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Closing Time: Yankees 3, Red Sox 1

04.07.10 at 10:32 pm ET
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The game was following the perfect script for the Red Sox. John Lackey, in his debut with his new club, delivered a brilliant performance, throwing six shutout innings. He stood to claim the victory on a night when David Ortiz delivered his first hit of the young season, an RBI single that seemed like it might be enough to give the Sox a 1-0 victory.

But then, the Yankees pieced together a run in the top of the seventh when Victor Martinez proved unable to handle the short-hop on J.D. Drew‘s throw home, allowing Jorge Posada to clamber home and tie the game, 1-1. In extras, Curtis Granderson turned on a Jonathan Papelbon fastball, launching it deep into the right field grandstand to put the Yankees up, 2-1, in the top of the 10th.

New York tacked on a run, and Mariano Rivera locked down career save No. 528 to secure the victory.

Key play of the game

Obviously, Curtis Granderson‘s blast into the right field grandstand to lead off the top of the 10th inning was the decisive play of the game. The bigger question is whether Sox closer Jonathan Papelbon should have still been in the game to serve up the longball.

On the one hand, Papelbon had not only pitched a scoreless ninth inning, but he had also gotten up to warm in the middle of the eighth inning. The Sox do account for that sort of bullpen work in evaluating a proper workload for a reliever on any given night.

On the other hand, the Sox closer overpowered the Yankees with just 10 pitches in the ninth inning, and didn’t have to work particularly hard in retiring Alex Rodriguez, Robinson Cano and Jorge Posada.

With the Sox having an off-day between the contest against the Yankees and Friday’s series opener in Kansas City, it’s not hard to see why the Sox decided to keep Papelbon in the game, the outcome notwithstanding.

What went right for the Sox

John Lackey’s initial returns on the Red Sox’ sizable investment were impressive.

The big right-hander, who came to the Sox after signing a five-year, $82.5 million deal this offseason, was little short of dazzling in his first game for Boston. Lackey was armed with a well-located four-pitch combination (fastball, curve, slider, cutter) that he employed to carve the Yankees over six shutout innings.

He held New York to three hits and no runs while walking two and striking out three in a debut. He threw 100 pitches, 58 for strikes, and left with a 1-0 lead. Though the Sox bullpen gave up the lead in the top of the seventh (a run charged to Scott Schoeneweis), Lackey’s performance was little short of spectacular.

–Before Wednesday’s game against the Yankees, David Ortiz said that he felt great — both physically and at the plate — and that the ongoing attention that his 0-for-7 start to the year was receiving remained mind-boggling to him.

“I’ve been seeing [expletive] for years here,” Ortiz told WEEI.com. “But what I’ve been seeing after two games, it’s like the season will be over tomorrow.”

Given his familiarity with the rhythms of Boston, Ortiz is also no doubt aware that he managed to nudge the Ortiz Watch from orange to yellow, at least for a day. The Sox DH delivered his first hit of the season, a sharp single to right field with two outs in the bottom of the third to plate the first Red Sox run. Ortiz turned on a 90 mph, thigh-high fastball on the inner half of the plate and rifled it into right field, ending his 0-for-8 start to the season.

He did later strike out against Pettitte and Chan Ho Park, both on sliders.

Scott Schoeneweis, for the second time in the three-game series, looked great against lefties. He punched out both Robinson Cano and Granderson in the top of the seventh with the Sox holding a 1-0 lead. On the downside, however, he gave up a rocket to switch-hitter Jorge Posada (who was batting right-handed). Posada doubled off the base of the center field wall, and scored the tying run when Nick Swisher lined a single to right against Daniel Bard.

What went wrong for the Sox

–The Sox lineup failed to take advantage of opportunities for the second straight night. After a 1-for-12 night with runners in scoring position on Tuesday, the team went 1-for-7 on Wednesday. The Sox had plenty of scoring chances early, but stranded a pair of runners in both the first and second innings and another in the third. By that point, Yankees starter Andy Pettitte settled into a groove in which he attacked both sides of the plate with his fastball, slider and cutter, and the Sox could muster little against him.

