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David Ortiz not quite sure he will be hitting Monday 03.16.13 at 3:42 pm ET
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PORT CHARLOTTE, Fla. ‘€“ Friday, Red Sox manager John Farrell said that if David Ortiz‘€™s injured heels continued to progress the designated hitter could resume some baseball activities Monday.

When asked about the timetable Saturday afternoon, Ortiz wouldn’€™t commit one way or another, simply saying, ‘€œGetting there.’€

When asked if he felt better than when he initially stopped activities due to inflammation in both heels, Ortiz responded, ‘€œProbably.’€

He later added when asked what was planned, ‘€œOnce I get better, I’€™ll have an idea. But I’€™m not there yet.’€

Earlier Saturday, Farrell reiterated that the plan heading into the season without Ortiz was to rotate players in the DH position according to matchups.

One possibility, Ryan Lavarnway, was broached by Farrell prior to the Red Sox’€™ game against the Rays.

‘€œFor guys that haven’€™t been strictly a DH, that’€™s a challenging routine for them,’€ the manager said. ‘€œParticularly a catcher who’€™s in the flow of every pitch thrown and then you got nothing, being completely idle and walk up to the plate a little more cold. We haven’€™t settled on any one combination or front-runner for that matter on who would be in David’€™s slot. We know it’€™s going to be a match-up situation.’€

Farrell said he hasn’€™t talked to Jarrod Saltalamacchia about the possibility of serving as a part-time designated hitter. The catcher spent 13 games at DH in 2012 after Ortiz was shut down with his Achilles tendon injury.

‘€œWe’ve focused on a number of things behind the plate and have been very clear that he’s our lead catcher and don’t want to veer off of that,’€ Farrell explained.

Read More: David Ortiz, John Farrell, Red Sox, ryan lavarnway
Red Sox roster moves: Rubby De La Rosa, Allen Webster, Christian Vazquez sent down 03.15.13 at 7:37 pm ET
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FORT MYERS, Fla. — The Red Sox made three cuts from major league camp Friday, sending pitchers Rubby De La Rosa and Allen Webster to Triple-A Pawtucket, and catcher Christian Vazquez to Double-A.

With the moves, the Red Sox now have 48 players in big league camp, including 34 from the 40-man roster, one on the 60-day disabled list and 13 non-roster invitees.

De La Rosa impressed early on in camp (with Pedro Martinez surmising he could be as good as Roger Clemens or Juan Marichal), but ran into some command issues in his last two outings. The righty, who, along with Webster, came over from the Dodgers last August, allowed eight runs in 2 2/3 innings while walking five in his last pair of appearances.

Webster has been one of the bright spots of camp for the Red Sox, flashing a high 90’s fastball, along with a put-away changeup. The righty made a few small adjustments (click here for details), leading Red Sox manager John Farrell to describe him simply as “pretty damn good” after the pitcher’s last outing. In four outings, Webster struck out 14, walked one and allowed two earned runs in 11 innings.

Vazquez was also a standout in camp, impressing with a lightning quick delivery to second on stolen base attempts. The catcher gunned down all four baserunners attempting to steal against him, while also picking off a runner. (For more on Vazquez click here.)

Read More: allen webster, christian vazquez, Red Sox, rubby de la rosa
Flacco coming to Boston: Red Sox trade for quarterback’s brother 03.15.13 at 7:11 pm ET
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FORT MYERS, Fla. — The Flacco family will have a chance to make amends with Boston sports fans.

Friday, the Red Sox traded for Mike Flacco, the brother of Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco, giving up either cash considerations or a player to be named later.

An infielder, the 26-year-old Flacco played primarily at Single-A Frederick last season, and was expected to compete for the starting first base job at Double-A Bowie in the coming season. With Frederick he hit .218 in 103 games, hitting eight home runs and finishing with a .626 OPS. In four professional seasons, the former 31st-round pick hit a combined .216 with a .613 OPS.

