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Red Sox notes: Time ticking for Pablo Sandoval; Brock Holt could see a lot of LF; Pitchers being juggled

03.25.16 at 4:01 pm ET
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Pablo Sandoval

Pablo Sandoval

FORT MYERS, Fla. — The question to John Farrell was pretty cut and dried. The answer still left room for interpretation.

Is Pablo Sandoval still in the mix to start Opening Day on April 4?

“Not ruled out,” the Red Sox manager said.

And what did Sandoval say?

“I’m going to be where I want to be,” he noted prior to Friday night’s game. “I just going to keep maintaining. Try and be healthy. Get ready for playing in the games.”

After the Red Sox’ 6-3 win over the Pirates, Farrell said he expects Sandoval to be back in spring training games early next week.

Sandoval made some progress from his tight lower back issue Friday, both walking on the treadmill and playing catch with the training staff (under the watchful eye of chief physical therapist Dan Dyrek).

The third baseman will be scheduled to play catch again, Saturday, while adding in some ground balls.

The Red Sox still don’t, however, have any kind of timetable for the return of Sandoval, who felt the discomfort Wednesday after diving for a ball at third base Tuesday.

“Improved today,” said Farrell prior to his team’s game against the Pirates at JetBlue Park Friday. “Was able to get on the treadmill and do some walking. Until he can simulate body movements with fielding ground balls with the action and the movements to it, inside, that’s when we would get him out on the field to begin taking ground balls. We’re probably at least a couple of days away from that.”

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David Ortiz details how he wants final game as member of Red Sox to go

03.25.16 at 12:51 pm ET
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David Ortiz wants to win World Series this year, his final season. (Jonathan Dyer/USA Today Sports)

David Ortiz wants to win World Series this year, his final season. (Jonathan Dyer/USA Today Sports)

David Ortiz has announced he will retire after the 2016 season and the slugger wants to go out on top.

In an interview with WCVB’s Maria Stephanos, Ortiz detailed how he would like his final game as a member of the Red Sox to go.

“Hopefully my last game goes like this: Two outs, bottom of the ninth, Fenway Park, [Craig] Kimbrel pitching, strikeout, we win the World Series,” Ortiz said. “That is what I want in my last game.”

Ortiz, who turned 40 last November, admitted he will miss the game, but is at peace with his decision.

“That’s normal,” he said. “I’ve been doing this my whole life. One thing you have to remember is, it’s a short career. Listen, when you look at the career of Bobby Orr, when you look at the career of [Tom] Brady — all the great athletes, all those legends, you want those guys to continue to play because they are so much fun. But it doesn’t work that way.”

“I got peace,” Ortiz added.

As for what Ortiz might do after his career, he may not be going very far. Stephanos asked Ortiz if he will work for the Red Sox.

“Probably. Who knows,” Ortiz said with a smile. “It all depends, I’m not the owner. I’m just an employee.”

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You know what Travis Shaw is really good at? Throwing

03.25.16 at 12:25 pm ET
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Travis Shaw's throws from third base haven't been an issue. (Scott Novak/USA Today Sports)

Travis Shaw’s throws from third base haven’t been an issue. (Scott Novak/USA Today Sports)

FORT MYERS, Fla. — Travis Shaw is hip-deep in a competition to become the Red Sox’ Opening Day starting third baseman.

So when the conversation comes up about Shaw’s viability as an everyday third baseman comes up, the analysis usually turns to how well the 25-year-old might hit in the majors, and then perhaps his ability to field what has become his new position.

Few really talk about what should be an enormous part of the equation: Shaw’s throwing.

“I feel like I would categorize myself elite arm-wise in terms of accuracy for a first baseman,” Shaw said.

Judging by what he’s displayed so far in camp, it’s hard to argue. Of course, the caveat is that he is not playing first base.

So far, however, the talent has translated.

“It’s been kind of one of my strengths, accuracy from different angles,” Shaw said. “I probably recognized a couple of years ago playing first. I noticed a lot of my throws were unconventional to second, stuff you wouldn’t teach. Sidearm stuff. Off-balance throws. Still, every time they were right at the glove.

“It’s just more fearlessness with the arm. Some people are scared to do that, with a fear of making a mistake, but it’s something that has come natural. I really enjoy throwing the ball, kind of showing off my arm.”

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David Ortiz: ‘I never really had that kind of confidence coming from my GM like I have now with Dave [Dombrowski]’

03.25.16 at 12:11 pm ET
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David Ortiz

David Ortiz

David Ortiz frequently brings up issues of respect — usually when he feels he’s not getting enough. This time, however, it’s in a positive way.

Speaking with WEEI.com’s Rob Bradford, Ortiz said he likes the way he’s been treated by Dave Dombrowski, who took over as president of baseball operations late last season.

