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Red Sox Opening Day lineup: With Shane Victorino out, Mike Carp starts in left

03.31.14 at 11:00 am ET
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Mike Carp (AP)

Mike Carp will be pressed into service Monday. (AP)

BALTIMORE — With Shane Victorino landing on the disabled list on Monday morning, Mike Carp will get an unexpected Opening Day start in left field for the Red Sox against the Orioles. Carp hit .216 with a .286 OBP, .471 slugging mark and three homers in 22 games (51 at-bats) for the Red Sox in spring training. The left-handed hitter has struggled, however, against Orioles righty Chris Tillman, posting a 1-for-11 mark with one walk and one strikeout against the towering Baltimore pitcher. Victorino’s absence could prove palpable, as he enjoys considerable success against the O’s starter, having posted a .364/.417/.636 line against Tillman.

Carp will bat sixth and play left, resulting in a realignment of both the batting order and defense. With anticipated two-hole hitter Victorino out of the lineup, the Red Sox are moving their anticipated three through six hitters up a spot in the batting order. Meanwhile, leadoff man Daniel Nava will cross from left to right, with Carp in left.

This is Carp’s second career Opening Day start. He will hope it goes considerably better than his first, when he suffered a shoulder subluxation while diving for a ball against the A’s in 2012, resulting in nearly five weeks on the DL and a season in which he never had his swing.

For complete batter vs. starting pitcher matchups, click here. For comprehensive Red Sox Opening Day coverage, visit weei.com/redsox.

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Red Sox place Shane Victorino on DL with Grade 1 hamstring strain, call up Jackie Bradley Jr.

03.31.14 at 10:47 am ET
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Shane Victorino will open the year on the DL. (AP)

Shane Victorino will open the year on the DL. (AP)

BALTIMORE — No one said defending a title would be easy.

After an MRI on Shane Victorino‘s injured right hamstring on Sunday afternoon, the Red Sox elected to place their anticipated starting right fielder on the disabled list with a Grade 1 hamstring strain (the mildest grade). While he would be eligible to come off the DL as early as April 14 — after the first 13 scheduled games of the year — the Red Sox suggest that they will wait before determining whether he’ll be back at that point.

“It’€™s going to require some time down. We’€™ll have a better read on his potential availability, I would say, probably seven to 10 days into the 15-day DL stint and see how he responds to treatment from that point,” said manager John Farrell. “The overall projected date of return, it will be when he’€™s ready to go. Whether that’€™s 15 days or beyond remains to be seen.”

Victorino will need a rehab assignment before his activation from the DL. Though he only played 10 spring training games in the Grapefruit League, Farrell suggested that he won’t necessarily need a protracted rehab assignment before re-joining the big league team.

“I thought he was swinging the bat better this spring than at any point last year,” said Farrell. “Focusing on the one side of the plate, as compact a swing as he has, the timing is usually good with Vic — he’€™s one of the guys that needs fewer at-bats on the spectrum of getting ready than maybe some others. We’€™ll see how he goes through the rehab assignment when he’€™s coming back.” Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: jackie bradley jr., Shane Victorino,

Ken Rosenthal on D&C: Sox will have issue if Shane Victorino is banged up

03.31.14 at 9:52 am ET
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Ken Rosenthal

Ken Rosenthal

Fox Sports baseball reporter Ken Rosenthal joined Dennis & Callahan on Monday to talk about the state of the Red Sox on Opening Day. To listen to the full interview, visit the Dennis & Callahan audio on demand page.

Red Sox manager John Farrell told reporters on Sunday that Shane Victorino was in Boston for an MRI on his right hamstring and will have the leg examined early Monday.

“Obviously Victorino is a huge part of what they did last year, and his performance was probably the big surprise because, remember, that contract was not well received when he signed it,” Rosenthal said. “People thought that he was in decline, including myself.

“He played at an extremely high level, played great defense in right field and obviously was a postseason hero as well. If he is not right, yes, something is wrong, and with [Jackie Bradley Jr.] unproven and Bradley perhaps being no more in his career other than perhaps a fourth outfielder, you’ve got some questions there.

“Now, they’ve got depth with [Mike] Carp and [Daniel] Nava. They can do some things, and that’s one of the things I really like about them, but at the same time, Victorino is a huge part. We saw that last year, and if he’s banged up all year, and he’€™s not right — and he can be like that because he is somewhat older, plays hard and bangs himself up — that’s going to be an issue.”

If Victorino has an injury-plagued season, Boston could feel the loss of former Red Sox outfielder Jacoby Ellsbury more than the team originally thought.

Jacoby Ellsbury is a really, really good player,” Rosenthal said. “We all know that. Maybe he was a little bit underappreciated. He had the injury controversy that one year and of course as a Scott Boras client, most fans knew he was going to leave and I get that always tempers enthusiasm for a player. At the same time, he was outstanding at his best. When he was hurt, clearly not as outstanding and not the player we all talk about.

