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Observations from Day 1: Rusney Castillo hurt, Pete Frates inspires, who needs an ace?

03.03.15 at 6:52 pm ET
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FORT MYERS, Fla. — Observations from the first day of actual baseball this spring, a pair of close victories over Northeastern (2-1) and Boston College (1-0):


If you’re John Farrell, nothing would be better than Mookie Betts and Rusney Castillo each putting his best foot forward in the battle for the starting job in center.

That was certainly the case on Tuesday, when Betts went 1-for-2 while playing with the starters against Northeastern, and Castillo followed with a line single on the first pitch he saw playing with the reserves in the nightcap. We’d be talking about how neither player separated himself, except Castillo left the BC game with tightness in his left side and will be evaluated on Wednesday morning.

There’s no word yet on the severity of his injury. If he’s able to return quickly, the competition for the starting job in center is shaping up to be intense.

“The biggest thing, as you mentioned, is that they’re both skilled,” Farrell said. “They have a package of skills — they can run the bases, they can hit with some power, they can hit with some average. There’s maybe a little more aggressiveness on Rusney’s approach at the plate, but these are two very good players that we’re talking about. We’ll see how things go [Wednesday].”


Northeastern and BC may not have lineups rivaling the Yankees or Orioles, but it was still encouraging to see Red Sox hurlers post zero after zero.

Starters Clay Buchholz, Rick Porcello, and Wade Miley combined to toss five shutout innings, with Buchholz keeping the ball down, Porcello mixing his pitches, and Miley working quickly, as advertised.

“I thought, overall, it was a very good day from the mound,” Farrell said.

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John Farrell warns against reading into Mookie Betts getting start

03.03.15 at 5:23 pm ET
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FORT MYERS, Fla. — As we noted earlier on Tuesday, it was hard not to notice Mookie Betts starting the Northeastern game with the rest of the regulars in place of Rusney Castillo.

But manager John Farrell cautioned against reading too much into the situation.

“Don’t you always?” Farrell joked. “No, I wouldn’t read anything into it. We said at the outset this is a competition. Guys are going to get equal reps best we can, particularly guys in the flank. Playing in between both Hanley [Ramirez] and Vic [Shane Victorino]. We had to start somewhere, and that’s where we are today.”

Betts went for 1-for-2 with a caught stealing in the opener, while Castillo singled sharply leading off the nightcap against Boston College.

Betts failed to see the significance of the start, too.

“Guys can get in the mix in at any time,” he said. “Just because it’s the first game doesn’t mean anything. We’ll all mix in and get good opportunities. The main thing is getting reps.”

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Clay Buchholz: ‘The ball was moving like it’s supposed to’

03.03.15 at 5:16 pm ET
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FORT MYERS, Fla. — Clay Buchholz probably has the highest ceiling on the starting pitching staff, which makes it all the more painful when it comes crashing down around him.

That made Tuesday’s debut inning against Northeastern encouraging. Buchholz struck out one during a scoreless frame, incorporating the mechanical changes he has worked on all winter in an attemp to be more consistent. He exhibited greater command of his changeup, kept the ball at the knees, and accomplished everything he wanted out of a spring debut.

“The ball was moving like it’s supposed to, I guess, like I wanted it to,” Buchholz said. “The adjustments in the delivery that I’ve been working on felt a lot more smooth than last year in particular. I’ve still got a little work to do, but it felt good.”

Buchholz explained that he has tried to straighten his leg kick towards home plate, rather than being “roundabout” towards third base and the right-handed batter’s box.

“I’m more to home plate and staying on on line,” he said.

Perhaps most encouraging for Buchholz was the basic fact that he kept the ball down.

“That’s key for me,” he said. “I throw a lot of two-seam fastballs, and when they’re up, they’re flat, and they seem to get hit a lot more often. Being down is definitely something I need to be doing — down in the strike zone, four of the five starters, we’re sinker guys.”

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Photos: Spring baseball 2015

03.03.15 at 3:18 pm ET
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Dennis & Callahan, Lou Merloni and WEEI.com have been down in Fort Myers as Red Sox spring baseball gets started. Click here to check out all their photos from the trip so far.

Joe Kelly on Dennis & Callahan

Joe Kelly on Dennis & Callahan

Live blog: Follow all action as Red Sox kick off spring training games

03.03.15 at 12:40 pm ET
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FORT MYERS, Fla. — While listening to the game on WEEI 850 AM with Rob Bradford and Joe Castiglione, you can also follow along as the Red Sox take on Northeastern and Boston College in a pair of seven-inning exhibition games. Join in the description and conversation of this season’s first spring training contests …

Live Blog Red Sox vs. Northeastern

Does Mookie Betts have early edge on Rusney Castillo in center field?

03.03.15 at 11:38 am ET
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Mookie Betts

Mookie Betts

FORT MYERS, Fla. — Rusney Castillo is absolutely, positively going to be the Red Sox‘ opening day center fielder, right? You can’t bench a guy making $72.5 million, right?

Not so fast.

If anything caught the eye when the Red Sox posted their first lineup of the spring on Tuesday morning, it was the starting center fielder in Game 1 of the annual Northeastern-Boston College doubleheader.