“He’s trying to make everybody happy, because they know when you have people happy, it’s easier to get things done,” Ortiz said. “Dombrowski is a guy with a lot of experience and he knows how to deal with players. The minute he got here last year, he pulled me to the side and he built my confidence. That’s something I don’t think we really ever had. I’ve been here for the past 14 years and I’m not saying everybody needs to be the same, but I never really had that kind of confidence coming from my GM like I have now with Dave.

“He wants to know. He wants a guy like me to tell him what we need and what we’re comfortable with so he can execute it. They know what we need, but when you have that conversation and you share ideas with your players, it makes your players feel better, more confident and more comfortable about things.

“It was pretty much my first time a GM in this organization pulled me to the side and said, ‘I want to talk to you. I want to see what your thoughts are about this, this, this and that.’ It never happened before.”

Previous general managers Theo Epstein and Ben Cherington oversaw a total of three World Series championships during Ortiz’s tenure, but apparently they did not give him as much face time as Dombrowski.

“He kept me in the loop and asked me questions,” Ortiz said of his current boss approaching him for a discussion. “He made me feel important, more than ever. That was something because this organization, as long as I’ve played here, they would make a move but never would give me a heads-up. Never happened.

“[Dombrowski] was going to put things together to make me go home happy. That motivates you and want to be aware of things.”

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What Pablo Sandoval’s injury means to Red Sox 3B competition

03.24.16 at 4:54 pm ET
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Travis Shaw (Kim Klement/USA Today Sports)

Despite Thursday’s 0-for-3 performance, Travis Shaw has had a stellar spring at the plate. (Kim Klement/USA Today Sports)

FORT MYERS, Fla. — News came down Thursday that Pablo Sandoval would be sidelined for the time being due to lower back stiffness.

It was a reality that might be altering Travis Shaw’s playing time, but not his mindset with 11 days until Opening Day.

“Still stay the course,” Shaw said when asked what Sandoval’s injury might mean to the competition for the starting third base job. “My goal has been the same since I got here. Obviously my mission is still the same no matter what. Just stay the course and make sure I’m ready to go April 4.”

Sandoval hurt his back making a diving play in the field Tuesday.

“The biggest thing is, we’ve got to get him back on the field first,” Red Sox manager John Farrell said of Sandoval. “See if there are any restrictions physically. We’ve got to get him right and that’s the next step in this, before anything solidifies before the opener.”

What it means in the short term is that Shaw will be entrenched at third base. He went  0-for-3 in the the Red Sox’ 4-1 win over the Mets on Thursday at JetBlue Park. (It was just the fifth time in 15 Grapefruit League games he has failed to reach base at least once, and he’s currently hitting .419.)

Time is ticking, however, with evaluations for the regular season coming to a close next week.

“In light of an injury, or in the situation of an injury, the decision is pretty much made for you,” Farrell said. “Now, depending on how long this goes … we still clearly have [Sandoval] in day-to-day status. Like I said, we’ve got to get him back on the field when he’s first available.”

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Sure looking like Roenis Elias is going to be reliever for Red Sox

03.24.16 at 4:28 pm ET
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Roenis Elias. (Kim Klement/USA Today Sports)

Roenis Elias appears headed for the bullpen. (Kim Klement/USA Today Sports)

FORT MYERS, Fla. — John Farrell won’t confirm it, but it sure looks like the Red Sox’ fifth start competition has sorted itself out.

Roenis Elias, who is competing with Steven Wright for the spot in the rotation until Eduardo Rodriguez returns from his knee injury, appeared out of the bullpen for a one-inning stint Thursday against the Mets.

Farrell said after his team’s 4-1 win that Elias’ next appearance also would be as a reliever, with the lefty slated to pitch Saturday.

But even with that plan, and Wright scheduled to start Sunday, the Red Sox manager is keeping his options open.

“I think in fairness to our staff and our team, we have to answer some of the potential questions that exist and just seeing how Roenis bounces back, that’s one of them,” Farrell said.

Despite having only made two major league relief appearances, 13 in the minors, and a short stint in the role while in Cuba, Elias has represented an intriguing option out of the bullpen.

With his variety of arm angles, a looping curve, and the ability to go multiple innings, the lefty would seem to be of some value to the big league team even if he weren’t to make the starting rotation.

“It doesn’t matter to me,” Elias said when asked if he had a preferred role, having made 49 major league starts over the past two seasons. “I just want to be on this team, helping this team win. If that entails being a relief pitcher then that’s what I’ll do. I’m just here to do whatever is asked of me, do my job, and do the best that I can.”

