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Jon Lester turns in three solid innings against Rays; David Ortiz, Mike Napoli go deep

03.10.14 at 5:04 pm ET
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FORT MYERS, Fla. — This has been an out-of-the-ordinary spring training for Jon Lester, having just made his first official Grapefruit League start March 10.

Still, the results suggest Lester might be able to navigate this conservative path without incident.

The Red Sox starter went three innings against the Rays Monday, allowing just one hit while striking out four. It was only the second game action of the spring for Lester, who pitched in a simulated game against minor-leaguers Tuesday.

The day’s end result was a satisfied starting pitcher, and a 6-2 win over the Red Sox.

“It felt a little weird, just not being a part of any games being around the guys,” said Lester, who threw more pitches than anybody in baseball in the 2013 season. “It feels like I haven’t seen the guys in about two weeks, so that’€™s been a little weird. I feel good. I keep building on that and just try to look forward to the next one.

“The biggest thing is just getting through your start healthy. I’m sure theres going to be things that come up throughout the course of spring training that we need to work on or address in the bullpen or in a game. Right now, the biggest thing is getting ready for the season, getting stronger with fastball command and fastball velocity and building off that.”

Lester seemingly had pinpoint control, getting all four of his strikeouts with the batters looking.

“All of them were perfect pitches,” said Red Sox catcher A.J. Pierzynski. “Even if they swung at them I don’€™t think they could’€™ve done a whole lot with them. A couple were down and away, perfect, painted. One of them was a cutter in, all you were going to do is break your bat on. I forget what the fourth one was but they were all just perfectly placed pitches. It’€™s tough to hit those when he gets them right where he wants him.”

“I threw everything,” Lester said. “That was kind of our approach, take it as a normal game, pitch when we have to, make some stuff up. Third inning, we threw  some curveballs in there, threw some backdoor cutters. Just trying to take it as a normal game. It’s kind of nice to have that because it’s been a couple weeks to be able to build up. Usually your first couple you’re just throwing all heaters. To be able to go out there and throw all the pitches in a game setting is good.”

Offensively, the Red Sox got solid days from Will Middlebrooks (2 hits, 2 RBI), and David Ortiz, who launched a solo homer over the right field fence in the third inning. Mike Napoli hit what Ortiz called a “moon-shot” over the left field wall for home run in the sixth.

“I think last year I had to work harder than any other year,” said Ortiz, who missed all the spring training games a year ago while recovering from an injured Achilles tendon. “They got me training hard every day down here. I didn’€™t play games but it was worse playing because every time I go home I was worn out doing a whole bunch of things so once I started playing I was good to go but nothing man, spring training it’€™s fun the first couple of weeks. After that, we get here earlier, we work out pretty much all day and at some point it starts catching up with you, especially old guys like me.”

For a complete recap, click here.

For a box score, click here.

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How Grady Sizemore can make $6 million this season

03.10.14 at 2:57 pm ET
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FORT MYERS, Fla. – Grady Sizemore continued his steps toward making the Red Sox‘€™ Opening Day lineup Monday, notching a first-inning single against the Rays at JetBlue Park.

The outfielder is now slated to appear in back-to-back games for the first time this spring, getting the start Tuesday against the Marlins.

So, what happens to Sizemore’€™s contract if he does find himself on the 25-man roster come March 31? He makes $250,000.

Sizemore’€™s guaranteed major league contract is for a base of $750,000, but he can make as much as $6 million if he meets all of his incentives. It’€™s a conversation that’€™s getting more interesting as the outfielder draws closer to becoming an everyday player once again.

Sizemore makes $250,000 for being on Opening Day roster, and then $250,000 each time he reaches 60, 90, 120 and 150 days in the big leagues.

Sizemore makes $250,000 for increments of 25 plate appearances, starting at 225 and stretching to 500.

Sizemore makes $50,000 for making the All-Star team; $50,000 for winning the Silver Slugger; $50,000 for winning the Gold Glove; $50,000 for winning the ALCS MVP; $100,000 for winning the World Series MVP; $100,000 for winning the American League MVP ($75,000 for second, $50,000 for third).

- Sizemore can make $50,000 for winning the American League Comeback Player of the Year.

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Morning notes: Red Sox starting rotation seems to be set, with Clay Buchholz slotted in at No. 5

03.10.14 at 10:57 am ET
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FORT MYERS, Fla. — The Red Sox have seemingly officially begun strategizing for the regular season.

Prior to his team’s game against the Rays at JetBlue Park, manager John Farrell insinuated that the order in which the Sox’ starters have been pitching in spring training will be what will unfold to begin the season.

