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Don’t read too much into that Red Sox lineup, yet

03.20.11 at 12:16 pm ET
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FORT MYERS, Fla. — A quick glance at the lineup posted in the Red Sox clubhouse Sunday morning and you could draw the natural conclusion that it very well could mirror the one that will be in the visitors clubhouse on April 1 at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington, Texas.

But Terry Francona said the lineup consisting of Jacoby Ellsbury, Dustin Pedroia, Carl Crawford, Adrian Gonzalez, Kevin Youkilis, David Ortiz, J.D. Drew, Jason Varitek and Marco Scutaro wasn’t even his creation.

“We make them out three or four days ahead of time. DeMarlo [Hale] may have actually done it,” Francona said.

So, Sunday’s lineup against the Cardinals isn’t necessarily a sign that it’s going to be exactly the same on Opening Day?

“I don’t know,” Francona said. “Probably, no.”

One thing Francona did address is how important it will be to manage the speed at the top of the lineup with Ellsbury and Crawford likely to be somewhere in the top of the order to start the season and Dustin Pedroia in between.

While it might seem Francona would like to control when and how his speedsters run the bases, he realizes that he has to leave that up to the good judgment of his players.

“I don’t know if we really have to pick our spots,” Francona said Sunday. “What we care about is just not making outs. They’re going to get thrown out [stealing] and they’re going to get picked off. They have to but, again, they’re going to have the freedom to run.

“I’ve talked to Pedey because Pedey is going to be smack in the middle of those guys, I don’t want him to just sit there and take pitches, either. If Pedey is a little bit aggressive and they’re running, and Jacoby steals 65 instead of 70, what a weapon to have a guy that’s fast, a hole opening and a good hitter up. That’s a nice combination.”

Francona doesn’t want to hear about how a hitter is bothered by runners dancing off second base. That job is up to the hitter to communicate with his teammate.

“If you have a guy on second and it’s bugging the hitter, then they need to be still,” Francona said. “And that’s their responsibility to know each other. I get aggravated when somebody comes back in July and says [it’s bothering me], you should have talked about that two months ago because we encourage guys to be aggressive, they’re fast. We also encourage them to communicate with each other.”

Read More: 2011 Spring Training, Boston Red Sox, carl crawford, demarlo hale

Red Sox notes: Daniel Nava, Mark Wagner headed to PawSox as part of latest cuts

03.20.11 at 10:30 am ET
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FORT MYERS, Fla. — Nearly every Red Sox fan remembers how Daniel Nava broke into the majors last June.

With the bases loaded, he drilled the first pitch he saw in the big leagues – an offering from Philadelphia’s Joe Blanton – over the fence in right at Fenway.

On Sunday morning, he was optioned to Triple-A Pawtucket by the Red Sox as the team trimmed three more players off the major league squad. Also optioned was catcher Mark Wagner while righthander Matt Fox was reassigned.

Such is the life of a major leaguer on the fringes. But Red Sox manager Terry Francona offered perspective Sunday in assessing where the 28-year-old in his development.

“He didn’t swing the bat real well this spring, which in the grand scheme of things means nothing,” Francona said of Nava, who batted just .205 this spring in 19 games, with three RBIs.. “I think he was fighting it all spring. He got a little length in his swing. He knows he needs to shorten it up but he’s improved so much [defensively] in the outfield.”

“I mean, last year at this time, I’m willing to bet no one ever asked me a Daniel Nava question. He’s come a long way. He just needs to go play and then whatever happens, happens. Guys play themselves into the mix. The fact that we’re talking about Daniel Nava means he’s come so far.”

Francona added that the organization still projects Nava as primarily a left fielder.

Wagner hit .167 in nine games this spring while Fox was 0-0 with a 2.57 ERA in five relief appearances. But Francona was quick to point out that it’s Wagner’s defensive skills – especially game managing behind the plate – the organization really values. Last year, that was stunted when he missed nearly half the season with Triple-A Pawtucket because of a broken bone in his left hand. Surgery was eventually required and now, he begins 2011 with a fresh start. Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: 2011 Spring Training, adrian gonzalez, bobby jenks, Boston Red Sox

Felix Doubront still has ‘a little bit of nervousness’

03.20.11 at 9:14 am ET
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FORT MYERS, Fla. — A day after throwing 25 pitches off a mound for the first time since recovering from a sore left elbow, lefty pitcher Felix Doubront said his body felt a “good sore,” and was pleased with how the extra work during his two weeks off translated into pitching.