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With opt-out date looming, David Murphy plays waiting game

03.24.16 at 2:26 pm ET
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David Murphy's opt-out date is drawing near. (Steve Mitchell/USA Today Sports)

David Murphy’s opt-out date is drawing near. (Steve Mitchell/USA Today Sports)

FORT MYERS, Fla. — David Murphy hasn’t started a Grapefruit League game since Sunday, but he remains secure in his lot in life.

Sunday, the day Murphy can opt-out of his contract, the outfielder is going to find out if he will remain with the Red Sox or if he will be moving on. (The 34-year-old told WEEI.com’s John Tomase that he will not accept a minor league assignment and might retire if no big league team comes calling.)

“I’m just going about my business and waiting to hear something,” Murphy said Thursday morning. “I think in most cases in a situation where an out date is created in a contract, most teams are going to want to take it down to the wire because you never know what might happen with injuries. I’m not expecting to hear anything before the 27th.

“I came in here, I’ve been around the big leagues a while, they basically knew what I was getting and my spring has basically been me in a small sample size. I’ve done pretty well against righties, I haven’t done a whole lot in a very small sample size against lefties. I had to hit the ground running getting here a bit late and it kind of took a while to start feeling things, and I’m still kind of fighting through some things up there.”

Murphy’s best path to a spot on the Red Sox would be if the team chose to send Rusney Castillo to the minor leagues, leaving the team with a possible left field platoon between the left-handed-hitting veteran and righty-hitting Chris Young.

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Red Sox notes: Pablo Sandoval sidelined with back issue; Koji Uehara dealing with soreness; bullpen taking shape

03.24.16 at 10:11 am ET
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Pablo Sandoval

Pablo Sandoval

FORT MYERS, Fla. — With just 11 days until Opening Day, the third base competition might be getting a bit clearer.

Pablo Sandoval won’t be playing for the next few days due to lower back tightness, an ailment that cropped up when he made a diving stop in Jupiter against the Marlins on Tuesday.

“He’s going to be down for a couple of days, just trying to get back,” said Red Sox manager John Farrell. “He’s going to be unavailable on a day-to-day status right now.”

Travis Shaw got the start Thursday against the Mets, hitting sixth behind Hanley Ramirez.

Farrell didn’t believe that the back issue would lead to a disabled list stint for Sandoval at this point.

— Another injury setting back the Red Sox a bit is the general soreness being felt by Koji Uehara, who has pitched in just two Grapefruit League games.

“He’s going to be more aggressive on flat ground today. Bullpen hopefully tomorrow, and then we look to get him in a game following that,” said Farrell, who doesn’t anticipate Uehara not being ready for the regular season.

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Read More: Koji Uehara, Pablo Sandoval, Roenis Elias, travis shaw

Red Sox announce series of roster moves, including optioning Henry Owens to Triple-A Pawtucket

03.24.16 at 9:44 am ET
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Henry Owens

Henry Owens

The Red Sox are trimming down their roster as the start of the season nears.

The team announced pitchers Heath Hembree, Brian Johnson and Henry Owens have been optioned to Triple-A Pawtucket. Also, outfielder Ryan LaMarre, right-handed pitcher Roman Mendez and first baseman Sam Travis were reassigned to minor league camp.

With Owens being optioned to Triple-A it means the fifth starter’s job is down to Steven Wright and Roenis Elias.

In five games this spring, Owens has allowed eight earned runs in 13 1/3 innings. Travis was one of the Red Sox’ best hitters, as he was 15-for-28 in 17 games.

For more Red Sox news, visit weei.com/redsox.

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It was only minor league game, but for Rick Porcello, Wednesday’s outing hit spot

03.23.16 at 4:01 pm ET
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Rick Porcello

Rick Porcello

FORT MYERS, Fla. — Wednesday marked the only off day of the Grapefruit League season for the Red Sox. Rick Porcello (and a few others), however, had to work.

The pitcher didn’t mind.

Pitching to minor leaguers on the back field at Fenway South at JetBlue Park, Porcello turned in his best start of the exhibition season. The righty threw 96 pitches, allowing an unearned run on four hits while striking out eight and walking one over six innings.

“I felt pretty good,” Porcello told reporters. “I felt like I definitely was getting up there in pitch count, but it didn’t really affect my command or anything. It was good to work through that many pitches. Arm strength is there, and the stamina feels like it’s there.”

Porcello had struggled for much of the Grapefruit League season, having allowed 12 runs on 19 hits over nine innings.

But with two starts still left before his first regular-season outing, Porcello hopes to use Wednesday’s work as a springboard to finding the rhythm he locked in on for the final two months of the 2015 campaign.

“Today was definitely the best it’s felt so far,” said Porcello, who teamed up with catcher Christian Vazquez. “It’s kind of what I’ve been working toward. I was definitely happy with the way I threw the ball, especially later on.”

Joe Kelly is slated to pitch Thursday at JetBlue Park against the Mets, with Roenis Elias following.

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