‘€œMike had a few years with us and the Red Sox had some interest,’€ Orioles executive vice president Dan Duquette told the Baltimore Sun regarding the 6-foot-6 Flacco. ‘€œAnd we thought this would be a better opportunity for him. We talk to clubs every day to see if we have a match, and on this one we had a match’€

Franklin Morales (back) sidelined indefinitely, Opening Day concerns for Stephen Drew, Ortiz to start hitting 03.15.13 at 12:30 pm ET
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SARASOTA, Fla. — Red Sox manager John Farrell, prior to his team’s Grapefruit League game against the Orioles in Sarasota, offered medical updates on three of his sidelined players.

Left-hander Franklin Morales, who was already expected to open the year on the disabled list, is sidelined indefinitely following an epidural injection to treat a bulging disc in his back. The condition was discovered during an MRI in Boston.

“When he first had the back symptoms, he went through conservative oral medication but it was clear he needed to receive the injection,” said Farrell. “[The next step is to] begin to initiate some activities as the symptoms subside, which they are. We’re hopeful to start inside-the-weight room type workouts. There’s no target date to put a ball back into his hand yet.”

Farrell said that the Sox currently plan to build Morales back up to work out of their bullpen. That being the case, it might be a while before he could be build to the point of offering the team depth in their starting rotation. Asked if it will be weeks or months before Morales — who went 3-4 with a 3.77 ERA, 76 strikeouts and 30 walks last year in 70 1/3 innings — will be able to throw again, Farrell said it was “hard to project right now.”

Meanwhile, Farrell said that shortstop Stephen Drew faces at least “a few days before he’s able to get back on the field” while waiting for mild concussion symptoms to subside. That, in turn, could put his availability for Opening Day in question, depending on precisely how much more time Drew must spend sidelined before he can resume baseball activities and get into games. Read the rest of this entry »

Daniel Bard, Ryan Dempster continue to offer optimism for Red Sox 03.14.13 at 6:26 pm ET
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FORT MYERS, Fla. — For a third straight appearance, Daniel Bard came away with some encouragement.

This time — making a one-inning appearance in the sixth in what turned out to be a 7-3 Red Sox win over the Twins at Hammond Stadium Thursday afternoon — Bard was forced to fight his way out of somewhat of a jam. The righty allowed a leadoff walk to Chris Parmelee before Joe Benson placed a single to right.

Bard came back, however, and Oswaldo Arcia on three straight pitches, and then got an Eric Fryer fly out and Pedro Florimon ground out to end his frame.

“It’s day-to-day, working through getting a feel for the mechanics, trying to iron out the things that aren’t quite right,” said Bard, whose fastball sat at 95-96 mph. “It’s been nice to be able to go out there and feel comfortable on the mound again. I didn’t have that feeling most of the second half last year. Just being comfortable and really feeling like I’m in control on the mound has been great. Look forward to keep doing it for a long time.”

The pitcher has now gone five spring training outings (including his stint against Northeastern) without allowing a run, having struck out nine and walked a pair.

“He regrouped, kept the damage to a minimum,” said Red Sox manager John Farrell. “The one thing you might say, the 3-2 pitch he ended up going to a breaking ball to walk a guy when he was throwing a good fastball. That’s part of spring training getting the mind in shape as much as the body. That’s three solid ones in a row from him.”

Ryan Dempster also continued his momentum, allowing one run on three hits over four innings. He has now allowed three runs in his four spring training starts, encompassing 12 2/3 innings.

“My arm feels good,” Dempster said. “It’€™s responding really well. Next time out a little bit more and just keep building toward the regular season.”

Will Middlebrooks was the star offensive player for the Red Sox in the win, ripping a three-run double in the fourth inning. The fly ball just missed clearing the left field fence. Jacoby Ellsbury also came away with a pair of hits and runs.

Red Sox morning notes: Franklin Morales returns to Boston; Jose Iglesias ‘starting to figure some things out’ 03.14.13 at 10:59 am ET
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FORT MYERS, Fla. ‘€“ Prior to the Red Sox‘€™ meeting with the Twins Thursday at Hammond Stadium, Sox manager John Farrell said that Franklin Morales had returned to Boston in order to have his injured back examined. The lefty pitcher was expected back in camp by the end of the day.

