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John Farrell not worried about David Ortiz’ slow spring training

03.20.14 at 4:47 pm ET
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FORT MYERS, Fla. — A few spring trainings back, after a slow start, David Ortiz was asked if he was concerned about the exhibition season slump.

“There’s a reason they don’t put spring training stats on the back of baseball cards,” Ortiz quipped.

The designated hitter has seemingly earned the benefit of the doubt when it comes to preparing for the regular season. The latest example was in 2013 when he didn’t get a single training at-bats, played in a few Triple-A games and proceeded to turn out one of his finest seasons.

The downturn this March has come in the form of two hits in 30 at-bats (with two walks). Ortiz hasn’t hit above .250 in spring training since 2006.

“I’€™m not concerned with what David has done through 30 at-bats,” said Red Sox manager John Farrell prior to his team’s game with the Yankees at JetBlue Park Thursday night. “You watch the BP, the bat speed is clearly there. The power is there. He’€™s seeing pitches. He’€™s going to get more everyday at-bats. He’€™s in there tonight, obviously. He’€™ll get more everyday at-bats starting on Sunday through the remainder of camp. I have no concern with David.

“I’€™ve had multiple conversations with David. If there was a need for more at-bats, or wanting to do things a little bit differently. He’€™s had spring trainings that are so drastically different. When you look at the last two years, what he went through last year when there were no at-bats. I think he got 10-15 at-bats in Triple-A and had one of the better years of his career. He’€™s getting in shape. He’€™s seeing pitches on a regular basis. Personally, I think he’€™ll be fine once we get through the end of next week.”

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Ryan Lavarnway worrying about power production, not trade rumors

03.19.14 at 10:51 pm ET
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Ryan Lavarnway

Ryan Lavarnway

FORT MYERS, Fla. —  The Red Sox haven’€™t talked to Ryan Lavarnway about trade rumors. And he doesn’€™t expect them to.

“I know that I have no control over that,” said Lavarnway, who ‘€“ according to a CSNNE.com report — is being shopped by the Red Sox. “I’€™m happy to play for the Red Sox. This is the only organization I’€™ve ever known. They gave me my opportunity and they’€™ve been really good to me. I would love to stay here. Then again, if there are opportunities, we’€™ll see where that goes.”

But the Sox have made one thing perfectly clear.

“For the first time they pointed out that hitting for power is going to be really important for me,”€ Lavarnway said. ‘€œThat was stated more clearly this spring training then it ever has been.”

When asked if the message included the suggestion that advancement in the organization would be contingent on increasing the extra-base capabilities, Lavarnway said, ‘€œThey just said it’€™s important.’€

The catcher/first baseman/designated hitter has evidently taken the mandate to heart. Heading into Thursday, he has totaled two homers, a double, a .929 OPS and .345 batting average thus far this spring.

It’€™s in image that is reminiscent of the production turned in by Lavarnway during a 2011 minor league season in which he totaled 32 home runs an a .939 OPS between Double- and Triple-A.

“€œMy swing feels strong. I feel strong. I feel like I have good direction with my approach and I’€™m swinging at the right pitches. I’€™m happy where I’€™m at,”€ he said.

“€œWorking with [Red Sox hitting coach Greg Colbrunn] Colby and [assistant Red Sox hitting coach Victor Rodriguez] Vic and [Triple-A hitting coach] Dave Joppie, these are guys who has seen me have success in the past, especially Vic and Joppie. They were with me when I was at my best in 2011 and they’€™re helping me get back to do some of the things I was doing then that I maybe didn’€™t necessarily know I was doing. I think I’€™ve learned a lot about my swing the last couple of years, what works and what doesn’€™t.”

Lavarnway has split his time almost evenly between playing catcher, his new position at first, and DH.

With the newfound flexibility, along with a better understanding of what might make each at-bat work, Lavarnway there has been no better time to garner a major league opportunity.

But with the Red Sox organizational catching depth, he also understands there are no certainties when it comes to what awaits in ‘€™14.

“In a perfect world, but I don’€™t have any control over that other than influencing decisions with my play,”€ said Lavarnway of cementing himself in the majors. “€œI think it’€™s safe to say with each passing year, I’€™ve felt more prepared than the year before. I feel good where I’€™m at, my swing, my catching and first base is coming along quicker than I expected.”

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Jake Peavy pitches into fifth, Xander Bogaerts collects two hits as Pirates beat Red Sox

03.19.14 at 10:01 pm ET
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Jake Peavy looked strong, if not pinpoint sharp, in his second start of the spring. Through four scoreless innings, the right-hander struck out four, walking one and allowing just two first-inning hits in facing 16 batters.

Peavy was throwing hard from the start Wednesday night in a 4-2 loss to the Pittsburgh Pirates at JetBlue Park. He retired the first two batters of the game before allowing two hard-hit balls, a single by Travis Snider and a ground-rule double to right. Peavy bounced back to strike out Tony Sanchez to work out of trouble.

