|Adrian Gonzalez set to make Red Sox debut||03.12.11 at 8:55 am ET|
FORT MYERS, Fla. — Most mornings, the act of checking the Red Sox lineup is hardly a noteworthy undertaking. But on Saturday, that was different.
There, in the No. 3 spot in the batting order and playing first base, was the much-anticipated event: Adrian Gonzalez is in the lineup for his first exhibition game as a member of the Red Sox. The 28-year-old, who has consistently been ahead of schedule throughout his rehab from offseason surgery to repair the torn labrum in his right shoulder, once again cleared a hurdle before his target date arrived. Gonzalez had been expected to be able to play by the third week of spring training, but he has beaten that projection after suffering no setbacks after progressing to batting practice on the field last week.
Gonzalez will make his Sox debut on Saturday against the team with whom he made his professional debut, the Marlins. (In an interesting act of symmetry, the day Gonzalez was introduced as the No. 1 overall draft pick by the Marlins, Florida was hosting the Red Sox in 2000.)
Gonzalez was cleared a couple of days ago by the medical staff to make his debut on Saturday, a sign, manager Terry Francona said, of the hard work he put into his rehab in order to accelerate his appearance on the field.
“We were probably viewing he would be later in spring, I thought, when he would get into games,” said Francona. “It’s another step for him. He’s worked hard. The fact that he’s already ready is a testament to how hard he’s worked. It makes it easier for us, because we’ve got a full, over two weeks, to get him ready for the season. That’s not going to be an issue. I know it’s a fun day for everybody involved. But just get him in, get him out, let him start trying to catch up with where everybody else is.”
The Sox want Gonzalez to get a couple of at-bats today, take Sunday off and then have a couple more at-bats on Monday night against the Yankees.
Here is the complete Red Sox lineup:
OTHER MORNING NOTES
–The Red Sox announced their first round of cuts on Saturday, shipping a number of players to minor league camp. Pitcher Stolmy Pimentel (4 runs, 3 strikeouts, 2 walks in 3 2/3 innings) and second baseman Oscar Tejeda (9-for-24; .375/.423/.667) were optioned, while catchers Ryan Lavarnway (3-for-8 with a homer) and Tim Federowicz (3-for-9 with a homer), infielders Brent Dlugach and Hector Luna, outfielder Che-Hsuan Lin (2-for-11) and pitchers Alex Wilson (3 runs, 4 walks in 2 innings), Kyle Weiland (6 runs, 5 strikeouts, 3 walks in 5 1/3 innings), Tony Pena Jr. (2 runs, 2 strikeouts, 4 walks in 3 2/3 innings), Clevelan Santeliz (1 run in five innings, four strikeouts, two walks) and Jason Rice (4 runs, 3 strikeouts, 4 walks in 4 2/3 inning) were among the cuts.
Tejeda was one of the more interesting performers in that group of young players. He remains a work in progress at second, but was impressive at the plate, especially given that the 21-year-old — the youngest position player in camp — has never played above Hi-A.
“He’s got a smile that’s about as infectious as you can get. He loves to play. We were really excited to get a chance to watch him,” said Francona. “He’s got a lot of work to do defensively. We told him that. there’s nothing wrong with that. he’s a young kid. He made a position change. But he’s got some thunder in his bat, his body is going to continue to get bigger and fill out. He’s a really exciting young player.”
Despite their struggles, Wilson, Weiland and Rice are viewed as potentially important depth options for the Red Sox pitching staff this year. As one Sox teammate after another approached the prospects to wish them well as they prepared to head down Edison Ave. to minor league camp, the big leaguers were mindful of that reality.
“Hey Willie,” Mike Cameron shouted to Wilson. “Good luck. Stay healthy. We’ll probably see you in Boston this year.”
–Cameron will be getting his first start of the spring in left field. Though he has played the position in just three big league games, Francona suggested that the veteran’s ability to play there is not a concern.
“He’s a good outfielder. That’s not going to be an issue,” said Francona. “They work out so much during the day in spring training out there, that’s not going to be an issue.”
–Francona said that the Sox have encouraged center fielder Jacoby Ellsbury to assert himself as the leader of the outfield.
“We want our center fielder to run the show out there,” Francona said. “Everyone else moves off of him.”
On Friday, bench coach DeMarlo Hale praised Ellsbury for his assertiveness this season as the leader of the outfield.
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