Morales, who has been battling inflammation in his back, hadn’€™t been making the anticipated progress, leading to the trip north.

‘€œHe did go to have it checked,’€ Farrell said. ‘€œHe has been undergoing treatment here. He hasn’€™t really been making the improvements we had hoped for so we just had him checked and he will be back here today. We’€™ll have more of a detailed update once he returns.’€

With the injuries to Morales and Craig Breslow ‘€“ who is coming back from shoulder stiffness and is now throwing at 90 feet (‘€œProgress, albeight slow,’€ Farrell said of the lefty) ‘€“ the Red Sox will most likely have to lean more on Koji Uehara to complement left-handed reliever Andrew Miller in certain match-up situations. Left-handed hitters managed just a .188 batting average against Uehara in 2012.

Farrell said the hope is the Red Sox wouldn’€™t have to match-up too much, with the quality of arms (such as Junichi Tazawa) being able to function against all types of hitters.

With Morales sidelined, Clayton Mortensen has also started to be stretched out a bit more, although Farrell said, ‘€œIf you’€™re looking for a current sixth starter, Alfredo [Aceves] would be the one we would want to stretch out first.’€

– Farrell noted the progress made by shortstop Jose Iglesias, who is hitting .214 with a .695 OPS in 30 plate appearances (third-most on the team). While the average isn’€™t eye-opening, Iglesias has made an impression in regards to his revamped approach.

‘€œI don’€™t know if you can pinpoint any one year why the offensive side hasn’€™t developed as quick as the defensive side. I just know the way he has swung a bat this spring I think he’€™s starting to figure some things out,’€ Farrell said. ‘€œWhether it’€™s his set-up at the plate, which has translated into a much more free, much more aggressive approach, or the ability to swing the bat. I think more than anything because he’€™s a little more upright in his setup, he’€™s seeing the ball better.

Regarding Iglesias adding 10 pounds of muscle over the offseasin, Farrell added, ‘€œ I think strength, in of itself, has allowed him to repeat his swing more consistently, and that’€™s what we’€™re seeing. You see some line-drives into right-center field, straightaway right. We don’€™t want him to be just a guy who is going to feel for the ball and be a slap contact kind of guy. But at the same time there’€™s an aggressive approach with him that I think works best with him.’€

One thing that apparently hasn’€™t changed since the first time Iglesias arrived in camp with the Red Sox four years ago is the shortstop’€™s self-confidence. As was the case that first spring training prior to the 2010 season, he still believes he is the man for the job.

In this case, the job belongs to Stephen Drew.

‘€œLet’€™s see where he ends up,’€ Farrell said when asked if Iglesias has been more understanding when it comes to biding his time before hitting the major leagues.

‘€œHere’€™s the thing: this is a guy who believes in himself,’€ the manager added. ‘€œHe’€™s confident. He believes he should be playing in the major leagues now. The greatest challenge I think any player has is when does personal goals align with the team goals, and when it doesn’€™t at that moment there’€™s disappointment and you understand that, you respect it. But it’€™s out of their control. Then it’€™s a matter of, OK, you have to go about taking business we can control every day, and that’€™s their routine and how they prepare every night.

‘€œI can’€™t say he didn’€™t buy into it, but I think what it says is you can’€™t hide in between the lines and nothing is given to anybody. He has major league ability and I’€™m sure there’€™s going to come a time where he’€™s a very good major league player.’€

Farrell said he has been pleasantly surprised by the young talent which appears on the Red Sox horizon, particularly at the catching position.

‘€œNo, and I say that just not being familiar with them,’€ said the manager when asked if he was aware of the kind of prospects the Red Sox’€™ possessed. ‘€œBut when you see them first-hand, particularly when you see [Christian] Vazquez and [Dan] Butler behind the plate, they’€™ve both done a very good job of handling good arms with power stuff from the mound. Their game calling has been evident. While Jackie and Allen may have grabbed all the headlines, there are a number of guys here who have made the most of the opportunities.’€

When asked his impressions of Terry Francona in the Cleveland Indians‘€™ ‘€œHarlem Shake’€ video (see below), Farrell said, ‘€œWell, we’€™re talking about as players develop, he hasn’€™t developed any more as a dancer.’€

As for when Farrell might execute such moves, ‘€œDon’€™t blink,’€ he said.

