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Morning notes: John Farrell talks progress of Christian Vazquez, Allen Webster, Deven Marrero; Will Middlebrooks still nursing injured finger

03.17.14 at 10:55 am ET
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FORT MYERS, Fla. — Prior to the Red Sox‘ spring training game with the Cardinals Monday morning, manager John Farrell discussed the progress made by each of the players sent out in the latest round of roster cuts.

Allen Webster: “Obviously with Allen Webster, I thought his spring training this year was more impressive than a year ago when he was the talk of our camp on a pitcher that comes in late in the game because of how powerful his stuff was. We’re seeing a guy that’€™s maturing on the mound. The use of his two-seamer particularly. And the number of strikes in the bottom of the strike zone has been very encouraging.”

Christian Vazquez: “The progression with the bat. His willingness to go the other way with some base hits. He’€™s starting to impact the baseball a little bit more in some advantage counts. He has the ability to shut down a running game with the way he defends and the way he throws. This is a guy, there would be no hesitation if the need were to arise to call upon.”

Deven Marrero: “A well-above-average defender. Last year, he had a little bit of exposure to us while he was in big league camp. But this year, a very good defender right now. And I think he’s settling in to an approach at the plate that’s not only consistent, but one that works best for him. He does have a tendency to tinker with some things and he’€™s always searching for what the right feel is. But we’ve seen him the last five, six days really impact the baseball to the pull side.”

Will Middlebrooks was out of the Red Sox‘ lineup with a hyperextended finger on his right hand, having attempted to play with the injury Sunday.

Farrell noted that Middlebrooks — who did take batting practice Monday — feels the ailment more when throwing the baseball. The third baseman suffered the injury Thursday when bracing himself during a feet-first slide.

Shane Victorino was back in the No. 2 spot, with Grady Sizemore leading off. With the earlier notion that Dustin Pedroia might be moved up to that slot, Farrell explained the dynamic.

“He’s got an ability in the two-hole to play the game a little more,” said the manager of Victorino. “If there’s a guy on base, he’s got the ability to bunt. He’s already seen some pitches by the guy ahead of him. Can’t deny the track record of what spots in the lineup show and the performance, getting on base particularly. And, you know, it gives us another guy with some speed at the top or an on base and speed guy at the top in addition to who might be leading off with him in the two-hole. And the fact that we had Pedey and David [Ortiz] in the 3-4 hole for pretty much the majority of last year, that’€™s not a new thing for them either.’€

— Sizemore is expected to play in back-to-back games again, Wednesday against the Pirates and Thursday vs. the Yankees (both at JetBlue Park).

— Ortiz is just 2-for-25 heading into Monday’€™s game, but his manager isn’t worried.

“I think more than anything if we can get to roughly 50 at-bats here, that’s the goal, enough at-bats where he’s seeing pitches, he’s getting his timing down, and that’s a round number, not to say we’re holding steadfast to that number, last spring he didn’t have any at-bats and I think he was pretty good last year. David’s getting in shape to start the year.”

Read More: allen webster, christian vazquez, David Ortiz, deven marrero
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