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Red Sox finalize contracts for non-arbitration-eligible players, including Will Middlebrooks, Felix Doubront

03.07.14 at 12:56 pm ET
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The Red Sox announced Friday morning that they have reached agreement with all 19 of the players on their 40-man roster who were under team contractual control but lacked the service time to be eligible for salary arbitration.

The team agreed to pay the following major league salaries (with less due to the players if they are in the minors):

Felix Doubront – $586,000
Daniel Nava – $556,500
Will Middlebrooks – $540,500
Brandon Workman – $518,000
Xander Bogaerts – $517,000
Ryan Lavarnway – $510,000
Rubby De La Rosa – $504,000
Alex Wilson – $503,500
Drake Britton – $503,000
Brock Holt – $503,000
Jackie Bradley – $502,000
Allen Webster – $502,000
Steven Wright – $502,000
Dan Butler – $500,000
Alex Hassan – $500,000
Christian Vazquez – $500,000
Bryce Brentz – $500,000
Garin Cecchini – $500,000
Anthony Ranaudo – $500,000

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Marlins reportedly upset with Red Sox over subpar lineup

03.07.14 at 8:53 am ET
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Jarrod Saltalamacchia was the most high-profile 2013 World Series champion playing during the Red Sox-Marlins Grapefruit League game Thursday. The problem with that? He was playing for Miami.

According to the Sun Sentinel, Marlins executives were “outraged” that the Red Sox sent a lineup that included just two players with more than one major league plate appearance. Those players were Jackie Bradley Jr. and Ryan Lavarnway.

Thursday’€™s game was considered a “super premium” ticket, meaning that fans paid between $10 and $12 more for tickets than they would during a normal weekday game. It is the only time during spring training that fans attending a Marlins home game will pay the higher price.

MLB guidelines state that during spring training a team needs to field “a minimum of four players who are regulars on the previous year’€™s major league team or who were platooned on the previous year’€™s major league team on a regular basis, or who have a reasonable chance to be regulars on the major league club’€™s squad during the upcoming season. Each of those regulars, excluding pitchers, must play a minimum of three complete innings.”

According to Boston Herald Red Sox reporter Scott Lauber, while the Marlins will not file a grievance with the league, Joe Torre, MLB’s executive vice president of baseball operations, will look into Boston’s lineup.

The Sox and the Marlins played to a 0-0 tie in the rain-shortened game.

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Red Sox pitchers’ advice pays off for Allen Webster

03.06.14 at 4:49 pm ET
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Allen Webster

Allen Webster

FORT MYERS, Fla. — Clay Buchholz, Jon Lester, John Lackey and pitching coach Juan Nieves talked and Allen Webster listened. The pay off was a huge step back in the right direction for the young starter.

Webster rebounded from a rocky first spring training start to turn in three solid innings against the Marlins, allowing only one hit while striking out a batter in what resulted in an 0-0 tie between the Red Sox and Miami in Jupiter.

After the start, Webster explained the difference this time around was executing some adjustments suggested by members of the Red Sox starting and coaching staff.

“Between my last start and this start, I sat down and talked to Lackey, Lester and Buchholz pulled me over, and we looked at a little video, and they saw me drifting forward, and they pulled me aside and told me to stay back over the rubber and get more angle, get more downhill to the plate,” Webster told reporters. “It felt good in my bullpen.”

The video the group diagnosed was from the 2013 season, with the adjustments taking place a few days ago with Webster getting a chance to throw side-by-side with Lackey.

“It’s mainly right to the very last minute, right before I throw the ball, I pull sideways instead of pull down, and I get alongside the ball and tug the ball to the side or sail it up and away,” the righty explained.

It was a process — and result — that pleased Red Sox manager John Farrell.

“I think any time you’ve got a peer or a teammate, particularly with the success that they’ve had, that’s going to resonate, probably draw a little bit more confidence from the message being delivered,” Farrell told reporters. “To their credit, they take him under their wing and they’re trying to help in any way they can.”

Another encouraging sign was the second straight solid performance by Drake Britton, who threw two shutout innings (one hit) while following up Webster.

Shortstop Deven Marrero was the only member of the Red Sox to come away with multiple hits (singling twice). Marrero also continued to shine in the field.

“Not comparing him to Jose [Iglesias], but if the need were to arise based on what we showed last year, even in his first year of professional baseball and the way he goes about his drill work and what we see on the field, you’d be hard-pressed to find a shortstop that’s going to make better plays than that — and four or five types of plays inside a given game,” Farrell said. “He came into the draft or came to the draft with that carrying card, an elite defender, and he’s showing that.”

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Rich Hill returns to Red Sox camp after passing of his newborn son

03.06.14 at 9:42 am ET
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FORT MYERS, Fla. –€“ Rich Hill made his first appearance in Red Sox camp, having been back in Boston tending to medical situation with his newborn son, Brooks.

Hill relayed the information Thursday morning that Brooks passed away recently after being born with what Hill described as “multiple” health issues.

“€œWe had a son on December 26 and he was born with multiple issues that we confronted and had to deal with, as we were moving through the last couple of months at Mass General,”€ Hill said. “Unfortunately he succumbed and he has passed. He taught us a lot of things, and unfortunately things didn’t work out. My wife has been extremely strong. Our son, who is 2 ½, is with us here down in Florida so we are going to enjoy our time here and obviously make the most of the opportunity that’€™s here to present itself to play baseball.”

The 33-year-old Hill, who is in camp on a minor league deal after making 63 appearances for the Indians in 2013, explained that the family issues were an impetus for identifying the Red Sox as a landing spot this offseason.

