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Report: Red Sox still in on Ruiz

02.27.10 at 12:19 pm ET
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According to a report in ESPN.com (via MLB Trade Rumors) a source familiar with the situation has said that the Red Sox are still actively pursuing Cuban first baseman Jose Julio Ruiz. The 25-year-old is a 6-foot-3, left-handed hitter who has been compared to Carlos Delgado. Earlier in the week it appeared as though the Blue Jays had the inside track on Ruiz. Click here for the story (in Spanish).

Early spring rotation set

02.27.10 at 12:08 pm ET
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FORT MYERS, Fla. — Terry Francona just announced the starters for the first few games of spring training. Here it is:

Northeastern: Casey Kelly; Boston College: Boof Bonser; March 4: Josh Beckett; March 5: Jon Lester/Tim Wakefield; March 6: John Lackey; March 7: Clay Buchholz.

Daisuke Matsuzaka has been pushed back because of his previous  back tweak and won’t throw his first bullpen until early next week.

What’s new with the Red Sox: Saturday

02.27.10 at 7:18 am ET
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FORT MYERS, Fla. — Nothing fancy, just the facts. Here’s what transpired on a day when Dustin Pedroia showed his push-up prowess:

– The Red Sox starters threw batting practice for the first time with rave reviews. For instance …

Terry Francona on Jon Lester: ‘€œI thought he did good. I thought he was a little frustrated with himself the other day on the side day. Today, he felt a lot better. That happens. That’€™s all part of it. there’€™s no way you’€™re going to wake up every day during spring training and feel like ‘€¦ that’€™s just part of spring training. But I thought he threw the ball really well.’€

Francona on the starters in general: ‘€œFor me, the biggest thing is how the ball is coming out of the hand because we really want them to build their arm strength. When they build their arm strength, then they’€™ll get to a point where they can go out and pitch and they’€™re not raring back trying to do more or trying to generate more velocity. They’€™re trying to get to that so then they can be able to command.’€

John Farrell on John Lackey: “Incrementally, another step, increase in intensity. Thought he threw the ball with good downhill angle. His two-seamer had very good life to his arm side. He spun some curveballs for strikes which at this point in cmap that’€™s what we’€™re looking for. We’€™re not looking for the swing-and-miss type, the putaway. It’€™s getting a feel for a hitter in the box and how they’€™re reacting to the stuff that each one of our guys is delivering to the plate. The amount of volume picks up a little bit more today with a full eight or 10 minute bullpen, in addition to the 40 pitches of BP. He’€™s handling the volume well and executing from pitch to pitch thus far.”

Farrell on Tim Wakefield: “We’€™re all encouraged. These first 10 days on the minor league complex, there’€™s a lot of volume guys are going through. Not just the bullpens, but all the other activity we’€™re going through. And he’€™s respnoded each day, and each day gone out, little more refined and arm strength, evident quality of pitches through length of typical bullpen.”

And just for some visual evidence …

And then there was Casey Kelly, who also threw to hitters for the first time in camp

Farrell’s thoughts on the 20-year-old: “Very poised. Very professional approach. He’€™s got genuine confidence in himself, and I mean that in the right way. He’€™s not cocky by any means. He’€™s very respectful. When you see him go about his work, he’€™s not in a rush.  A guy will take a good swing on him, it’€™s not like he’€™s got to come back and make a pitch that much better. He knows the purpose of BP and carries that throughout. He carries himself with a very good air about him and one who genuinely is comfortable with himself, even being in big league camp for the first time.”

Kelly also chimed in on how he’s taking in the whole experience: ‘€œRight now I haven’€™t really gotten a chance to ask questions, I think after my first couple outings I’€™ll ask some questions. Right now its watching how they go about their business, how they do their workouts, how they go about their pens, and just listening to what they say, what they’€™re trying to work on. Just be like a sponge and try to absorb everything up. Listening and watching is the best way to learn, rather than talking I think. I’€™m just trying to keep my ears and eyes open and learn as much as possible.”

The one thing you notice about Kelly is his frame and how it will undoubtedly translate into a pitcher the size of Jon Lester down the road. It was a subject that came up with Francona.

“Standing at secod base during BP saying it will be fun to show up two years from now and imagine what this kid will be,’€ the Sox manager said.

Adrian Beltre, who rolled his ankle while stepping on a baseball Wednesday, was back in the swing of things and participating in on-field activities.

