|Red Sox notes: Daniel Nava, Mark Wagner headed to PawSox as part of latest cuts||03.20.11 at 10:30 am ET|
FORT MYERS, Fla. — Nearly every Red Sox fan remembers how Daniel Nava broke into the majors last June.
With the bases loaded, he drilled the first pitch he saw in the big leagues – an offering from Philadelphia’s Joe Blanton – over the fence in right at Fenway.
On Sunday morning, he was optioned to Triple-A Pawtucket by the Red Sox as the team trimmed three more players off the major league squad. Also optioned was catcher Mark Wagner while righthander Matt Fox was reassigned.
Such is the life of a major leaguer on the fringes. But Red Sox manager Terry Francona offered perspective Sunday in assessing where the 28-year-old in his development.
“He didn’t swing the bat real well this spring, which in the grand scheme of things means nothing,” Francona said of Nava, who batted just .205 this spring in 19 games, with three RBIs.. “I think he was fighting it all spring. He got a little length in his swing. He knows he needs to shorten it up but he’s improved so much [defensively] in the outfield.”
“I mean, last year at this time, I’m willing to bet no one ever asked me a Daniel Nava question. He’s come a long way. He just needs to go play and then whatever happens, happens. Guys play themselves into the mix. The fact that we’re talking about Daniel Nava means he’s come so far.”
Francona added that the organization still projects Nava as primarily a left fielder.
Wagner hit .167 in nine games this spring while Fox was 0-0 with a 2.57 ERA in five relief appearances. But Francona was quick to point out that it’s Wagner’s defensive skills – especially game managing behind the plate – the organization really values. Last year, that was stunted when he missed nearly half the season with Triple-A Pawtucket because of a broken bone in his left hand. Surgery was eventually required and now, he begins 2011 with a fresh start. Read the rest of this entry »
|Red Sox notes Friday: Felix Doubront set for simulated game, Jonathan Papelbon to get side work||03.18.11 at 5:38 pm ET|
FORT MYERS, Fla. — Lefty Felix Doubront threw live batting practice on Friday on the field outside the left field wall at City of Palms Park.
Doubront was shut down for approximately two weeks when he felt tightness in his left elbow in late February while throwing a side session at the club’s minor league complex.
Manager Terry Francona said the team wasn’t overly concerned since Doubront has complained of the tightness in the past. On Friday, the lefty who made his Red Sox debut last year, threw for Francona and other Red Sox staff.
“I watched him. He was 25 [pitches],” Francona reported. “He felt real good, he looked real good. His next [work] will be a simulated game. We’ll take the [protective L] screen away and it’ll be just a step closer to him pitching in a game. It’ll be at least two days, maybe three days off. We’ll see.”
The highly-touted 23-year-old lefty went 2-2 in 2010 with a 4.32 ERA in 12 appearances, including three starts.
Meanwhile, relievers Jonathan Papelbon and Daniel Bard are expected to get their work in Sunday in a minor league game. Papelbon, who got only two outs on Thursday, will go two innings according to Francona while Bard is expected to go at least one inning.
|Clay Buchholz allows first run, Red Sox fall to Tigers||03.18.11 at 4:27 pm ET|
FORT MYERS, Fla. — Clay Buchholz allowed his first run of the spring and the Red Sox allowed five unearned runs in an 8-3 loss to the Tigers Friday afternoon in a split-squad contest at City of Palms Park.
[Red Sox-Tigers boxscore].
Buchholz was hit hard but managed to get through the first four innings, allowing a long solo homer to right by Brennan Boesch in the second. It was the first run Buchholz allowed 11 innings this spring. Buchholz, who allowed just five hits in three previous appearances, allowed his fifth hit of the day to open the fifth.
Buchholz threw 76 pitches (41 strikes) on the day, his longest outing of the spring.
“I thought he fought his command a little today, right from the beginning,” Red Sox manager Terry Francona said. “But he increased his workload by about 20 pitches, which was good. He’s got two more starts. I just didn’t think he commanded as he normally will.”
Kevin Youkilis then committed his first error of the spring before Francona pulled Buchholz for Hideki Okajima.
Adrian Gonzalez also committed his first error of the spring on the second batter Okajima faced. Okajima allowed a three-run homer to Ryan Raburn to cap off the fifth for Detroit.
“If a guy gives up a home run on March , I don’t think that means we’re not going to bring him into a game,” Francona said of Okajima. “When the season starts and guys get into the their roles, whatever happened in March doesn’t really matter. I’d love for everybody to go out and never give up runs but I don’t think you penalize guys. We’re just trying to get our team ready.”
All four Detroit runs in the fifth were unearned.