He admits, however, that the pain he felt in his elbow after throwing batting practice for the first time earlier in spring training left him with some uneasiness.

“I still have a little bit of nervousness. I feel a little tight in my forearm, but nothing like before,” Doubront explained. “Every time I throw the ball I remember that pain. But I threw yesterday and I felt good, and felt like I could throw harder. I feel like I don’€™t have to worry about my elbow.”

The plan is for Doubront to throw in a simulated game Monday, and then take a three or four days off before perhaps throwing in a spring training game.

“I was worried about Tommy John [surgery], or more time rehabbing. But thank God it was only two weeks,” Doubront said. “I want to say it’€™s completely normal, but it’€™s not. You have to give it time and I have to start throwing again. But I didn’€™t feel anything yesterday. I love pitching. I love throwing. I’€™ve got a lot of confidence since last year. I just don’€™t want to take a step back.”

The 23-year-old, who came out of the bullpen in nine of his 12 big-league appearances in ’10, said he enjoyed his first go-round as a reliever, last year, and would relish the opportunity to execute a similar role in ’11. Doubront does believe, however, that his future is that of a starter.

“I got used to it. It’€™s different, but I like it,” said Doubront regarding relieving. “I like starting more, but I like it. In my future I see myself as a starter. You have to have confidence to pitch, and that’€™s what I want to keep. I know I can pitch in the big leagues. But the thing is you have to believe in yourself. It’€™s not easy.”

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In exchange for John Farrell, Blue Jays had agreed to leave Sox alone in Rule 5 Draft

03.19.11 at 1:35 pm ET
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According to this piece by Richard Griffin in the Toronto Star, the Blue Jays’ roundabout acquisition of one-time Sox prospect Cesar Cabral can be explained by a handshake agreement between Theo Epstein and Toronto general manager Alex Anthopoulos when the Blue Jays were interviewing for their managerial position.

With Anthopoulos seeking permission to speak to John Farrell (the eventual hire), DeMarlo Hale and Tim Bogar, Epstein gave his blessing on the condition that Anthopoulous not go after Boston players in the Rule 5 draft.

This is why, Griffen writes, when the Blue Jays wanted to get their hands on Cabral, a left-handed pitcher, they had to wait for the Rays to take him in the Rule 5 draft, and then put in a waiver claim him upon Tampa Bay waiving him. Cabral was returned to the Rays less than 48 hours later.

Read More: alex anthopoulos, cesar cabral, John Farrell, Theo Epstein

Red Sox notes Friday: Felix Doubront set for simulated game, Jonathan Papelbon to get side work

03.18.11 at 5:38 pm ET
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FORT MYERS, Fla. — Lefty Felix Doubront threw live batting practice on Friday on the field outside the left field wall at City of Palms Park.

Doubront was shut down for approximately two weeks when he felt tightness in his left elbow in late February while throwing a side session at the club’s minor league complex.

Manager Terry Francona said the team wasn’t overly concerned since Doubront has complained of the tightness in the past. On Friday, the lefty who made his Red Sox debut last year, threw for Francona and other Red Sox staff.

“I watched him. He was 25 [pitches],” Francona reported. “He felt real good, he looked real good. His next [work] will be a simulated game. We’ll take the [protective L] screen away and it’ll be just a step closer to him pitching in a game. It’ll be at least two days, maybe three days off. We’ll see.”

The highly-touted 23-year-old lefty went 2-2 in 2010 with a 4.32 ERA in 12 appearances, including three starts.

Meanwhile, relievers Jonathan Papelbon and Daniel Bard are expected to get their work in Sunday in a minor league game. Papelbon, who got only two outs on Thursday, will go two innings according to Francona while Bard is expected to go at least one inning.

Read More: 2011 Spring Training, Boston Red Sox, Daniel Bard, felix doubront

Clay Buchholz allows first run, Red Sox fall to Tigers

03.18.11 at 4:27 pm ET
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FORT MYERS, Fla. — Clay Buchholz allowed his first run of the spring and the Red Sox allowed five unearned runs in an 8-3 loss to the Tigers Friday afternoon in a split-squad contest at City of Palms Park.

[Red Sox-Tigers boxscore].

Buchholz was hit hard but managed to get through the first four innings, allowing a long solo homer to right by Brennan Boesch in the second. It was the first run Buchholz allowed 11 innings this spring. Buchholz, who allowed just five hits in three previous appearances, allowed his fifth hit of the day to open the fifth.