–Though Jacoby Ellsbury managed an infield single, the Yankees allowed him to make little hard contact all series. He finished the three games having gone 3-for-15 (.200) with four strikeouts.

Victor Martinez gunned down Cano on a stolen base attempt in the top of the third inning. While seeing Martinez — who was 2-for-17 on stolen base attempts last year — deliver a strong throw to clip Cano was a promising sign for the Sox, it is noteworthy that Cano was running at all, since he entered the game 17-for-38 in his career in stolen base attempts.

That was a reminder that opposing teams will run on the Sox and Martinez until they prove they can control the running game. Indeed, in the fourth, Granderson swiped second against Martinez, and Brett Gardner later collected a steal. Martinez threw out 1-of-5 attempted base thieves in the series.

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Lackey dominant in debut

04.07.10 at 9:20 pm ET
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John Lackey’s initial returns on the Red Sox’ sizable investment were impressive.

The big right-hander, who came to the Sox after signing a five-year, $82.5 million deal this offseason, was little short of dazzling in his first game for Boston. Lackey was armed with a well-located four-pitch combination (fastball, curve, slider, cutter) that he employed to carve the Yankees over six shutout innings.

He held New York to three hits and no runs while walking two and striking out three in a debut. He threw 100 pitches, 58 for strikes, and left with a 1-0 lead. Though the Sox bullpen gave up the lead in the top of the seventh (a run charged to Scott Schoeneweis), Lackey’s performance remained undeniably strong.

Lackey had said on the Big Show on Monday that, while only 5 percent of people in a recent poll suggested that he was the team’s ace (far shy of the voting totals received by teammates Jon Lester and Josh Beckett), he planned on changing that total.

“I guarantee I have more than 5 percent at the end of this year,” said Lackey. “I hope all three of us have great years and it’s 33 percent at the end of the year.”

Lackey may have taken his first step to move the needle on Wednesday.

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Ortiz has a hit, Teixeira still doesn’t

04.07.10 at 8:27 pm ET
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David Ortiz notched his first hit of the season, rifling a single into right in the third inning of the Red Sox’ series finale against the Yankees. The base hit, coming off New York starter Andy Pettitte, snapped an 0-for-8 drought for Ortiz to start the 2010 season

(To see what Ortiz told WEEI.com’s Alex Speier about the situation, click here.)

After two at-bats Wednesday night, Yankees slugger Mark Teixeira still doesn’t have a hit this season, having come up empty in his first 10 at-bats. That leads us to the Ortiz vs. Teixeira tote board for the pair performances since June 6, 2009:

Ortiz: 94 hits, 27 HR, 79 RBI, .262 batting average, .355 on-base percentage, .546 slugging percentage

Teixeira: 121 hits, 22 HR, 73 RBI, .289 BA, .374 OBP, .527 slugging percentage.

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Ortiz: ‘It’s like the season will be over tomorrow’

04.07.10 at 6:35 pm ET
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Red Sox slugger David Ortiz spoke briefly in the clubhouse prior to Wednesday’s game against the Yankees. Ortiz, who is 0-for-7 with a walk in his first two games of the season, was still puzzled by the fact that there is a spotlight on his struggles after just two games of the season.

“I’ve been seeing [expletive] for years here,” Ortiz told WEEI.com. “But what I’ve been seeing after two games, it’s like the season will be over tomorrow.”

Ortiz has gotten somewhat accustomed to this sort of rhythm, as he started slowly over a larger period of time in the past two years. In 2008, he was hitting .070 with a .370 OPS through the first 12 games of the season. In 2009, his struggles lasted through the end of May, as he was hitting .185 with a .570 OPS and one homer through the first two months of the season.

Despite those experiences — and his rebounds from both of them — he said that he is still unsure how to respond when dealing with public and media reaction to just a couple of tough games.