Read More: franklin morales, John Farrell, jose iglesias, Red Sox
Mike Napoli receives a scare; Jon Lester marches toward Opening Day 03.11.13 at 4:47 pm ET
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JUPITER, Fla. ‘€“ When Mike Napoli was hit on the inside of the left wrist by a Kevin Slowey fastball in the third inning of the Red Sox‘€™ game against the Marlins at Roger Dean Stadium, one fan in attendance took particular notice.

‘€œOooh!’€ exclaimed Red Sox principal owner John Henry, taking one step forward in anticipation as Napoli was checked by the training staff.

A few minutes, all was well, with Napoli staying in the game and Henry calmly returning to his seat.

‘€œI’€™m fine,’€ the first baseman said after leaving the game in what turned into an 8-7 Marlins win over the Red Sox. ‘€œAny time you hit around your hand area, it doesn’€™t take much for something to go wrong. At first it was a little numb and then I kind of got feeling back into it.’€

‘€œThat’s the last thing you want, especially in the spring, hitting a guy near the hand,” Slowey said. “The pitch just came back. It’s frustrating. That’s certainly not what you want to do.”

Napoli not only remained in the game, but continued to impress while doing so.

The former catcher held is own at first base once again, while adding a walk in two plate appearances. Napoli is hitting .364 with a 1.400 OPS.

Perhaps most important was taking another step toward feeling like a full-time first baseman.

‘€œEvery day I come to the park and I don’€™t even think about catching,’€ he said. ‘€œI don’€™t think about it anymore. I’€™ve let it go.’€

He added, ‘€œI think I’€™m comfortable now. Before I was iffy. I wasn’€™t sure. I didn’€™t really know what I was doing over there. It’€™s a lot better.’€

– Before the game, Red Sox manager John Farrell insinuated Jon Lester would be his Opening Day starter, saying he wasn’€™t ready to name his pitcher for April 1, but judging by the set-up of the rotation it should be easy to figure out.

After his five-inning outing ‘€“ in which he gave up one run on three hits while striking out four and not walking a batter ‘€“ Lester wouldn’€™t reveal if plans had been set in motion for his third straight Opening Day start.

When told after his appearance that he had ‘€œsort of’€ been identified as the starter in the opener, Lester days, ‘€œHave I? Sort of? ‘€¦ Oh, well, I haven’€™t even figured it out so I’€™m glad he told you guys that. I don’€™t look that far ahead yet.’€

Lester continued to perform like he was worthy of a start in the first regular season game, still giving off the image of an ace.

He still, however, sees room for improvement.

‘€œThe last two I don’€™t think have been as good as the first two as far as from pitch one to the end. I don’€™t know if this is because I’€™m throwing more pitches or what,’€ said Lester, who threw 54 pitches (38 strikes). ‘€œI feel like early on today, I was a little out of synch, even in the second but I was able to correct everything and get back to where I needed to be. But it’€™s coming, it’€™s a work in progress, it’€™s getting better as far as being a little more consistent, when I get into the game I have to be more mindful of the checkpoints we have in place and get back to those a little more quickly then I’€™m doing now.

‘€œI feel pretty good, but I don’€™t want to have everything clicking right now, I kind of want to build it up that first start and hopefully kind of roll it over into there and get it going. I feel good, that’€™s the main thing, everything has been good physically, just some minor things in game that I need to improve on but I’€™ve been feeling pretty good.’€

– The legend of Jackie Bradley Jr. continues.

The outfielder led off the game with a first-pitch home run, and finished the afternoon by going 3-for-4. It boosts his batting average to .519 (14-for-27) for the spring.

