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John Farrell Thursday: ‘On time and professional’ team rules, David Ortiz, Dustin Pedroia options 02.14.13 at 5:24 pm ET
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FORT MYERS, Fla. — When John Farrell formally meets with his team for the first time on Friday, he won’t spend a lot of time going over rules.

Why? Because as he explained Thursday, he won’t have many.

“No, I don’t,” Farrell said when asked if he has a long list of rules and guidelines for his team to follow. “I’ll be quite frank – be on time and be professional. Being professional encompasses a number of things, that’s how you play the game, that’s how you treat the people around it, that’s how you treat the guy dressing next to you. This game will always be about the players and yet, we have to provide the boundaries in which we’re going to operate.”

If that sounds a lot like Terry Francona, circa 2004-11, there’s good reason. Farrell, of course, was his pitching coach for several seasons, including a very successful run from 2007-10.

“I think you take parts of the people or managers you played for, those you’ve been around, those you respect and see along the way how players respond to that. The players are first and foremost in this, with obvious and very clear direction.

“Just setting out my expectations and our expectations as a staff. Obviously, some basic rules that will be discussed and expectations of spring training. I think the more they can understand what we’re looking for, it takes away some of that initial wondering, and as I’ve mentioned many times over, I think we as a team need to recognize that we have one heck of an opportunity in front of us.”

“I think when you communicate what you expect, then we can all be held accountable in our way. That’s not to say or be authoritative or being a dictator, that’s just saying what we’re about and what we hope to get accomplished in spring training. Once that’s established, I think that’s the vision that we’re all collectively moving toward.”

On Shane Victorino playing right field: “He’s played right field some in the past so it’s a combination of both, him getting re-acclimated to the position but more importantly, it’s getting to know his teammate. Range and communication are the two areas we’re focused on. Just by virtue of the roster, there’s been a lot of change, a lot of turnover. And that’s where this spring training becomes critical for us, to begin to form our identity as a team. That’s not going to be fully established by the time opening day hits but it’ll be the foundation and ground work to move in that direction.”
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John Lackey: ‘If healthy, I’ll be just fine’ 02.14.13 at 3:04 pm ET
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John Lackey opened up about his health and attitude Thursday in Fort Myers. (Mike Petraglia/WEEI.com)

FORT MYERS, Fla. — He may not be ready to say he’s 100 percent ready for opening day but John Lackey on Thursday did the next best thing. The 32-year-old rebuilt right-hander pronounced himself ready to take on a full load of preparation this spring, in an effort to get ready for a rebound season in 2013 with the Red Sox.

After a miserable 2011 that saw him pitch with a blown out right elbow toward the end of the season, Lackey was 12-12 with a 6.41 ERA in 28 starts. That led to Tommy John surgery after the September collapse and a long 18 months leading to this spring in Fort Myers.

“Everything has [felt better],” Lackey said. “It’s nice for it not to hurt, to be honest with you. Definitely feels like I took a few years off [my career]. It’s been a while, probably a couple of years [since I’ve felt this good].

“I had a bad year that year but I also had a blown out elbow. The rest of my years in the big league have been okay. I feel like if healthy, I’ll be just fine.”

[Click here to listen to John Lackey speak out about his prospects for 2013]

“I had a bad year that year but I also had a blown out elbow. The rest of my years in the big league have been okay. I feel like if healthy, I’ll be just fine.”

“I’m not going to get into all that.”">Click here to listen to John Lackey speak out about his prospects for 2013]

Lackey was asked, point blank, if he blames former Red Sox medical staff for an erroneous or misleading diagnosis before suffering the torn ligament in his elbow.

“I’m not going to get into all that,” Lackey said.

Lackey said he’s not going to get ahead of himself in terms of projecting himself ready for opening day.

“We have a long way to opening day,” Lackey said. “I feel great right now. But things can happen sometimes. I think I put in the effort level and the work this offseason to give myself the best chance possible.”

Lackey has not thrown any breaking balls yet off a mound in camp.

“I thrown some breaking balls on flat ground just playing catch, that sort of thing, but I just haven’t thrown it down the hill [mound] yet,” he said. “I threw breaking balls at the end of the season last year when I did that little two-inning thing. I’m not concerned about that.”