“If Victorino in particular is banged up — and this is speculation, right — if he plays 80-100 games instead of 130-140, then you might see people say, ‘If only we had Jacoby,’ but I don’€™t know that people are going to look at it that way. I don’€™t know if the club officials will look at it that way because the reality is it’s not like they were going to pay Jacoby $153 million, everyone knew it was coming, I believe.”

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Read More: Jacoby Ellsbury, Jon Lester, Ken Rosenthal, Shane Victorino

Monday’s Red Sox-Orioles matchups: Jon Lester vs. Chris Tillman

03.31.14 at 6:41 am ET
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For the fourth consecutive year, Jon Lester will get the nod for Opening Day as he faces off against the Orioles and Chris Tillman in Baltimore.

Lester comes into the 2014 season after posting a 15-8 record with a 3.75 ERA and a WHIP of 1.29 during the Red Sox World Series run last year. The 30-year-old lefty finished off the year with five appearances during the postseason when he gave up a mere six runs in 34 2/3 innings.

“He’€™s become a very good pitcher at a young age,” Red Sox manager John Farrell said. “And the early trajectory of his career, for a guy that’€™s made that number of starts for a franchise as storied as this, without having gotten to free agency yet, all those things combine. It speaks volumes for a talented guy at a very early age.”

Despite dealing with contract talks over the past few months, Lester had one of the better spring trainings of his career as he posted a 0.71 ERA with a 0.79 WHIP in three starts. The team and Lester announced on Saturday that while talks of a contract extension were going amicably, they would table the discussion for the time being. Lester is heading into the $13 million option year on what was originally a five-year, $30 million deal that he agreed to after the 2008 season.

Lester last faced the Orioles on Sept. 28, 2013, in a game the Red Sox ultimately lost 6-5. The southpaw gave up four earned runs on nine hits over five innings of action and received a no-decision in the start. Overall, Lester has a 15-3 record against the Orioles with a 2.94 ERA over the course of 25 starts.

In contrast to Lester, Tillman is making just his first Opening Day start after having one of the best seasons of his career in 2013. The 25-year-old righty pitched to a 16-7 record with a 3.71 ERA and a WHIP of 1.22 in 33 starts. Before turning in an All-Star and ace-worthy performance in 2013, Tillman had just 16 wins over the previous four years combined.

Tillman, who is in his sixth season with Baltimore, made five starts during the spring and accumulated a 4.67 ERA with a 1.50 WHIP. He missed one appearance because of a bout with the flu.

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Read More: Chris Tillman, Jon Lester,

Jonny Gomes on setting tone in opener: ‘We know the tone’

03.31.14 at 2:38 am ET
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Jonny Gomes

Jonny Gomes

BALTIMORE — With the Red Sox opening their 2014 regular season Monday, Jonny Gomes was asked to reflect back on the importance of the team’€™s previous Opening Day.

On that day — April 1, 2013 — the Sox kicked off what would ultimately be a world championship run with an 8-2 win over the Yankees at Yankee Stadium.

Coming off a disastrous 69-win season in 2012, the game meant more than just one of 162. According to Gomes, it was a feeling that paved the way for the team’€™s confidence heading into Monday.

“I think this year is a smidge different,” the outfielder said. “Last year we wanted to set the tone, and we do want to set the tone again but we know what the tone sounds like. We know the tone.

“I think it’€™s a positive we have a smidge of a head-start than we did last year. It’€™s not as much setting the tone as continuing the tone that was set.”

Just about everything that the Red Sox hoped to accomplish in that game in New York came to fruition for John Farrell‘€™s team.

Jon Lester pitched a solid five innings, the top of the Red Sox order (Jacoby Ellsbury, Shane Victorino and Dustin Pedroia) combined for seven hits, the bullpen combined for four innings of one-hit ball, and Gomes helped supply an aggressiveness on the basepaths, scoring from second on an infield hit.

Next thing they knew, they had won 20 of their first 28 games.

“Jonny Gomes scoring from second base was an extension of what we worked on a lot in spring training, and that’s how important baserunning is to us,” Farrell said. “If there are situations that start [Monday] and call for that, I’m hopeful and confident that we’ll respond as we’ve drilled daily in spring training.”

“It’€™s what we needed. But we just got thrown right to the wolves. Red Sox-Yankees rivalry, at their place, not ours, CC [Sabathia], the best of the best, and we fired on all aspects of the game,” Gomes said. “We pitched, we ran and we played defense. We set the bar high, so we wanted to continue that. We didn’t want to look back and say, ‘We wish we would play like we did Opening Day.’ I think the main thing is just tempo and energy. It’€™s just carrying over from last year.”

