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Could Kevin Youkilis be on the verge of making Gold Glove history? 03.18.11 at 12:27 pm ET
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FORT MYERS, Fla. ‘€“ While many were focusing on Marco Scutaro‘€™s fine play in the field during the Red Sox‘€™ spring training game against the Braves Wednesday, lost was another exceptional moment with the glove.

Kevin Youkilis dove to his left, scooped up Martin Prado’€™s grounder, and threw out the Atlanta baserunner. Great play. Few noticed.

The relative silence regarding Youkilis’€™ performance at third base wasn’€™t hard to figure out. People had seen him play a solid 219 major-league games at the position, so expectations were already set.

It might be time to amp up those expectations.

The question is this: Can Youkilis become the first player since Darin Erstad to win a Gold Glove at two separate positions?

‘€œI don’€™t see why not,’€ said Red Sox third base/infield coach Tim Bogar. ‘€œHe did it on the other side of the field. In my mind, the one thing is throwing for the whole season, and he’€™s been fine with it this spring. That just comes with using his lower half, and he’€™s done that this spring.’€

Youkilis does have his Gold Glove, winning the award in 2007 for his work at first base. And few are going to doubt his abilities when it comes to that side of the diamond, where in 575 games he totaled a .997 fielding percentage (making just 13 errors).

But even though his time at third base has been sporadic throughout the past few years, his fielding percentage at the position is better than two-time Gold Glove-winner David Wright‘€™s number since ‘€™05.

Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: Evan Longoria, Gold Glove, Kevin Youkils,
Why Jarrod Saltalamacchia has entered the world of Twitter 03.18.11 at 9:32 am ET
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FORT MYERS, Fla. — Spelling Jarrod Saltalamacchia’s name just got even more confusing.

In the last few days, the Red Sox catcher has entered the 140-character world that is all the rage, building a whole new identity that can now be found when typing “@Jarrod_Salty39″ into a Twitter search. That’s right: Saltalamacchia is now a social media maven.

At the suggestion of a friend, the backstop dove into the world of Twitter (along with teammate @JacobyEllsbury) Thursday. As of this writing, Saltalamacchia had picked up 2,324 followers despite having only posted three items.

“For me it was just to be able to connect with fans at a bigger level,” Saltalamacchia said Friday morning. “We’€™re at the field and nobody understands when we’€™re done with the day we have family to go home to. If we have time to sign or talk, we do it, but if we don’€™t we go home. It’€™s kind of a way to get out to the fans a little bit and thank them.”

Thus far, Saltalamacchia admits he really hasn’t grasped the intricacies of the phenomenon. He follows just four accounts (three sponsored by Major League Baseball, and, of course, Charlie Sheen). He still hasn’t even begun to track the posts of his Twitter mentor, former teammate C.J. Wilson (@str8edgeracer), whose account has a whopping 49,859 followers.

“I had no idea of how to do it. But through a friend I learned about it and it sounded pretty good cool,” Saltalamacchia said. “It’€™s a great thing to do. I picked up on it and I’€™ll try to figure it out the best I can. I’€™m trying to get the hang of it.”

Read More: Charlie Sheen, jarrod saltalamacchia, Twitter,
Red Sox send down Lars Anderson, Juan Carlos Linares 03.17.11 at 4:44 pm ET
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FORT MYERS, Fla. ‘€“ Following the Red Sox‘€™ 8-5 win over the Mets at City of Palms Park Thursday, the team optioned first baseman Lars Anderson to the minor leagues, and also reassigned outfielder Juan Carlos Linares to the minors.

Both players appeared in the Sox’€™ victory, with Anderson going 1-for-4 with two strikeouts, and Linares ‘€“ playing center field ‘€“ finishing 0-for-2 with a strikeout and run scored.

Anderson leaves big league camp hitting .161 in 13 games, having hit two home runs. He struck out six times and walked once in 31 at-bats.

‘€œLars, defensively, is like night and day, he’s come so far,’€ Red Sox manager Terry Francona said. ‘€œHe just needs repetition, and that’s what we told him. I think he came into camp and he didn’t knock the ball all over the ballpark. We tried to reassure him that what he did during the season will show what kind of hitter he is.’€

The 26-year-old Linares made a positive impression on the major-league staff, hitting .320 (8-for-25) with a home run and nine runs scored. The Cuban has positioned himself to be in the conversation if the Red Sox find themselves needing outfield depth during the regular season.

‘€œLinares is really interesting,’€ Francona said. ‘€œObviously the major-league staff didn’t know him really well. At first blush you look at him and you’re like, ‘I don’t know if this guy can play center field.’ And then you see him run around out there and he can actually play all three outfield positions, he’s very aggressive at the plate, and he hustles on every ball that is in play. He’s a pretty exciting guy.’€

Read More: juan carlos linares, lars anderson,
Why Josh Beckett is the Red Sox’ newest fourth starter 03.17.11 at 2:18 pm ET
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FORT MYERS, Fla. — The biggest news of the day (besides the fact they ran out of corned beef in the press box)? Josh Beckett being slated as the No. 4 starter to start the season.

