|Takeaways from Red Sox Grapefruit League game No. 14: David Price finding his groove, Hanley Ramirez passes another test||03.16.16 at 1:31 am ET|
FORT MYERS — Curt Schilling hated pitching to American League East rivals in spring training. Why give opposing hitters more looks than they need?
David Price, however, has spent virtually his entire career in the division. He’s a mystery to no one.
Might as well remind everyone what they’re in for.
Price certainly did that on Tuesday night in a 6-3 loss to the Yankees. He allowed one run on two hits in four innings. He walked none and struck out six, despite throwing mainly fastballs.
“I don’t really care who I’m facing whenever I’m out there,” Price said. “A lot of the time, I don’t even know who’s on deck. I don’t look at the hitters on deck next. Sometimes I might not be able to tell you who I’m facing while they’re in there. I don’t look at that stuff. If I can go out there and execute my game, I feel like I can record outs.”
Price had success against a Yankees lineup that included Alex Rodriguez and Mark Teixeira, as well as Aaron Hicks, who homered in the third. Price struck out A-Rod twice and Teixeira once. In addition to fastballs, he worked on a changeup and cutter.
“It’s part of the process, continuing to go out there, command my fastball the way that I did today,” Price said. “If I can do that, it just opens up everything that I want to do with all my secondary stuff. That’s always a big emphasis on me, just making sure I’m hitting spots with that fastball — two-seam, four-seam, both sides of the plate, moving it in, up, down. A fastball can turn into a lot of pitches for you — a fastball away looks slower than a fastball in to hitters. Using the knowledge that I have, pitching off my fastball.”
|David Murphy describes ‘surreal’ return to Red Sox, nearly 10 years after leaving||03.01.16 at 10:08 am ET|
FORT MYERS, Fla. — David Murphy can come home again.
The former Red Sox outfielder, drafted with the first pick of Theo Epstein’s GM career, officially joined Red Sox camp on Tuesday after signing a minor league deal.
Murphy, 34, was the team’s first-round pick (No. 17 overall) in the 2003 draft out of Baylor and has gone on to a productive 10-year career since being traded to the Rangers for reliever Eric Gagne in 2007. He entered a clubhouse that included a couple of minor league teammates (Dustin Pedroia, Hanley Ramirez), as well as veteran slugger David Ortiz.
“It’s really surreal,” Murphy said. “When we first had contact with the Red Sox, there was just a lot of good feelings. There’s a lot of sentimental feelings, even if I didn’t spend a whole lot of time with the Red Sox at the big league level — all my minor league memories through just random things.
“My oldest daughter was born in Boston when I was playing in Pawtucket. Being down here, my wife and I got engaged during spring training in Fort Myers in 2004. Just a lot of great on-field memories with the guys. Dustin’s still here. Hanley. Two guys I played with through the minor leagues. David Ortiz is still here. Various members of the training staff, coaching staff. In a lot of ways, it’s sort of a homecoming. Happy to be back.”
Murphy was surprised to remain unsigned this late in camp. The Angels declined his $7 million option after he hit .283 with a .739 OPS last year. For his career, the left-handed hitter owns a .795 OPS against right-handed pitching and is capable of playing both corner outfield spots, as well as center in a pinch.
“It was kind of the perfect storm,” Murphy said. “I know that I’m getting older. I know that the game is being analyzed differently now in terms of numbers and sabermetrics. I don’t know if that played into it. I know that there was a lot of good free agents out there on the market this year. I don’t know if I’m going to point to one thing.
“I’ve thought it over, because when my option got turned down by the Angels in early November, first of all I thought there might be a decent chance that I would go back, and then after it got turned down, there wasn’t one bit of thought in my head that said I might have to accept a minor league deal late in the offseason. I wasn’t expecting to get a multi-year deal, but I was expecting to get a major league deal somewhere in the one-year at, I didn’t know exactly what [the money] was going to be.”
As was the case a decade ago when he made his big league debut, Murphy just hopes the Red Sox give him a chance.
