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Red Sox notes: John Farrell explains switch for Grady Sizemore 04.10.14 at 7:37 pm ET
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Jackie Bradley Jr.

Jackie Bradley Jr.

NEW YORK — Prior to his team’€™s series-opening game against the Yankees Thursday night, John Farrell explained why Grady Sizemore had been pushed over to left field, with Jackie Bradley Jr. manning center.

Farrell said the move had more to do with the venue then anything else.

“With the ground that’s going to be covered here in Yankee Stadium is almost the reverse of what we deal with at Fenway,” he said. “To keep Jackie in center field and Grady over in left is for that particular reason — to cover the vast space that’s on the left side of the field.”

The manager then added, “As we sat down and talked with Grady about this, well aware that he has defensively only played center field at the big-league level, he’s played a number of games at the minor league level in left field. The alignment being here at Yankee Stadium, that’s what we’re looking to cover.

“It’s an alignment we’ve talked about internally. It’s best fitting here with the ground to cover. Whether or not this is something we do, I’m not going to say on a permanent basis because we’ve shown we’re going to rotate Jonny Gomes through there and he’s going to get ample time in left field as well. This is the way we’re going at it tonight. This isn’t something that we’re looking to pencil in every day going forward.”

Then there was the matter of where Sizemore was hitting in the lineup.

For just the second time this season, the outfielder found himself at the top of the batting order, with Farrell moving Daniel Nava — who had gotten the majority of time at the top of the order against right-handed starters — down to fifth.

“It’s as much trying to get Daniel going,” Farrell said. “We still value the on-base, which Daniel has a strong track record of that, and yet right now we feel like we’ve got to give him an opportunity to get his feet on the ground offensively. Once he does, we feel like he’ll be in that spot. Just trying to make the most of the current streaks or the way guys are swinging the bat right now.”

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Replacing Jacoby Ellsbury in leadoff spot hasn’t been easy for Red Sox at 8:37 am ET
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Daniel Nava

Daniel Nava

The Red Sox have stated the primary goal for their leadoff men is to get on base. Plain and simple. The thinking is that you have to get on base in order score runs.

It just so happened that Jacoby Ellsbury — the guy who used to lead off for the Red Sox and now plays for the Yankees — did both of those things, along with stealing a bunch of bases.

Well, thus far this season, the Red Sox‘ replacements for Ellsbury at the top of the order haven’t gotten on base a whole bunch, have scored just four runs, and haven’t even attempted a stolen base.

Daniel Nava has hit in the top spot a team-high five times, going 3-for-20 with a walk and two runs.

Jonny Gomes has hit in the leadoff spot in three games, managing two hits in nine at-bats with three walks and one run scored.

Grady Sizemore has gotten the chance to lead off once, going 0-for-4 with a walk while scoring a run.

Red Sox leadoff hitters carry the third-worst OPS (.539) in the majors, hitting a combined .176. On the bright side, they are seeing the third-most pitches per plate appearance of any group of leadoff men in the game (4.38).

So, what has Ellsbury meant to his new team? The center fielder has been moved to the third spot in the batting order, with Brett Gardner sliding up. But in his four games leading off, Ellsbury went 6-for-16 (.375) with three walks, three runs and three steals.

Gardner has been almost as good in his five games leading off, hitting .300 (6-for-20) with three walks and two runs while seeing 4.39 pitches per plate appearance.

What to do? Your thoughts …

Who should get the majority of opportunities to leadoff for the Red Sox?

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Why David Ross and tired Red Sox are glad first week is over 04.06.14 at 6:56 pm ET
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David Ross and the Red Sox are still reaching and searching for first home win. (AP)

David Ross and the Red Sox are still reaching and searching for first home win. (AP)

The mere thought might provoke snide laughter among skeptics.

One week into the season and the Red Sox are a tired group. How else to explain sloppy play and mental lapses on Friday, Saturday and Sunday? The Red Sox not only lost their home opener, spoiling the ring ceremony glow a bit, they were swept at Fenway by a Milwaukee team that is coming off a 74-win season and was picked for next-to-last in the National League Central by many experts.

But upon further review, you can see why. The Red Sox played a night game Thursday, traveled back early Friday morning and then got up early to get to Fenway and prepare for their ring ceremony before a 2:05 p.m. game Friday. They were allowed to sleep in Saturday, only to play a tedious 11-inning contest Saturday night that took four hours, 23 minutes to complete. They then got up early Sunday morning to make their way to Fenway and try to salvage a game from the Brewers.

Yovani Gallardo made sure to make life miserable by keeping the ball down all day as Milwaukee stifled the Sox, 4-0, to complete the three-game sweep of the fatigued champs.

“That was a lot going on,” catcher David Ross said. “No excuses and I’m not making excuses but getting in late, the ring ceremony, turn around night game, extra innings, day game. They took it to us. You have to give credit to that team. We’ll regroup, have a night game [Monday], get some rest. It’s a long season, have a lot of games left and we have guys in here that play hard so I’m not worried about that.”

What will turn it around? A little rest and little luck, starting with the Rangers Monday night in Boston.