Batting leadoff with the rest of the Red Sox regulars was none other than Mookie Betts. Castillo, meanwhile, is slated to start the nightcap with the backups and minor leaguers.

If this sounds like reading too much into a spring lineup for an exhibition against a college team, consider the rest of the players starting the NU game, alongside Betts: 2B Dustin Pedroia, DH David Ortiz, LF Hanley Ramirez, 3B Pablo Sandoval, 1B Mike Napoli, RF Shane Victorino, SS Xander Bogaerts, C Christian Vazquez.

There’s little doubt that eight of those guys will be in the opening day lineup next month in Philadelphia, health permitting. So why should we view Betts any differently?

A case can certainly be made for Castillo opening the season in Pawtucket. There are six years remaining on his deal, and he’s still only played only 50 or 60 competitive games in the last two years. Spending a little time at Triple A might actually help, and it wouldn’t make him a bust.

In any event, file this one, for now, under the heading of Interesting Developments.

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Here are your Red Sox lineups for first spring training games

03.03.15 at 9:56 am ET
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Mookie Betts

Mookie Betts

FORT MYERS, Fla. — Read into this what you must, but here are the starting lineups for the Red Sox seven-inning games against Northeastern and Boston College:

Game 1 vs. Northeastern: Mookie Betts CF, Dustin Pedroia 2B, David Ortiz DH, Hanley Ramirez LF, Pablo Sandoval 3B, Mike Napoli 1B, Shane Victorino RF, Xander Bogaerts SS, Christian Vazquez C, Clay Buchholz P.

Game 2 vs. Boston College: Rusney Castillo CF, Jemile Weeks 2B, Daniel Nava LF, Allen Craig 1B, Garin Cecchini 3B, Ryan Hanigan C, Travis Shaw DH, Jackie Bradley RF, Deven Marrero SS, Wade Miley P.

Getting the start for the Huskies will be sophomore righty Aaron Civale (East Windsor, Conn.), while sophomore right-hander Eric Stone (West Haven, Conn.) will be Boston College‘s first pitcher.

For more Red Sox news, visit weei.com/redsox.

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Joe Kelly on D&C: Red Sox starting rotation wants to be known as tough competitors who never back down

03.03.15 at 9:44 am ET
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Joe Kelly

Joe Kelly

Red Sox pitcher Joe Kelly stopped by the Dennis & Callahan show on Tuesday morning to talk about the upcoming season both for him personally, and the starting rotation. To hear the interview, go to the Dennis & Callahan audio on demand page.

At an offseason event, Kelly said on the WEEI airwaves he was going to win the Cy Young. Although the right-hander said there was a little sarcasm in his comments, he is looking forward to having a solid season and feels good about his abilities.

“It’s something I am confident in my abilities and confident in my stuff,” said Kelly. “If I go out there and do what I am capable of, it will be a pretty good year.”

The biggest storyline this spring surrounding the starting rotation is the thought there isn’t a clear-cut ace of the staff. Kelly said that isn’t an issue with the group of five, and they’ve discussed what they want to be known for. The pitcher also noted the emergence of rookie Michael Wacha with his former team, the Cardinals in 2013, as sometimes star pitchers can come out of no where.

“I give an example named Michael Wacha who as a rookie who carried [St. Louis] basically on his back throughout the playoffs when we played the Red Sox and when we played everyone in 2013,” Kelly said. “I don’t think some prospect who got called up could be considered an ace, but he pitched better than everybody in the entire major league baseball. There [are] difference instances where people say, hey, you have an ace or you don’t have an ace. It’s something that we’re going to hear throughout camp and that is OK.

“It’s something we have to stick together as a group of five and not really worry about the outside and try and stay on us and worry about how we’re going to build together as five and work on what we want to be known for. We sat down and talked about that a little bit and we want to be known for being tough competitor pitchers that never back down, pitch some innings and win more games than we lose.”

After being traded to the Red Sox along with Alan Craig for John Lackey at the trade deadline last year, Kelly went 4-2 with a 4.11 ERA in 10 starts with the Red Sox. Kelly said he loved playing in St. Louis, as that was the only organization he’s ever known.

“I loved playing for the Cardinals. It was awesome,” said Kelly. “It was one of the best experiences that I have had so far in my career. I got called up in 2012 and after I made my first start I went to go eat lunch at a restaurant and my meal was paid for. ‘Hey, good start.’ I had only been in the big leagues one day, so it’s kind of like [even if] you’re the 25th guy, you’re the call up, everyone knows who you are.”

Following are more highlights from the conversation. For more Red Sox news, check out weei.com/redsox.

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Curt Schilling on D&C: ‘Every single woman on this planet is bothered by this’

03.03.15 at 8:30 am ET
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Former Red Sox pitcher Curt Schilling joined Dennis & Callahan on Tuesday morning to talk about the vulgar tweets he received after tweeting his daughter will be playing college softball at Salve Regina University next year, and the course of action he’s taken. To hear the interview, go to the Dennis & Callahan audio on demand page.