“They said there could be opportunity,” Murphy said. “A lot of it is going to be on my end, working hard and showing them I’m in shape, having a good spring, and we’ll see what happens.”
|Mike Petraglia, Rob Bradford on John Lackey, David Ortiz, Jon Lester and Daniel Nava||03.22.14 at 6:00 pm ET|
LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. — WEEI.com’s Mike Petraglia and Rob Bradford assess the next-to-last spring outing of Red Sox starter John Lackey, who gave up 10 hits and five runs, including two home runs, over 4 2/3 innings Saturday in a 6-3 loss to the Atlanta Braves at Champion Stadium. Petraglia and Bradford discuss the latest on contract negotiations for David Ortiz and Jon Lester and the base running lessons involving Daniel Nava.
|John Lackey takes a beating, hits a wall and lives to tell, Red Sox running game runs afoul||03.22.14 at 2:59 pm ET|
LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. — John Lackey took quite the beating Saturday at Disney.
The veteran right-hander allowed 10 hits, including a pair of high-fly homers, and five runs over 4 2/3 innings as the Red Sox fell to the the Braves at Champion Stadium, 6-3, in his third start of the spring. He’s given up 20 hits and 13 earned runs over 12 1/3 innings this March. Lackey did not walk a batter and struck out six. His spring ERA rose to 9.49. Lackey, the projected No. 2 starter, will make one more spring appearance on Thursday before taking the mound for real on April 2 in Baltimore.
Lackey was not concerned about the number of hits he’s given up in three starts.
“It’s spring training, man. I’m not real concerned about a whole lot right now,” Lackey said. “I’m just trying to build up some arm strength and get ready for the real deal.
“I feel pretty good. I’m definitely not quite ready. I’ll still be building arm strength for a few more weeks, to be honest with you. I’ll be good enough to compete and should be just fine.”
The third inning was the most eventful of the day for the Red Sox right-hander. He struck out pitcher Alex Wood. Then speedy Jordan Schafer attempted to bunt his way on with a drag attempt to the first base side. Schafer popped it up a bit and it landed in the triangle between first base, second base and the pitcher’s mound. Lackey fielded the ball, lost his footing but not before scooping it with his glove hand to Daniel Nava at first for the out on a terrific play.
Lackey was slow to get up after falling on his right knee somewhat awkwardly, and catcher A.J. Pierzynski called out manager John Farrell and trainer Rick Jameyson. After about 30 seconds on the mound, Lackey went back to work and gave up a high, wind-blown home run just over the wall in left to Andrelton Simmons, the first homer he’s allowed in three spring starts.
The next batter, Braves slugger Freddie Freeman, then ripped a liner back to the box that hit off Lackey’s backside. Lackey recovered quickly but could not retire Freeman, whom Lackey drilled on the back trying to throw him out as Freeman crossed the bag at first.
“Makes a heck of a play, came out of it without turning an ankle,” manager John Farrell said. “It kind of looked like an awkward play. But then the line drive drive fortunately catches him in the flesh part of the leg. We were able to avoid anything more severe.”
“It got me in the thigh, the big part so I’m fine,” Lackey said of the Freeman liner.
As for the bunt?
“A.J. was just being funny, giving me a rest,” Lackey said. “I was fine, nothing happened on that.
Dustin Pedroia was laughing with Lackey coming off the field and congratulated Lackey on his Pedroia-like scoop play. “I just asked if he liked that. He was pretty fired up,” Lackey said.
|Jon Lester says his contract talks are ‘headed in the right direction’||03.21.14 at 4:51 pm ET|
CLEARWATER, Fla. — While a new contract is not on the table yet, Jon Lester spoke like a man Friday that feels he definitely has reason to be optimistic he and the Red Sox will eventually work out a new deal.
Lester, after making his fifth start of the spring and lowering his ERA to 0.71, acknowledged that the Red Sox are busy right now. Not only are the Red Sox considering the future of their left-handed ace, they’re also trying to close in on a one-year extension for David Ortiz.
“I know they’ve been pretty busy with dealing with David’s stuff and all that,” Lester said Friday afternoon. “It’s a negotiation. No matter how optimistic people are about it, it’s a tough process. We’ll keep grinding it out and see where we get. I think we’re headed in the right direction.”
In the final year of a five-year, $30 million deal paying him $13 million this season, Lester also said he would be willing to have talks extend into the regular season if there’s a reasonable expectation that a new contract is imminent.
“If you’re at the 5-yard line and you’re kind of closing in on the thing then, yeah, you’ll just spill it over but if we’re so far apart and it still doesn’t matter, then I think we’ll sit down and talk about it and see what the best interests are for both sides on that,” Lester said. “But as of right now, things are progressing and we’ll just keep hashing it out and see where it goes.”
