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Daniel Nava on M&M: ‘I don’t think I’ve seen [Grady Sizemore] take an at-bat where he’s seemed overmatched’

03.14.14 at 3:16 pm ET
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Daniel Nava

Daniel Nava

Red Sox left fielder Daniel Nava joined Mut & Merloni on Friday to discuss center fiedler Grady Sizemore and spring training. To hear the interview, go to the Mut & Merloni audio on demand page.

Nava and Sizemore both trained with Mark Verstegen at Athletes’ Performance in Arizona during the offseason.

“I didn’€™t see a guy struggling at all,” Nava said of his time working out at the same facility with Sizemore. “He’€™s quiet, but he works extremely hard and [he's] extremely diligent. He gets after his work in a very professional way, which is kind of what you would expect given his track record. Up until those injuries, he played the game right. He played the game hard, and he’€™s very good at it.”

So far during spring training, Nava said Sizemore appears to be right on track despite missing two seasons.

“His instincts are right back almost like he’€™s been playing the whole time,” Nava said. “He had a ball in the dirt and it may have scooted away from the catcher’s foot, but was right in front of him and [Sizemore] took that base like he never missed a beat.

“Everyone understands the timing at the plate is going to take a little time, but the instincts are still there. He still has that stuff and you can’t fake that. That’s something you have or you don’€™t have, and I don’t think I’ve seen him take an at-bat where he’€™s seemed overmatched at all.”

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Jake Peavy breaks out his Koji Uehara splitter in first Grapefruit League start

03.13.14 at 2:27 pm ET
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FORT MYERS, Fla. — Making his Grapefruit League debut for this spring training, Red Sox starter Jake Peavy overcame a slow start to turn in a solid three inning against the Twins at Hammond Stadium Thursday afternoon.

The showing was part of what turned into a 4-3 win over the Red Sox over Minnesota.

Peavy — whose progress has been slowed by a fishing knife-induced cut on his left hand — escaped a first-and-third jam in the first. He then settled down, ultimately making it into the fourth inning before exiting after walking the first batter of the frame, Josh Willingham. Willingham would eventually score on an Andrew Miller wild pitch, resulting in the only charged run against the Red Sox‘ starter.

The righty finished his outing giving up two walks and two hits, while striking out a pair. Peavy threw 53 pitches (31 strikes).

But the big news from the outing was that Peavy threw a boatload of splitters, a pitch he only started throwing this spring after witnessing the mastery of the pitch by Red Sox closer Koji Uehara.

“I would have done it regardless. But that pitch is Koji Uehara,” said Peavy, who also got help with the offering from pitching coach Juan Nieves and bullpen coach Dana Lavangie. “That is him. If he doesn’t have that pitch, he’s not him. It’s encouraging. I thought to myself, ‘Why would I try? So that’s where it came from.”

He added regarding Uehara’s tutelage, “He showed me how he holds it. Other than that, there’s no much he can do. He tried to tell me some things he thinks about while he’s doing. It’s not going to be Koji Uehara’s split-finger, don’t get me wrong, by any means. Why would you not try to see if you can expand your game? It’s something I felt like we’re going to use a good bit and have as a weapon. But if you can’t work on it here, where are you going to work on it? We certainly did that today. I threw way too many balls, but I knew that going in.”

Peavy had not only been slowed this spring by the finger cut, but earlier in the camp his progress had been derailed by tendonitis in his right ring finger. But the earlier injury has healed up, and after making some adjustments to catching the ball with his glove hand (he is using his normal glove), the pitcher seems to be back on schedule.

If all goes well from here on in this month, Peavy said he is right on the mark to make what figures to be a start in the Fenway Park home opener against the Brewers.

“[Jon] Lester went out and threw three innings. Peavy threw three innings. So he’€™s not that far behind,” said Red Sox catcher A.J. Pierzynski. “I think he’€™s where he needs to be. I think obviously he would like to get out there and pitch more. But I think now that he’€™s been out there, he’€™ll be fine. I just have to keep reminding myself I can’€™t throw the ball back hard to him because when I do he shakes his finger.”

While Miller struggled (two runs on two hits, walk while retiring one batter), Brandon Workman threw three innings of scoreless ball in which he gave up just two hits while fanning three.

