Archive for February, 2013

John Lackey takes another step as Red Sox offense erupts in win over Pirates

Thursday, February 28th, 2013

Right-hander John Lackey incorporated his curveball into his repertoire and bumped up his workload from one to two innings in his second start of the spring, with his continued physical progress representing the headline event of the Red Sox‘ 16-6 victory over the Pirates in Bradenton.

Lackey blitzed through the first inning at McKechnie Field — a notorious hitters’ park — working around a hit batter (who was subsequently caught stealing) and finishing the inning with a strikeout of Travis Snider before stumbling in the second. He permitted a pair of groundball singles through the left side of the infield before hanging a breaking ball to Jared Goedert, who launched it for a three-run homer to left. However, he then settled to close out the inning.

On the day, Lackey allowed three runs on three hits, a walk and a hit batter in two innings. He logged 42 pitches (28 strikes), all but eight of which came during the laborious second inning, though Lackey told reporters that he did not tire while on the mound.

He was less caught up in the details of his spring training line than in taking another step in the process of his return from Tommy John surgery. He noted that he was able to locate his fastball down in the strike zone while starting to incorporate his secondary stuff.

“It’s a good step in the right direction,” Lackey told reporters in Bradenton. “[The return from Tommy John is] going to be a process. I’ve talked to several guys about their experiences. I’m still looking for a little bit of feel for sure because it’s been a while. But there hasn’t been any pain, and I feel like my arm strength is better. I’m encouraged from that standpoint.” (more…)

Updated: Will Middlebrooks takes batting practice after wrist exam

Thursday, February 28th, 2013

FORT MYERS, Fla. — How long will Will Middlebrooks be out due to the right wrist injury he suffered on Wednesday night when checking his swing awkwardly against Orioles right-hander Chris Tillman?

“A year or two?” he mused on Thursday morning, before cracking a grin.

He could afford to joke. After an examination by both Red Sox team trainers and a hand specialist, the third baseman was cleared to resume full baseball activity. Indeed, the key indicators of his health were so positive — Middlebrooks reported that he felt no pain, all strength tests indicated that there was no evidence of weakness and he showed no discomfort when the training staff manipulated his wrist — that the team did not feel it was necessary for him to be sent for either an X-ray or an MRI. Middlebrooks was even able to take batting practice on Thursday, less than 24 hours after being removed from Wednesday night’s game against the Orioles due to pain created by an awkward check swing against on an up-and-in fastball from right-hander Chris Tillman.

“His exam this morning was benign. He didn’€™t feel any discomfort when he was put through a battery of tests and he’€™s actually been cleared for all baseball activities, but I’€™m sure he’€™s going to take the day to just let it rest,” said Sox manager John Farrell. “But given the way he came out after the swing, it was obviously very good news this morning.’€

The Sox expect that Middlebrooks will be able to play in Friday night’s game, so long as there are no issues that emerge in batting practice. For his part, the third baseman exuded confidence when he arrived at JetBlue Park for an exam on Thursday morning.

“I’m fine, man. Same as last night. Just scared. It scared me. I felt just an awkward feeling, awkward movement of the wrist. It was the initial zing of pain and that was it. I expect to be fine. I’m fine right now. I could have swung a bat last night,” said Middlebrooks. (more…)

Jonny Gomes launches moonshot, Will Middlebrooks dodges bullet in Red Sox spring loss to Orioles

Wednesday, February 27th, 2013

SARASOTA, Fla. — In a spring training game that saw Red Sox third baseman Will Middlebrooks suffer a scare with his right wrist, Jonny Gomes blasted a long home run to left field while several Red Sox relievers looked strong early on as the Orioles beat the Red Sox, 5-3, Wednesday night at Ed Smith Stadium in Sarasota.

Reliever Franklin Morales started the game and retired the side in order on 12 pitches, eight strikes. The lefty was making his first appearance of the spring.

But the bigger story came in top of the first when the Red Sox (2-4) appeared to dodge a major bullet. With an 0-1 count, Middlebrooks took an inside fastball from Orioles starter Chris Tillman. Middlebrooks attempted to check his swing and avoid being hit. He was successful in avoiding the pitch but he immediately grabbed his right wrist and went to manager John Farrell. He was taken out of the game and replaced with Pedro Ciricaco. As he went into the dugout, he threw his helmet against the back wall in obvious frustration.

