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Allen Webster knocked around in spring debut, Grady Sizemore falls down, passes a physical test 03.01.14 at 2:16 pm ET
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FORT MYERS, Fla. — If Saturday was any indication, 24-year-old Allen Webster has fallen behind Anthony Ranaudo in the Red Sox pitching prospect race.

Webster, who made his debut with the Red Sox last season in seven spot starts, was roughed up by the Minnesota Twins in his first start of spring training at Hammond Stadium. The Twins beat the Red Sox for the second straight day, 6-2, before a Hammond record crowd of 8,547. Daniel Nava homered from the right side of the plate in the first inning and Grady Sizemore overcame a mild fall before the center field wall to go 1-for-3 in the loss.

After getting Aaron Hicks to ground out to Garin Cecchini at third to open the first inning, Webster allowed three straight hard-hit balls to the outfield that all found the grass. Brian Dozier then crushed a ball to left-center that caused Sizemore to truly test his body when he lost his footing on the warning track just shy of the wall trying to field it. Sizemore stayed in the game.

“He lost his footing when he went down,” manager John Farrell said. “You recognize he’s going to pivot and torque on the leg. He came out of it fine and there were no issues. It’s just good to see him get three at-bats and continue to build.”

Webster then gave up an RBI single to right by Joe Mauer. Josh Willingham followed with a double. Webster then hit Chris Parmelee and walked Trevor Plouffe to force in a run. Lefty Chris Hernandez began warming in the bullpen as Webster appeared as if he wouldn’t make it out of the first. But a sacrifice fly and a fielder’s choice ended the inning with Minnesota up, 3-1.

Manager John Farrell allowed Webster to start the second inning and Webster responded with getting the first two outs quickly before Dozier singled to right to end his day. Webster allowed four hits and three earned runs in his inning and two-thirds of work.

“I just got in there and got a little anxious, left a few balls up, fell behind and they made good contact with it,” Webster said. “I need to get the ball down and get ahead of the batter.”

Webster’s spring debut comes in contrast to that of Ranaudo a day earlier. Ranaudo retired all six batters he faced in two innings, striking out four. He needed just 24 pitches (19 strikes). Webster needed that many to get through the first inning.

As for Sizemore, he singled to right on a grounder past the second baseman with one out in the fifth on his third at-bat of the day. Farrell immediately substituted Mike McCoy in his place as a pinch-runner at first. Sizemore flew out to left to open the game, struck out looking in the third before singling in the fifth.

Drake Britton was a highlight for the Red Sox, as the lefty allowed one hit while striking out four in his two innings.

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Read More: allen webster, anthony ranaudo, Boston Red Sox, grady sizemore
Johnny Manziel signs autographs for Mookie Betts, Red Sox prospects at 10:55 am ET
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FORT MYERS, Fla. — Former Heisman Trophy winner Johnny Manziel was a special guest of the Red Sox at their camp on Saturday. Manziel, a projected first-round quarterback pick in the upcoming NFL draft, works with Fenway Sports Management, the marketing arm of the Red Sox. LeBron James of the Miami Heat has a similar working arrangement with FSM. “Johnny Football” took time out Saturday to sign autographs for several Red Sox minor league prospects, including infielder Mookie Betts.

Manziel was on hand for the organization’s “Party in the Park” Friday night for special guests and several Red Sox players had a chance to meet him. A.J. Pierzynski met him when he played with the Texas Rangers and had a chance again to chat briefly with him. He believes Manziel will make a good NFL quarterback.

“Obviously, he’s a great player,” said Pierzynski, who signed a letter of intent with Tennessee before signing with the Twins. “Me being an SEC guy, him being an SEC guy, I root for those guys. I know I liked watching him play and I liked the way he played because he was an amazing player and I’ll think he’ll do good if he’s given the right opportunity. He should be a heckuva an NFL guy. Maybe he can come take over for Tom Brady. Ha, ha, ha. I’m joking, I’m joking. Joking.”

Manziel was wearing a No. 2 Red Sox jersey, the same number he made famous for two seasons at Texas A&M. He observed the Red Sox workout on Field 1 before the team left to travel across town for their game against the Twins.

In late January, Fenway Sports Management announced they were adding Manziel to their clientele. FSM is partnering with LeBron James‘€™ marketing company, LRMR Management, to represent the Heisman trophy winner jointly.