Does Lester feel he’s in the red zone of closing in on a new deal?
“Not in the red zone right now. No, no, definitely not there but I think it’s going in the right direction. We’ve had good dialogue so that’s good.”
Lester’s comments come on the heels of a report from WEEI’s Rob Bradford that a deal is not close to being finalized.
|Jon Lester continues his dominant spring, A.J. Pierzynksi knocks in two as Red Sox tie Phils||03.21.14 at 4:21 pm ET|
CLEARWATER, Fla. — In many ways, it was the perfect outing for Jon Lester in what has been a nearly perfect spring training.
He retired the side in order in the first, worked out of jams in the third and fourth innings. And he batted twice without getting injured.
All in all, the lefty starter in line for the opening day nod in Baltimore accomplished what he wanted to in the next-to-last start before his March 31 assignment at Camden Yards in Baltimore.
Lester threw 5 2/3 scoreless innings, scattering four hits, allowing one walk while striking out five as the Red Sox tied the Phillies, 2-2, in a game called after 10 innings at Bright House Field. Lester lowered his spring ERA to 0.71 in five spring starts. Lester threw 81 pitches, 55 for strikes, right on pace with what manager John Farrell had hoped for entering Lester’s third start of the spring.
“I felt good,” Lester said. “I felt like I got into a rhythm a little bit earlier than I did last time. Still didn’t have too good of a feel for my breaking ball and my changeup but that’ll come. I was overthrowing a little bit on those pitches but all in all, I was happy with fastball command and threw some cutters to both sides so it was good.
“I don’t know what it says as far as velocity but I feel like it’s coming out pretty well right now, just continue to build the pitches up.”
|Friday notes: John Farrell says Grady Sizemore ‘likely’ as his every day center fielder when ‘durability’ is on his side||03.21.14 at 12:53 pm ET|
CLEARWATER, Fla. — Grady Sizemore may or may not be the starting center fielder for the Red Sox when they take the field on March 31 at Camden Yards in Baltimore. But John Farrell made it clear that at some point, likely early in the season, when he does start to play, he’ll be the starting center fielder to stay.
“We have every reason to believe at this point that he is a likely candidate to become an every day player, with durability on his side at some point,” Farrell said of the veteran outfielder who is batting .360 in eight games this spring.
Recovering from chronic knee and back ailments over the past two seasons, Sizemore came into camp not having played a competitive game since Sept. 2011. Sizemore, who’s also had a sports hernia and a bad elbow, has impressed coaches and fans alike with athletic plays in the field and a compact, efficient swing at the plate.
“There’s a progression we’re following to get to everyday play but the most encouraging thing is he has not hit the proverbial wall where we’ve bumped up against the limits and have to pull back,” Farrell said before Friday’s game against Philadelphia at Bright House Field. “We haven’t reached that yet, which is all extremely positive.”
Sizemore played in all nine innings for the first time Thursday against the Yankees and Farrell said he came through it very well and is on schedule to return to the field in a minor league game Saturday. He’ll play for the Red Sox again on Sunday and Monday and be evaluated on Tuesday morning to see how he handled the three straight games and five in six days.
“The medical exam, the medical information is guiding us with a progression. But every piece of feedback from the medical staff has been positive with the end thought that he’ll become an every day player,” Farrell said. “”There’s no template. That why we have experts in [Sports Medical Director] Dan Dyrek and our medical staff that give us that guidance.”
Despite the encouraging tone, Farrell still would not commit to Sizemore even heading north with the team when they break camp on Saturday.
“I don’t know that I would go to that point yet,” Farrell said. “I think we need to get through this coming week first.”
If Sizemore does indeed start every day in center, he will likely be the leadoff hitter as well. Thursday night, he batted first, followed by Shane Victorino, Dustin Pedroia, David Ortiz and Mike Napoli. That is a scenario that could easily translate into the regular season.
“If we have Grady in the leadoff spot, it gives us another good player,” Farrell said. “The lineup we saw [Thursday] is one scenario, one version, right-handed, left-handed matchups that are there, rest requirements might be needed. I think you know who our guys are and roughly the spots they’re in the lineup. I think we showed early in the season and late in the season that we would make changes based on matchups or who’s swinging the bat a little bit better at a given time.”
|Clay Buchholz sharp early, tires late against Yankees, but shoulder ‘feels fine’||03.20.14 at 8:36 pm ET|
FORT MYERS, Fla. — A new approach to getting ready for the regular season seems to be agreeing with Clay Buchholz.
