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Red Sox Morning Notes: Saturday

03.06.10 at 11:21 am ET
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FORT MYERS, Fla. — The Red Sox have a split squad day, with one set of players remaining in Fort Myers to take on the Twins (the third straight day of competition between the city’s cohabitants), and another set heading up the Gulf Coast to Port Charlotte to take on the Rays. The group at City of Palms Park is headlined by John Lackey, who will make his first game appearance for his new club. The group that will take on the Rays will feature the entire starting infield of third baseman Adrian Beltre, shortstop Marco Scutaro, second baseman Dustin Pedroia and first baseman Kevin Youkilis.

Pedroia, in particular, seemed alarmed that the Sox would be engaged in another day of the Mayor’s Cup competition of the Twins without benefit of a full squad.

“We can’t do it by ourselves,” he said on his way to the team bus.

If it were a game with meaningful stakes (beyond, of course, the mayoral chalice), the Sox would consider it quite a thing to have Lackey on the hill. The five-year, $82.5 million deal to which they signed the big right-hander this offseason offers evidence of the high regard in which the team holds the 31-year-old. Of course, the team’s last impression of Lackey comes from Game 1 of the American League Division Series against the Angels, when the pitcher shut out the Sox for 7.1 innings in which he allowed just four hits.

Suffice it to say that such performances made an impression.

“I’ve seen him over the last years. I know what he’s going to bring. That’s exciting,” said bench coach DeMarlo Hale, who is in charge of the group in Fort Myers. “[Lackey is] very competitive. I can remember being there on third base where you saw him in the moment. The moment wasn’t too big for him. No doubt, he’s had some success and made some big pitches in those big moments. … I’m glad Lackey is on our side this year, for sure.”

Lackey will throw two innings and throw 30-35 pitches on Saturday, according to Hale.

Here are the two lineups that the Sox will field:

VS. TWINS (FORT MYERS)

Cameron, 8
Hall, 5
Drew, 9
Ortiz, DH
Hermida, 7
Exposito, 2
Bates, 3
Sanchez, 6
Velazquez, 4

Lackey will be followed on the mound by Michael Bowden, Manny Delcarmen, Brian Shouse, Joe Nelson and Junichi Tazawa

AT RAYS (PORT CHARLOTTE)

Scutaro, 6
Pedroia, 4
Youkilis, 3
Beltre, 5
Reddick, 9
Anderson, DH
McDonald, 7
Lin, 8
Wagner, 2

Felix Doubront will be the starter, followed by Adam Mills, Kyle Weiland, Fabio Castro and Kris Johnson

Other notes:

–Hale is adjusting to life as a bench coach after having spent the past four seasons as the Sox’ third base coach. He described the job to date as “interesting.”

“I realize that a lot more questions come at me. You’re talking about having a view of a lot of player instead of one small group of outfielders. It will become a little different, I think, as the season goes along,” he said. “There is a part of [coaching third base] that’s exciting. It puts you on the edge when you’re out there. The momentum of the game can swing, and you play a part in that.

“But I’m looking forward to this job, too – the responsibilities at hand. I think [new third base coach Tim Bogar] will do fine. The one thing about this staff, we talk baseball. You can get knowledge and share things from this staff in many different phases of the game. I’m looking forward to this responsibility I’ll have this year.”

Mike Lowell is spending the day in Tampa Bay, meeting with Dr. Bryan Kelly — the surgeon who operated on Lowell’s right hip — for a seminar at which Kelly is speaking. Kelly wanted to introduce Lowell to a hip therapist in the area, though manager Terry Francona has said that Lowell is fine, and that there is no physical ailment that requires care.

–Hale praised Jacoby Ellsbury‘s defense, noting that his plus range in left field could make a significant defensive impact. the Team can consider shading center fielder Mike Cameron and right fielder J.D. Drew towards the right field line because of Ellsbury’s superior ability to track down balls in left center.

“[Ellsbury] played all three [outfield spots] coming up,” said Hale. “I thought he responded very well [when he played left]. I think his instincts, just as an athlete, will play big. That’s the way he played left field and right field, when he went back and forth. He really played on his instincts. He’s going to go catch the baseball.”

–Hale said that Cameron has emerged as a leader among the outfielders, and that the group was diligent in working together to improve communication during the team’s time at the minor league complex.

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