‘€œLeBron was an international sports icon and a global celebrity before we got involved,’€ said Mark Lev, managing director of Fenway Sports Management at the time of the signing. ‘€œJohnny needs to perform on the football field, and that’€™s really where the focus is now. But providing he does that, there’€™s huge upside for him from a business standpoint.’€

FSM will pursue off-field business opportunities in the media and entertainment industries for Manziel, along with endorsements. FSM will not be handling the quarterback’s football contract negotiations and public relations once he is drafted in May. FSM now includes the Red Sox, Liverpool Football Club of the Barclays Premiere League, and Roush Fenway Racing.

Read More: Boston Red Sox, Fenway Sports Group, Fenway Sports Management, FSG
Grady Sizemore starts in center, A.J. Pierzynski, Daniel Nava get first looks of spring at 9:18 am ET
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A.J. Pierzynski (40) will catch his first game of spring training on Saturday. (Mike Petraglia/WEEI.com)

A.J. Pierzynski (40) will catch his first game of spring training on Saturday. (Mike Petraglia/WEEI.com)

FORT MYERS, Fla. — A.J. Pierzynski gets his first start of the spring and will catch righthander Allen Webster as the Red Sox look to rebound against the Twins after dropping their Grapefruit League opener, 8-2, Friday at JetBlue Park.

“We’ve all seen him many times, just now it’s in our uniform,” John Farrell said Saturday morning at JetBlue Park before taking the crosstown bus ride to Hammond Stadium. “But this is the first step to handling the guys he’s going to be dealing with. Even though it’s not one our of frontline starters right now in Webster but I think first game activity for A.J. will start that transition to us in earnest.”

First pitch under sunny skies and temperatures in the upper 70s is set for 1:05 p.m. at Hammond Stadium.

Also starting for the first time this spring is Daniel Nava, who missed time early in camp with neck soreness. He took batting practice and participated in infield and outfield drills this week and was cleared to play.

Grady Sizemore plays for the second time in three days and will get his first look in center field after playing left field on Thursday against Northeastern.

Here is Saturday’s lineup for the Red Sox:

Grady Sizemore CF

Jonathan Herrera SS

Daniel Nava LF

A.J. Pierzynski C

Mike Carp 1B

Alex Hassan RF

Garin Cecchini 3B

Travis Shaw DH

Brock Holt 2B

Allen Webster P

Read More: A.J. Pierzynski, Boston Red Sox, daniel nava, grady sizemore
Anthony Ranaudo shines, Jonny Gomes leads off, Andrew Miller struggles, Twins spoil Grapefruit League opener 02.28.14 at 4:18 pm ET
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All players in Red Sox camp were introduced Friday in the Grapefruit opener at JetBlue Park. (Mike Petraglia/WEEI.com)

All players in Red Sox camp were introduced Friday in the Grapefruit opener at JetBlue Park. (Mike Petraglia/WEEI.com)

FORT MYERS, Fla. — Leading pitching prospect Anthony Ranaudo looked overpowering in two perfect innings while Andrew Miller struggled as the Minnesota Twins spoiled the official Grapefruit League opener for the Red Sox, 8-2, Friday afternoon in a sunbathed JetBlue Park.

Ranaudo, the 24-year-old righthander who was selected 39th overall in the 2010 supplemental draft, came out blazing. He fanned Minnesota regulars Alex Presley, Trevor Plouffe and Jason Kubel as part of his four strikeouts on the day. He needed just 24 pitches (19 strikes) to get through two perfect innings.

Jonny Gomes batted three times in the leadoff spot in the order, opening the first inning with a line out to short on a 2-1 pitch. He also flew out to left in the fourth and tapped back to the mound in the sixth.

David Ortiz was 0-for-2 with a check-swing on strike three for a strikeout.

The biggest struggles on the day came for the Red Sox relievers. After walking a batter in a scoreless third, Cuban defector Dalier Hinojosa was hit hard in the fourth, allowing four hits and three runs as the Twins took a 3-0 lead. He recorded just two outs in the fourth before being relieved by minor leaguer Robby Scott.

Andrew Miller ran into bad control issues in the fifth. He walked the bases loaded and allowed a sacrifice fly to make it 4-0. He was also relieved by a minor leaguer, Mike McCarthy, who allowed a two-run double to Chris Calobello that put another two runs on Miller’s line. He finished allowing three runs on no hits with a strikeout in two-thirds innings of work.

Other highlights included Mike Napoli singling twice to left field on the afternoon and minor league outfielder Bryce Brentz homering over the center field wall on an 0-2 pitch in the sixth to finally put the Red Sox on the board.