“€œIt was a strong correlation there,” Hill said. “€œFortunately I had the opportunity to come back. The Red Sox have been tremendous with this whole part of our life.

“€œI fully feel that the opportunity is here. I think that was also with a blend of the opportunity that is here and obviously with our family situation that we had. With the opportunity that is here, for myself to make the most of it and do everything I can on daily basis to perform.”

Hill was unsure of what his pitching progression will be, but did note how pleased he was to be back in a baseball clubhouse. The lefty had pitched with the Red Sox from 2010-12.

“I’€™m absolutely excited to be here and be playing baseball again, to get back into the normalcy of my profession and to be around a great group of guys,” he said. “Just to take that next step, a one day at a time approach. That’€™s where we’re at. Just really enjoy every day.”

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Xander Bogaerts goes deep, but Anthony Ranaudo and Chris Capuano hit hard as Red Sox fall to Cardinals

03.05.14 at 6:37 pm ET
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Anthony Ranaudo struggled in his second spring outing. (AP)

Anthony Ranaudo struggled in his second spring outing. (AP)

In a game of slightly less consequence than the last time the Red Sox faced the Cardinals, St. Louis beat the visiting Sox, 8-6, in a reacquainting of the two World Series competitors. Daniel Nava led off the game with a homer off St. Louis starter Shelby Miller, but Miller then retired the next eight batters he faced. With Sox starter Chris Capuano (two runs in two innings) and piggyback starter Anthony Ranaudo (1 1/3 innings, five runs (three earned) on six hits) both getting hit hard, the Sox found themselves in a 7-1 hole by the time they showed renewed signs of offensive life starting in the sixth inning, when Xander Bogaerts launched a two-run homer (his first of the spring) to left.

Between the performances of both Capuano and Ranaudo (who consistently pitched behind in the count), three errors committed by the Sox (one each by Will Middlebrooks, Heiker Meneses and Deven Marrero) along with a passed ball by catcher Christian Vazquez, it was a sloppy performance for the Sox. Manager John Farrell told reporters that his team needs to tighten up its play.

“Tough day. No doubt. Tough day defensively. We’€™ve got work to do, let’€™s face it,” Farrell told reporters in Jupiter, Fla. “We’€™re a week into the game schedule but we’€™ve got a lot of work to do as a team. It was a tough for Will to defensively but in addition to that it was compounded by pitching behind in the count. And I think overall we’€™ve got to do a much better job of commanding the strike zone, much better than we have so far. … I think in general, as a staff, what we’€™ve shown through the first six days of games, we’€™ve got to pitch better in terms of controlling the count.”

The game featured the Red Sox‘ first umpire replay of the spring, as Cardinals manager Mike Matheny challenged a ruling that the Red Sox had successfully turned an inning-ending double play to conclude the eight. The ruling on the field was upheld.

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Jon Lester: ‘Nothing has gone on recently’ with contract talks

03.05.14 at 12:38 pm ET
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FORT MYERS, Fla. – Speaking after his 38-pitch outing against minor-leaguers at JetBlue Park Wednesday, Jon Lester explained that there is nothing to report regarding any contract extension.

“I’€™m sure you guys will know before I do on anything that happens,” he said. “€œBut nothing has gone on recently.”€

Lester’€™s agents, Sam and Seth Levinson, were in town last week, presenting the foundation for talks regarding a deal for the pitcher.

Asked if he believed something could be worked out, Lester said, “€œI don’€™t know. Like I said, I just play baseball, I let those guys talk and handle all that stuff. Those are the guys with more answers than me. If you guys want to get more answers from Seth or Sam or Ben [Cherington] or any of those guys, I think they’€™ll be able to answer it better than I will in this whole deal right now.”

Lester, who is in the final year of his current deal, is viewed as one of the top two pitchers in next offeseason’s free agent class (joining Detroit’s Max Scherzer).

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Jon Lester faces off with minor leaguers in first spring training outing

03.05.14 at 10:40 am ET
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FORT MYERS, Fla. — Jon Lester got through his first spring training appearance without incident, throwing 38 pitches over 2 2/3 innings on a back field at JetBlue Park against five minor league hitters.

With Red Sox pitching coach Juan Nieves and some members of the team’s front office looking on, Lester participated in the controlled exercise with minor league fielders. The lefty would allow four hits, while being victimized by a pair of errors. Lester was also hit in the heel by a Justin Henry grounder, which he showed no ill effects from.

“I thought he looked great,” Nieves said. “Of course it’s tough competition with those kids. You can’t set them up, they’re seeing strikes so it’s quite a challenge. As we were talking in the dugout, you can’t really set them up with anything. It’s tough when a big league pitcher pitches against young competition because they’re very excited and they’re swinging the bats.

“I thought the ball came out very well. Fastball, cutter, curveball. He threw no changeups, but the spin of the breaking ball is really sharp, very good. He felt great. The bottom line is as long as they walk off of that mound healthy, not grabbing anything or not touching anything they’re fine.”

Nieves pointed out that Lester will next throw in the Red Sox‘ Monday tilt against Tampa Bay, most likely going a pair of innings.

The five minor-leaguers hitting against Lester were Carlos Rivero, Manuel Margot, Jesus Loya, Kendrick Perkins and Henry.

Margot (who doubled) is the most highly-touted of the bunch, most likely slated to start 2014 in Single-A Greenville. Perkins — who came away with a pair of hits — is a sixth-round pick fro the 2010 draft who chose to sign with the Sox instead of playing football at the University of Texas.

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