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Shane Victorino will let Red Sox fans decide ‘whether to fall in love or not’ 02.14.13 at 10:30 am ET
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Shane Victorino meets with the media Thursday in Fort Myers. (Mike Petraglia/WEEI.com)

FORT MYERS, Fla. — Shane Victorino is ready to go.

The 32-year-old outfielder reported to camp on Thursday, a day before physicals for position players, and said he can’t wait to get on with the process of showing that last year was just an down year for him.

He batted .255 with 11 homers in 154 games split between the Phillies and Dodgers. Still, the Red Sox agreed with Victorino and feel he was worth the three-year, $39 million commitment they gave him in the offseason.

“Hey, I just think this is the start,” Victorino said Thursday morning at his locker at JetBlue Park. “I’ve had seven, eight years in the big leagues. But at the end of the day, people always talk about age and talk about how I had a down year and how my numbers are going backwards. I said it was just one year. People are going to point at that but at the end of the day, I always give 100 percent and have fun doing it. I’m excited for this opportunity to be here with this organization.

“Most people would say, ‘a fresh start.’ I don’t ever look at it that way. I just look at it as another organization that I get to be apart of and have fun doing it.”

[Click here to listen to Shane Victorino chat up reporters Thursday at JetBlue Park.]

In nine big league seasons with the Padres, Phillies and Dodgers, the switch-hitting Victorino is a .275 hitter with a .340 OPB and .770 OPS. Victorino said he’s more than ready to take on the challenge of playing at Fenway.

“Playing in a place like Philly, the fans there, it’s kind of that same fan base,” Victorino said. “Definitely, when you talk about a fan base, I think about the days where we played in interleague [at Fenway]. I think about the seventh-inning stretch and [eighth inning] the whole place standing up, singing ‘Sweet Caroline,’ that’s the kind of stuff, even as an opposing player, brought adrenaline to me. Calling Fenway home for me, I’m excited. People talk about the storied franchise and the history behind the ballpark. When I was there for that press conference, I started getting that adrenaline rush and started to really hit home that this is going to be called home for me the next three years. I’m excited and I’m going to go out there and give 100 percent and I’m going to let the fans make the decision on falling in love or not.”

How appropriate for Valentine’s Day. Funny, Victorino said the same can be said of the team.

“Everyone is going to try and point at those things,” he said. “At the end of the day, nobody knows that real answer. You just have to go out there, put that behind you. It’s 2013 and we need to focus on that.”

Victorino will play right field and can’t wait to play alongside a healthy Jacoby Ellsbury.

“I’m excited,” he said. “I started as a right fielder. I have a great center field that’s going to be playing alongside me, a guy who was an All-Star, one of the great players in the game. Hopefully, he stays healthy and I think that’s the most important part. Jacoby needs to stay healthy. He had some unfortunate injuries but when he’s healthy, he’s one of the best center fielders in the game. It’s going to be fun playing alongside him.”

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John Henry is hands-on with David Ortiz 02.13.13 at 4:55 pm ET
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FORT MYERS, Fla. — After signing autographs for fans, Red Sox owner John Henry took time out to greet his slugger David Ortiz after batting practice Wednesday at JetBlue Park during Red Sox spring training.

Henry asked Ortiz about the strength of his right Achilles, and how it’s coming along.

“How do you feel?” Henry asked his slugger.

“I feel better, feel better,” Ortiz told his boss. “I was doing that agility drill and it felt good. I was moving around pretty good.”

Moments later, it was Ortiz’ chance to return the favor.

“How are your kids?” Ortiz asked the owner.

“They’re great,” Henry replied, before adding that his family will be joining him in Fort Myers later in the week.

Just moments earlier, it was Henry meeting and greeting the fans, even signing autographs.

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John Farrell: ‘An encouraging day’ for Clay Buchholz, Mike Napoli ‘gradual’ improvement 02.13.13 at 4:10 pm ET
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FORT MYERS, Fla. — Red Sox manager John Farrell reported some encouraging news on pitcher Clay Buchholz Wednesday, one day after suffering a “mild” hamstring strain in his right leg.

“A good day for Clay Buchholz. He’s responded favorably to treatment. His range of motion is good, his strength is good. He still has some sensation in a smaller spot [of leg], more localized than yesterday. He actually threw after the workout, not off a mound, but [we were] able to put a ball back in his hand and an encouraging day for him.”