[Buchholz talks about his outing on Friday.]

Buchholz threw 76 pitches (41 strikes) on the day, his longest outing of the spring.

“I thought he fought his command a little today, right from the beginning,” Red Sox manager Terry Francona said. “But he increased his workload by about 20 pitches, which was good. He’s got two more starts. I just didn’t think he commanded as he normally will.”

Kevin Youkilis then committed his first error of the spring before Francona pulled Buchholz for Hideki Okajima.

Adrian Gonzalez also committed his first error of the spring on the second batter Okajima faced. Okajima allowed a three-run homer to Ryan Raburn to cap off the fifth for Detroit.

“If a guy gives up a home run on March [18], I don’t think that means we’re not going to bring him into a game,” Francona said of Okajima. “When the season starts and guys get into the their roles, whatever happened in March doesn’t really matter. I’d love for everybody to go out and never give up runs but I don’t think you penalize guys. We’re just trying to get our team ready.”

All four Detroit runs in the fifth were unearned.

Dustin Pedroia drilled his first homer of the spring to left in the first inning off Tigers starter Max Scherzer to put the Red Sox up, 1-0. The Red Sox fell to 12-10-1 in Grapefruit play, with a nightcap to follow in Port Charlotte against the Rays.

Read More: adrian gonzalez, Boston Red Sox, Clay Buchholz, Detroit Tigers

Could Kevin Youkilis be on the verge of making Gold Glove history?

03.18.11 at 12:27 pm ET
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FORT MYERS, Fla. ‘€“ While many were focusing on Marco Scutaro‘€™s fine play in the field during the Red Sox‘€™ spring training game against the Braves Wednesday, lost was another exceptional moment with the glove.

Kevin Youkilis dove to his left, scooped up Martin Prado’€™s grounder, and threw out the Atlanta baserunner. Great play. Few noticed.

The relative silence regarding Youkilis’€™ performance at third base wasn’€™t hard to figure out. People had seen him play a solid 219 major-league games at the position, so expectations were already set.

It might be time to amp up those expectations.

The question is this: Can Youkilis become the first player since Darin Erstad to win a Gold Glove at two separate positions?

‘€œI don’€™t see why not,’€ said Red Sox third base/infield coach Tim Bogar. ‘€œHe did it on the other side of the field. In my mind, the one thing is throwing for the whole season, and he’€™s been fine with it this spring. That just comes with using his lower half, and he’€™s done that this spring.’€

Youkilis does have his Gold Glove, winning the award in 2007 for his work at first base. And few are going to doubt his abilities when it comes to that side of the diamond, where in 575 games he totaled a .997 fielding percentage (making just 13 errors).

But even though his time at third base has been sporadic throughout the past few years, his fielding percentage at the position is better than two-time Gold Glove-winner David Wright‘€™s number since ‘€™05.

Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: Evan Longoria, Gold Glove, Kevin Youkils,

‘Interesting decisions’ to make on Tim Wakefield and the Red Sox bullpen

03.18.11 at 10:33 am ET
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FORT MYERS, Fla. — In several different ways and on several occasions, Terry Francona was asked Friday morning about the role – and future – of Tim Wakefield on the Red Sox.

Francona has been around long enough to avoid stepping on that landmine.

Asked about the intense competition among the team’s relievers, Red Sox manager Terry Francona said Friday the next two weeks leading up to Opening Day in Texas will be ‘stressful’ for he and the pitchers in the bullpen.

“I would never sit here and talk about someone being [on the roster],” Francona said. “I can’t do that. That’s so disrespectful to players. I would never do that. That would be awful. You guys [media] are going to start nitpicking and try to make the bullpen.”

The projected pieces of the Red Sox bullpen includes closer Jonathan Papelbon, set-up men Daniel Bard and Bobby Jenks, righty Dan Wheeler with righties Wakefield, Alfredo Aceves, Matt Albers and Scott Atchison and lefties Hideki Okajima, Andrew Miller and Dennys Reyes competing for the final one or two spots.

“If I sit here and tell you everybody that’s in the bullpen, then whoever’s not, is going [to know]. That’s not a good way to do it.”

Francona was asked specifically about the plans for the knuckleballer Wakefield, who could share middle and long relief roles with Aceves if the team chooses to keep both.

“These guys have a stressful couple of weeks ahead of them. I’m not going to make it worse,” Francona said when asked if Wakefield’s spot on the roster was assured. “We’re going to have decisions to make. It’s going to be tough on some guys because they probably deserve to make the team.”