“I felt good,” Peavy said. “In spring training you’re trying to figure out your body. Maybe it was going a little bit fast there early but things fell into place and I was able to calm down and get some good work in. I still have a lot of work to do. Late [in the outing], we tried to work on some offspeed pitches that weren’t even close really to where they need to be. We have a lot of work to do but another step in the right direction.”

Peavy was touching 93 MPH on the radar gun with his fastball several times on the night. The Red Sox starter said he was throwing a tad too hard all night and was fighting to find command on the corners with his secondary pitches, especially his changeup.

“I really don’t want to be there at this point in time,” Peavy said of the velocity. “I was just excited. First night game, you just get excited. It’s fun to compete and it’s fun when you don’t have a team you’re worried about facing or showing too much. You can let it all hang out there, and I was excited to do that really for the first time and just a little too amped up. But I feel fine. It’s going to be fine.

“My breaking ball feels really good, cutter same way but the changeup, I’m in between the split and the changeup. I hadn’t used my changeup because of the right [ring] finger issue. I haven’t been able to develop that pitch any where close to what I need.”

As for his left index finger, sliced in a fish carving accident early in camp, Peavy said he was back to wearing his pitcher’s glove and felt comfortable.

“Everything’s good,” he said. “We wrapped it up and other than being a little bit swollen it’s almost completely healed. It’s not an issue.”

But on the third pitch of the fifth, Peavy left a 2-0 changeup in the middle of the plate to Travis Ishikawa and the Pirates designated hitter crushed the pitch over the retired numbers in right for his second homer of the spring.

“I was pretty stubborn in throwing it and throwing some bad ones and finally threw one for a strike and it got hit a long way,” Peavy said.

Peavy bounced back with a strike out of Clint Barmes before Jaff Decker drilled a Peavy pitch off the scoreboard in left, above the leaping Jonny Gomes, who crashed back-first into the Monster. Peavy got Jose Tabata to fly out to Shane Victorino in right for the second out before manager John Farrell came out to replace him with Andrew Miller. The lefty fanned Travis Snider to strand Decker at second to end the fifth.

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Wednesday notes: Ramping up Grady Sizemore, Koji Uehara, Junichi Tazawa, Xander Bogaerts gets glove love, taking best available pitcher

03.19.14 at 5:07 pm ET
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Grady Sizemore takes a lead in a Triple-A spring game against the Orioles. (Mike Petraglia/WEEI.com)

Grady Sizemore takes a lead in a Triple-A spring game against the Orioles. (Mike Petraglia/WEEI.com)

FORT MYERS, Fla. — The Red Sox are about to learn just how ready Grady Sizemore is to ramp up for the regular season.

Manager John Farrell announced before Wednesday’s game with the Pirates that the man battling for a starting center field job with the defending World Series champs will play five times in six days and will play five times next week. This comes after Sizemore had three hits and looked good at the plate again on Wednesday in a minor league game against the Orioles.

Farrell didn’t get a chance to see Sizemore but heard good reports from the coaching staff that was on hand, including Double-A hitting coach Rich Gedman.

“I got the report and talking to him afterwards, he came out fine,” Farrell said. “He’€™s scheduled to go hopefully a full nine innings here [Thursday] night.”

Sizemore will start in center against the Yankees on Thursday night, get Friday off then play Saturday, Sunday and Monday. Sizemore is expected to play five times next week before a decision is made as to whether to take him north with the team.

“Next week we’€™re hopeful to have him play five times,” Farrell said. “That’€™s, there’€™s been a pretty well thought-out plan to the increase in volume. We’€™re going to take every available day to gather as much information.

“€œWe’€™re getting close to three in a row here soon. The needle still points to the north.”

Farrell quickly added that by needle, he means Sizemore is making progress every day he steps on the field, not that he will be on a plane headed for Baltimore and then Boston as the season starts.

The biggest difficulty right now for the staff and Sizemore is getting a feel for if his game action is enough to make a determination on his readiness.

‘€œ[It is] difficult relative to the situation,” Farrell said. “We’€™d like to have a crystal ball. When we signed Grady and brought him in, we knew there was going to be a number of different questions to be answered. He’€™s answered some of those. We also look at it from a big picture perspective and what gives us the best possibility to give us a productive player over the long run. that includes a gradual buildup.

“And how we get to that is, that’€™s what we’€™re still working through. Part of that is going to be accomplished in spring training and then we’€™ve got to really look at the set of combinations as I mentioned on if we get into the start of the season where it’€™s four or five days a week, that presents some unique challenges.”

Farrell was asked if there’s anything physically that would rule Sizemore out for the opener March 31 in Baltimore.

“We’€™ll probably have a better read on that in another 10 days,” Farrell said.

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Mike Petraglia, Rob Bradford on Grady Sizemore, Craig Breslow and Xander Bogaerts

03.19.14 at 5:02 pm ET
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FORT MYERS, Fla. — WEEI.com’s Mike Petraglia and Rob Bradford detail Wednesday’s news on Grady Sizemore, which includes Red Sox manager John Farrell announcing that the outfielder will play three straight games this weekend and five in six days as he makes a move to win the starting job in center field.