‘€œAs he’€™s shown all camp, right-handed pitching, left-handed pitching, his balance at the plate, he stays inside the ball,’€ Farrell said. ‘€œWe’€™re seeing as we get deeper into camp pitchers are getting their timing. They’€™re repeating their delivery and making good pitches, and he’€™s handled many types of guys. He’€™s had a strong camp.

Rubby De La Rosa had a rough outing, walking four while allowing five runs and two hits in just 2/3 innings.

It was the second rocky appearance by the Sox’€™ pitching prospect, who allowed three runs over two innings against Pittsburgh last Wednesday.

‘€œI think going back to the last outing and today again, it looks like he’€™s overthrown,’€ Farrell said of De La Rosa. ‘€œHis fastball command has been erratic. He’€™s always having to fight his way back into the count. Creating a little bit of a zone issue. Creating traffic with some bases on balls. But today it showed up a little bit more than the other day. Just overthrowing and not trusting his stuff as he should.’€

– The Red Sox’€™ loss came after they had built a 7-1 lead after seven innings. The final blow came courtesy Miami’€™s Christian Yelich, who claimed a walk-off, two-run blast against Sox’€™ reliever Chris Carpenter.

A highlight for the Red Sox was Will Middlebrooks’ first home run of the spring, a two-run blast over the left field fence in the seventh inning.

Read More: jackie bradley jr., John Farrell, Jon Lester, Marlins
John Farrell isn’t ready to name his Opening Day designated hitter quite yet 03.11.13 at 12:58 pm ET
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JUPITER, Fla. — With news coming down that it his highly unlikely David Ortiz will be ready for Opening Day, the guessing began regarding who might fill the designated hitter spot for the Red Sox on April 1 in Yankee Stadium.

Prior to the Sox’ spring training game against the Marlins at Roger Dean Stadium Monday, manager John Farrell wasn’t ready to start penciling in lineups.

“I think you’re always having some contingencies no matter what position,” Farrell said. “That’s part of the overall internal discussions that take place. As it relates to David, depending on where we are over the next week to 10 days to two weeks, we’ll consider all the options internally right now. … Not that we’ve really set out what the ultimate make-up of the bench is, who fills that slot. Ongoing. Not to give you a short answer and try and avoid it.”

Depending on both the length of time Ortiz will miss, and whom might be available on the roster, the Red Sox could filter a variety of players at the DH position to start. (And the candidates won’t include free agent Derrek Lee, whom, according to a major league source, the Red Sox have not talked about. The Yankees have reportedly shown interest in the 37-year-old.)

Against right-handers, the candidates would include Jarrod Saltamacchia, and whichever player(s) emerge from the Ryan Sweeney, Mitch Maier, Lyle Overbay, and Mike Carp group.

With a left-hander on the hill, Mauro Gomez and Ryan Lavarnway are both in the mix to both be on the roster and serve as a fill-in for Ortiz. Mike Napoli could also get a respite from playing first base, moving one of the aforementioned backup first basemen into the lineup. Jonny Gomes could also move in from the outfield.

As WEEI.com’s Alex Speier reported Saturday, outfielder Jackie Bradley Jr. is not likely to be considered for a spot on the Opening Day major league roster.

“It’s safe to say we don’t have another David Ortiz waiting to occupy that slot,” Farrell said. “What the best match-ups are, that’s where we’ll have to continue to look at. How we balance Mike Napoli playing every day, that will be another thing factored in. Right now everything projects where he would be fine, but we’ve also got to consider that.”

As for how the right-handed-hitting designated hitter candidates have done against Yankees’ Opening Day starter CC Sabathia: Gomez (1-for-2), Nava (2-for-7), Saltlamacchia (3-for-14), Gomes (5-for-24) and Lavarnway (0-for-3).

Read More: David Ortiz, John Farrell, Red Sox, Yankees
John Lackey on most recent outing: ‘Still a work in progress’ 03.10.13 at 6:06 pm ET
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PORT CHARLOTTE, Fla. — Red Sox right-hander John Lackey logged 3 2/3 innings against the Rays on Sunday in his team’s 6-2 victory, permitting two runs (both earned) on four hits (all singles) while striking out two and walking one. Of the 66 pitches he threw, 41 were strikes.