The pitching order will be: 1. Jon Lester; 2. John Lackey; 3. Felix Doubront; 4. Jake Peavy; 5 Clay Buchholz.

Although Farrell didn’t address each pitcher’s spot definitively, it is understood that the reason for putting Buchholz at the end of the line revolves around giving him some extra rest to start the season while potentially matching the righty up against opponents’ No. 5 starter early on.

Doubront is moved up to No. 3 in part because they like the matchups against the Orioles and Rays, who the Sox play at the end of April. Also, the lefty has been a standout among the pitchers thus far in camp.

In other news …

- Craig Breslow is expected to throw a bullpen session Tuesday, and still has a chance to break camp with the Red Sox despite being behind the other relievers.

- The Red Sox will keep stretching out Brandon Workman, Chris Capuano and Allen Webster to protect themselves in the starting rotation. The Sox plan to use the minor league games — which start Wednesday — to find innings for everybody. Drake Britton, who has excelled throughout spring training, will eventually be drawn back to prepare for a relief role.

‘€œEvery time he’€™s walked to the mound, he’€™s thrown three pitches for strikes with really good stuff,” Farrell said. “I don’€™t think he liked being left off the playoff roster last year and he carries that air about him in a good way. And he’€™s used that as motivation. He’€™s come into camp in great shape. And when you consider a left-hander with that kind of velocity and that assortment of pitches, he’€™s making the most of every opportunity and making an impact on decisions that are still yet to be made.’€

- When asked what he hoped to get out of the rest of camp, Farrell listed off — starters to stay healthy; regular position players to get between 55-60 at-bats; injured players get past physical challenges; get an accurate read on Grady Sizemore‘s health.

- As for Monday’s lineup, which has Sizemore leading off and Shane Victorino hitting sixth, Farrell said it represents one of the regular season possibilities.

“There’€™s also one that has Victorino in the two-hole. But that’€™s probably a conversation a little bit later,” he said. “I think right now it’€™s just a matter of getting him on the field first. as much as we speculated and talked about internal candidates who take Jacoby’€™s spot or assumes the leadoff spot, we’€™ll factor everything in that’€™s available to us and see what the best alignment is.”

- With Victorino in the lineup, Farrell discussed how the outfielder’s pain threshold took him somewhat by surprise last year.

“It’€™s almost hard to because you don’€™t know what a player is dealing with, nagging issues across the field,” said Farrell when asked if he expected Victorino’s approach in 2013. “We came to know that he’€™s got an extremely high pain threshold and doesn’€™t really ever want to come out of a game.”

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Shane Victorino set for first spring training start

03.10.14 at 8:34 am ET
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Shane Victorino will play in his first game of spring training when the Red Sox host the Rays on Monday afternoon, although he will not bat leadoff, deferring to Grady Sizemore.

The 33-year-old right fielder is taking it slow in Florida after having offseason thumb surgery.

The switch-hitting Victorino is considering hitting exclusively from the right side this season. A natural righty hitter, Victorino batted lefty just six times from Aug. 9 until the end of the last season and was very productive (.301/.378/.516).

Here is the Red Sox’ lineup for Monday’s game, with left-hander Jon Lester scheduled to start on the mound.

Grady Sizemore, CF
Dustin Pedroia, 2B
David Ortiz, DH
Mike Napoli, 1B
Daniel Nava, LF
Shane Victorino, RF
Xander Bogaerts, SS
A.J. Pierzynski, C
Will Middlebrooks, 3B

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Clay Buchholz shines in outing against Pirates; Mike Carp goes deep

03.09.14 at 3:44 pm ET
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BRADENTON, Fla. — After a disastrous Saturday of baseball (dropping two to the Orioles in a pair of uninspired performances), the Red Sox got back going down the right road Sunday against the Pirates, claiming a 4-1 win over Pittsburgh. Highlighting the afternoon was the performance of Clay Buchholz.

Buchholz turned in a solid performance in his second outing of the spring, facing the minimum nine batters over three innings. The righty pounded the bottom half of the strike zone, getting five of his first six outs on the ground thanks to an improved two-seam fastball.

The starter finished his stint throwing 27 pitches after making 40 pitches in the bullpen leading up to the outing.

“Felt definitely a little better than I did last time out,” Buchholz said. “I was able to locate, basically look at the two-seamer for the first time in the first and second inning. Then I felt like I needed to work on a couple more pitches. But I felt good, felt like the direction and the movement and everything was there. I didn’€™t ever try to overthrow, that’€™s where I need to be right now.”

Buchholz added, “Nothing awkward feeling or anything. I don’€™t feel like I’€™m compensating for anything so I feel right at home right now.”