“I guess I’ll have to keep that for myself and explain that later on,” he said. “Right now, I can’t.”

That said, despite the fact that Ortiz is hitless after two games, he said that he still feels good both generally and at the plate.

“I feel great, man. I feel great,” he said.

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Cameron on The Big Show: ‘No interest in the whole rivalry thing’

04.07.10 at 5:25 pm ET
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Mike Cameron said he had trouble getting to Fenway Park, but fans are hoping he won't be lost in center field. (AP)

Mike Cameron dropped by to chat with The Big Show on Wednesday at Fenway Park about the new center fielder’s first impressions of putting on the home whites. Much was made of the debate centering on Jacoby Ellsbury or Cameron in center and the new acquisition said he could play another position, but center is where he wants to be.

“I could play some other positions also, but I still have a window that I still can go out and play the game in center,” he said. “Maybe I’m not as fast as I was when I was 21, 22 years old. At the same time, I still feel like I can play. I feel better. Some days feel better than others, and the day I feel really, really good I start to cheat a little bit more. The days I don’t feel as good I just kind of back up a little bit.”

Cameron also touched on the secret wind veils that make playing center at Fenway so unique, his relationship with Terry Francona, what it’s like to be back in the American League and his initial struggles to find his way around the Fenway area.

Following is a transcript. To listen to the interview, click here.

What’s your experience so far in center field at Fenway Park?

No different then the past experiences out there. I’m starting to learn the wind veils out there, something that nobody discussed with me when I was on the other team.

There are secret wind veils?

If you look at the right thing.

In the press box with all the hot air?

That’s one of the interesting things is one of the wind veils is on top of the press box.

You may have been brought in for defense but you and Adrian Beltre and Marco Scutaro have helped stabilize the bottom of the lineup.

The one thing about it is as baseball players we don’t look a the description of how a team is designed. We are brought here to do a job and just be productive and you look at the past and me, Beltre and Scutaro have all been thought of as defensive players or great whatever you want to call it. But at the same time this game the No. 1 thing is pitching and if you have solid defense and pitching you are going to have a really good chance. You add the other element of is when you have an explosive offense or whatever you want to call it now you are looking at a championship caliber ball club. As a player you don’t really look at those things, you just play. I’m a baseball player. I try to be good on defense or base stealing. Sometimes I may not hit very well but you try and be a good hitter as much as possible.

How has Terry Francona changed since you first met him when you first entered the league?

When you go and be the manager for Philadelphia and then you go to Oakland have the opportunity to be a bench coach. Also to sit in the stands and be an advanced scout and then become the manager of the Boston Red Sox and go through some really great seasons here, probably two of the best seasons that people are going to remember here by winning championships. Sometimes there are shortcomings, but to be able to keep this unit together under this type of situation … He’s always been calm and collected but looking at it from your manager as a player under these type of baseball capabilities and playing in the New England atmosphere it’s always a calming sense to have a manager like that. He’s always joking too. I’ve known that him ever since I was 18 so it’s always a calming factor for myself.

How have you been able to maintain yourself as a good defender late into your 30s?

It’s just a blessing. I’ve just been one of those guys. In the past Steve Finley was one of those guys who could do it for a long time. Kenny Lofton was one of those guys and Devon White was one of those guys too. I could play some other positions also, but I still have a window that I still can go out and play the game in center. Maybe I’m not as fast as I was when I was 21, 22 years old. At the same time I still feel like I can play. I feel better. Some days feel better than others, and the day I feel really, really good I start to cheat a little bit more. The days I don’t feel as good I just kind of back up a little bit.

Do you do things differently now than you were in the past when you might have had more speed?

Most definitely. When you go through something I went through before, having a really bad incident, you play the game a little bit different. I still play balls to the wall. I still have to be really considerate of what I can and cant do on the field now. I would rather play 145 games then play in 100 or 99, by being a little bit smarter on the field. Now it takes me a little bit more time to kind of get ready. So I have to go get ready before I go to practice, so that’s probably the most important thing to remember that that’s part of the routine now.