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Grady Sizemore collects three hits in minor league game: ‘I still have to prove I’m the guy’

03.19.14 at 3:05 pm ET
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FORT MYERS, Fla. — Grady Sizemore continued his red-hot spring on Wednesday, this time in a Triple-A spring game outside JetBlue Park.

Sizemore collected three hits in four at-bats over seven innings during Pawtucket’s game against the Norfolk Tides, Baltimore’s Triple-A affiliate.

Sizemore blooped a double to shallow left in his first at-bat in the first inning. He slowed around first base as the left fielder dove for the ball but then accelerated toward second once he saw the ball was not caught.

“Every day has been better and better,” Sizemore said after the Triple-A game. “Every day seems to be a little bit stronger and the body seems to be reacting a little bit faster each week and I’m just trying to build off that.

“I didn’t know how the body was going to hold up, on a day to day [basis], or if I was going to be able to push it every day, and so far it’s allowed me to kind of keep upping the volume and pushing the intensity. I still don’t feel like I’ve reached that ceiling where I went too far. As long as I’m there, I’m happy.”

Sizemore said he’s not thinking about whether he’s ready to break camp with the team in a week.

“I’m not looking at it that way. I think it’s just trying to get back into shape, get conditioned, get the body feeling right and get the timing right,” Sizemore said. “It’s one of those things where I still have to earn a spot. I still have to prove I can play every day and still have to prove I’m the guy.”

The Red Sox didn’t get much of an opportunity to evaluate Sizemore in the field as his only chance came when he fielded a double in the gap in right-center early in the game. Defense is an area where Sizemore says he’d like to see a greater comfort level.

“Everything feels good but I still feel like there’s a lot of room for improvement,” Sizemore said. “Just getting breaks, getting a better first step and feeling more explosive and feeling more explosive and feeling that first step. I’m happy where it’s at but I’d like a little more improvement.”

Sizemore drove a slider to right field in the third for a single and singled on a two-strike count in the fifth before grounding out to second base to end the seventh. He came out of the game and headed to the Red Sox clubhouse with training staff to cool down. He is expected to start Thursday night in center against the Yankees.

Sizemore did not attempt to steal a base in his three appearances on the bases.

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John Farrell ‘a little surprised’ Robinson Cano no longer in pinstripes as Red Sox skipper assesses Yankees

03.19.14 at 10:46 am ET
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David Ortiz (left) and Robinson Cano share a laugh before a 2013 Red Sox-Yankees game. (AP)

David Ortiz (left) and Robinson Cano share a laugh before a 2013 Red Sox-Yankees game. (AP)

TAMPA — For all the talk Tuesday about Jacoby Ellsbury, there is a player absent from the Yankee clubhouse this season that could play just as big a factor this year in the Red Sox-Yankees dynamic.

Robinson Cano signed with the Mariners in December for 10 years and $240 million. The second baseman who broke in with the Yankees in 2005, is a lifetime .304 hitter, with a .509 slugging percentage and a career .860 OPS. Against the Red Sox, he hammered 21 homers, just over 10 percent of his career 205 total, and his other lifetime marks against Boston (.308/.356/.502) are right at his career averages.

“I know one thing, I’m glad we don’t have to face him 19 times,” Red Sox manager John Farrell said. “From across the field, he was the type of type of player you thought would be in one place for his entire career, as dominant an offensive player, as dominant a player as he’s been, we have full respect of the player. You never know how things are going to transpire. Maybe a little surprised he’s not in a Yankee uniform.”

Cano had a root canal on March 5 but time will tell if the Yankees will need one for their aging infield.

The Yankees are going with the low-budget alternative to start the season at second base in Brian Roberts. Kelly Johnson is a second base/third base option, Mark Teixeira is at first and Derek Jeter will start his final season at short. And, of course, Stephen Drew is still out on the market.

“They’ve got tremendous resources,” Farrell added. “This division is going to be difficult, top to bottom. Teams might go about it differently based on their own model. From the outside, you anticipated some changes. To what extent, that remains to be seen. A lot of new names. A lot of really good players.”

The Yankees decided to spend $471 million on longterm investments in the offseason on four players – namely catcher Brian McCann, starting pitcher Masahiro Tanaka, outfielder Carlos Beltran and Jacoby Ellsbury.

“I don’t know if there’s any one guy that stands out more than another,” Farrell said. “I think the one thing that kind of jumps out is the pace in which they got Jacoby. As quick as they moved to sign him, that was the one thing that was [surprising]. That offer obviously had to be so much greater than anything Jacoby was fielding, not knowing anything. To make that decision that quick in the offseason, obviously they were very aggressive going towards him.”

Ellsbury signed for $153 million for seven years in early December, just over a month after the center fielder won his second World Series ring in seven seasons. The media attention this week, with the Red Sox playing the Yankees twice, falls naturally on Ellsbury.

“I don’t know if we have any way of knowing what an individual player’s market is going to be,” Farrell said of his former center fielder. “He was a good player so he was going to draw the attention of a lot big market teams because he’s in that class of player.”

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