“He’€™s not as sharp, I’€™m sure, as he’€™d like to be but that was a good outing for the stuff he had,” said Red Sox catcher David Ross. “He kind of got better as the game went, too, his stuff started to move better. He kind of gets up and down in the bullpen the second time up in the bullpen, his stuff started to get sharper, breaking ball was good, didn’€™t use it much, change-up we didn’€™t use at all today, I don’€™t think he had a feel for that but when you can pitch with sinker cutter, mainly sinkers, that’€™s what he’€™s pitching with ‘€“ that’€™s the thing, he’€™s a veteran pitcher, and understands how to use his sinker. Some of the young guys, that’€™s the main thing, you’€™ve got to learn to pitch with fastball command, it makes everything else better.”

Jordy Mercer served as the only Pirates batter to reach against Buchholz, drawing a third-inning walk. Mercer was promptly sent to the bench, however, being gunned down trying to steal by Ross.

“He’€™s obviously a smart receiver, smart catcher,” said Buchholz of Ross. “You can take some of the stress of you to have to battle with yourself or battle with the catcher whenever you trust in somebody that’€™s back there. You can trust in the pitches he’€™s calling, how he’€™s reading the hitter and how he’€™s reading the pitcher’€™s delivery and everything. He makes the game a little more fluid and obviously if you have trust more in your catcher you’€™ll have trust more in your pitches and be able to throw them whenever you want.”

Andrew Miller came on after the Sox’ starter and struck out the side in the fourth. Cuban Dalier Hinojosa followed up the lefty by retiring all six of his batters. Rubby De La Rosa struggled somewhat in relief, allowing a run on four hits over two innings. Francisco Cordero closed things out with a flawless ninth.

Mike Carp highlighted the offense, leading off the third inning with a homer to right field. Jackie Bradley Jr. also contributed with a two-out, two run single.

In other news …

- John Farrell announced before the game that the hope is to have Grady Sizemore participate in his first back-to-back games of the spring, playing Monday and Tuesday.

- The plan is to have Shane Victorino — who has been battling back problems from the outset of camp — make his debut for this spring either Monday or Tuesday.

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Red Sox regulars held hitless as Orioles complete split squad sweep

03.08.14 at 10:36 pm ET
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Right-hander Brandon Workman was strong early, logging three shutout innings to start the game, but his two-hit, two-run stumble in the fourth set the stage for an ugly path through the late innings in an eventual 13-2 Red Sox loss to the Orioles. The defeat was the second split-squad loss by the Red Sox to the O’s on Saturday, following a 7-3 setback in Sarasota earlier in the day.

Though Workman was sharp early, he ended up getting saddled with two runs in 3 1/3 innings. The game then got out of hand when Baltimore compiled two runs in the sixth off of right-hander Brayan Villarreal and eight in the seventh against Miguel Celestino and Shunsuke Watanabe. Of course, of that group, Workman is the only one with a realistic shot of opening the season in the big leagues, and even he may end up in the rotation of Triple-A Pawtucket at the start of the year.

On the other hand, the Red Sox lineup featured anticipated regulars Daniel Nava, Dustin Pedroia, David Ortiz, Mike Napoli, A.J. PierzynskiJonny Gomes and Xander Bogaerts, along with utility man Jonathan Herrera. That group went a combined 0-for-19 against the Baltimore quartet of starter Kevin Gausman (3 shutout innings) and relievers Evan Meek (2 innings), Mike Wright (2 innings) and Ryan Webb (1 inning). The Sox collected just three hits, with Corey Brown and Brandon Snyder each delivering singles. Christian Vazquez finally put the Sox on the board with a two-run homer in the ninth inning against lefty Troy Patton.

The Sox turned in another poor defensive effort, committing a half a dozen errors (roll call: 2 by Herrera, one each by Gomes, Villarreal, Garin Cecchini and Heiker Meneses) while adding in a passed ball by Pierzynski.

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Sources: Major League Baseball fined Red Sox for lineup against Marlins

03.08.14 at 9:19 pm ET
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According to multiple industry sources, Major League Baseball disciplined the Red Sox in the form of a small fine after the team fielded a lineup against the Marlins in Jupiter, Fla., on Thursday that failed to meet MLB guidelines for the participation of lineup regulars. The Sox lineup featured only one player — center fielder Jackie Bradley Jr. — viewed as a legitimate possibility for a place in the team’s Opening Day lineup. MLB guidelines, meanwhile, stipulate that teams feature four players who were regulars (either everyday players of regular platoon members) in the previous season or four players with a legitimate shot at being regulars during the forthcoming season.

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