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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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Red Sox owner John Henry: Marlins ‘should apologize for their regular season lineup’

03.08.14 at 5:21 pm ET
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Red Sox principal owner John Henry (WEEI.com)

Red Sox principal owner John Henry (WEEI.com)

With word trickling out of Jupiter, Fla., that the Marlins were reportedly “outraged” about a visiting Red Sox lineup earlier this week that featured just one potential big league regular (Jackie Bradley Jr.) — a number that fell short of the four regulars required by Major League Baseball in all spring games — Red Sox principal owner John Henry offered a pointed return of such criticism.

“They should apologize for their regular season lineup,” Henry wrote on twitter.

The timing of Henry’s dig was unexpected, given that Miami president of baseball operations Michael Hill had said on Friday that he’d received an email from Red Sox GM Ben Cherington in the middle of Thursday’s contest apologizing for the absence of Sox regulars. Hill had told reporters on Friday that the Marlins had no issue with the Red Sox.

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Will Middlebrooks, Bryce Brentz go deep but Henry Owens struggles as Red Sox fall to Orioles

03.08.14 at 4:12 pm ET
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Will Middlebrooks hit his first homer of the spring on Saturday. (AP)

Will Middlebrooks hit his first homer of the spring on Saturday. (AP)

Will Middlebrooks is at his best when he’s driving the ball to the opposite field, capitalizing on his considerable all-fields strength to deny opposing pitchers a go-to area against him. Thus it came as one of his more promising signs of the early spring that the third baseman got ahead in the count against Orioles reliever Tommy Hunter — a notoriously tough opponent for right-handed hitters — and drove a 2-1 pitch out to right-center for his first homer of the spring.

Outfielder Bryce Brentz, meanwhile, continued to offer a glimpse into his considerable power, going deep to left against left-hander Eduardo Rodriguez. The homer was Brentz’s third of the spring in 19 plate appearances; he’s 6-for-18 with a walk and seven strikeouts.

“He’s had a very productive camp so far,” manager John Farrell told reporters of Brentz prior to Saturday’s split-squad game against the Orioles in Sarasota. “You see the raw skills. You see the raw power. He’s got all-field power. With that comes along with some aggressive and maybe some swing and miss in there.” Read the rest of this entry »

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Red Sox notes: Shane Victorino considering an end to switch-hitting?

03.08.14 at 3:14 pm ET
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Shane Victorino may be abandoing hitting from the left side of the plate. (AP)

Shane Victorino may abandon hitting from the left side of the plate. (AP)

The final three months of 2013 represented something of a revelation in the performance of Shane Victorino. A switch-hitter throughout his big league career, Victorino was forced to bat exclusively right-handed (with a couple of brief exceptions) starting in early August, and he excelled while doing so.

From Aug. 9 through the end of the year, he hit left-handed in just six of his 170 plate appearances. He proved one of the Sox’ most productive hitters during that span, hitting .301 with a .378 OBP, .516 slugging mark and eight homers. (He was 0-for-5 with a walk during that time while batting left-handed.) While his OBP reflected a proclivity to get drilled (13 hit by pitches) as opposed to a discerning approach (he walked just two times in 106 plate appearances as a right-handed hitter against right-handed pitchers), his contributions were undeniable — continuing into a postseason in which he had the game-winning RBI in all three Red Sox clinchers, each while batting right-handed against right-handed pitching.

Last year, Victorino insisted that the abandonment of switch-hitting was purely circumstantial, and that when healthy, he’d return to a practice that he’d picked up in the Dodgers minor league system. But on Saturday, manager John Farrell told reporters that the 33-year-old — while not making a conclusive decision — appears to be considering full-time life as a right-handed hitter.

“It’s almost going to be a game-time decision. I think he has his viewpoints on it, where his confidence is. But he hasn’€™t told me that he’s eliminating switch-hitting,” Farrell told reporters. “This is someone who learned how to switch-hit in pro ball. The right side has always been his strong side. I think last year his production against right-handed pitching probably has enabled him to be a little bit more open-minded to get the majority of the at-bats from that side of the plate. Read the rest of this entry »

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Travis Shaw becomes John Farrell’s first second-generation teammate

03.08.14 at 7:42 am ET
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First baseman Travis Shaw and John Farrell are residing in the same big league clubhouse for the second time. (Salem Red Sox)

First baseman Travis Shaw and John Farrell are residing in the same big league clubhouse for the second time. (Salem Red Sox)

FORT MYERS, Fla. — For most of the Red Sox prospects who are non-roster invitees to big league spring training for the first time, the experience of being in a major league camp is foreign. But not for all of them.

