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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
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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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Sunday lineups: Jonny Gomes leads off vs. Orioles as Mike Yastrzemski visits grandfather Carl 03.02.14 at 9:26 am ET
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Mike Yastrzemski, here with Vanderbilt, is hoping to go all out for the Orioles. (AP)

Mike Yastrzemski, here with Vanderbilt, is hoping to go all out for the Orioles. (AP)

FORT MYERS, Fla. — It will be a family reunion of sorts as Baltimore Orioles minor league outfielder Mike Yastrzemski visits JetBlue Park to take on the Red Sox at 1:05 p.m.

Carl Yastrzemski, Mike’s grandfather and Red Sox hall of famer, arrived at the Red Sox minor league clubhouse around 8 a.m. and is expected to take in the game and watch his grandson play.

“I think anytime those bloodlines are so recognizable, I’m sure for many it brings back visions of the older and I think anytime we can see generations play out on the field, it’s one of the unique things that sports offers,” Red Sox manager John Farrell said Sunday morning before the game.

The grandson, who starred at Vanderbilt University, has been drafted not once, not twice but three times by major league teams.
The Red Sox selected him in the 36th round of the 2009 MLB June Amateur Draft from St. John’s Prep (Danvers, MA). Then, the Seattle Mariners chose him in the 30th round of the 2012 MLB draft before signing with the Baltimore Orioles, who selected him in the 14th round of the 2013 MLB amateur draft.

Lefty Felix Doubront makes his first start for the Red Sox and Jonny Gomes gets his second start as a leadoff hitter in Sunday’s game. The Red Sox will be looking for their first win of the Grapefruit League season after losing two straight to the Twins, Friday and Saturday.

Here are the lineups for the Red Sox on Sunday:

Jonny Gomes LF

Dustin Pedroia 2B

David Ortiz DH

Mike Napoli 1B

Xander Bogaerts SS

Will Middlebrooks 3B

David Ross C

Jackie Bradley Jr. CF

Bryce Brentz RF

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Sox saving celebration for AL East title 09.20.13 at 12:28 am ET
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John Lackey's complete-game win assured the Sox of their first playoff berth since 2009. (AP)

John Lackey’s complete-game win assured the Sox of their first playoff berth since 2009. (AP)

The last time the Red Sox reached the postseason, John Lackey was pitching against them, in a 2009 ALDS series Lackey’s Angels eventually won. On Thursday, Lackey’s dominant complete-game performance clinched the Sox’ first playoff appearance since that series, although the team celebrated the victory no more exuberantly than they would any other win.

From Sox manager John Farrell through the clubhouse, the team maintained that they won’t celebrate in any extraordinary way until they clinch the AL East.

“We know where we’re at. We know what was pending,” Farrell said. “We still feel like there’s the next step is a more important one than this. We know that we’re in but we know that winning the East, that’s been a stated goal since day one of spring training. That’s getting closer. And I think that will be probably a little bit more the realization of where we’ve come from and where we are at the moment.”

The Sox players echoed Farrell’s sentiments.

“We need to go out there and take care of what we need to take care of,” Jarrod Saltalamacchia said. “Tonight was a big win to get a spot, but we want to win the division and we still want to get that 100th win. We’re going to continue to go out there. Tomorrow is a new day and we’re going to focus on that.”

Dustin Pedroia called the win “a big step,” but repeated the mantra that the division title has been the yearlong goal.

“Our main goal was to try to get in and win the division and win the World Series,” Pedroia said. “We’ll celebrate when we win the division.”

Lackey has pitched in 14 postseason games, all with the Angels, but this fall may have some added significance for him in particular given the injury and performance woes he faced over the last three years in Boston.

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Wednesday’s Red Sox-Orioles matchups: Ryan Dempster vs. Jake Arrieta 04.10.13 at 9:38 am ET
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Ryan Dempster

After their ninth consecutive home-opening victory Monday, the Red Sox will look to Ryan Dempster to continue their early season success. Dempster, who will be making his first Fenway start in a Red Sox uniform, will be opposed by Jake Arrieta.

Dempster is coming off of his Red Sox debut, which featured mixed results. In Thursday’s 4-2 loss vs. the Yankees, the 35-year-old grinded through five innings, allowed four walks in his 101-pitch effort. On the positive side, Dempster allowed just five hits and three runs and had eight strikeouts. However, he was matched up with what looked to be a 1996 version of Andy Pettitte, who hurled eight innings of one-run ball.

