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Red Sox notes Wednesday: Adrian Gonzalez ‘doing great’ and ‘definitely ahead of schedule’

03.02.11 at 11:14 am ET

FORT MYERS, Fla. — Red Sox manager Terry Francona said Wednesday that Adrian Gonzalez is getting much closer to playing in a spring training game than was first expected. Meanwhile, John Lackey starts the first Red Sox spring training game of 2011 that doesn’t feature the Twins or a college team in the other dugout.

Jacoby Ellsbury CF

Dustin Pedroia 2B

Carl Crawford LF

David Ortiz DH

J.D. Drew RF

Jed Lowrie SS

Jason Varitek C

Lars Anderson 1B

Nate Spears 3B

John Lackey P

Meanwhile, Gonzalez took another 75 swings off a tee and soft toss on Wednesday and is much farther ahead of schedule to make his Red Sox game debut in spring training, according to Red Sox manager Terry Francona said.

[Click here to listen to Francona update Gonzalez’s progress toward a first spring training game.]

“Adrian did a total of 75 today,” Francona said before the Red Sox game against the Braves at City of Palms. “He did a bunch. He’ll have a re-gen day [Thursday] and then he’ll get back at it the next day. [He will] probably incorporate a little bit of cage BP, where it’ll be tee, soft toss and then some BP in the cage. I think he’s definitely ahead of the schedule. He’s doing great.”

Gonzalez, who has been steadily building strength in his surgically repaired right shoulder and the team has reported no issues with his progression. Francona stopped short of commiting to a timetable for his first Grapefruit League game.

“Again, it’s completely up to how he’s feeling but it’s so early in camp and we’ve played three games and his progression is way farther along then I think we thought it would be,” Francona said when asked if he could play in a game by late next week.

Other Wednesday nuggets:

– Francona announced that regulars Jason Varitek, Darnell McDonald, Jed Lowrie, Ryan Kalish and Daniel Nava will travel to Tampa for Friday night’s game against the Yankees, with Clay Buchholz making his second appearance of the spring, and first start.

– Francona will make the trip with the team up to Tampa but will not go to Sarasota for the game against the Orioles as he has a team community commitment on Saturday following the game with Florida at City of Palms.

– With Josh Beckett officially scratched for Thursday and continuing his rehab from Monday’s mild concussion, Stolmy Pimentel, who was originally scheduled for relief, will move up and take Beckett’s place against the Phillies.

[Click here to listen to Francona update Beckett’s progress Wednesday morning.]

– There was a lot of love shown before the game between the two clubs. Jonathan Papelbon mugged Braves DH Eric Hinske with a bear hug. Francona was happy to see Tim Hudson starting the game as he called him “one of my buddies” from Francona’s days as scout and eventually bench coach of the 2003 A’s.

– Another AGon made trip for the Braves as former Red Sox shortstop Alex Gonzalez greeted fans behind home plate. 2B Dan Uggla, LF Martin Prado made the trip from Disney, as did Budding superstar RF Jason Heyward and fellow Sports Illustrated coverboy 1B Freddie Freeman.

Read More: 2011 Spring Training, adrian gonzalez, Atlanta Braves, Boston Red Sox
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