Corner infielder Travis Shaw has spent much of his life in that setting. His first trip to big league camp? That would have been 1991, a bit before his first birthday, when his father, Jeff Shaw, was teammates with Farrell in Cleveland. By the spring of 1991, Farrell was amidst a long struggle with injuries that rendered him unable to pitch in both 1991 and 1992. Jeff Shaw, meanwhile, had struggled through a rookie season in 1990 in which he posted a 6.66 ERA in 12 games (nine starts).

“He had good stuff, and like all of us he was trying to find his way in Cleveland,” recalled Farrell. “He really found it after he left. … He reinvented himself and had an unbelievable career — unbelievable career.”

Indeed, Shaw took some time to find his stride, but starting in 1996 with the Reds, he emerged as a dominant closer. Over six years from 1996-2001, he had a 2.82 ERA while saving 198 games, getting named to a pair of All-Star teams. It was during that period that his son, Travis Shaw, started forming memories of being around the game in spring training, both with the Reds (1996-98) and Dodgers (1998-2001).

“First one I remember was ’97 with the Reds in Sarasota. That was the first time I actually got dressed and was able to go out on the field,” recalled Shaw. “And then in L.A., in Vero Beach, in Dodger Town I used to mess around and shoot the basketball there. I got home-schooled at that facility, so Vero Beach was pretty cool.” Read the rest of this entry »

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Felix Doubront, Grady Sizemore impress as Red Sox beat Braves

03.07.14 at 4:15 pm ET
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Left-hander Felix Doubront has struck out six batters and walked none in his first two spring starts. (AP)

Left-hander Felix Doubront has struck out six batters and walked none in his first two spring starts. (AP)

In two of the past three years, there were concerns that Felix Doubront hadn’t shown up to spring training in pitching shape. He’s challenging that narrative this year.

Doubront continued his strong initial showing by firing four shutout innings against the Braves in the Red Sox‘ 4-1 win over visiting Atlanta at JetBlue Park. The left-hander allowed just two singles (one of the infield variety) and, perhaps more significantly, punched out three without walking a batter. The Sox had made some mechanical alterations in an effort to make Doubront’s delivery to the plate more direct in hopes that it would permit him to do a better job of throwing strikes. To date, he’s punched out six and walked none in six shutout spring innings spanning his two appearances. It would be a mistake to draw too many conclusions about strikeout and walk numbers from the start of spring, but if Doubront can harness his pitches in the strike zone, he could make a significant career step forward in 2014.

The Sox fell behind 1-0 in the top of the sixth when Jason Heyward launched a solo homer to right against reliever Junichi Tazawa, but the hosts responded with a game-tying run in the bottom of the sixth and three in the bottom of the seventh. While Jonathan Herrera (go-ahead RBI double) and Ryan Lavarnway (two-run single) delivered the runs, the most notable offensive performance may have come from center fielder Grady Sizemore. Batting leadoff, Sizemore beat out an infield single and later lined another single to center, after which he showed good first-step quickness in advancing from first to second. Sizemore is now 3-for-8 with a walk and a strikeout in his first three spring contests.

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Red Sox notes: Jake Peavy, Shane Victorino, A.J. Pierzynski near return to games

03.07.14 at 3:45 pm ET
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The Red Sox expect that Jake Peavy will be able to make four spring training starts prior to the start of the season. (AP)

The Red Sox expect that Jake Peavy will be able to make four spring training starts prior to the start of the season. (AP)

Red Sox manager John Farrell offered injury updates on a number of players who have been sidelined for varying durations prior to Friday’s Grapefruit League contest against the Braves. Among them:

– Farrell said that right-hander Jake Peavy will throw a simulated game on Saturday and then, if all goes well, he’ll make his first Grapefruit League start of the year the following Thursday. His pitching schedule had been delayed by a laceration of a finger on his left hand suffered in an accident with his fishing knife. He has yet to be able to catch baseballs given the injury to his glove hand, but the Sox expect that he ultimately will be able to start doing so in time to pitch in a reasonable complement of games.

“The wound is healing satisfactorily,” Farrell told reporters. “All things considered, he’s making good progress with it.”

With a start on the 13th, Farrell said that the Sox would expect the right-hander to get four starts in Fort Myers (in addition to the simulated innings on Saturday), which he suggested would suffice in getting the pitcher ready for the start of the year.

“We’re not going to skip steps,” Farrell told reporters, “but we feel like there’s ample time to ramp him up.”

– Farrell said that the team hopes Shane Victorino starts playing in games “early next week.”

David Ross returned to the lineup for the first time since March 2, going 0-for-2 with a pair of strikeouts. He’d been sidelined for a few days by soreness in his left foot.

A.J. Pierzynski, out since March 3 with an ankle injury, is expected to return to the Red Sox lineup on Saturday.

– Farrell said that the Red Sox would likely make their first round of cuts after the team’s pair of split-squad games on Tuesday.

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