“I think it’s a little bit of both,” Ross said. “Some of those ground balls that are finding holes are at guys and some of those hard hit balls find the gaps or find the outfield grass. Rest helps, too. Guys get in this first weekend. You have all sorts of stuff going on, getting unpacked and your apartment settled. Figuring out how to get home because I know a couple of guys got lost the other day going home. Just getting readjusted.”

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Red Sox-Brewers series preview 04.04.14 at 11:20 am ET
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It’€™ll be a special day at Fenway on Friday afternoon as the reigning World Series champions return home for the first time since beating the Cardinals in Game 6 of the 2013 Fall Classic.

The rings will be distributed, the banner will be displayed and the Red Sox will kick off the first home series of the season, taking on the Brewers.

The ceremonies are set to begin at 1 p.m. and include a helicopter flyover from the U.S. Coast Guard, a performance by the Dropkick Murphys and Boston Pops Esplanade Orchestra, and of course, the ring ceremony, as well as a tribute to the fallen firefighters who died in the nine-alarm blaze in the Back Bay on March 26.

“I’m pretty sure it’s going to be emotional,” first baseman Mike Napoli told MLB.com. “Boston knows how to put on a good ceremony. I’ve seen it before. I imagine the atmosphere is going to be amazing and the fans are going to be going nuts. It’s going to be a fun day. I’m looking forward to it.”

First pitch is set for 2:05 p.m., with the Brewers coming to Fenway for the first time since 2011.

The Red Sox opened the season on a positive note, taking the final two games of the series against the Orioles after dropping the opener. The Brewers, on the other hand, dropped two of three to the Braves despite solid performances from their starting pitchers. This is the earliest in the season the Brewers have ever faced an American League opponent in interleague play. The Red Sox have won seven of the nine interleague contests between the two clubs.

Here are the pitching matchups for the first home series of 2014.

Friday: Jake Peavy (0-0, 0.00) vs. Marco Estrada (0-0, 0.00)

Saturday: Clay Buchholz (0-0, 0.00) vs. Wily Peralta (0-0,0.00)

Sunday: Jon Lester (0-1, 2.57) vs. Yovani Gallardo (1-0, 0.00)

WHO’€™S HOT: RED SOX

Xander Bogaerts isn’€™t having much trouble adjusting to his role as the team’s everyday shortstop. The 21-year-old has reached base in eight of his 11 plate appearances, going 5-for-9 with a double and drawing three walks in the opening series. Batting out of the 5-hole in the rubber match with the Orioles on Thursday, Bogaerts went 3-for-4 and scored twice. While he’€™s batted either fifth or seventh in the lineup so far, he’€™s making a case for a shot at an audition in the leadoff spot, since there seems to be some uncertainty at the top of the order.

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Breaking down Red Sox’ still-unresolved decision on Jackie Bradley Jr. vs. Grady Sizemore 03.25.14 at 1:06 pm ET
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PORT CHARLOTTE, Fla. — Cue Europe and their ridiculous synthesizer. It’s the Final Countdown.

The Red Sox are sorting through the last days of their roster decisions. Most of the determinations are fairly straightforward. But one key alignment, as the Sox anticipate a resolution to all of their roster decisions as soon as Thursday, has yet to be determined.

Tuesday marks the first of three consecutive games in which Grady Sizemore is scheduled to play. It’s the first and only time this spring that the center fielder — attempting to return to the big leagues after a two-season hiatus — will be tested in this capacity. And until the Sox see how he responds to the physical demands of his schedule, it will be impossible for the team to say whether Sizemore or Jackie Bradley Jr. will be the Opening Day center fielder.

“There’s still a lot of internal conversation on who our starting center fielder is going to be,” acknowledged manager John Farrell. “We’re looking at these next three days as a physical test. I can’t say we’re looking at quality of at-bats to on-base in those three games. We’re just, one thing that we can get some feedback on is does he come out of three consecutive games in good shape physically?”

The questions about Sizemore currently appear to revolve solely around his durability and physical health rather than his abilities and in-game performance. In terms of how he’s looked both swinging the bat and defensively, Farrell said that Sizemore has answered those questions “and initially probably exceeded our expectations on the way he was swinging the bat and particularly the timing at the plate. That’s what stood out.

“We came in with kind of an open canvass. And yet we’ve seen very good timing at the plate. We’ve seen a repeatable swing, much like he was pre-injury,” added Farrell. “I don’t think we had any set markers or goals to say that, ‘Hey, if he could do this from an offensive standpoint, he’s exceeded expectations.’ I think he’s going to gain further consistency the more at-bats that he gets.” Read the rest of this entry »

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Mike Petraglia, Rob Bradford on John Lackey, David Ortiz, Jon Lester and Daniel Nava 03.22.14 at 6:00 pm ET
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LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. — WEEI.com’s Mike Petraglia and Rob Bradford assess the next-to-last spring outing of Red Sox starter John Lackey, who gave up 10 hits and five runs, including two home runs, over 4 2/3 innings Saturday in a 6-3 loss to the Atlanta Braves at Champion Stadium. Petraglia and Bradford discuss the latest on contract negotiations for David Ortiz and Jon Lester and the base running lessons involving Daniel Nava.

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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
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Shane Victorino and Daniel Nava (29) could get some playing time together in the outfield. (AP)

Shane Victorino and Daniel Nava (29) could get some playing time together in the outfield. (AP)

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.”

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