|Morning notes: John Farrell can ‘envision’ Grady Sizemore on roster to start season while Jackie Bradley Jr. could start in Triple-A||03.18.14 at 12:59 pm ET|
TAMPA — Red Sox manager John Farrell knows he has a crowded outfield. Before Tuesday’s game with the Yankees at Steinbrenner Field, he acknowledged just how crowded when he was asked if he could imagine a scenario where he starts the season with Grady Sizemore and Shane Victorino being his only outfielders with center field experience.
“Yeah, I could envision that,” Farrell said, before adding, “but we’d also want to maybe get some exposure with somebody else out there, too, just to take the look while we have the opportunity in spring training.”
The suggestion, of course, is that Jackie Bradley Jr. would start in Triple-A under a scenario where Jonny Gomes, Mike Carp and Daniel Nava are all on the roster.
Obviously, injuries or a trade late in camp would change all of that.
Farrell also wouldn’t rule out Daniel Nava getting some looks in center field, in either minor league or major league game this spring.
Farrell said his main priority is to go into the the season with Victorino serving as his primary right fielder.
“We’ve had a couple of conversations but didn’t want to get into anything,” Farrell said. “We still feel like before camp is out, we want to get him some reps in center field but he’s aware and we remain consistent that our intention is to keep him in right field as much as possible. He’s fully on board with that. There might be a time in a given game where he might end up in center field for a couple or three innings if we’ve done something with a pinch-hit situation. I don’t have an answer yet because it’s based on what our final roster is going to look like.
“Shane’s a baseball player and he’s fully confident that he can play both positions equally well. He’s open to what’s best on a given day.”
Bradley played center on Tuesday and made a nice running catch toward the warning track off the bat of Alfonso Soriano to end the second inning.
After his two spectacular catches against the Cardinals at JetBlue Park Monday, Sizemore will return to game action on Wednesday in a minor league game. Most importantly, Sizemore’s body was none the worse for wear after going full out on Monday.
“Grady came in today fine,” Farrell said. “He’ll be in a minor league game [Wednesday] and then the following night in center field.”
|Sunday Red Sox notes: Christian Vazquez continues to impress as ‘one of the premier catching prospects,’ Bo Greenwell signs||03.02.14 at 11:30 am ET|
FORT MYERS, Fla. — Christian Vazquez continues to impress in Red Sox camp.
The latest raves came from John Farrell after Vazquez threw out Minnesota’s Jermaine Mitchell trying to steal second base in the seventh inning at Hammond Stadium.
“Another one you probably saw last year,” Farrell said Sunday, referring to the many runners he threw out for Double-A Portland in 2013.
That’s something that has continued this spring in camp. “He’s thrown out every runner in camp he’s come across. He’s now 11-for-11,” Farrell reported.
“What’s impressive to me is the progress he’s making with the bat. There’s more strength in his swing, there’s more solid impact, drove the ball good to right-center field and then there was the home run the other day. When you look at the numbers, it’s heading in the right direction. He’s on a very good path.”
What will it take for Vazquez to reach the next level?
“Number of at-bats and I think as he’s getting stronger, that’s the thing that starts out,” Farrell said. “This is a guy when he first signed, there were some difficulty getting through a nine-inning game and now he might be one of the premier catching prospects in the game.”
What makes him that premier prospect is an arm unrivaled in the Red Sox system, throwing down to second in less than 1.9 seconds, a release that puts him in the very above-average category.
“1.86 on the throw to second,” Farrell said. “We [also] encourage all of our guys to [throw to first base]. We want any kind of deterrent to either an extended lead or a secondary lead or any kind of running the bases with freedom, we want to try to cut that down as much as possible.”
The latest on Grady Sizemore is that he will play Tuesday against Tampa Bay and Friday against Atlanta, both games scheduled for JetBlue Park.
“I wish we could fast-forward and get the answer but so far, so good,” Farrell said.
Anything unexpected from Sizemore? “Yeah, running into the center field wall,” Farrell laughed. “He got up and threw the ball so I guess some things don’t change.”