Has Jacoby Ellsbury sat you down to talk about center field at all?

We have been doing it all spring. Pretty much throughout the course of the season we are going to do a lot more. He’s still going to play some center this year, because I don’t think they are going to let me play everyday, but I would love to. I want to go over there and play around with the wall a little bit too, to kind of get a feel of it.

Have you done some practicing over there yet?

I’ve been going over there a little bit in practice to go get a feel for it. Even though I’ve played it so many times for some reason I feel like I’m at home now and I have to know what’s what. The game itself will dictate how you go about doing those things and that’s one thing we talk. When the ball is going to left field I have to be very cognizant of going over there all the time, when I used to stand over and watch a little bit.

Have you been able to travel in Boston without any problems?

I had none of that. The 8 p.m. game kind of helped with it being Easter Sunday. It was a very big help, but I think I took this route a couple times. I’ve made it a couple of times on this route in my mind, but my car did a good job. Once I got around here I did circle around the stadium a couple times, and I didn’t think I could turn on Lansdowne Street because it looks like there was a big block party because it was blocked off. So I couldn’t get in there when I wanted to, so I had to call into the guys in the clubhouse and find out what was good and find out what I could and couldn’t do.

Thank God for GPS.

Definitely. I got a straight shot on Route 9 all the way out, so I’m good.

Did you get a sense of the difference between most series and a Red Sox vs. Yankees series?

There’s a lot more media people. This is my first series as a Red Sox, so I do know that there is a lot more people coming from New York than there would be if it was Kansas City or Minnesota. It’s well expected. I’ve played against both and now I get a chance to play in it. As much hype as it is I really don’t want to have it go through my mind because that’s just going to add much more pressure on it. I just want to get comfortable playing at home for the Red Sox. I just want to go out and play as best I can and just beat up on the Yankees. I have no interest in the whole rivalry thing. I’m just trying to play as well as I can for the Boston Red Sox and if it just happens to be the Yankees then they just happen to be on the list.

Dough Mientkiewicz said the best rivalry is White Sox vs. Twins.

I guess for the last few years you would think that. I played in the Windy City Classic and I’ve played in the Subway Series but this is crazy. It’s kind of subdued a little bit from what I’d seen on TV, but there has a ruckus in the stands as far as I can tell.

Did you notice the umpires tried to pick up the pace of the game last night?

They couldn’t do it though. They can’t do it. Everyone has a routine they go through. Some guys are going to see balls. Some guys are going to swing, but the game seems like it’s forever. If I was in Milwaukee last year the game would have been two hours before. It’s a four-hour game and you got to get in the feel of it. I’m enjoying it, though. More so than anything, this is my opportunity to enjoy the game with the focus on playing really good baseball for the Boston Red Sox. But I’ve got to enjoy this. It’s only going to happen one time, so I’m going to enjoy it.

Mariano Rivera just isn’t going to go away, is he?

That was the one thing about it he was throwing that cutter 96 (mph) and it was running across the plate. Last night he threw me one cutter under my hands and I was like, “OK. Here comes the cutter again. I’m going to open up and be ready for it.” It comes in and it’s sinking a little bit and I was like, “Where did that come from.” A lot of learning for me is through relievers, so I kind of have pick my spots and kind of ambush somebody, because as much as I haven’t seen these guys at the same time I have to be very cognizant of what the guys feature pitches are. I’m sure they know a lot about me, but knowing a lot about someone and facing someone is totally different. That was my first time facing Joba [Chamberlain] the other night. That kind of amped me up a little bit the other night. He’s been the guy who is fist pumping. I thought they were going to walk J.D. [Drew] last night with me being the new guy here, but that was my bad thinking. I did get a chance to see Mariano though.

Do you have to change anything to fit the philosophy here in Boston?