Brock Holt, whose throwing error in the ninth allowed the Twins to make it 8-1, got the run back with a bases-loaded ground out to first in the bottom of the inning to account for the final score. The game took three hours, 10 minutes.

Before the game, all three World Series trophies from 2004, ’07 and last year were on display on the infield and everyone in major league camp was introduced during a 15-minute ceremony honoring the defending World Series champions.

The two teams will meet again on Saturday across town as Allen Webster starts for the Red Sox against the Twins at Hammond Stadium at 1:05 p.m.

Read More: andrew miller, anthony ranaudo, Boston Red Sox, dalier hinojosa
Mike Petraglia, Rob Bradford on Jacoby Ellsbury thanking John Farrell at 2:57 pm ET
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FORT MYERS, Fla. — WEEI.com’s Mike Petraglia and Rob Bradford discuss a special phone call Red Sox manager John Farrell received over the winter from Jacoby Ellsbury, how the Red Sox view the stolen base now and the health of Grady Sizemore.

Read More: Boston Red Sox, MLB, Rob Bradford, spring training 2014
Red Sox notebook Friday: Grady Sizemore, Daniel Nava to play Saturday, Christian Vazquez takes ‘big step forward’ at 11:18 am ET
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Christian Vazquez is not just sitting and waiting for his time to become to Boston's next great catcher. (AP)

Christian Vazquez is not just sitting and waiting for his time to become to Boston’s next great catcher. (AP)

FORT MYERS, Fla. — All the reports on Grady Sizemore came back very positive Friday morning so his return to game action will continue on Saturday at Hammond Stadium against the Twins.

“Grady feels great,” manager John Farrell said. “He came out of yesterday’s three innings, two at-bats feeling good. I’m sure he was eager to get going. First time in a couple of years being in a live game but he has responded well.”

Sizemore, who missed all of 2012 and ’13 with back and knee injuries, flied out to center in his first at-bat in the first inning and flew out to left in the second inning. It was his first game action of any kind since Sept. 2011. Farrell said Sizemore will play center after playing left field on Thursday against Northeastern.

Another rehabbing outfielder will get his first taste of game action on Saturday when Daniel Nava returns from a neck ailment and plays left field. Nava missed some time early in camp after waking up one morning with stiffness and soreness in the back of his neck.

Christian Vazquez continues to impress the Red Sox with his offensive development. On Thursday, he homered over the Jet Blue Monster in left against Boston College. The ninth-round pick from 2008 has always had shown signs of power, hitting as many as 18 homers with Single-A Greenville in 2011, driving in 84 runs in 105 games and batting .283. He seemed to be on the fast track in 2012 when he batted .266 in 81 games for High-A Salem. But he dropped to .205 in 20 games with Double-A Portland to close out ’12.

Last year, mostly spent at Portland, he had a breakout season of sorts, batting .289 with a .376 OBP in 96 games.

“Big step forward last year. Improved average but I think more than anything, when you start to see the walks and strikeouts start to even out, I think that speaks to his confidence in the [batter's] box and be comfortable and remain calm in some of those two-strike situations. He’s an exciting-looking player and a solid step forward, offensively, last year.”

With a gun for an arm and very quick feet, his defensive skills have never been doubted from the moment he was drafted as a 17-year-old out of Puerto Rico. Farrell says Vazquez will take the next step in developing game-calling skills and handling a pitching staff.

“Those [skills] are evident,” Farrell said. “The game-calling are to hinge a lot on the strengths of the given pitcher on the mound and how familiar is he with that individual. There’s a good foundation already in place, and that starts from the time they’re in rookie ball and that building block is there. But what he has also shown is the ability to read some swings and use that to make some pitch selections. He’s on a very good path as far as the position is concerned, all phases.”

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Read More: anthony ranaudo, Boston Red Sox, christian vazquez, daniel nava
Red Sox video montage of highlights from sweep over Northeastern, Boston College at 8:19 am ET
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FORT MYERS, Fla. — The Red Sox opened their spring game schedule on Thursday with their annual college doubleheader against Northeastern and Boston College. The Red Sox won a pair of 5-2 seven-inning games at JetBlue Park. Grady Sizemore started in Game 1 against NU and had two fly outs while Brandon Workman threw the first pitch of the spring. The Grapefruit League opener is set for 1:05 p.m. Friday at JetBlue Park against their crosstown foe, the Minnesota Twins.

Read More: Boston College, Boston Red Sox, Northeastern, Northeastern University
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