, maybe even at shortstop, so that makes him really interesting. But before we do that we want to make sure he has his arm under control where he is not out there playing a few games and then we have to back him off and we’re nursing him through games.

– On Bill Hall working out at shortstop: “He’s worked with [Tim Bogar] early in the morning. What we’ve tried to do with the fundamental time is move everybody around so we know what we’re doing. We bounce him around all over the place because that’s the good time to do it.”

– On if Hall is good enough at shortstop to play him there: “I hope so. That’s something we would like to find out this spring.”

Jonathan Papelbon’s first appearance will be March 4 against the Twins. “That Mayor’s Cup isn’t going down without a fight,” joked Francona. “He actually looks really strong right now. We always try and get him multiple innings somewhere, maybe even if it’s at the minor league complex. We all think it’s good for him. It allows him to use his pitches and develop his pitches. I actually think he’s ahead of where he was last year. He looks good. He feels good and he looks good.”

Video: Cameron and others take batting practice

03.01.10 at 12:40 pm ET
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FORT MYERS, Fla, — Mike Cameron looked comfortable swinging during batting practice today at the Red Sox minor league complex.

Beltre on D&C: ‘We have a good situation right now’

03.01.10 at 11:41 am ET
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Adrian Beltre chatted with Dennis & Callahan on Monday at Red Sox spring training to discuss his first impressions with his new team. With Mike Lowell in camp to start the spring, Beltre said that there is no bad blood between the two.

‘€œI’€™ve known Lowell since the minor leagues, where we played against each other,’€ said Beltre. ‘€œWe always talk when we play against each other, we talked when we got here. We have everything clear and we know what to expect and we have a good situation right now.’€

Beltre also discussed his struggles with the Seattle Mariners and what makes him such a top-notch defender.

To read the transcript look below. To listen to the full interview, click here.

How are you getting used to the way of life with the Boston Red Sox?

It’€™s been pretty easy. Everything is kind of smooth over here. I used to do a lot more stuff at spring training. Over here, since there are a lot more veteran,s it’s a little bit easier.

Who’€™s been helpful?

Everybody. Everybody has welcomed me fine, and so far I’€™ve been comfortable.

How’€™s your relationship with Mike Lowell so far? Has been it been uncomfortable?

Not at all. I’€™ve known Lowell since the minor leagues, where we played against each other. We always talk when we play against each other, we talked when we got here. We have everything clear and we know what to expect and we have a good situation right now.

Did you have any reservations coming here?

The first question, when the Red Sox called my agent and said that they were interested in me, I asked was: What about Mike Lowell? That was the first question because I know Lowell is a player. I’€™m a big fan of him, he’€™s a great player and when the situation came up and they told me he had some injuries and stuff like that [so] he probably wouldn’€™t play third, so it made it a little easier to come here.

Was it a tough decision to turn down more years to come here for a one-year deal?

It wasn’€™t that tough, because financially I’€™m pretty set for now. I took my chance to come to a team that has a really good chance to win the World Series. I haven’€™t been in the playoffs the last five years and only once in my 11 years in the big leagues. So, a chance to come here and put a ring on my finger is something that I should take the risk to do it.

Does it change your mindset now since you are essentially playing for another contract?

No, I think my main goal is to win a championship. Numbers, they are going to come and I’€™m going to do my best to help the team to win and the numbers are going to take care of themselves.

When you had the big year in LA, did that have anything to do with playing for a contract?

No, not at all, because I never thought I could put up those numbers. I’€™ve never done it before up to that point. In the first month I started hitting good and I think the confidence level stayed up, and I think everything went well for me that year. Everything was in the right direction and I took it a little slow and you saw what happened.

Do you think your time at Fenway will be better because you are in a Red Sox uniform?

I played against the Red Sox for a while and I always admired how the fans were supportive and every time I came to the ballpark it was full and sold out. It’€™s something that you as a player you take a little more extra motivation to play better and to push. It seems like they having something to play for every day. I think some players need a little kick in the butt to try and do better.

When people said you couldn’€™t hit at Safeco Field did that hurt you mentally? Why didn’€™t you hit well there?

That’€™s a good question. I don’€™t know. The first year was very tough for me coming from the National League, coming to a new ballpark, which I didn’€™t know how it was going to be. The first couple months I realized that balls that normally go out hit the wall or turn into an out and some point I got a little frustrated. Instead of having a hit it was an out. Your confidence level goes down a bit, but I learned to live with it. It’€™s a tough ballpark but you cannot say I didn’€™t have good numbers because of it.