Francisco Cordero claimed the save (his third of the season), pitching a flawless inning.

Dustin Pedroia and Victorino each came away with two hits apiece.

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Live Blog: Jake Peavy, Red Sox take on Twins in Grapefruit League action

03.13.14 at 12:54 pm ET
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FORT MYERS, Fla. — Follow all the action as Rob Bradford and other Red Sox beat writers keep you updated during the Red Sox’ spring training tilt against the Twins at Hammond Stadium. Getting the start for the Sox is Jake Peavy, with Brandon Workman, Dailer Hinojosa, Andrew Miller and Francisco Cordero also scheduled to take the mound:

 

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Morning notes: Red Sox send 12 players to minor league camp

03.13.14 at 10:13 am ET
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FORT MYERS, Fla. — Red Sox camp just got a little smaller.

The team announced Thursday morning that it has assigned pitchers Anthony Ranaudo and Alex Wilson, along with third baseman Garin Cecchini and outfielders Bryce Brentz and Alex Hassan to Triple-A Pawtucket.

The Sox also optioned pitchers Matt Barnes, Henry Owens, Miguel Celestino and Noe Ramirez, infielders Heiker Meneses and Travis Shaw and catcher Blake Swihart to minor league camp.

Prior to his team’s game against the Twins down the road at Hammond Stadium, Red Sox manager John Farrell highlighted a few of the departed. He noted Henry Owens’ composure against major league hitters, while saying of Ranaudo, “He’s getting close. … There’s a lot of good going on there.”

Brentz was also a standout, showing what Farrell described as an improved two-strike approach with more of a consistent defensive presence.

Farrell also updated Barnes’ status, saying the pitching prospect — who hadn’t thrown since his appearance against Boston College due to shoulder soreness — was throwing from 120 feet and would be throwing off a mound before the end of the month. No MRI was needed to evaluate Barnes.

– Even though he wasn’t in the lineup against the Twins, Grady Sizemore was slotted in to get three at-bats Thursday against minor leaguers. Shane Victorino, who is playing against Minnesota, will stay behind in town Friday to play in a minor league game while the Red Sox travel to Dunedin.

Making the trip Friday to take on the Blue Jays (one of the farthest drives of the spring) will be Jonny Gomes, Mike Carp, Ryan Lavarnway and Jackie Bradley Jr., with Clay Buchholz getting the start.

Felix Doubront, who threw against minor leaguers Wednesday, will next pitch Monday against the Cardinals, following up starter John Lackey.

– Farrell said he would prefer not to shift Brandon Workman‘s role back and forth from starter to reliever this season.

– The manager has taken notice of how much freer both Dustin Pedroia and Mike Napoli seem in their swings this season. After fixing his injured thumb, Pedroia’s pull-side power has been noticeably better, while Farrell said of Napoli, “He’s in a good place right now.”

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David Ortiz: ‘Guys my age are supposed to be complementary players’

03.13.14 at 9:30 am ET
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David Ortiz has two homers and a double against Rays left-handed starters. (AP)

David Ortiz wants more support in the Red Sox lineup. (AP)

After his stellar 2013 season capped by an MVP performance in the World Series, David Ortiz knows what to expect from pitchers: respect in the form of being pitched around.

Ortiz said he is feeling the pressure to be the spark in the batting order, especially with the team parting ways with Jacoby Ellsbury and Jarrod Saltalamacchia and failing to produce a young slugger to draw some of the attention.

“I’m going to have even more [responsibility] than what I normally have, which is not fair because I’m not getting any younger,” he said. “I’m always going to need help. I’m 38 years old and I’m still the center of attention in the lineup. It shouldn’t be like that. It shouldn’t be like that. We should have a couple of studs in their 20s doing more than what I do.

“It’s not always going to be about me. I saw last year. Last year, game on the line, late in the game, go to first base. They pitch around you to see if you chase. Nope? Go to first base. I’ve been through that since Day 1. But last year was even more different. How long am I going to be able to do what I do and be that locked? I don’t know. It wears you out — in my case, I know I do nothing but hit, but to stay that focused and not try to get out of the strike zone.”