[AUDIO: Red Sox manager John Farrell talks about team apparently dodging a bullet with Will Middlebrooks.]

The team later said Middlebrooks, who broke the same wrist last August in Cleveland when hit by a pitch, was suffering from “right wrist soreness” and would be re-evaluated Thursday in Fort Myers. After the game Middlebrooks said he felt no pain and it was “just a scare” and a “freak thing that scared everybody.” He pointed to the outside of his right wrist, where he suffered the break last August and said the initial discomfort was in the same area.

Alex Speier has much more, including reaction from Middlebrooks.

The group of Morales, Joel Hanrahan, Koji Uehara, Andrew Bailey and Andrew Miller all threw a single inning of work. Only Hanrahan allowed a run, and it was unearned, as Ciriaco threw high to first on a routine grounder in the second inning, and Nava couldn’t reach up and grab it.

But the good run of pitching ended in the sixth when Junichi Tazawa was roughed up for two runs on four hits and committed a balk in the sixth. The two runs came on an opposite-field homer to left by Chris Davis, erasing Boston’s 2-1 lead and putting Baltimore ahead, 3-2. Tazawa has allowed five hits and two runs over two innings in his first two appearances. Drake Britton allowed two more runs on three hits in the seventh as Baltimore built a 5-2 lead. (more…)

Will Middlebrooks on injury scare: ‘Nothing’s broken. Nothing’s torn.’

Wednesday, February 27th, 2013

SARASOTA, Fla. — Red Sox third baseman Will Middlebrooks believes he dodged a bullet.

The 24-year-old left Wednesday night’s game against the Orioles after an awkward check swing on an up-and-in fastball from right-hander Chris Tillman sent pain shooting into his the outside of his right wrist, at the base of the hand above the pinkie. His hand slipped off the bat as a result. He feared a recurrence of injury to the same region that wiped out the final nine weeks of his 2012 rookie season due to a fracture suffered on a hit by pitch.

However, when Middlebrooks returned to the Red Sox clubhouse, the news — at least at first glance, pending further evaluation on Thursday in Fort Myers — represented a best-case scenario. While Middlebrooks has yet to get an X-ray or MRI, initial strength tests showed that he had all of the strength in his wrist. And with the pain in the region already subsiding considerably within the first hours after the injury, the third baseman was optimistic that he’d avoided an issue that would represent a threat to his season.

[AUDIO: Will Middlebrooks talks about dodging a major bullet Wednesday night in Sarasota.]

“It’s not as serious as we thought it was. … Everything as of now seems fine,” said a relieved Middlebrooks. “It was more of a scare because it was of the area it was, right where I broke it last year. I just took a swing — obviously it looked pretty awkward, and it felt just as awkward as it looked. It was more precautionary. I probably could have stayed in the game and been fine, but they just wanted to make sure everything was alright.” (more…)

Will Middlebrooks leaves game due to ‘right wrist soreness’

Wednesday, February 27th, 2013

SARASOTA, Fla. — Red Sox third baseman Will Middlebrooks left in the first inning of Wednesday’s Grapefruit League game against the Orioles after suffering an injury while facing Baltimore right-hander Chris Tillman.

Middlebrooks tried to check his swing on an inside fastball from Tillman. His hand flew off the bat as he attempted to do so, and after he unsuccessfully held up his swing, Middlebrooks immediately walked towards the Red Sox dugout, where he was greeted by a team trainer and manager John Farrell. The decision to remove him from the game was immediate. As Middlebrooks walked off the field, he was holding his right hand against his side — a particularly troubling sign for the Sox given that Middlebrooks’ 2012 season ended in early August when his right wrist was fractured by a pitch. The injury was describe by the Red Sox as “right wrist soreness,” with the third baseman slated for further evaluation on Thursday. Pedro Ciriaco was sent to the plate to complete the at-bat.

If Middlebrooks suffered an injury of any severity, it would deplete the Sox at one of the positions where they possess their least depth. Middlebrooks hit .288 with .325 OBP and .509 slugging mark along with 15 homers in 75 games in his rookie season in 2012. But when he went down for the season after getting smoked by a 95 mph fastball in the right wrist, the Sox suffered a considerable diminution in offensive firepower when Pedro Ciriaco (.293/.315/.390/.705 on the year; .270/.298/.345 after Middlebrooks’ injury) took over at the position. The only other option for third base on the 40-man roster is Brock Holt, though Holt is just being introduced to the position this spring.