“I’m fine,” the third baseman said. “There was some swelling (Thursday), but I feel much better (Friday).

– In other injury news, Daisuke Matsuzaka is progressing well and may throw his first bullpen as soon as Monday.

‘€œI think he feels good about himself,” Francona said. “I think tomorrow he’€™ll probably try to get out to 150, or 140. They’€™ll need to be a day off in there somewhere. He does feel pretty good about himself. You could tell by the way he was throwing that he’€™s not nursing his way through it.’€

– The condition of Jed Lowrie’s surgically-repaired left wrist has been encouraging thus far, as the shortstop explained, saying “This is the best I’ve felt in a long time.”

To read more about Lowrie click here.

– There were also a couple of solid interviews, from Lester and Jonathan Papelbon, in the Dennis and Callahan Trailer (it was too cold to sit at the picnic table). To read the transcripts click here for Lester, and here for Papelbon.

– And then there was Pedroia …

A day after giving the quote of the day, having gone up to Francona and said regarding moving down the lineup, “Am I a table-setter or the table,” the second baseman made video magic with the First Annual Laser Show Push-Up Contest. Enjoy …

Video: The Laser Show with Dustin Pedroia

02.26.10 at 2:03 pm ET
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Read More: Dustin Pedroia, Red Sox, Spring Training,

Lester on D&C: ‘No complacency around here’

02.26.10 at 1:00 pm ET
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Jon Lester, one of the members of ‘€œThe Big Three’€ of Red Sox pitchers, joined Dennis & Callahan in Fort Myers on Friday. The big left-hander discussed the chance to pitch with two other aces in Josh Beckett and John Lackey.

‘€œI think it just takes pressure off everybody else,’€ said Lester. ‘€œWe are hopefully not going to have a lot of losing streaks. Every game is going to be a battle and go out there and put up zeroes. That’€™s what we get paid to do and hopefully we will able to do it better than last year.’€

Lester said he might try and lobby a little harder to stay in some ball games now that he has gained veteran status, but would not brew up any spring training controversy.

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

What would it take for you to rant and rave about taking the ball on Opening Day? We need controversy.

It would take a lot. There are too many good pitchers on our staff to complain about that.

Getting the ball in Game 1 of the playoffs is out the question too then?

It doesn’€™t matter to me. I’€™ll take the ball whenever. I’€™m easy. I’€™ve never been a big guy in believing in that stuff. Opening Day would be nice. It’€™d be fun, but at the same time I just want to pitch. Read the rest of this entry »

Papelbon on D&C: Desire to stay with Sox and ‘break every record’

02.26.10 at 12:56 pm ET
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The always-interesting Jonathan Papelbon joined Dennis & Callahan on Friday to talk about the offseason that was made longer by the blown save in the divisional series vs. the Angels.

Papelbon said he watched the game film over and over to get himself motivated for the 2010 season. He also chimed in about the contract situation that will follow him around for the next couple of seasons.

‘€œI’€™ve said this time and time again I want to try and break every record there is to break in a Red Sox uniform,’€ he said. ‘€œThere is no question in my mind that that is what I want to do in Boston.’€

It’€™s never a dull moment with Papelbon, as he talked about his offseason duck hunting hobby and how he doesn’€™t own a dog because he likes to chase down his prizes.

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

We are hearing you got a new attitude around spring training this year, is this true?

I don’€™t know. I don’€™t know who wrote that or what they are talking about. I’€™m kind of on a mission this year. I got new sights ahead of me and I’€™m kind of taking this spring and focusing on getting back to domination. Read the rest of this entry »

Beckett, Lester, Lackey throw live batting practice

02.26.10 at 11:02 am ET
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FORT MYERS, Fla. — Red Sox starters faced live bats at the minor league facility.

Lowrie: ‘Best I’ve felt in a long time’

02.26.10 at 9:45 am ET
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FORT MYERS, Fla. — Some might forget how good things appeared to be going for Jed Lowrie at this time last year.

Lowrie was engaged in a neck-and-neck competition for the starting shortstop spot with Julio Lugo, and was acquitting himself quite well. In 65 at-bats, the switch-hitter was hitting .343 before succumbing to the pain in his left wrist which ultimately led to surgery.

But, as good as he felt in February, 2009, his optimism is greater this time around.