Dustin Pedroia drilled his first homer of the spring to left in the first inning off Tigers starter Max Scherzer to put the Red Sox up, 1-0. The Red Sox fell to 12-10-1 in Grapefruit play, with a nightcap to follow in Port Charlotte against the Rays.
|‘Interesting decisions’ to make on Tim Wakefield and the Red Sox bullpen||03.18.11 at 10:33 am ET|
FORT MYERS, Fla. — In several different ways and on several occasions, Terry Francona was asked Friday morning about the role – and future – of Tim Wakefield on the Red Sox.
Francona has been around long enough to avoid stepping on that landmine.
Asked about the intense competition among the team’s relievers, Red Sox manager Terry Francona said Friday the next two weeks leading up to Opening Day in Texas will be ‘stressful’ for he and the pitchers in the bullpen.
“I would never sit here and talk about someone being [on the roster],” Francona said. “I can’t do that. That’s so disrespectful to players. I would never do that. That would be awful. You guys [media] are going to start nitpicking and try to make the bullpen.”
The projected pieces of the Red Sox bullpen includes closer Jonathan Papelbon, set-up men Daniel Bard and Bobby Jenks, righty Dan Wheeler with righties Wakefield, Alfredo Aceves, Matt Albers and Scott Atchison and lefties Hideki Okajima, Andrew Miller and Dennys Reyes competing for the final one or two spots.
“If I sit here and tell you everybody that’s in the bullpen, then whoever’s not, is going [to know]. That’s not a good way to do it.”
Francona was asked specifically about the plans for the knuckleballer Wakefield, who could share middle and long relief roles with Aceves if the team chooses to keep both.
“These guys have a stressful couple of weeks ahead of them. I’m not going to make it worse,” Francona said when asked if Wakefield’s spot on the roster was assured. “We’re going to have decisions to make. It’s going to be tough on some guys because they probably deserve to make the team.”
[Terry Francona explains the intense competition for spots in the Red Sox bullpen, including Wakefield.]
Wakefield will start Friday night’s split squad game against the Rays in Port Charlotte. Wakefield will be making his fourth appearance of the spring but his first start. He has had an effective spring, allowing nine hits and only two earned runs in 6 2/3 innings for a 2.70 ERA.
Aceves is 0-1 with a 3.48 ERA in four appearances, including two starts. He has allowed 10 hits in 10 1/3 innings.
“Their styles aren’t similar but they both can pitch out of the bullpen and they both can start. We’re going to have some interesting decisions to make here come this last week. Fortunately, guys have really shown well and it’s going to be interesting.”
Of course, those “interesting” decisions won’t be made by Francona alone as GM Theo Epstein, asst. GM Ben Cherington and pitching coach Curt Young will all have input.
“Curt and I and Theo and Ben will sit down – as we have been – and try to make the best decisions, not only for Opening Day but for the organization. It’s going to be tough,” Francona reiterated.
Wakefield is 44 while Aceves is 29. Read the rest of this entry »
|John Lackey effective but Jonathan Papelbon struggles in Sox win over Mets||03.17.11 at 4:10 pm ET|
FORT MYERS, Fla. — John Lackey celebrated the news of his place as the No. 2 starter in the rotation by going out and scattering five hits and allowing one run over 5 1/3 innings as the Red Sox beat the Mets, 8-5, [boxscore] in the traditional afternoon game on St. Patrick’s Day at City of Palms Park. Carl Crawford and Jed Lowrie each went 2-for-3 with an RBI to pace the Red Sox offense.
[Lackey talks about the honor of pitching Opening Day at Fenway and being named No. 2 starter.]
Lackey, who will start the home opener vs. the Yankees on April 8, was stretched out on the sunny, 80-degree day, throwing 78 pitches (46 strikes) and was taken out with one out and a runner on in the sixth. Thursday was his longest outing of the spring, as he improved to 2-0 with 1.72 ERA in four Grapefruit League starts.
[Lackey explains his start on Thursday and how much better he feels this spring.]
The only troubling outing by Red Sox pitching Thursday belonged to Jonathan Papelbon, who gave up a three-run double after hitting a batter and walking two in the ninth. He then surrendered a run-scoring double before manager Terry Francona pulled him with two outs. In six outings this spring, Papelbon has a 12.60 ERA.
Drew Sutton homered and also had a pair of hits for the Red Sox, who improved to 12-9-1 in Grapefruit League play this spring. They will have a split squad on Friday, playing the Tigers at City of Palms at 1 p.m. and the Rays in Port Charlotte at 7 p.m.
|John Lackey starts 2nd game and Red Sox home opener vs. Yankees||03.17.11 at 10:40 am ET|
FORT MYERS, Fla. — Terry Francona understands all the attention – from fans and media alike – about the starting rotation.