Schilling wrote a lengthy blog post on his personal blog Sunday night addressing, and even publishing some of the tweets he received. The former big league pitcher reached out to some of the schools some of the tweeters attended, including coaches of teams the men played college sports for. He said some hockey, lacrosse and soccer players have been kicked off teams for good, or suspended for the year.

Additionally, Brookdale Community College suspended one of its students for his comments, and the Yankees have reportedly fired a part-time employee for his comments.

“It’s not a mistake,” Schilling said. “People talk about making mistakes as a kid — listen, I’ve made a million mistakes — these are conscious decisions because a mistake is saying you know what, ‘You’re a tool,’ and going on and saying, ‘Oh gosh, I shouldn’t of said that’ and going back and deleting it. This was over and over and over. You could see at some point they all thought what the hell is he going to do to me and they got worse and eventually it got to the point where I said OK, I need to fix this.”

“A couple of these guys, this stuff will follow them around for the rest of their lives because I am going to make sure it does,” he added.

The current ESPN analyst said at the time of the original tweet he expected a few tweets from trolls, but nothing to the point it has reached. It was then Schilling decided something needed to be done.

“I expected the trolls,” he said. “The one kid kind of came at me and said, ‘I can’t wait to take your daughter out.’ Kind of borderline stuff, which again, I expected. I’ve been on the internet since, I started playing on computers in 1980, so I understand how it works and I knew there would be stuff. The stuff that they did, that is not bad or vile, it’s illegal. It’s against the law.

“When that started — again, I thought it might be a one-off, but then it started to steamroll. And then [my daughter] started to get private correspondence and then I said OK, this needs to get fixed. This generation of kids doesn’t understand, and adults too, doesn’t understand that the internet is not even remotely anonymous.”

Schilling said this isn’t a matter of political beliefs, or which team you may root for — this is a issue for everyone and something he vows to try have as many people hear about it as he can.

“Here is the thing, we all know I don’t care if you’re a liberal, conservative or a Republican, Democrat, Independent, Yankees, Red Sox whatever fan, or if you don’t like me — every single woman on this planet is bothered by this,” said Schilling. “When I talk to Michelle Malkin or when I email and text the link to Ann Coulter, they are going to get the word out. This is one of those kind of elephants in the room as a society now.

“I am a guy. Since I’ve been here I’ve said a million things I wish I hadn’t, but this is not being a guy. There is nothing about this that is manly.”

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Why you should be listening: What makes Red Sox first day of games interesting

03.03.15 at 12:07 am ET
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Both the Red Sox and Boston College baseball team will honor Pete Frates Tuesday night. (Getty Images)

Both the Red Sox and Boston College baseball team will honor Pete Frates Tuesday night. (Michael Loccisano/Getty Images, BC Athletic Department)

FORT MYERS, Fla. — So, here’s the deal …

The Red Sox will actually start playing baseball games Tuesday, with their usual pair of seven-inning tilts at JetBlue Park against Northeastern and Boston College, respectively. The first baseball of the spring will be thrown by Clay Buchholz at approximately 1 p.m. against the Huskies, with the matchup with BC kicking off about 30 minutes after the completion of the first of the two seven-inning games.

(Lucky for you, we will be broadcasting both games on WEEI-AM 850, so listen in.)

The scheduled order of Red Sox pitchers for Game 1 are as follows: Buchholz, Rick Porcello, Eduardo Rodriguez, Zeke Spruill, Dana Eveland, Anthony Varvaro and Mitchell Boggs. Game 2 pitchers will be: Wade Miley, Steven Wright, Craig Breslow, Brandon Workman, Edwin Escobar, Dalier Hinojosa, Keith Couch and Noe Ramirez.

(For a list of which game each position player is assigned, see the bottom of this post.)

We may (and should) remember the day for the Sox and Eagles honoring former BC baseball player Pete Frates, who continues to fight ALS, with both clubs donning Frates’ No. 3. (To read more about the tribute, click here.)

From the perspective of building this year’s Red Sox roster, however, there are interesting elements you should be listening for. (Again, that’s listening for, since neither game is televised.)

— This marks the first time Hanley Ramirez has experienced game action in left field, getting the start against Northeastern.

He doesn’t seem nervous.

“I don’€™t put pressure on myself. I’€™m ready for anything,” Ramirez said. “I’€™ve put in a lot of work. I don’€™t have any negative thoughts. Everything is positive. I’€™m just going to be ready for everything.”

Red Sox first base/outfield coach Arnie Beyeler — the man who has been charged the molding the first-time outfielder — offered more detailed picture of where Ramirez stood heading into his inaugural test in left.

“We’€™ve kind of done all we can do out here. He has to play,” Beyeler said. “He has to job on and off the field. He has to look for signs. We have to get game speed rolling a little bit. He’€™s drilled-out. He’€™s tired, which is a good thing because he’€™s working so hard. He’€™s not moving really well right now because he’€™s tired, which is a great thing because he’€™s working so hard. I think the first part of next week we can start talking fielding situations and what he’€™s thinking out there. We can start getting into game-speed things. Right now we can’€™t talk about that because he doesn’€™t know, and we don’€™t know. It will be kind of fun watching and see how he evolves.”

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