I just try to be better. The times I get strikeouts is when I’m not being aggressive from the beginning or sometimes like last night I went out of the zone against A.J. [Burnett] and I really didn’t have to. I kind of got caught up in the fastball thing and he’s slinging it everywhere and I’m just swinging at it. I just need to stay within myself more than anything and when I find myself doing that I find myself having better at-bats, much more quality at-bats and just having the comfort level to go out and do it. They have a couple of guys here that take 1,000 pitches. Sometimes I get in that mode, too. It just depends how I’m feeling. But for the most part it’s really about getting comfortable and playing the game I’m comfortable playing. I can slash it and minimize a lot of strikeouts just by staying in there and having that aggressive mindset. I had [Dave Magadan] in ’06 in San Diego, so he’s told me the same things, to get out of your own way and go play the game.

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Francona: ‘My goodness – it’s the third game of the year’

04.07.10 at 4:45 pm ET
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Red Sox manager Terry Francona offered further insight into how he views David Ortiz’ 0-for-7 start to the season, and why he elected not to pinch-hit for the slugger against Yankees left-handed reliever Damaso Marte in the eighth inning of his team’s 6-4 loss on Tuesday. Francona suggested that it seemed a bit early for such strong reactions to two hitless games, and said that he wants to ensure that Ortiz is not “looking over his shoulder” less than two games into the season.

“I don’t feel panic,” said Francona. “There’s no way I can wake up in the morning — nor do I want to — and run to the radio or run to the paper and see how I’m being perceived.

“Part of being a fan is that you love your team, you’re not supposed to think logically all the time. … You’ve heard the comment that if you manage like a fan, you’ll be a fan. That’s not what I’m looking for. The thing that I’ve learned here that’s hard is you have to be patient. And when you don’t want to be patient, you really need to or you can really screw up some things.”

Clearly, the decision to stick with Ortiz instead of Mike Lowell — both on Tuesday night against Marte, and on Wednesday against a Pettitte, a pitcher against whom both Ortiz and Lowell enjoy substantial success — was a demonstration of that notion. Though Francona would like to find good matchups in which to use Lowell, he also wants Ortiz to maintain his confidence.

“Tonight would have been a good night to play [Mike] Lowell. It would have been a bad night not to play David. And since they won’t give us two DH’s, you have to make a decision,” said Francona. “We want to have an atmosphere where we have guys who want to do the right thing. And we want them to walk up there and feel confident. I don’t want David looking over his shoulder a game and a half into the season. I was asked last night about pinch-hitting for him. We’ve got a runner on second, nobody out and a dead pull hitter. That’s what we’re looking for. We don’t want to send a righty up there to massage the ball to the right side when we have that guy up there. It just didn’t work.”

The fact that Ortiz has struggled against left-handers over the past couple of seasons would seem to argue in favor of more of a platoon between Ortiz and Lowell. In 2009, the right-handed Lowell hit .301 with an .867 OPS against lefties. Ortiz, meanwhile, hit .212 with a .716 OPS against southpaws. Francona didn’t dismiss completely the notion that he could end up using Lowell more against left-handers, but he did note that there are benefits to having Ortiz remain in the lineup against southpaws.

“Why would I come out and say, ‘We’ll put a date on this.’ That’s not me doing a very good job if we fell into that,” said Francona. “The other thing to remember is, I know the numbers — I’ve seen the numbers you’re talking about — but take David for example. He drove in 99 runs last year. If you didn’t play him against certain lefties, he wouldn’t have had those numbers against righties. Facing left-handers, at times, guys have to do that. Especially left-handed, it keeps you longer on the ball. You get into some bad habits just playing against right-handers. So it’s a little deeper than just what people are looking at.”

Francona did seem a bit bemused by the fact that this line of inquiry about the status of Ortiz was emerging after just two games of the season.

“Being reactionary in my job, especially here, I think that has a chance to set off things in a bad chain reaction, as opposed to helping,” said Francona. “It feels early to be talking about it. … My goodness. It’s the third game of the year. Yeah, it’s crazy.”