Added Ortiz: “I’ll give it a try, but I don’t think there’s a baseball player that has lived through this pressure at my age. Think about it. Guys my age are supposed to be complementary players. Nobody signs guys my age to be ‘The Man.’ If you look at every team, ‘The Man’ are guys in their prime. Because it’s hard. It’s hard. I don’t take anything for granted. I go at it every day. But living through the pressure, having to be the man every day, at this stage, when everybody is asking you when you’re going to retire …”

To read more about what Ortiz had to say, click here.

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Fenway Park to host soccer rematch of Liverpool-AS Roma

03.12.14 at 12:31 pm ET
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Fenway Park will again open its doors to two prominent European soccer teams when the historic ballpark plays host to a rematch between Liverpool and AS Roma on July 23.

Tickets go on sale May 2.

The teams played at Fenway two years earlier before a sellout crowd of more than 37,000.

“Liverpool FC and AS Roma are two of the most highly regarded clubs in all of football, and we’€™re thrilled to welcome them back to Boston and showcase some of the world’€™s top talent playing the ‘€˜Beautiful Game’€™ right here on the pitch at Fenway Park,” said Fenway Sports Group chairman Tom Werner. “The atmosphere at their first Fenway match was electric, and with both clubs’€™ passionate supporters, tremendous worldwide following and strong ties to the City, the rematch is sure to be memorable.”

Liverpool is owned by Fenway Sports Group, which also owns the Red Sox, while AS Roma is owned by Boston businessman James Pallotta.

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Grady Sizemore watch: ‘I don’t feel like it’s been two or three years’

03.11.14 at 5:14 pm ET
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FORT MYERS, Fla. — Before Tuesday’€™s game against the Marlins, John Farrell uttered these words when asked his perception of Grady Sizemore thus far: “€œNot far off where the familiarity with him back in Cleveland. But …”

He then continued.

‘”You temper that past impression because of what he’€™s endured and the physical challenges he’€™s had to overcome. What’€™s stood out this spring is his timing at the plate. You’€™d think he would’€™ve needed a greater number of at-bats to have the timing that he’€™s shown right now. And that’€™s extremely encouraging. That’€™s the one thing that has stood out. Throughout our medical exam, prior to signing him, we felt like he was a good bet to have every opportunity to get back on the field and maintain that. To what level of games played, we don’€™t know that. Still, the thing that has stood out is how he’€™s swung the bat and the timing he’€™s shown at the plate.”

Eight hours later, and one 5-4 Miami Grapefruit League win over the Red Sox later, nothing had changed.

Sizemore continued to impress in his comeback from major knee surgery ‘€“ and not playing for the past two seasons ‘€“ this time playing back-to-back games for the first time this spring without incident.

Sizemore got two at-bats, while continuing to offer encouragement with his speed both on the basepaths and in the outfield.

It’€™s not perfect, but at this point, it doesn’€™t have to be.

“€œI feel good, but not great,”€ Sizemore said. “€œMy timing feels off. It feels a little rusty. But I don’€™t feel like it’€™s been two or three years. I feel like it’€™s just another spring training where it’€™s early where you’€™re just trying to get a hold of things and get that rhythm down. I still feel like I have a long way to go. It’€™s not quite where I would like it to be and I want to fine-tune some things.”

The outfielder, and the Red Sox, understand there’€™s a ways to go before plans can be made for penciling Sizemore into the Opening Day lineup. But for all parties involved, each day has brought increased optimism.

“€œI wasn’€™t all that curious about it,” Sizemore said regarding playing on consecutive days. “I felt confident knowing it was going to be a pretty normal day. If I had any questions or doubt, I probably wouldn’€™t have been out there. But I felt strong it was going to be fine and it wasn’€™t going to be an issue.

“Things have been going good. I’€™m happy with how the body feels and how I’€™ve been able to push and add more each day.”

He will not look forward to his next test, coming Thursday against the Twins.

“So far every time we’€™ve pushed a little bit more I’€™ve responded well,” said Sizemore. ‘€œObviously we’€™re going to try and add more and find that threshold, work toward it but not get past it.

“Just keep working on timing, get some rhythm down, just see more pitches and get more at-bats. I want more reps, get out there and see as many pitches as I can, get as many at-bats as I can and just try and feel comfortable.”

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