Xander Bogaerts, likewise, is being introduced to third base this spring, though the shortstop was playing there solely in preparation for his participation in the World Baseball Classic with Team Netherlands. Still, even with his introduction to the position, given that the 20-year-old has little more than a week’s worth of experience taking groundballs at third and has played just one month in Double-A, it would be unrealistic to consider him an option to start the regular season if the Middlebrooks injury represents a threat to his availability at the start of the year.

Still, given the fact that an injury has yet to be announced, it remains premature to speculate for how long Middlebrooks might be sidelined. More details will be offered as they become available. For complete Red Sox coverage, visit weei.com/redsox.

John Farrell notes Wednesday: Felix Doubront cleared for start, David Ortiz takes a personal leave

Wednesday, February 27th, 2013

SARASOTA, Fla. — Felix Doubront completed his simulated game Wednesday successfully in Fort Myers and has passed the final hurdle for starting a spring game, according to Red Sox manager John Farrell. That start will come Monday afternoon at JetBlue Park against Tampa Bay.

The lefty was slowed at the start of camp due to fatigue in his left [throwing] shoulder and was held back. He began throwing a week later than the other four projected starters in the rotation. He threw live batting practice earlier this week before throwing his simulated game on Wednesday.

“He was very good. Two sim innings and he’s on tap for Monday,” Farrell said before Wednesday’s game against the Orioles.

After some confusion, another pitcher, Alfredo Aceves, will indeed pitch for Mexico for the upcoming World Baseball Classic. Farrell had initially informed his right-hander, who was initially on the provisional roster, that he was not selected for the regular roster and would not be playing. That apparently was not the case.

Farrell said it’s likely that Aceves will start for Mexico, which is part of the reason the Red Sox wanted to stretch him out to start camp.

David Ortiz left the team Wednesday for the Dominican Republic to take care of a personal matter.

“He’s taking a couple of personal days,” Farrell said. “He’s got a personal issue he’s taking care of right now.”

Other pregame notes included Farrell’s reaction to St. Louis manager and former catcher Mike Matheny instructing his catchers to avoid all contact at the plate when possible: “You want the aggressiveness to always remain in the game,” Farrell said. “But at the same time, when a catcher can be opened up, in some cases, for a very severe injury, you almost have to listen to the comments of Mike and Bruce Bochy, former catchers who have sustained a serious injury from it. Their comments probably resonate more than those of who have not been back there. I guess I take the view of the game from the traditional standpoint that you want good, hard play as long as it’s not a cheap shot. Where do you draw the line on a play at the plate? If it’s a hard slide that makes contact. Maybe just a mandatory slide rather than just a head-up, full-on collision, I can see the merit in preserving guys’ health. They can be scary, no doubt about. [Jorge] Posada took one from Hinske that I still don’t know how it got up from it but he did. I think the last thing anyone want is to hurt anyone in the game.
(more…)

Red Sox take on Oriole regulars in Sarasota

Wednesday, February 27th, 2013

SARASOTA, Fla. — The Red Sox will send lefty reliever Franklin Morales to the mound Wednesday night in their first night game of the spring, as they visit Ed Smith Stadium for a date with the Baltimore Orioles.

After getting pounded, 15-4, Tuesday by St. Louis at JetBlue Park, the 2-3 Red Sox look to get back on the winning track against a lineup of primarily regulars against the Orioles.

The Red Sox lineup:
Jacoby Ellsbury CF
Dustin Pedroia 2B
Shane Victorino RF
Jarrod Saltalamacchia C
Will Middlebrooks 3B
Stephen Drew SS
Jonny Gomes LF
Daniel Nava 1B
Mark Hamilton DH

Franklin Morales SP

The Orioles line up this way:

Nolan Reimold DH
Brian Roberts 2B
Nick Markakis RF
Adam Jones CF
Matt Wieters C
Chris Davis1B
J.J. Hardy SS
Nate McClouth LF
Wilson Betemit 3B

Chris Tillman SP

For more, visit the Red Sox team page at weei.com/redsox.