Clay Buchholz threw 48 pitches in a simulated outing that the Sox hope will leave him sharp entering his start in Kansas City on Sunday.

–Francona is hoping to get the Sox reserves into the lineup starting with the weekend series against the Royals. He said that Jason Varitek will ‘certainly’ get some starts in the coming roadtrip.

Daisuke Matsuzaka and Boof Bonser are both scheduled to throw 80-85 pitches in their rehab outings for Triple-A Pawtucket. Bonser is starting the PawSox opener on Thursday, and Matsuzaka pitches on Saturday.

Alan Embree will also pitch on Thursday. The Sox need to “pitch him as much as we can without going overboard” while they try to evaluate the left-hander as thoroughly as possible prior to his April 15 opt-out date.

Jed Lowrie is still suffering from fatigue. He will have occasional days when he feels good, but will then feel run down and unable to maintain significant physical activity the next day. There’s no timetable for his recovery.

–While the Sox will have Jason Varitek be used as a somewhat normal backup catcher, they will avoid having him catch Tim Wakefield.

“That’s the on thing we probably don’t want to do, because we’ve never done that,” said Francona of the use of Varitek. “[Martinez has] done a great job. … My first few years here, that was a panic situation. … When we put put [Doug] Mirabelli in limos…”

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Francona on D&H: ‘Let these guys play’

04.07.10 at 2:21 pm ET
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Terry Francona (right) will give Mike Lowell a hand off the field but won't pencil him into the lineup just yet. (AP)

With Opening Night over and done with, Red Sox manager Terry Francona called in to Dale & Holley on Wednesday to talk about the first two games of the regular season. Even though David Ortiz is hitless in his first seven at-bats this season Francona said he is not losing faith in the big slugger and Ortiz will remain in the lineup.

But the decision was one he pondered.

“DeMarlo [Hale] and I stayed here for a while last night and if this was later in the year we probably would have played [Mike Lowell] tonight,” said Francona, whose team will finish up a three-game series with the Yankees on Wednesday. “It’s two games into the season and I think sometimes the biggest thing I can do is have some consistency and some patience and not succumb. Let’s let these guys play a little bit.”

Francona also talked about having Josh Beckett around for the next four years, Jason Varitek’s role on the team, the hoopla of Opening Night and how he and his new bench coach are getting along.

Following is a transcript of the interview. To listen, click here.

These games against the Yankees must wear you out?

Yeah, you go from a spring training atmosphere where you are certainly trying to play the game right but there is no getting around it, spring training is spring training. We play a game in Washington and we get back at midnight, and then bang the next day you are in to a playoff atmosphere, four and a half hour games with the Yankees, Neil Diamond, all kinds of things going on. It happens a little bit quick.

What did you think of the first game?

Well what we showed up to do is win, which that was the good news. I think I’ve come to realize that whatever people try to do, and I think the Red Sox do a really good job of putting a good product on the field, they try to treat the fans well, they try not to get over the top because I don’t think you have to. We are the Red Sox. We don’t have races or things like that between innings. I’ve also come to realize that a lot of people are going to think it’s cool and a lot of people aren’t going to like it. That’s a part of human nature. If you see the little kid that talked to the team I thought it was cute. Some people hated it. Whatever, I think they are trying to make the fans feel welcome and show their appreciation. Some people really like it and some don’t.

How did you get Dustin Pedroia to put on the suit and speak to the team like that?

I thought the funniest part was the kid had a 1970s leisure suit on. For about an hour before you could see him over there practicing, so that was the cute part of it.

Do you think about making the switch from David Ortiz to Mike Lowell this early in the season?