[Terry Francona explains the intense competition for spots in the Red Sox bullpen, including Wakefield.]

Wakefield will start Friday night’s split squad game against the Rays in Port Charlotte. Wakefield will be making his fourth appearance of the spring but his first start. He has had an effective spring, allowing nine hits and only two earned runs in 6 2/3 innings for a 2.70 ERA.

Aceves is 0-1 with a 3.48 ERA in four appearances, including two starts. He has allowed 10 hits in 10 1/3 innings.

“Their styles aren’t similar but they both can pitch out of the bullpen and they both can start. We’re going to have some interesting decisions to make here come this last week. Fortunately, guys have really shown well and it’s going to be interesting.”

Of course, those “interesting” decisions won’t be made by Francona alone as GM Theo Epstein, asst. GM Ben Cherington and pitching coach Curt Young will all have input.

“Curt and I and Theo and Ben will sit down – as we have been – and try to make the best decisions, not only for Opening Day but for the organization. It’s going to be tough,” Francona reiterated.

Wakefield is 44 while Aceves is 29. Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: 2011 Spring Training, alfredo aceves, ben cherington, Boston Red Sox

Why Jarrod Saltalamacchia has entered the world of Twitter

03.18.11 at 9:32 am ET
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FORT MYERS, Fla. — Spelling Jarrod Saltalamacchia’s name just got even more confusing.

In the last few days, the Red Sox catcher has entered the 140-character world that is all the rage, building a whole new identity that can now be found when typing “@Jarrod_Salty39″ into a Twitter search. That’s right: Saltalamacchia is now a social media maven.

At the suggestion of a friend, the backstop dove into the world of Twitter (along with teammate @JacobyEllsbury) Thursday. As of this writing, Saltalamacchia had picked up 2,324 followers despite having only posted three items.

“For me it was just to be able to connect with fans at a bigger level,” Saltalamacchia said Friday morning. “We’€™re at the field and nobody understands when we’€™re done with the day we have family to go home to. If we have time to sign or talk, we do it, but if we don’€™t we go home. It’€™s kind of a way to get out to the fans a little bit and thank them.”

Thus far, Saltalamacchia admits he really hasn’t grasped the intricacies of the phenomenon. He follows just four accounts (three sponsored by Major League Baseball, and, of course, Charlie Sheen). He still hasn’t even begun to track the posts of his Twitter mentor, former teammate C.J. Wilson (@str8edgeracer), whose account has a whopping 49,859 followers.

“I had no idea of how to do it. But through a friend I learned about it and it sounded pretty good cool,” Saltalamacchia said. “It’€™s a great thing to do. I picked up on it and I’€™ll try to figure it out the best I can. I’€™m trying to get the hang of it.”

Read More: Charlie Sheen, jarrod saltalamacchia, Twitter,

Red Sox send down Lars Anderson, Juan Carlos Linares

03.17.11 at 4:44 pm ET
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FORT MYERS, Fla. ‘€“ Following the Red Sox‘€™ 8-5 win over the Mets at City of Palms Park Thursday, the team optioned first baseman Lars Anderson to the minor leagues, and also reassigned outfielder Juan Carlos Linares to the minors.

Both players appeared in the Sox’€™ victory, with Anderson going 1-for-4 with two strikeouts, and Linares ‘€“ playing center field ‘€“ finishing 0-for-2 with a strikeout and run scored.

Anderson leaves big league camp hitting .161 in 13 games, having hit two home runs. He struck out six times and walked once in 31 at-bats.

‘€œLars, defensively, is like night and day, he’s come so far,’€ Red Sox manager Terry Francona said. ‘€œHe just needs repetition, and that’s what we told him. I think he came into camp and he didn’t knock the ball all over the ballpark. We tried to reassure him that what he did during the season will show what kind of hitter he is.’€

The 26-year-old Linares made a positive impression on the major-league staff, hitting .320 (8-for-25) with a home run and nine runs scored. The Cuban has positioned himself to be in the conversation if the Red Sox find themselves needing outfield depth during the regular season.

‘€œLinares is really interesting,’€ Francona said. ‘€œObviously the major-league staff didn’t know him really well. At first blush you look at him and you’re like, ‘I don’t know if this guy can play center field.’ And then you see him run around out there and he can actually play all three outfield positions, he’s very aggressive at the plate, and he hustles on every ball that is in play. He’s a pretty exciting guy.’€

Read More: juan carlos linares, lars anderson,
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