Jon Lester will be No. 1, John Lackey No. 2, Clay Buchholz No. 3, and Beckett in the fourth spot, with Daisuke Matsuzaka coming in at No. 5.

So why are the Red Sox taking this route? Here are some suggestions:

1. When Terry Francona says the Sox want to put Beckett in the best position to get off to a good start, he means it.

You’re talking about finding some success for a guy who still has a season that included a 6-6 with a 5.78 ERA. While he is coming off a Sept. which included a respectable 4.50 ERA for the month, that same stretch included hitters batting .316 against him. Simply put: Beckett has to get that bad taste of ’10 out of his mouth as soon as possible.

7.22 Beckett pointed out that he got off to a bad start in ’09 (ERA) and went on to have one of his best season in the bigs, saying, “I look back at ’09 and I started off terrible and I put together a three- or four-month stretch there that I’ve never been in that kind of position before. That’s as good as I’ve ever pitched in the big leagues, in ’09. Take away a couple of August starts and that’s probably the best year I’ve ever had. I got off to a horrible start and had a bad August. It’s always important.”

But this is different. He has never had to rebound from such depths as he found himself in last season.

2. The Indians offer the best chance to find some out-of-the-gate success.

One of Beckett’s best outings in ’10 came against the Indians, an Aug. 3 outing in which he allowed one run on three hits over eight innings. With the possible exception of Travis Hafner (5-for-15), none of the current members of the Cleveland hitters have had significant success against Beckett, with catalysts Grady Sizemore (3-for-16, .188) and Orlando Cabrera (10-for-43, .233).

The Rangers would have been a different story. In two outings against Texas in ’10, Beckett allowed 13 runs in 12 innings, giving up seven in seven innings the first time around, and six (and 10 hits) in five frames on Aug. 13.

3. It offers Beckett a bit more time to make sure he has everything where he wants it.

Most came away from the righty’s latest outing in Bradenton encouraged by what Beckett delivered. His changeup — a pitch he prioritized the first few innings — was effective. The fastball hit 94 mph. And his curveball, while still not as powerful as it was in ’07, found its target more consistently than during his struggles in ’10.

One element of Beckett’s repertoire that still needs to be uncovered is the darting two-seam fastball, that served as a primary weapon when he went on the aforementioned run during the ’09 campaign.

Beckett did say Thursday that he was extremely encouraged by Wednesday’s bullpen session, one which allowed for the correction of a few flaws in the pitcher’s delivery.

4. Lackey may be better equipped to take on the Rangers.

While the righty has experienced some ups and downs while pitching in the American League West when facing the Rangers, his success against Texas last season was definitive. In one July 17 outing, Lackey held the Rangers to two runs over seven innings in picking up the win.

Lackey has had trouble throughout his career with a few of the Rangers’ hitters (Ian Kinsler and Josh Hamilton are both hitting over .400 against the hurler for their careers), the new Sox’ No. 2 starter has far and away the most familiarity with the Texas lineup. Lackey has started more games against the Rangers than any other pitcher in the past decade (33).

Read More: Clay Buchholz, Indians, john lackey, Jon Lester
Marco Scutaro feels a lot better, as he showed Wednesday afternoon 03.16.11 at 5:39 pm ET
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How Jon Lester found out he was the Red Sox’ Opening Day starter 03.16.11 at 4:41 pm ET
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Jon Lester named Opening Day starter for the Red Sox 03.16.11 at 11:41 am ET
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LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. — Speaking prior to his team’s spring training game with the Braves, Red Sox manager Terry Francona revealed that Jon Lester will be the Sox’ Opening Day starter for Boston’s April 1 game against the Texas Rangers in Arlington, Texas.

Francona said he had made the decision in the offseason, and talked to Lester about the possibility before spring training. The Sox’ manager said he knows how the rest of his rotation will unfold, but since he hasn’t been able to talk to all the pitchers about the plans he would delay any formal announcements. Josh Beckett has gotten the last two Opening Day starts for the Red Sox.

“I don’t think that’s any surprise, and he’s known about it for a while,” Francona said.

“I just think he’s maturing, the natural progression. I don’t think this is any big revelation, I think he’s been pretty good. … I think he deserves it. I think he has that stature in the game right now where other teams probably look at him as No. 1.”

Lester said earlier in spring training that the only Opening Day start he has ever had was with Single-A Greenville in 2007 when he was making a rehab start after recovering from cancer.

The lefty went 19-9 with a 3.25 ERA in 2010 after winning 16 and 15 games, respectfully, the previous two seasons. Lester becomes the sixth different Opening Day starter since Francona arrived in ’04, following Pedro Martinez, Curt Schilling, David Wells, Daisuke Matsuzaka, and Beckett.

Speaking to WEEI.com earlier in spring training, Beckett endorsed Lester as an Opening Day starter.

“The big lefty, he’s earned the right,” he said, pointing toward Lester’s locker. “If they want him to start Opening Day, that’s his deal. It’s a big honor. That being said, I don’t make those decisions. I’m not really worried about it right now because anything can happen. You saw three years ago I didn’t even make it out of spring training (due to a back injury). I was supposed to start Opening Day that year and I didn’t start a game until the middle of April.

