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Shane Victorino will have MRI after hamstring injury 03.29.14 at 5:57 pm ET
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FORT MYERS, Fla. — Shane Victorino’s right hamstring has allowed for some uncertainty heading into Monday’s Opening Day.

The Sox’ outfielder was forced to leave the Red Sox‘ final spring training game, Saturday against the Twins, due to a sore leg. The hamstring ailment is something he was forced to deal with during the 2013 season, although Victorino consistently throughout his time in Florida the issue hadn’t resurfaced.

“In Shane’s second at-bat, rounding first base, he felt his right hamstring grab him,” Farrell told reporters. “Until we have further information after an MRI, we’ll have an announcement at that point.”

Victorino will have the MRI performed in Boston before meeting the Red Sox in Baltimore. His only comments to reporters upon leaving the clubhouse were, “I’ll be fine. I’ll be ready to go.”

If the right fielder does need to go on the 15-day disabled list, Jackie Bradley Jr. would likely get the call to replace him on the 25-man roster.

“He’s on call, certainly,” Farrell said of Bradley Jr., citing the need to wait for the results of Victorino’s exam.

Victorino has dealt with a variety of injuries throughout camp, playing in just nine Grapefruit League games. He first was sidelined with a lingering back issue, and then was briefly forced from the lineup due to some discomfort in his surgically-repaired right thumb. He also was dealing with a calf injury recently, which didn’t appear serious.

Jon Lester: Talks ‘very, very positive … our door is always open’ 03.29.14 at 12:29 pm ET
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FORT MYERS, Fla. — Red Sox left-hander Jon Lester discussed the “pause” that the Red Sox and he agreed to take in negotiations of a potential contract extension, suggesting that he found the talks “very encouraging,” that he still wants to remain with the Sox beyond the expiration of his current contract at the end of this year but that the two sides felt that, with Opening Day upon them, it made sense to resume talks at a subsequent time. Lester, who’d said talks would have continued into the season had they reached “the 5-yard line,” said that they had not reached the “red zone,” thus resulting in the decision.

Still, the pitcher said that the “door is always open” to talks during the season, but that he’d be less directly involved in them in deference to his in-season responsibilities. He characterized the dialogue as “amicable,” and showed no evidence of pessimism about the potential for a deal ultimately getting done.

Here is a transcript of some of his remarks:

On reaching the decision to ‘pause’ talks:

“We talked yesterday about it. That was a collective kind of statement from both sides. At the point where I felt like if we continued it would be a distraction. Just felt like for right now, that’s probably the best decision for both sides.”

Is there any disappointment that, given your interest in getting a deal done, you haven’t accomplished that yet?

“I don’t know if disappointing is the right word. I think any time you go into a position like this, you have to prepare yourself for something to not happen. Like I’ve said from the beginning, both sides, it was very encouraging, the stuff that was going on, but like I said and like Ben said, where we’re at right now isn’t a good time to continue. Just put it on pause for now and see where we go from there.” Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: contract extension, Jon Lester, spring training 2014,
Ben Cherington: Red Sox, Jon Lester to ‘hit the pause button’ in extension talks 03.29.14 at 11:12 am ET
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FORT MYERS, Fla. – The Red Sox and left-hander Jon Lester have agreed to table discussions about a potential contract extension beyond the 2014 season. Lester, who will start Opening Day for the fourth straight year on Monday, at least will begin the 2014 campaign uncertain of whether it will be his last in Boston after the two sides could not find common ground.

“I think that we’re going to hit the pause button,” GM Ben Cherington said of talks with the 30-year-old pitcher. “We’ve had a lot of good dialogue, shared information. Jon and [agent Seth Levinson] have made good arguments for their position. We understand their position. We feel like we have good arguments for our position and our desire remains to keep him here past 2014. We weren’t able to find something that worked for everyone during this spring training. So, just in the interests of allowing him to get ready for Monday, let the team get ready for Monday, we’ll kind of hit the pause button and hope that we can pick up the conversation again at some point.”

Cherington suggested that there remains a shared interest in seeing whether an agreement can be reached to keep Lester with the only organization for whom he’s pitched professionally. Lester was taken by the Red Sox in the second round of the 2002 draft, and both he and the club have repeatedly stated a desire to continue that relationship beyond Lester’s eligibility for free agency following this season, the $13 million option year on what was initially a five-year, $30 million deal that he signed after the 2008 campaign.