On Jon Lester: “He’s a vital member of our team and certainly our rotation. Just having Jon pitch to his capabilities and talent, there’s a number of years that speak to that. He’s going through a number of adjustments and today was a good day with that. He had a very strong bullpen and is doing some of the things within his delivery that are consistent, consistent with what he was a couple of years ago. More importantly, he was locating the ball down in the strike zone so it’s the first bullpen [session] but it was a good one.”

[Pitching coach] Juan [Nieves] and I are going to have a lot of conversations, not just about Jon but every pitcher we have here and recognizing some of the things he’s doing now versus last year and the video that’s been reviewed. Really, to the extent that Jon is putting himself in a good position to deliver the baseball. Good work day for him.”

On the progress of Mike Napoli, who will have an MRI Thursday after live BP Wednesday in Fort Myers: “That will be a gradual increase in baseball activities. Right now, there’s no impact or pounding. We’ll get the evaluation of his doctor in New York, once it’s reviewed, the MRI results. Then, there’ll be a work plan laid out, not only volume but the type of work that will follow from that point.”

“Right now, everything still points to him being ready for opening day. The next couple of days is going to give us a lot of information on how we can start his progression with more on-field activity.”

On Jonny Gomes: “He’s going to add a helluva lot of personality in the clubhouse, I know that, which is consistent with the reputation he has as a player. He’s a hard-working guy, loves to play the game, loves to compete and when you talk to players that have been teammates of his, there’s been nothing but rave reviews of the personality, the teammate he is and the liveliness he creates in the clubhouse, all in a good way. He’s a breath of fresh air.”

“We know for a fact that he’s been much stronger against left-handed pitching. That’s a given. If he shows he can handle some right-handed pitching, we’re not going to take that away from him. We’re going to give him opportunities to do that in spring training and certainly as we get into the season.”

On Will Middlebrooks: I think there are areas defensively, just with his consistency and footwork, maybe his range to his glove side, I know are focal points that he’ll work with [infield/3B coach] Brian [Butterfield] here. But once again, when you talk about a young, talented player, still going through that cycle full-season for the first time, we’ll get to know more about him as well. I know one thing, I’m glad he’s here.”

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Jon Lester on shouldering more of the load: ‘Bring it on’ 02.13.13 at 1:37 pm ET
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FORT MYERS, Fla. — Jon Lester is out to prove he’s a better pitcher than the one that finished 2012. He’s also embracing the challenge of leading a starting rotation that has its doubters heading into 2013.

Lester knows how 2012 ended. He knows he went 9-14 with a 4.82 ERA in 33 starts. He knows he was 4-9 with a 4-plus ERA in 17 starts over the final three months of the season. He knows that people are going to be expecting him to turn it around big time if the 2013 Red Sox are going to come anywhere close to competing.

“I love it. It’s great. Bring it on because of what you guys expect of me is nothing what of I expect of myself,” Lester said when asked Wednesday about being called upon to lead the staff. “I expect a lot. That’s why as far as me being serious, that’s why I am the way I am. I try to live up to my own expectations before everybody else’s. Obviously, that’s never going to happen. But I take my job serious and I want to reach those. Just because I don’t doesn’t mean it’s a failed season.

“Every year my expectations have been higher than what I’ve done but that doesn’t mean it’s a failed season. There’s things that are involved in that season that are good and some that are bad. You try to take every offseason and learn from those and throw out the negatives and move on with the positives and hopefully, you just keep building on those, and your expectations keep getting higher and higher.”

Lester made it very clear, that even with the trade rumors this offseason, he still prefers Boston as a place to pitch more than anywhere in Boston. Even as bad as 2012 was, he still loves his job and still wants to call Fenway home.

“I love baseball. I love Boston,” Lester said. “People don’t see me other than the fifth day, and when I’m out there when I’m out there, I’m not out there to kid around, I’m not out there to joke around with hitters but at the same time, I’m having fun. It may not look like it. I may be cussing up a storm and yelling at somebody but I’m having fun. I love to pitch. I love everything that is pitching, I love everything that there is baseball.

“I also don’t want to also come across as lackadaisical and a loaf and don’t really care about working hard. I take everything I do very seriously. I want my workouts to be the way they should be, I want my bullpen to go the way they should be and I want my game to go the way it should be. If doesn’t, I’m going to be pissed, that’s just who I am. But at the same time, I can improve upon on those in-between days where you don’t take it as serious but I would rather be on the serious side and work my way down and not be the goof-off and work my way.”