Said Dempster after the game: “I just got outpitched by the guy on the other side of the field. I made a lot of good pitches and a couple of balls fell in. That was enough to win the game.”

Arrieta also will head into Wednesday night’s start looking to give his team a bit more durability and limiting the number of baserunners. On Friday against the Twins, Arrieta went five-plus innings, allowed five runs on seven hits, walked two and struck out five. When Arrieta was removed by Buck Showalter in the sixth he was in position for the loss, but the O’s rallied for a 9-5 victory.

Said Showalter of Arrieta’s first start: “You can see why Jake has the chance to be so good and why he kind of gets away from it a little bit.”

Dempster will have the opportunity to reach the .500 mark for his career, as he comes into Wednesday’s start with a 124-125 career record. He could have had more wins, but he spent three seasons as the Cubs’ primary closer before returning to the rotation in 2008. Dempster does not have much experience facing the O’s, but in his limited innings he has been very good. In the past 10 years he has a 1-0 record and a 1.35 ERA, with six strikeouts in 13 1/3 innings.

Arrieta has struggled in his career vs. the Red Sox. He holds an 0-3 record with a 6.00 ERA, while striking out 14 in 24 innings of work.

The only two Orioles with much experience facing Dempster are J.J. Hardy and Nate McLouth, who both spent significant portions of their careers in the National League. Hardy has struggled mightily against Dempster, but McLouth has hit .300 against him, with a home run and three runs batted in.

Current Red Sox hitters with at-bats vs. Arrieta have pounded him to the tune of a combined .500 batting average, with seven home runs in 38 at-bats.

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Clay Buchholz: ‘I don’t feel any different than last year’ 04.08.13 at 8:50 pm ET
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Clay Buchholz was back in form during Monday's home opener and impressed Red Sox fans and his manager. (AP)

Clay Buchholz says he doesn’t feel that different than the start of 2012.

But the numbers and the eye test both tell a different story.

In his first two starts of 2012, the right-hander was 1-0 with a 9.82 ERA.

After shutting out the Orioles on three hits in seven innings, walking four and striking out eight, Buchholz earned his second win of 2013 in as many starts Monday. He is 2-0 with a 0.64 ERA, matching the 2-0 record of Jon Lester.

“I don’t feel any different than I did last year,” Buchholz said. “Just little things that didn’t go right [last year] and it definitely makes it easier whenever you have somebody like Jonny going out the day before you and throwing [well], it’s something for you to feed off of. It’s better than being 0-2. You have to keep everything on an even keel I think and try not to get too high and don’t get overconfident with it. Just go out and do your work and that’s what I’m going to lead with.”

With Baltimore lefty Wei-Yin Chen matching zeroes with Buchholz, the pressure was on Buchholz heading into the seventh.

Matt Wieters worked a walk to open the inning. But Buchholz zeroed in. He fanned J.J. Hardy and Steve Pearce, sandwiched around a ground out from Ryan Flaherty. His day was over after 113 pitches, 65 strikes. Some eyebrows were raised as Buchholz was allowed the chance to finish the inning, despite a pitch count approaching 100 in the seventh.

“That’s Clay’s ballgame,” skipper John Farrell said. “I felt like he earned that right to get through it. His stuff didn’t diminish. He showed the ability to make big pitches in key moments. It wasn’t like he was losing command or the fastball was becoming elevated. He stayed sharp throughout. More than anything that was his inning to finish.”

Finish is exactly what Buchholz did in strong fashion, blowing away Hardy (looking) and Pearce (swinging) on 93 MPH fastballs.

“Always good to win,” Buchholz said. “I think after that seventh inning when I went out there, it’s sort of inning-by-inning by each [starter]. It’s tough. Each out you do get going up to that point [is important]. You just don’t want runners to get on because all it takes is one pitch like you saw. It’s a fun game to pitch in, especially whenever you come out on top in the end.

“I didn’t really have one thing that was working the whole day. I was up in the zone. There was a couple balls hit early that would have gotten out, but stayed in the park. Other than that, it was sort of a grind there for a little bit.”

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Jonny Gomes launches moonshot, Will Middlebrooks dodges bullet in Red Sox spring loss to Orioles 02.27.13 at 10:30 pm ET
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Jonny Gomes swings away during Wednesday's game against Baltimore in Sarasota. (Mike Petraglia/WEEI.com)

SARASOTA, Fla. — In a spring training game that saw Red Sox third baseman Will Middlebrooks suffer a scare with his right wrist, Jonny Gomes blasted a long home run to left field while several Red Sox relievers looked strong early on as the Orioles beat the Red Sox, 5-3, Wednesday night at Ed Smith Stadium in Sarasota.