The Red Sox GM did not rule out the possibility of revisiting talks during the season, even as he allowed that the two sides may wait until after the year to resume conversations.

“We’re going to focus on the season right now and he’s going to focus on the season. We’ll get into it and see where we go from there,” said Cherington. “I don’t want to rule anything out because I think, I don’t think it’s necessary to rule anything out. We, it could be that we wait until the end of the season and pick it up then. I think there’s a shared desire to continue to talk at some point. We just don’t know when that’s going to be.”

Lester went 15-8 with a 3.75 ERA last year before turning in a dominant postseason performance (4-1 with a 1.56 ERA in five October starts) in anchoring the Sox rotation in its World Series run. Though the pitcher had suggested he wasn’t looking to maximize his earnings in extension talks with the Sox, he also made clear that he had limits in terms of the lengths to which he’d go in order to re-up with the team. And through the spring, the two sides could not close the gap to find common ground, though the potential to revisit that position remains.

“Jon has put himself in a good position,” said Cherington. “He’s a very good starting pitcher who’s been consistent and durable and he’s now a season away from free agency. He’s put himself in a good position. We understand that, respect that. Again, our desire remains to keep him here. We’ll continue to have an open mind on ways to do that but we just couldn’t get to anything during this spring training.”

It’s official: Grady Sizemore makes Red Sox Opening Day roster 03.28.14 at 11:18 am ET
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FORT MYERS, Fla. — Prior to his team’s second-to-last spring training game, Friday morning, Red Sox manager John Farrell announced that Grady Sizemore will be the Opening Day starter in center field.

The 31-year-old Sizemore — who hasn’t played a major league game since Sept. 22, 2011 – beat out Jackie Bradley Jr., who will begin the 2014 season with Triple-A Pawtucket.

Sizemore is coming off a stretch in which he played three straight games for the first time this spring training, entering Friday with a .333 batting average and .842 OPS in 42 Grapefruit League plate appearances.

The outfielder has consistently noted how he hadn’t experienced any setbacks throughout his comeback, crediting the plan (and treatment) presented by Red Sox physical therapist Dan Dyrek.

Farrell said early on in the season Sizemore wouldn’t be counted on to hit leadoff, despite manning the spot for the majority of his career. The reasoning for the drop in the order, according the manager, is to help limit the physical toll on Sizemore as he eases back into major league shape.

Bradley Jr. struggled for much of the spring, heading into Friday’s game with a Grapefruit League batting average of .158, striking out 17 times and drawing just three walks.

Related Grady Sizemore content:

Bradford: How Grady Sizemore finally landed with Red Sox

Bradford: Grady Sizemore kicks off quest to make history

Bradford: Now Red Sox need to find out how good Grady Sizemore can be

Audio: Grady Sizemore joins Dale and Holley

Speier: How is he doing this? Taking stock of Grady Sizemore’s spring revelation

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Francisco Cordero mulling possibility of minor league assignment with Red Sox 03.28.14 at 10:35 am ET
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FORT MYERS, Fla. — Right-hander Francisco Cordero, who signed a minor league deal with the Red Sox after sitting out the 2013 season, said that he is currently considering the Red Sox‘ offer of a bullpen spot in Triple-A Pawtucket after being informed that he will not make the big league team out of spring training. The 38-year-old threw eight scoreless innings in camp, allowing five hits while striking out eight and walking one. Cordero said that he’s trying to connect with his agent, Fernando Cuza, to decide whether to accept the Sox’ offer or whether other major league opportunities might exist for him.

“I’m just waiting. They told me that if I wanted to, there’s a spot open in Triple-A if I want to go. Like I said, I told them I’ve got to think about it,” said Cordero. “I’ll talk to my agent. Once I talk to my agent, we’ll talk and get on the same page and we’ll decide what we’re going to do. I’ve just got to wait until he calls me and we talk.”

Though he did not make the team, Cordero expressed satisfaction with his decision to pursue another shot at the big leagues. The 14-year big league veteran, who has 329 career saves, said that he has been pleased with how he’s thrown after using his time away from the game to shed considerable weight — something meant to permit him to be healthy both for a shot at pitching but also to enjoy life once he does walk away from the game.