The right-hander, slotted into the No. 5 spot in the starting rotation, looked sharp for most of his five innings Thursday night in a 3-2 loss to the Yankees at JetBlue Park.
Buchholz said early in spring training that with a spot assured in the rotation he would look to slowly increase his intensity during games and not start full throttle. On Thursday, he mixed in all of his pitches, working his curveball and two-seam fastball to generate a multitude of ground outs.
“It was mostly two-seam and cutters,” Buchholz said. “The two-seam, that’s the reason I throw it, to get ground balls. Whenever I’m staying on top of it and smooth through the delivery, that’s most of the times what happens.
“I was down in the zone for pretty much the first four innings. In the fifth inning, [the wind] started blowing a little bit, tried to get my legs back underneath me and started overthrowing. I left some balls up in hitters counts and gave up a couple of hits. But I needed to be in that 70 to 75-pitch range.”
Buchholz allowed five hits and three runs in his five innings, throwing 73 pitches (49 strikes). He walked one and struck out three. Buchholz is now 2-2 with a 2.77 ERA. He’s allowed 10 hits and walked three in 13 innings, striking out eight while allowing four runs.
“It’s different than the last couple of times out but I felt good with just about everything,” he said. “I battled a little bit with the changeup but other than that, threw every other pitch pretty well.”
Buchholz added that his right shoulder through four starts feels strong and nearly ready to start the season.
“It feels fine,” Buchholz said. “I think fatigue was the only thing that set in today. I thought like the ball was coming out of my hand better today than it has, with less effort. Felt good in the bullpen and felt good in the first four innings. It’s just getting that pitch count to where we need it to be before the season starts.
|Mike Petraglia, Rob Bradford on Grady Sizemore, Craig Breslow and Xander Bogaerts||03.19.14 at 5:02 pm ET|
FORT MYERS, Fla. — WEEI.com’s Mike Petraglia and Rob Bradford detail Wednesday’s news on Grady Sizemore, which includes Red Sox manager John Farrell announcing that the outfielder will play three straight games this weekend and five in six days as he makes a move to win the starting job in center field.
|Grady Sizemore collects three hits in minor league game: ‘I still have to prove I’m the guy’||03.19.14 at 3:05 pm ET|
FORT MYERS, Fla. — Grady Sizemore continued his red-hot spring on Wednesday, this time in a Triple-A spring game outside JetBlue Park.
Sizemore collected three hits in four at-bats over seven innings during Pawtucket’s game against the Norfolk Tides, Baltimore’s Triple-A affiliate.
Sizemore blooped a double to shallow left in his first at-bat in the first inning. He slowed around first base as the left fielder dove for the ball but then accelerated toward second once he saw the ball was not caught.
“Every day has been better and better,” Sizemore said after the Triple-A game. “Every day seems to be a little bit stronger and the body seems to be reacting a little bit faster each week and I’m just trying to build off that.
“I didn’t know how the body was going to hold up, on a day to day [basis], or if I was going to be able to push it every day, and so far it’s allowed me to kind of keep upping the volume and pushing the intensity. I still don’t feel like I’ve reached that ceiling where I went too far. As long as I’m there, I’m happy.”
Sizemore said he’s not thinking about whether he’s ready to break camp with the team in a week.
“I’m not looking at it that way. I think it’s just trying to get back into shape, get conditioned, get the body feeling right and get the timing right,” Sizemore said. “It’s one of those things where I still have to earn a spot. I still have to prove I can play every day and still have to prove I’m the guy.”
The Red Sox didn’t get much of an opportunity to evaluate Sizemore in the field as his only chance came when he fielded a double in the gap in right-center early in the game. Defense is an area where Sizemore says he’d like to see a greater comfort level.
“Everything feels good but I still feel like there’s a lot of room for improvement,” Sizemore said. “Just getting breaks, getting a better first step and feeling more explosive and feeling more explosive and feeling that first step. I’m happy where it’s at but I’d like a little more improvement.”
Sizemore drove a slider to right field in the third for a single and singled on a two-strike count in the fifth before grounding out to second base to end the seventh. He came out of the game and headed to the Red Sox clubhouse with training staff to cool down. He is expected to start Thursday night in center against the Yankees.
Sizemore did not attempt to steal a base in his three appearances on the bases.
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