I hope I think about everything, but to answer your question I don’t think it’s the right thing to do. We want these guys to be fearless and I can’t imagine five, six at-bats into the season having your 5 hitter looking over his shoulder. I understand Mike Lowell is a special guy, he’s not a normal bench player for what he’s done here. I got asked last night and it kind of surprised me, “Why didn’t you hit for David?” With a runner on second with nobody out, what’s the one thing David does really well even if he’s not hitting? He pulls the ball. He pulls the ball on the ground. That’s why they have the shift. He hit a popup to center that didn’t go deep enough. So to me to hit a right-handed hitter when you are trying to hit the ball to the right side, then knowing you are going to have to pinch-run, that didn’t make a whole lot of sense to me. I don’t know if people really think it through. They just react to a guy who hasn’t got a hit yet.

From past experience, we know that you don’t want your bench guys going too long without seeing game action.

That was actually the one reason DeMarlo [Hale] and I stayed here late last night, we actually talked about playing Mike Lowell. It would be a great game for him to play tonight. I just think it would be creating more of a firestorm. We talked to the whole team in Washington and we said, “Be patient. We are trying to get the regulars’ timing down. Get them into a routine at games and everything.” The first 10 days are a hard time. Guys are used to playing, then they are not playing. They get antsy and impatient. We got to find a way to fight through that.

Ortiz has historically struggled against lefties, so would it be a consideration to take him out of the lineup in those situations?

I think in the past we’ve always tried, if we are going to give David a day off, to have it be against a lefty he’s had a tough time with. I don’t think it makes a lot of sense and talk about what I could do. We are two games into the season and we want David to flat out rake. That’s what we are looking for. Not for me to say, “Well, we are looking two weeks down the road, three weeks down the road, if he’s not hitting we are going to do this.” I don’t know if that’s me doing my job very well. We want these guys to up there and feel fearless and not be looking over their shoulder. Again I understand. I know that we have other options, I’m aware of that. But I got to do what I think is right.

It was kind of ironic with all the talk of pitching and defense that an error kind of did you in last night.

Marco [Scutaro] came up through the ball real well and I think he looked up and saw where [Derek] Jeter was, and I don’t want to say panicked, but kind of rushed and short armed. He was in so far that I don think that [Kevin Youkilis] had a chance to get stretched out real far either and it handcuffed him a little bit. [Hideki Okajima] was having a tough inning to begin with. When the ball was hit it was like wow we are going to get through this, and then he has to go to work. Nick Johnson doesn’t swing at anything out of the strike zone. Okie was about 30 pitches in to the inning. It was a tough situation for us.

Josh Beckett’s attitude about his contract was kind of refreshing, wasn’t it?

I think it is and I haven’t got real deep in those conversations with him because it’s none of my business. But I think I know well enough to know that he’s real happy here. He’s real comfortable and I think he feels like he can win. It’s a lot of money. I did see one of his statements when he said it’s not what I’m losing or something or what I’m gaining. I think that’s the way you get a deal done, is where both sides are happy. It sounds like it wasn’t a real difficult thing to achieve in this instance.

What do you think Beckett’s No. 1 problem was in his first start?

I thought early on trying to establish a breaking ball. He was having a real tough time and they kind of eliminated it. Then he’s throwing a fastball and you better locate it perfect with that lineup. You hate to give a team too much credit, but their lineup, even [Jon] Lester yesterday, he made some pitches off the plate that they hit. [Nick] Swisher spanks a ball down the right field line. [Jorge] Posada hit a pitch. They are a really good offensive team, so you got to pound the zone, you have to stay out of the middle of the zone and you can’t fall behind. Lester had a lot of deep counts. This team can do that to you if you are not on top of your game.

If too much made out of the connection between Beckett and Jason Varitek? Do you think there is a connection between Beckett and Victor Martinez?

I think they have a good connection, but I think you are right. All of those things that we talked about with Tek all those years they just don’t go away because we bring in somebody else. But you make adjustments as you go and you try to build relationships and things that you are talking about over the course of time. I don’t think they can be as strong as a guy that has been here for years overnight, but we are certainly working on it.

Has Jason Varitek handled his situation as professional as it seems he has?

I think it’s very accurate. Some times what you see is not really what’s happening. You know a guy will put on a good face, but he’s been terrific. This is going to be good. The first 10 days of the season can be a little bit misleading because of the days off especially with a catcher. But once we get into the grind of the season this will be a good thing for our team.

