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Sunday’s Red Sox-Yankees matchups: Felix Doubront vs. Ivan Nova 04.13.14 at 9:42 am ET
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The Red Sox conclude their four-game series against the Yankees on Sunday night, sending  southpaw Felix Doubront to the mound against Ivan Nova.

Though 1-1, Doubront has struggled in his first two starts of the season. After picking up a win against Baltimore, Doubront only made it through 2 2/3 innings against Texas on April 8, giving up five runs on six hits and a home run while striking out two and walking three. The rough outing, which was the shortest of his career, leaves Doubront with a 9.00 ERA and a 2.000 WHIP.

“I wasn’t tired,” Doubront said after the game. “I don’t know. I can’t explain what happened. I was feeling really good during the first two innings and the whole day, in my bullpen and the start of the game. I started doing too much. I think that’€™s what happened. I was trying to do too much and overthrow.”

The 26-year-old has played against the Yankees 12 times in his career, eight of them being starts. In 2010 and 2011, he came out of the bullpen four times, giving up two earned runs off of 17 batters faced. The southpaw picked up no-decisions in those contests.

2012 was a good year for Doubront against the Yankees as he made four starts and went 1-1 with an ERA of 2.52 and a WHIP of 1.200. While he went 2-1 against them in 2013, he had a 6.30 ERA with a WHIP of 1.700.

Similar to Doubront, Nova has struggled in 2013, going 1-1. The 27-year-old picked up a win at Houston in his season debut, going 5 2/3 innings and giving up two runs while walking five and striking out one. His second game, against Baltimore on April 8, saw him go only 3 2/3 innings and give up seven runs on 10 hits and a home run.

Nova has struggled against the Red Sox, going 2-3 in eight games with a 5.50 ERA and a WHIP of 1.699. Nova’€™s best year against Boston was in 2012, when he went 2-0 with a 2.25 ERA and a WHIP of 1.250. In his games against the Sox in 2010, 2011 and 2013, his ERA was over six and he did not record a win.

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Thursday’s Red Sox-Yankees matchups: Clay Buchholz vs. Michael Pineda 04.10.14 at 9:39 am ET
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The Red Sox on Thursday will begin their first series against the arch-rvial Yankees, a four-game tilt in New York, sending Clay Buchholz to the mound against Michael Pineda.

Buchholz will make his second start of the season, five days after Saturday’s appearance against the Brewers. The 29-year-old struggled in that game, lasting 4 1/3 innings and giving up six runs on 13 hits, including two home runs, while striking out three.

“It took a little bit to get loose,” Buchholz said after the game. “It was pretty cool out there. You don’t want to give up that many hits ever. They’re swinging early and putting balls in play.”

Buchholz ended up with a no-decision as Boston was able to come back and tie the game in the bottom of the sixth inning before falling in 11.

Buchholz has faced the Yankees 12 times (all starts), holding a 5-5 record with an ERA of 5.32 and a WHIP of 1.601. Last year Buchholz was dominant against the Yankees, going 3-0 in three games with an ERA of 0.50 and a WHIP of 0.94.

Pineda pitched well in his debut with the Yankees, his first major league start since 2011 (he had shoulder surgery in 2012 and pitched in the minors last year). Pineda went six innings against the Blue Jays on Saturday and allowed one run while striking out five. His performance wasn’t good enough, however, as he was saddled with the loss as the Yankees were shut out, 4-0.

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Clay Buchholz sharp early, tires late against Yankees, but shoulder ‘feels fine’ 03.20.14 at 8:36 pm ET
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Clay Buchholz fires a pitch Thursday night against the Yankees. (AP)

Clay Buchholz fires a pitch Thursday night against the Yankees. (AP)

FORT MYERS, Fla. — A new approach to getting ready for the regular season seems to be agreeing with Clay Buchholz.

The right-hander, slotted into the No. 5 spot in the starting rotation, looked sharp for most of his five innings Thursday night in a 3-2 loss to the Yankees at JetBlue Park.

Buchholz said early in spring training that with a spot assured in the rotation he would look to slowly increase his intensity during games and not start full throttle. On Thursday, he mixed in all of his pitches, working his curveball and two-seam fastball to generate a multitude of ground outs.