Lackey expressed satisfaction with the steady build-up in his workload, as demonstrated both by the fact that, for the first time this spring, he worked into a fourth inning, and that he reacclimated to returning to the mound after a long wait on the bench during a rally (the Sox pushed three runs across in the top of the fourth).

Still, he acknowledged that even with his ability to throw strikes this spring, he’s still working to sharpen both his command and the action on his pitches, notably a cutter/slider.

“It’s definitely still coming. It’s not there yet. But I’ve been around the zone. You can throw strikes and not throw the way you want exactly, sometimes, too. It’s still a work in progress,” said Lackey. “My slider-cutter thing was a little flat today. I had a pretty good two-seamer today, felt good with that. I got several ground balls when I was trying to.”

Including his three-inning outing against Team Puerto Rico, Lackey has logged 9 2/3 innings in four starts this spring, permitting six runs on 11 hits while striking out six and walking three.

The Sox fell behind 2-0 early, but a three-run homer for David Ross — the catcher’s first hit of the spring — gave the team a 3-2 lead. The Sox added on three more runs in the seventh on an RBI single by Pedro Ciriaco, a run-scoring wild pitch and an RBI double by outfielder Jeremy Hazelbaker. The Sox relieved 5 1/3 innings of scoreless relief, with Koji Uehara contributing another perfect inning (his fourth of the spring) and Daniel Bard working around a hit to pitch a shutout inning.

For more team coverage, visit weei.com/redsox.

David Ortiz shut down at least 5-7 days; Opening Day in doubt 03.10.13 at 4:29 pm ET
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PORT CHARLOTTE, Fla. — Red Sox DH David Ortiz, following a pair of MRIs on Saturday, has been shut down for what is expected to be at least five to seven days due to inflammation in both of his heels, manager John Farrell said after the Red Sox’ 6-2 spring training win over the Tampa Bay Rays. The 37-year-old is experiencing more inflammation in his right heel than his left, though Farrell said that the current condition is distinct from the right Achilles injury that left him able to play just one game after last July 26.

The MRI did not reveal any issues with the previously injured Achilles. It is not known if the issues with the heels was due to overcompensation from his original injury.

“It does reveal some inflammation in the bony area of the heel so he’€™s dealing with that,” Farrell said. “That’€™s where his discomfort is being felt. And as a result, we’€™re going to shut him down for a few days here to let that quiet down completely before we start to initiate any kind of baseball activities after that.

“Again, it’€™s separate from any kind of previous issues that he dealt with. It’€™s in the bone/tendon juncture where he’€™s feeling the inflammation and the MRI shows it in that specific area.”

With the time off, and the fact that Opening Day getting closer and closer, Farrell didn’t sound optimistic that Ortiz would be ready for April 1.

“I mean, we’€™re three weeks away. He’€™s going to need at-bats,” the manager explained. “We’€™re not forgoing Opening Day right now, but we’€™re starting to get into an area where … depending on how many days we need to shut him down, that’€™s going to have a direct affect, a direct bearing on where we are come Opening Day.”

Ortiz was in Fort Myers on Sunday, but did not take part in baseball activities before being informed of the results of the MRI by the team’s training staff. Ortiz declined comment on his condition, deferring the matter to Farrell.

“Absolutely. Absolutely,” the manager said when asked if the organization was somewhat heartened by the diagnosis. “I can’€™t say that we’€™re completely surprised that there’€™s some ‘€¦ once baseball activities got ramped up, the volume starts to pick up, the intensity increases. We felt like there was going to be some physical effects that would have to be dealt with. The bigger picture is, he’€™s improved over a year ago and progress continues to be made, yet we’€™re at a little bit of a bump in the road here.

“I think any time we can give some assurance that there’€™s no re-injury, there’€™s no further damage of any kind, that’€™s got to give some peace of mind. Yet the frustration exists because of not being on the field.”

Read More: Achilles, David Ortiz, heel,
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