Do you see him being someone’s personal catcher or do you have another role in mind?

I’d rather not do that. I’d rather kind of get the maybe a rest for Victor [Martinez]. The one thing Tek can do because he’s caught everybody, with the exception of [Tim Wakefield], is that he can handle all those guys. It’s not, You’ve got a backup catcher and one of your top guys doesn’t really want to throw to him. Who ever gets Tek it’s going to be the same, so that’s good. We will probably do it a little bit more just according to our schedule.

It must be nice having three aces who don’t have a problem where they pitch in the rotation?

We didn’t announce our rotation for a while, but we had talked to them way ahead of time. They all kind of knew what was going on and because of our 4 and 5 situation, we didn’t want to have those guys kind of wiggle in the wind. We really didn’t know because of our schedule. They were all great about it. I talked to [John] Lackey one day and he said, “I’d have done the same thing. I’m with you.” It makes it easier. The more good pitching we can run out there the better. But the fact that they want to go to work and willing to stay within the team concept certainly makes our life a lot more enjoyable.

Is there going to be a learning curve with Jacoby Ellsbury playing left field in Fenway?

He did a little bit of 2007 when he came up. You are talking about turning this into a home field advantage. The more he’s out there the better he will be. He got a ball last night and that will be a ball he throws to second as he gets experience. [Mark] Teixeira hit it and it’s one of those when you are in the visiting ball park he made the exact right play. When you are at home we can eliminate extra bases because left field is so short. We have seen his closing speed on balls toward the line. There’s not going to be a lot of balls that fall, and he’s athletic enough where he almost got back and caught that ball in the first game. He’s going to be a really good left fielder

We are pretty sure you are glad with how it’s worked out weather-wise?

All you could think of was how many layers of clothing, because it’s going to be miserable. It’s going to be a 4-1/2-hour night and we are going to have long underwear on. We really caught a break and it was beautiful. It was a nice night. There was a lot of good things from Pedro [Martinez] throwing the first pitch out, there was a lot of cool things that happened. But from where I sat the game was what really made it a good night.

How has DeMarlo Hale changed the dugout dynamic?

[Brad Mills] is obviously one of my best friends in the world and I miss him as a friend. Coaching-wise we are in great shape. DeMarlo did a great job this spring and he’s a new voice. That’s not so bad. I have a real good relationship with D, but it’s a little bit of a different voice but that’s OK. He has a lot of enthusiasm to do this and sometimes change isn’t so bad. Nobody wanted to push Millsie out the door by any means, but this is a good thing. I’m comfortable and I think DeMarlo is going to be fantastic.

Does he understand you codes yet?

I think D has already known that. He’d come in from third base and I’d hit him with something every once in a while. He knows. There is no tiptoeing around with what has to go on with DeMarlo.

This is your first year with Jason Varitek as the backup catcher as well as Bill Hall and Mike Lowell as the reserve infielders. How will you manage to fit them into the lineup during the first part of the season?

That’s a good question and that’s what we touched on earlier and touched on in Washington during our meeting. That’s a challenge early in the season. We want guys to get their at-bats, we don’t want them to go too long. At the same time, you are fighting with your regulars. That’s why we want to get into the grind of the season, when guys get nicked up, when guys need days off. So you kind of stay with the cliché of stay ready because you never know when it’s going to be your time. If you’re ready one day could turn into two, three, four. We’ve all seen how it happens.

Any changes in tonight’s lineup?

No we are going to stay right the same. We are going to stay a little bit consistent and I think it’s the right thing to do and see if we can go out there and beat them.

Any borderline decisions about the lineup?

DeMarlo and I stayed here for a while last night, and if this was later in the year we probably would have played [Mike Lowell] tonight. It’s two games into the season and I think sometimes the biggest thing I can do is have some consistency and some patience and not succumb. Let’s let these guys play a little bit.

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