Reliever Franklin Morales started the game and retired the side in order on 12 pitches, eight strikes. The lefty was making his first appearance of the spring.

But the bigger story came in top of the first when the Red Sox (2-4) appeared to dodge a major bullet. With an 0-1 count, Middlebrooks took an inside fastball from Orioles starter Chris Tillman. Middlebrooks attempted to check his swing and avoid being hit. He was successful in avoiding the pitch but he immediately grabbed his right wrist and went to manager John Farrell. He was taken out of the game and replaced with Pedro Ciricaco. As he went into the dugout, he threw his helmet against the back wall in obvious frustration.

[AUDIO: Red Sox manager John Farrell talks about team apparently dodging a bullet with Will Middlebrooks.]

The team later said Middlebrooks, who broke the same wrist last August in Cleveland when hit by a pitch, was suffering from “right wrist soreness” and would be re-evaluated Thursday in Fort Myers. After the game Middlebrooks said he felt no pain and it was “just a scare” and a “freak thing that scared everybody.” He pointed to the outside of his right wrist, where he suffered the break last August and said the initial discomfort was in the same area.

Alex Speier has much more, including reaction from Middlebrooks.

The group of Morales, Joel Hanrahan, Koji Uehara, Andrew Bailey and Andrew Miller all threw a single inning of work. Only Hanrahan allowed a run, and it was unearned, as Ciriaco threw high to first on a routine grounder in the second inning, and Nava couldn’t reach up and grab it.

But the good run of pitching ended in the sixth when Junichi Tazawa was roughed up for two runs on four hits and committed a balk in the sixth. The two runs came on an opposite-field homer to left by Chris Davis, erasing Boston’s 2-1 lead and putting Baltimore ahead, 3-2. Tazawa has allowed five hits and two runs over two innings in his first two appearances. Drake Britton allowed two more runs on three hits in the seventh as Baltimore built a 5-2 lead. Read the rest of this entry »

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John Farrell notes Wednesday: Felix Doubront cleared for start, David Ortiz takes a personal leave at 6:35 pm ET
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John Farrell speaks before Wednesday's game with the Orioles in Sarasota. (Mike Petraglia/WEEI.com)

SARASOTA, Fla. — Felix Doubront completed his simulated game Wednesday successfully in Fort Myers and has passed the final hurdle for starting a spring game, according to Red Sox manager John Farrell. That start will come Monday afternoon at JetBlue Park against Tampa Bay.

The lefty was slowed at the start of camp due to fatigue in his left [throwing] shoulder and was held back. He began throwing a week later than the other four projected starters in the rotation. He threw live batting practice earlier this week before throwing his simulated game on Wednesday.

“He was very good. Two sim innings and he’s on tap for Monday,” Farrell said before Wednesday’s game against the Orioles.

After some confusion, another pitcher, Alfredo Aceves, will indeed pitch for Mexico for the upcoming World Baseball Classic. Farrell had initially informed his right-hander, who was initially on the provisional roster, that he was not selected for the regular roster and would not be playing. That apparently was not the case.

Farrell said it’s likely that Aceves will start for Mexico, which is part of the reason the Red Sox wanted to stretch him out to start camp.

David Ortiz left the team Wednesday for the Dominican Republic to take care of a personal matter.

“He’s taking a couple of personal days,” Farrell said. “He’s got a personal issue he’s taking care of right now.”

Other pregame notes included Farrell’s reaction to St. Louis manager and former catcher Mike Matheny instructing his catchers to avoid all contact at the plate when possible: “You want the aggressiveness to always remain in the game,” Farrell said. “But at the same time, when a catcher can be opened up, in some cases, for a very severe injury, you almost have to listen to the comments of Mike and Bruce Bochy, former catchers who have sustained a serious injury from it. Their comments probably resonate more than those of who have not been back there. I guess I take the view of the game from the traditional standpoint that you want good, hard play as long as it’s not a cheap shot. Where do you draw the line on a play at the plate? If it’s a hard slide that makes contact. Maybe just a mandatory slide rather than just a head-up, full-on collision, I can see the merit in preserving guys’ health. They can be scary, no doubt about. [Jorge] Posada took one from Hinske that I still don’t know how it got up from it but he did. I think the last thing anyone want is to hurt anyone in the game.
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