“You want to be healthy. You want to be able to enjoy life when you finish. You have a good career, you make good money, you want to be able to enjoy life with your family, kids and grandkids and you can talk about what you did. What I did [to get healthy], I did it because I wanted to come back and I did it for my health,” said Cordero. “Unfortunately, things didn’t go the way I was expecting or the way I wanted them to go. I didn’t make the team here, but like I said, I’m pretty happy and I really appreciate Boston for giving me the opportunity to come back in spring training and do what I love,” said Cordero. “I  showed myself that I can still pitch and still get people out. I’m pretty happy with what I did after being off for a year without pitching last year, to come back in spring training and pitch the way I pitched, throwing strikes and getting people out, I’m happy with what I did. It was real tight here, tight being in this spot here and they have a good bullpen setup.

“[But] I think I showed some teams that I can still get people out, that I’ve got my pitches working and that I’m healthy. I’m in better shape than I was back in 2012. It was good for me to come here, work and show people that I can still get people out. Now we’ll maybe just see what’s going on after this. We’ll see what’s going on, what happens.”

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Former Red Sox first-rounder Kolbrin Vitek retires 03.28.14 at 12:46 am ET
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FORT MYERS, Fla. — According to industry sources, Kolbrin Vitek — taken by the Red Sox with their first-round pick in the 2010 draft — filed his retirement papers in mid-March, ending a playing career that never lived up to the lofty expectations that followed him into professional ball.

Vitek had a solid if unspectacular first full pro season in 2011, hitting .281 with a .350 OBP and .372 slugging mark. But he struggled with significant injuries in both 2012 (when he hit .242/.284/.339 in Double-A Portland while limited by an intercostal injury) and 2013 (.204/.260/.254 over 58 games back in Portland, with his season largely wiped out by neck issues and a concussion).

Vitek, who was drafted as a third baseman but moved to left field in Portland last year, reported to spring training this year hoping that his health woes were behind him. However, when he experienced a recurrence of the neck issues and lingering effects of the concussion while trying to play, he decided that it was time to move on from his baseball career.

When the Sox drafted Vitek in the first round (No. 20 overall) out of Ball State University, they believed that he represented a player with exceptional athleticism and the sort of tremendous bat speed that offered the potential to yield high averages and OBPs with the possibility of perhaps 15-20 homers and a comparable number of steals while playing third base — a diverse skill set that offered the potential for a well above-average big league regular. But even in his lone full healthy season of 2011, his passive approach at the plate led to a relative absence of impacting the ball (he hit just three homers).

Still, the Sox viewed that year as a potential foundation for future success, particularly given his promising work at third base. But in 2012, against Double-A competition, Vitek’s performance lagged behind his tools, a development that became pronounced as a result of his injuries. By last season, his organizational future seemed in question.

While Vitek did not pan out, the Red Sox‘ 2010 draft, at least from a distance of four years, currently looks like a successful one. Four of the team’s next five picks after Vitek — supplemental first-rounders Bryce Brentz and Anthony Ranaudo, second-rounder Brandon Workman and fourth-rounder Garin Cecchini — have advanced to Triple-A or higher with the possibility of making a big league impact this year. (Workman, of course, has already shown the ability to make an impact at the highest level of competition.)

Read More: kolbrin vitek, spring training 2014,
Sox place Craig Breslow, Steven Wright on disabled list to start season 03.27.14 at 11:11 pm ET
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FORT MYERS, Fla. — The Red Sox made a pair of roster moves following their 4-1 victory over the Twins at JetBlue Park on Thursday night, placing both Craig Breslow (mild left shoulder strain) and Steven Wright (recovery from sports hernia surgery) on the disabled list. Wright has just been cleared to ramp up his throwing program and will open the year in extended spring training in Fort Myers. Breslow, by contrast, likely will be activated in the early days of the season.

Breslow’s disabled list trip is retroactive to March 21, meaning that he can be activated as early as April 5. He has pitched in two minor league spring training games, tossing 15 pitches (10 strikes) in an inning of work with a fastball at about 87 mph and a swing-and-miss changeup on Thursday. Breslow felt like the DL stint was unnecessary and told the Sox as much, but the team feels that he will benefit from building arm strength with perhaps two or three minor league outings before he joins the roster.

“[Breslow] felt like with three appearances that were outlined [during spring training], he felt like he’d be ready for the start of the season. We just felt like similar to last year, with a couple extra outings in that first week of the season just to continue to build his foundation,” said manager John Farrell, alluding to the fact that Breslow spent the initial weeks of last year on the DL. “I thought today, watching him in the minor league game, there was a clear step-up in stuff without overexerting. We expect this stay to be minimal.”

Read More: Craig Breslow, spring training 2014, steven wright,
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