He just wants both to understand it’s only April.
After announcing Thursday morning that John Lackey, Clay Buchholz, Josh Beckett and Daisuke Matsuzaka will follow Jon Lester, Francona explained his thinking.
“I think we feel like Lack has a way of matching up with whoever he’s pitching against, whether a guy is a No. 1 or No. 5, you look up in the seventh and you have a chance to win, which we really like,” Francona said before the Grapefruit League game against the Mets at City of Palms. “Buck did so good [in 2010], I think we feel like having Buck come out third just enhances our chances to win a little bit. Buck’s numbers would say he can pitch anywhere.
“I just think Lack’s a veteran, he’s done it. I just think spacing him and Lester, there’s something to be said for that, too. Lack showed up in great shape and looks like he’s ready to go. Ultimately, if they pitch like they should, it’s not going to matter and if they don’t pitch like they should, it’s not going to matter.”
[Click here to listen to Francona explain his decision on the long-awaited Red Sox rotation to start the 2011 season.]
In what seems the biggest “decision” since LeBron announced his move to Miami, Francona also said he will not use the day off Monday in Cleveland to skip anyone the first time around, meaning Lackey will get the home opener, April 8, against the Yankees.
“We certainly notice but we weren’t going to skip Lester on the series if it weren’t a good match-up. We’d never do something like that. And you can only put so much into the first couple of weeks anyway because I’d be willing to bet we’ll lose a game in Cleveland. You can’t go three days in Cleveland in April and probably not lose a game.”
All of this means Beckett will avoid the Rangers and pitch the first game of the three-game series against the Indians, Cleveland’s home opener. In two starts against the Rangers in 2010, Beckett allowed 17 hits, four homers, 13 earned runs over 12 innings. Beckett faced the Indians once last year, allowing just two runs over seven innings.
“Just watching the way last year unfolded, we want to get him off to a good start. We’ll pitch him in that game in Cleveland. I think that’s a good place for him to start,” said Francona of Beckett.
The Red Sox will use Matsuzaka as the team’s fifth starter, scheduling him to pitch the second game in Cleveland.
In other news not involving starting pitching, highly-touted shortstop prospect Jose Iglesias is among the latest round of cuts announced Thursday morning by Francona. Iglesias was optioned to Triple-A Pawtucket.
Also optioned Thursday were catcher Luis Exposito and infielder Yamaico Navarro as the Red Sox continue to trim their roster with Opening Day 15 days away.
Exposito was informed by phone, something Francona likes to avoid. But in this case, it was unavoidable as Exposito is with his wife in Miami, expecting their first child. He will stay with the family until the child is born before heading back to Fort Myers for his minor league assignment.
|Michael Bowden: ‘I don’t know what I’m going to be in the major leagues’||03.16.11 at 11:31 am ET|
FORT MYERS, Fla. — Michael Bowden is not worried about his identity crisis.
After all, the writing was on the wall all winter long. With each acquisition of a high-profile reliever, the transformed righty reliever knew he was fighting an uphill battle for a big league roster spot out of camp.
With Bobby Jenks, Dan Wheeler, Alfredo Aceves and Dennys Reyes added to the group of Jonathan Papelbon, Daniel Bard, Hideki Okajima and Tim Wakefield, Bowden certainly didn’t need general manager Theo Epstein, skipper Terry Francona or anyone else from the organization spelling out the cold hard facts.
“You’d be pretty dumb if you didn’t [figure it out],” Bowden said Wednesday morning as he prepared for another day of work at City of Palms Park. “Just by their acquisitions and what they did, I know exactly how it’s going to pan out. I’ve been around long enough so I don’t think they felt like they needed to tell me something I already knew.”
Still only 24, Bowden readily admits his sights aren’t necessarily set on making the big league roster on April 1 but rather showing the Red Sox — or any other MLB team for that matter — his value. That was evident by one scout commenting after his impressive outing in Kissimmee last week: “Don’t forget about Michael Bowden.”
But for now, the reality is there’s little, if any, room for Bowden on the 2011 Red Sox.
“As of now, it’s a very slim chance, and I know that, unless there’s injuries, but I don’t wish that upon anybody,” he said. “As of now, I’m going to go down to Triple-A and pitch as well as I can and hopefully create an opportunity for myself.”
The Red Sox thought so much of Bowden that they used a first-round pick on him in 2005. He was a starter then and he moved his way up the system, reaching Triple-A Pawtucket in 2008, when he also made his big league debut. He made 24 starts for the PawSox in 2009 and then everything changed, beginning with his role. Read the rest of this entry »
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