“It’s way too early to be talking about any of that stuff. If they tell him he’s going to have the Opening Day nod, congratulations to him, he’s earned it. I don’t think it’s anything I’ve done. It’s something he’s done to earn their respect.”

For more spring training coverage, see the Red Sox team page at weei.com/redsox.

Read More: Jon Lester, Josh Beckett, Opening Day, Terry Francona
Why Sunday was so important to Josh Beckett’s season 03.14.11 at 11:21 am ET
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Read More: changeup, Jason Varitek, Josh Beckett,
Former Red Sox reliever Brendan Donnelly calls it quits 03.09.11 at 8:42 am ET
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Brendan Donnelly, a member of the 2007 World Series-winning Red Sox club, told MLB.com that he is retiring after pitching nine seasons in the big leagues. Donnelly appeared in 38 games for the Pirates in 2010, going 3-1 with a 5.58 ERA.

The 39-year-old right-hander spent one season with the Red Sox after being traded from the Angels for pitcher Phil Seibel. With the Sox he pitched in 27 games, going 2-1 with a 3.05 ERA before succumbing to Tommy John Surgery, making his final outing with the Sox on June 10, 2007. He rebounded the following season to pitch in 15 games for the Indians in ’08, and 30 games with Florida the following season.

Donnelly was drafted in the 27th round of the ’92 draft by the White Sox, who released him the following season. He bounced around the minor leagues — including spending a stint with the Independent League Nashua Pride — before helping the Angels win a World Series in ’02.

The pitcher was named in the Mitchell Report, but has stood firm in his denial that he used any performance-enhancing drugs, releasing the following statement after being identified:

“In 2004 I was having multiple health issues and was concerned about not getting on the field fast enough. I made a phone call to (Kirk) Radomski about a substance called Anavar. Once I learned Anavar was classified as a steroid I realized that was not an option. That was the end of it. Yes I called him. But I did not purchase or receive anything from him and have never taken Deca or Anavar. I fully support the current drug testing program put in place by Major League Baseball and agree with their efforts to widen the testing.”

In regard to his decision to retire, Donnelly told MLB.com, “”Maybe it’s time that I should be home more,” he said, “and start the next chapter of my life.” He also explained that while the lack of interest from clubs after he was released by Pittsburgh in ’10 was part of the impetus to call it quits, the reality that his wife, Rhonda, is six months pregnant also factored in.

Carl Crawford on the Yankees: ‘I don’t think they were really interested’ 03.04.11 at 12:03 pm ET
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FORT MYERS, Fla. ‘€“ The first sight of the Yankees uniforms Friday night in Tampa don’€™t figure to have its usual effect on Red Sox fans. Reason: Their team won the offseason this time around.

At the heart of the Sox’€™ winter victory is Carl Crawford. But, as it turns out, when it comes to the Yankees potentially swooping in and snatching Crawford in a free-agent frenzy, the Red Sox had nothing to worry about.

‘€œMe and the Yankees, we had no connection,’€ Crawford said. ‘€œI don’€™t think they were really interested. If the Yankees want somebody they go out and get them, don’€™t they?’€

One of the reasons that has led Crawford to the conclusion that New York had little to no interest is the lack of phone calls emanating from the Yankees. Torii Hunter was putting the full-court press on from the Angels’€™ side of thing, while both Red Sox manager Terry Francona and general manager Theo Epstein made their visit to Crawford’€™s home in Houston.

New York? Nothing. The outfielder took notice.

And then there was the notion that the Red Sox had to lock up Crawford before Cliff Lee made his decision because if the free-agent pitcher didn’€™t choose the Yanks then Boston would be getting in a bidding war it wouldn’€™t win.

According to Crawford, that timetable was never an option.

‘€œIf they would have come in the time ‘€¦ I wasn’€™t going to wait another week when what I wanted was there and what [the Red Sox] was there. There was no reason to wait around another week,’€ the outfielder explained.

‘€œI didn’€™t think I was going [to New York] after it was clear they were going after Cliff Lee. Before the season started you don’€™t know who is going to do what. But as the season went on it was clear that Cliff Lee was who they were going after. I wasn’€™t setting my sights on New York anymore.

‘€œIf we came to an agreement with Boston I knew I was going to sign. I wasn’€™t going to wait around for anybody else.’€

Was he surprised the Yankees didn’€™t make any sort of offer while their negotiations with Lee unfolded.

‘€œI didn’€™t know because they are the Yankees, so you can’€™t really say they weren’€™t going to. But I wasn’€™t saying, ‘€˜OK, the Yankees are THE team,’€™’€ Crawford said.

‘€œThat’€™s a good team, too. My thing was I wanted to be on a good team. That was pretty much the main thing, besides the money. People say it was cold here and all that, but I wasn’€™t thinking about that. I was thinking about what team I would be on, what group of guys I was going to be with for the next five, six, or however many years I was going to sign with.’€

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