Can you change your approach and be more of an on-base percentage guy?

I’€™m not really that type of guy, but I can try. Sometimes I think when I am patient it’€™s not working for me. Sometimes when it goes good, and I see the ball better I’€™m patient. It’€™s something that’€™s in between. It’€™s no doubt something in my career that I should change, and learning from [David Ortiz] and J.D. [Drew] and those guys, something can be good out of my offensive numbers.

Are great defensive players born or made?

Both, I think. I don’€™t think that I was good when I came up to the big leagues, and I worked my way out. People said I had potential, but I worked hard every day to get better. When I came to the big leagues I was mainly an offensive guy and that turned out to be more 50/50 now. I take pride in my defense, I work every day at I and I try to get better. There are a lot of things that I need to improve.

What skill set to you excel in the most?

I think it’€™s more determination that I want to make every play I can. I may have a little bit of all the stuff but not great. I don’€™t think have a great feet or an accurate throw but I want to make every play. Sometimes it may be negative for me because a ground ball that’€™s hit down the line that should be a hit but I end up getting to I might throw to first and throw to right field. Sometimes it’€™s not good to do that but that’€™s my mentality.

How does the defensive skill translate to other things?

I don’€™t know. Defensive is more reaction, offensively you can think too much about your mechanics. Defensively, especially third, it’€™s more reacting to the ball whenever it comes and sometimes you don’€™t have any time to think and I think those are the things that make me a little bit better because I don’€™t have to think.

Video: Pitchers go through fielding drills

03.01.10 at 11:08 am ET
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FORT MYERS, Fla. — Red Sox starters & relievers went through fielding drill this morning.

Lineups, Lowell and more eyesight issues

03.01.10 at 9:46 am ET
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FORT MYERS, Fla. — The lineups for the Red Sox‘ openers Wednesday at City of Palms Park are up, and here they are:

Against Northeastern (with Casey Kelly getting the start): Jacoby Ellsbury LF, Billy Hall 3B, Victor Martinez C, David Ortiz DH, Jed Lowrie 3B, Lars Anderson 1B, Jody McDonald RF, Lin CF, Gil Velazquez 2B.

Against Boston College (with Boof Bonser getting the start): Marco Scutaro SS, Dustin Pedroia 2B, Kevin Youkilis 1B, Adrian Beltre 3B, Jason Varitek C, Jeremy Hermida LF, Tug Hulett DH, Josh Reddick RF, Ryan Kalish CF.

In other news, Mike Lowell will be taking batting practice for the first time Tuesday.

David Ortiz had his eye examination and reports everything is is A-OK, with the slugger still using the eye drops that were prescribed last season. “I’m like an eagle,” he said.

Beckett: Future should be better than the past

03.01.10 at 9:26 am ET
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Speaking to WEEI.com, Josh Beckett explained that he believes that the next five years should be better than the last five, in large part because of what he has learned during his four years with the Red Sox. “I’m more prepared for this part of my career than I was the last four years,” he said.

Beckett went on to explain that he presently feels more comfortable than at any other point in his career, and that he isn’t going to approach 2010 any differently because it is a contract year. I can’€™t control what people say. I think there’€™s an amendment for that,’€ he said. ‘€œThat being said, I can’€™t control that. The only thing I know how to do is just not listen to it. It goes back to me just sitting in my cubicle. I don’€™t ask questions I don’€™t want the answers to. I don’€™t mind sitting there. I like alone time. I like focusing on what I need to do in the next hour. I’€™ve been trying to do that in the last four years, but I’€™ve gotten better at it. I’€™m taking it just like that. I’€™m not going to worry about it … I’€™m not going to let this year being a free agent year dictate how I do every day, and not just how I do every day I pitch, but every day. I’€™m not going to work harder, I’€™m not going to work easier. I’€™m going to do the same things I do that make me successful, and everything else will take care of itself.’€

For the complete story about how Beckett feels his past will shape his future, click here.

Photo slideshow: Red Sox picture day

02.28.10 at 8:23 pm ET
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Click here, or on the photo below, to launch a slideshow of Red Sox picture day.

Read More: Josh Beckett, Red Sox, Spring Training,

Francona checks in on Red Sox picture day

02.28.10 at 4:43 pm ET
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What Red Sox manager Terry Francona had to say on picture day:

Daisuke Matsuzaka threw from approximately 150 feet.