“Talking to him early this morning, he felt like he had a legitimate bead on that ball and time ran out. But he bounced right back up and is good to go. There’s been a couple of at-bats where he’s getting down the line. The times getting down the line are getting more in line with what’s expected, and I think that’s his mind is being a little more free and not guarded and so those are things, when you ask what are you looking for, you’re starting to see them play out in games in times down the line or how he’s responded to game situations. It’s been good.”
The team announced Sunday that they signed Bo Greenwell, the son of former Red Sox All-Star left fielder Mike Greenwell. Bo, 25, was originally drafted by Cleveland in the sixth round of the 2007 MLB June Amateur Draft. It won’t be a long trip to camp as he went to Riverdale High School in Fort Myers.
Happy to be moving forward with The team that I grew up watching. #RedSoxNation
— Bo Greenwell (@BoGreenwell) March 1, 2014
|Sunday lineups: Jonny Gomes leads off vs. Orioles as Mike Yastrzemski visits grandfather Carl||at 9:26 am ET|
“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
David Ortiz DH
Mike Napoli 1B
Xander Bogaerts SS
Will Middlebrooks 3B
Jackie Bradley Jr. CF
Bryce Brentz RF
|Grady Sizemore ‘fine’ after falling down on warning track, hopeful to play Tuesday vs. Rays||03.01.14 at 5:21 pm ET|
It was just another test along the path to seeing if the former All-Star outfielder’s body is up to the task of returning to major league games in 2014.
Brian Dozier laced a double to deep left-center and Sizemore tracked the ball from his position in center. He got to the warning track and lost his footing and fell awkwardly.
“I’m fine,” Sizemore said after the 6-2 loss to the Twins. “I think all game reps are good right now. Everything helps. As much work as I can get in games is going to be very beneficial. I felt good today. Everything felt good, as good as I could hope for, as far as the body and knees and so forth.
“I’m happy to just get through these games and feel good and feel strong and not come in the next day with any lingering issues. So far, it’s going to be good.”
Sizemore and Farrell both agreed after the game that while Sizemore doesn’t want to lose his aggressive style of play, he also needs to be practical as he attempts a comeback from back and knee issues that have kept him out of baseball since 2011.
“I’m not going to think about it,” Sizemore said. “Obviously, I’m going to try and be smart but I’m going to still play aggressively and try not to change the way I play or think about it while I’m out there.”
Added Farrell, “The fact that he’s more conscious of what he’s been through and maybe the cause for some of the previous injuries because of that style of play, we can’t say we’re going to eliminate that completely but there’s also a willingness on his part to maybe anticipate things a little bit differently.”
Farrell said after the game that the hope is to start giving Sizemore some days off before ramping up his load. Sizemore, who played in games in two of three days, is now tentatively set to play Tuesday against the Rays at JetBlue Park.
“I think he’ll answer some of those questions as we get deeper into camp,” Farrell said of the workload. “We’re also going to build in some recovery days as well and that’s coming up for him. He’ll be back on the field probably on Tuesday and give him another three or four days off after that to gradually ramp up the workload.”
“When we start putting multiple days together, whether it’s games or workouts, there will be days where I’ll be sore or not as strong as the other days but for the most part, the last week or so has been really good,” Sizemore added. “I’ve bounced back well.”
|Allen Webster knocked around in spring debut, Grady Sizemore falls down, passes a physical test||at 2:16 pm ET|
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.
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.
‘LeBron 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. ‘Johnny 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.
|Grady Sizemore starts in center, A.J. Pierzynski, Daniel Nava get first looks of spring||at 9:18 am ET|
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:
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
|Anthony Ranaudo shines, Jonny Gomes leads off, Andrew Miller struggles, Twins spoil Grapefruit League opener||02.28.14 at 4:18 pm ET|
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.
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.
|Red Sox notebook Friday: Grady Sizemore, Daniel Nava to play Saturday, Christian Vazquez takes ‘big step forward’||at 11:18 am ET|
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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