“This is the best I’ve felt in a long time,” said Lowrie prior to Friday morning’s workout at the Sox’ minor league training facility. “I came in pretty strong last year for spring training, and it felt pretty good, but it didn’t last long. Last year I felt I was a lot stronger at this point, but it was still a little unstable. Now I feel like it’s moving better but it’s not quite as strong so I feel the potential for it to get better is way better this year. Obviously last year it wasn’t ready to go.”

The only roadblock Lowrie has faced in the Sox’ first week of camp is his wrist’s endurance. But that, he explained, will take care of itself.

“It feels stronger, it’s just the fatigue factor,” Lowrie said. “When the volume goes up a lot it just hits a wall. That’s something will only get better with time. It’s moving better, I’m staying on top of it with my therapy, and now it’s just giving it time to build up that endurance.

Pedroia on D&C: Offense has ‘something to prove’

02.26.10 at 9:32 am ET
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Dustin Pedroia stopped by the bench with Dennis & Callahan to talk about the offseason and the upcoming Red Sox campaign.

Never one to pull punches, Pedroia sounded confident that the offense will perform better than people believe.

‘€œThis year everyone is doubting our offense, so that motivates you, and not only me but all the other guys in the lineup have something to prove,’€ said the fiery second baseman. ‘€œIt’€™s going to be fun proving everybody wrong.’€

The former MVP also talked about his offseason workouts, the deep pitching staff the Red Sox will showcase and his take on the Mike Lowell situation.

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

What was your offseason like?

Just working out everyday. I took about a week off after the season. I try to stay in shape. I don’€™t want to get out of shape, it’€™s tough to get back in. So I took a week off and rested my body and got back after it.

Were you concentrating on anything specific?

Not really. Same stuff. Try to get faster, stronger and make sure my body is ready for a long season.

Do you work harder by yourself in Arizona or here?

I think they are both different. In the offseason you try to build up as much as you can to last 162 plus the playoffs. When I’€™m at home I’€™m watching everything I eat. I think when you are at home you pay attention to detail there.

Are you in the best shape of your life?

Everyone tries to. We play a lot of games and my biggest thing is how I feel, and I feel great. The last two years I also felt great, so I think that’€™s just me trying to prepare myself for a long season. This offseason I accomplished all that I wanted to and I feel healthy and ready to go. Read the rest of this entry »

John Henry: ‘We generally don’t use insurance’

02.26.10 at 7:13 am ET
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FORT MYERS, Fla. — Red Sox principal owner John Henry has his eyes wide open when it comes to handing out long-term contracts to free agents, calling the process of extending such offers as “very complicated.” And, has been surfaced in some of the Sox’ recent negotiations, part of that complexity centers around the issue of the team taking insurance.

“We generally don’t use insurance,” Henry said. “Not to say we won’t use it in the future, but I don’t think we have. I had a bad experience trying to get paid on a player. You pay the premium, but it isn’t always easy to get paid.”

The way Henry chooses to approach insurance has been shaped by a case he spent years in court haggling over, in which Lloyd’s of London refused to pay when former Marlins pitcher Alex Fernandez was injured. Sox CEO/president Larry Lucchino also had an unappetizing experience when he was with the Padres and the insurance company was withholding payment in regards to Randy Myers’ case.

The philosophy would seem to explain the Red Sox’ desire in some case to protect themselves without the use of insurance when it came to some free agent contracts, such as J.D. Drew, John Lackey, and what was attempted in the case of Jason Bay. The the thinking is if there is some problems with a pre-existing ailment in the latter years of the contract than the financial structure would change.

According to Bay, the approached factored in two-fold when the Red Sox’ final offer was made. The outfielder said that not only did the Sox’ want to have the final year of the four-year contract proposal contingent on health, but he also relayed that the Sox would agree to get insurance but only if the player paid half (which would have come out to a total of $2 million).

“If the circumstances were right we would take insurance, but that adds another big level of complexity because you have deductibles,” Henry said. “You have arguments about what caused it.”

It is all part of a process in which free agents and the teams chasing them are searching for long-term security.

“The problem is that there have so many long-term contracts have been given to free agents that the expectations are now high and long. It’s an issue,” Henry said. “You know if you study these things, giving free agents long, long deals, you don’t necessarily get what you pay for in the back end. So it’s a concern.”

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