Lester was asked if performing in Boston can simply be too much sometimes.

“Yeah, sometimes,” Lester admitted. “Sometimes I want to kind of strangle myself. It can be intimidating, especially when you have years like last year. It’s tough. You know you suck and your teammates are trying to pick you up and everybody else knows you suck and you’re just trying to break even on the whole deal. It’s tough but at the same time, it’s the greatest place to play. You just have to take it in stride. You have to live with it and move on. If you can pitch in Boston, if you can play in Boston and survive and do good, I think you can play anywhere. I think anywhere else would be easy, a cakewalk.” Read the rest of this entry »

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Jonny Gomes is not a platoon player: ‘I came into camp ready to play 162′ 02.13.13 at 10:13 am ET
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Jonny Gomes looks to continue winning ways in Boston. (AP)

FORT MYERS, Fla. — Jonny Gomes made it very clear Wednesday that he does not consider himself a platoon player. He considers himself an everyday major league outfielder, ready to contribute to another winner.

“Platooning isn’t a position,” Gomes began. “There’s not platooning in high school, there’s not platooning in 12-year-old all-stars. We’re baseball players. Baseball players, there’s two ‘L’s. There’s leather, lumber and you play every single day. Have I platooned in the past? Yeah, and it’s helped us win. I figure, if you succeed at platooning, you should have the opportunity to have more on your plate. If you succeed at a task, you should be able to have more on your plate.

“Am I putting my foot down, asking for more time? No, absolutely not. I do whatever helps the team. Last year, I platooned with a couple of guys, no one ran their mouth, no one did anything [disruptive] and that all leads to success and that all leads to winning. As soon as you have guys butting heads for playing time, it all starts to go downhill a little bit. I came into camp to play 162. It’s not my choice, I don’t make the lineup but when my name is call, count on that I’ll be ready.”

Gomes was signed to a two-year deal in the offseason for $10 million to help fill a void in left field. He is a .284 hitter with a .894 OPS against left-handed pitching. He is .223 and .732 against righties. He helped Oakland to a wild and crazy ride to the AL West title in 2012, something he reminded everyone Wednesday at JetBlue Park.

[Click here to listen to the baseball stylings of Jonny Gomes]

“What can I add? Hopefully, some right-handed sock,” Gomes said. “I’ve got some speed as well. Just continue to play the game right. I’m open to batting anywhere in the lineup so up, down, move around, protect some guys, help some guys touch the plate.

“Obviously, I’m a little biased to the chemistry [factor]. I have three division titles in the last five years with three different teams. Last year with Oakland, $41 million payroll in the AL West. You can’t really say we did it with a bunch of Ferraris. I wouldn’t recommend building that team again and running it out there but what does it all go to, what does it all go to?

Everyone looks back into the clubhouse, it’s got to be the clubhouse, it’s got to be everyone being friends. Again, I did it in 2010 with the Reds and 2008 with the Rays, and what does it all have in common? It’s different for everybody but once you get inside that clubhouse, you figure some things out, it really does all add up. I definitely biased to it. I haven’t done it once, I haven’t done it twice, I’ve done it three times in the last five years. Granted, I don’t have a ring but division titles are pretty hard to come by these days and hopefully get some more.”

One more thing, don’t ask Gomes about the 2012 Red Sox.

“I think what’s different about me and some of the guys that came in here, we weren’t miserable last year,” he said. “I wasn’t. Do I know what happened here last year? Absolutely. But I’m not going to let that bring me down. I wasn’t a part of it. I won a division title last year. We had a great year. I don’t know about [being] miserable and butting heads with everyone in the clubhouse. I can’t respond to that because I didn’t do it. I’m not going to change the person I am by any means. I’m just going to come in here and do what I do.

“I’ve played the game long enough, been in the game for a while. I’ve seen it work, I know it works. At the same time, I’ve seen this place rock and roll. I was against these guys in 2004 and 2007. I’ve seen Sox Nation, Fenway, Boston just being at the highest level it could possibly be. We’re not too far removed from that. There are still some core pieces in here that have rings, that have Red Sox [World Series] rings. It’s not like were bringing the 70s or 80s [Red Sox teams] back. We don’t have to go too far back in the history books to find winning in a Red Sox uniform. These guys are still here.

“Time will tell, right?,” he said.

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