– On Mike Cameron’s groin injury: “Cam is a little sore in the left side of his groin, and with those ones the other day, he’s felt it the last couple of days. Today during the outfield drills he said something to (Ron Johnson), RJ sent him over to me. Because we were getting pretty active with the relays, I told him to come in and get treatment. I don’t think it’s anything. He tested it out, his strength was good, his range of motion was good. But it’s not something we want to make worse now.”

– On Jose Iglesias: “I think the thing that sticks out is the hands, very flashy hands. It’ll be really fun to watch him play. Because the player you see this week won’t be the player you’ll see a couple years from now. It’ll be fun to watch him refine what he’s doing. He’s rapidly learning our game, but our culture. He’s getting a lot thrown at him real quick.”

– On Marco Scutaro’s success relatively late in his career: “He’s worked hard. He got pigeonholed a little bit for whatever reason. I don’t know, I wasn’t there, but he’s not anymore. Good for him. Sometimes you get in a position, they get a chance, and it doesn’t work. They get pigeonholed and have to fight their way through it. He got his chance to play every day, and he did, and he took it and ran with it.”

– On Scott Atchison:  “He’s got a couple years in Japan under his belt, he’s going to fight for that bullpen spot. He’ll be one of the guys directly in the competition for that last bullpen spot, real good outlook, he’s excited to be back. Have not seen him pitch a lot, except for in here. Our pitching coach is pretty high on him, so that goes a long way with me.”

Read the rest of this entry »

Cameron taking it slow with groin injury

02.28.10 at 1:37 pm ET
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FORT MYERS, Fla. — Fifteen seasons in the major leagues has taught Mike Cameron to approach the last day of February markedly different than a few months down the road.

Cameron cut his workout short Sunday, battling a sore left groin. Both the 37-year-old outfielder and his manager pointed to the fact that taking it slow at this stage in the game was the wisest course of action, which is why Sox skipper Terry Francona said Cameron was doubtful for the team’s doubleheader against Northeastern and Boston College on Wednesday.

“It was kind of windy out there, when I got on the bike this morning, got stretched out this morning, it just wasn’t getting loose quite the way I wanted to. I guess this is the first sign of me getting a little bit older. Just having to listen to the body a little bit,” Cameron said.

“I’ll be fine. If I had to play a game I could play a game. I just didn’t want to push it with the body just starting to get shocked into this, starting to do a lot. I didn’t want to get too far behind, get tired, and really hurt something. It’s just kind of precautionary, jump on things quickly. It’s good to sit back and let the body catch up to the mind and listen to it for a change.”

Cameron said he previously hasn’t experienced problems with his groin muscle, or a lot of leg injuries in general, although he did have to miss time in 2009 with a hamstring problem.

“At this point it’s just kind of listening to the body. It tells me I can’t really force it. It wasn’t going to do any good to force it,” the outfielder said. “We’ve been doing a lot of running the last four or five days. Some guys’ bodies respond different. It does me no good to go out here and prove I can be an iron man on Feb. 28.”

Eye doctors are doctoring some eyes

02.28.10 at 10:18 am ET
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FORT MYERS, Fla. — One of the more interesting aspects of the test process for the Red Sox is when Dr. Daniel Laby and Dr. David Kirschen come to town. The two eye doctors have been charged with the task of not only testing the Sox’ players for eyesight issues, but also such functions as hand-eye coordination.

Their work with the Red Sox can be traced back to as far as 2004, when Manny Ramirez came to them midway through the season looking for answers regarding his eyesight. Not only did they diagnose his problem, but the slugger came away with a few eyesight exercises he uses to this day. (Catching a hoop with four Wiffleballs attached while it is being thrust at him from 10 feet away, having to grab the colored ball identified by the person tossing the plastic sphere.)

This is a paragraph I wrote back in spring training of 2007:

This time they are bringing in something new: Equipment to measure the players’€™ hand-eye coordination. They have two tests, one for simple reaction (not having to identify specifics) and recognition-type of reaction. The recognition reaction test is most interesting with the players having to watch a screen which flashes an image of a hand holding a certain kind of grip on the baseball. For example, if the player is asked to push a button when the fastball grip is shown, than they have to wait out the other possible images (curveball, knuckleball, and slider) before committing to the fastball. An unnamed player from the Dodgers supplied the imagery for the grips.

One thing that the duo mixed in this year was a change to the glaucoma test, which had involved eye drops because of their stinging effect had the players shying away from the process. It also didn’t allow the players to put their contacts in right away, forcing delays on the practice field. Now there is a new machine — recently developed in Finland — that simply pricks the the eye, giving the sensation of nothing more than the touch of a feather. Suddenly the least looked forward to part of the examination wasn’t such an issue.

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