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Read More: Jon Lester, Jonny Gomes,

Jon Lester talks contract (again): ‘If I use that as motivation, I’ve got problems’

03.30.14 at 4:40 pm ET
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BALTIMORE — While some of the questions directed at Jon Lester Sunday afternoon at Camden Yards focused on the lefty making his fourth straight Opening Day start on Monday, there continued to be a line of inquiry having to do with Lester’€™s contract status.

Here are Lester’€™s responses to all contract-related conversation.

On if it’s difficult to not think about: “I wouldn’t say completely leave your mind. I mean, it’€™s kind of like having the elephant in the room — we all know the circumstances that are there this year. I would like to think I’€™m good about dealing with outside things. When I’€™m at the park I’€™m thinking about what I need to do that day to get better and worry about the other stuff when I’€™m done. It is what it is, I can’€™t change it, it’€™s something that’€™s going to be there and there are going to be questions, and I’€™ll have to give answers but it’€™s something we’€™ll deal with along the way.”

On comparisons to Max Scherzer‘€™s situation: “Different circumstances. I feel like they kind of put an exclamation point on that, they said, ‘Hey I’€™m going to free agency’ — I haven’€™t said that, I haven’€™t implied that to Ben [Cherington], or John [Henry] or Larry [Lucchino], any of those guys, I think it’€™s a little bit different situation. Like I said, you guys asked me if I would accept that deal. Every situation is different, every negotiation is different, every person is different, so until it’€™s there in front of you with a pen to sign it, or not presented to you and you have to go the other way, then like I said, we’€™ll deal with that when it comes.”

On if the contract will be motivation: “If I use that for motivation, I’ve got problems. That’€™s not what motivates me to go out and pitch and get better. Money has never driven me, I love baseball, I love to play, so what drives me is to be the best pitcher I can and go out and help my team win.”

On if it will be an issue as the season progresses: “To really be honest, nothing’€™s changed. It goes back to what I said earlier about worrying about the next start. I’€™m focused on tomorrow, and five days from that, worry about that one. That’€™s the way I’ve always tried to live my career. If I start thinking about the All-Star break, ‘Maybe we’€™ll start talking again,’ or start worrying about the offseason and possibly being a free agent — like I said, I’€™m worried about the wrong things. That’€™s kind of how I try to live my life: What do I have to do today? The next day comes, what do I have to do today. I think if you take that approach, at least for me, that’€™s the way I think. I’€™m a very black and white thinker. That works. That’€™s the way I approached last year and every other year and that’€™s the way I’€™m going to approach this year.’€™’€™

On how things were left with the Red Sox: “I think you can take that really any way you want to. Is it disappointing? Sure. Is it disappointing for them? Probably. But that’€™s just negotiation. Like I’ve said before, and Ben, I’€™m sure he’€™ll say the same thing. It’€™s not like we’€™re hammering our heads against each other. We’€™re in a good place on both sides. Both sides have been very reasonable about what we’ve been talking about. There’€™s no animosity on my side towards them, I would hope the same comes from them. Yes, disappointed it didn’t get done, but we all have to be realistic about it and understand that it’€™s a process and that it’€™s going to take some time. I know that, they know that, and like I said before the other day when Ben made the comments about it, it was more of a joint thing — we talked about it the day before and agreed upon what should be said on both sides. We’€™re all in a good place. We’€™ll see what happens. Let those guys deal with it, and I’€™ll play baseball.”

Read More: Jon Lester, Red Sox,

Red Sox’ decision on Shane Victorino won’t come until Monday

03.30.14 at 1:05 pm ET
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BALTIMORE — Speaking prior to the Red Sox‘ workout inside Camden Yards, manager John Farrell explained that Shane Victorino would be returning to Boston Sunday in order to have an MRI on his right hamstring before being examined early Monday.

Farrell said that if Victorino’s hamstring checked out OK, the outfielder would be able to return to Baltimore in time to participate in Opening Day (a 3 p.m. start), if needed.

“No word on Shane. He’s en route back to Boston right now,” Farrell said. “He’ll go through an MRI this afternoon and then a full work-up and exam tomorrow morning. So there’s no roster decision. There’s no update to give you at this point.”

Due to Major League Baseball regulations, the Red Sox aren’t allowed to have a non-roster player on the premises as a back-up plan. Teams’ 25-man rosters were due at 3 p.m. Sunday. “We can’t have someone hanging around,” Farrell noted.

It is assumed that if Victorino would need to go on the 15-day disabled list, Jackie Bradley Jr. would serve as his replacment.

Victorino aggravated his hamstring during the Red Sox’ final spring training game, Saturday. He has also dealt with thumb, back, calf and side issues throughout camp.

“Shane’s situation is going to be one of the challenges and things thrown our way that we don’t know what is going to come up against us, or the challenges that we face,” Farrell said. “As long as we remain resilient, as we did a year ago, and face those challenges as a team I feel we’ll be in a very good place and position as we go through this journey of 2014.”

Read More: John Farrell, Red Sox, Shane Victorino,
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