“It was mostly two-seam and cutters,” Buchholz said. “The two-seam, that’s the reason I throw it, to get ground balls. Whenever I’m staying on top of it and smooth through the delivery, that’s most of the times what happens.

“I was down in the zone for pretty much the first four innings. In the fifth inning, [the wind] started blowing a little bit, tried to get my legs back underneath me and started overthrowing. I left some balls up in hitters counts and gave up a couple of hits. But I needed to be in that 70 to 75-pitch range.”

Buchholz allowed five hits and three runs in his five innings, throwing 73 pitches (49 strikes). He walked one and struck out three. Buchholz is now 2-2 with a 2.77 ERA. He’s allowed 10 hits and walked three in 13 innings, striking out eight while allowing four runs.

“It’s different than the last couple of times out but I felt good with just about everything,” he said. “I battled a little bit with the changeup but other than that, threw every other pitch pretty well.”

Buchholz added that his right shoulder through four starts feels strong and nearly ready to start the season.

“It feels fine,” Buchholz said. “I think fatigue was the only thing that set in today. I thought like the ball was coming out of my hand better today than it has, with less effort. Felt good in the bullpen and felt good in the first four innings. It’s just getting that pitch count to where we need it to be before the season starts.

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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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John Farrell ‘a little surprised’ Robinson Cano no longer in pinstripes as Red Sox skipper assesses Yankees at 10:46 am ET
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David Ortiz (left) and Robinson Cano share a laugh before a 2013 Red Sox-Yankees game. (AP)

David Ortiz (left) and Robinson Cano share a laugh before a 2013 Red Sox-Yankees game. (AP)

TAMPA — For all the talk Tuesday about Jacoby Ellsbury, there is a player absent from the Yankee clubhouse this season that could play just as big a factor this year in the Red Sox-Yankees dynamic.

Robinson Cano signed with the Mariners in December for 10 years and $240 million. The second baseman who broke in with the Yankees in 2005, is a lifetime .304 hitter, with a .509 slugging percentage and a career .860 OPS. Against the Red Sox, he hammered 21 homers, just over 10 percent of his career 205 total, and his other lifetime marks against Boston (.308/.356/.502) are right at his career averages.

“I know one thing, I’m glad we don’t have to face him 19 times,” Red Sox manager John Farrell said. “From across the field, he was the type of type of player you thought would be in one place for his entire career, as dominant an offensive player, as dominant a player as he’s been, we have full respect of the player. You never know how things are going to transpire. Maybe a little surprised he’s not in a Yankee uniform.”

Cano had a root canal on March 5 but time will tell if the Yankees will need one for their aging infield.

The Yankees are going with the low-budget alternative to start the season at second base in Brian Roberts. Kelly Johnson is a second base/third base option, Mark Teixeira is at first and Derek Jeter will start his final season at short. And, of course, Stephen Drew is still out on the market.

“They’ve got tremendous resources,” Farrell added. “This division is going to be difficult, top to bottom. Teams might go about it differently based on their own model. From the outside, you anticipated some changes. To what extent, that remains to be seen. A lot of new names. A lot of really good players.”

The Yankees decided to spend $471 million on longterm investments in the offseason on four players – namely catcher Brian McCann, starting pitcher Masahiro Tanaka, outfielder Carlos Beltran and Jacoby Ellsbury.

“I don’t know if there’s any one guy that stands out more than another,” Farrell said. “I think the one thing that kind of jumps out is the pace in which they got Jacoby. As quick as they moved to sign him, that was the one thing that was [surprising]. That offer obviously had to be so much greater than anything Jacoby was fielding, not knowing anything. To make that decision that quick in the offseason, obviously they were very aggressive going towards him.”

Ellsbury signed for $153 million for seven years in early December, just over a month after the center fielder won his second World Series ring in seven seasons. The media attention this week, with the Red Sox playing the Yankees twice, falls naturally on Ellsbury.

“I don’t know if we have any way of knowing what an individual player’s market is going to be,” Farrell said of his former center fielder. “He was a good player so he was going to draw the attention of a lot big market teams because he’s in that class of player.”

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Felix Doubront shelled as Jacoby Ellsbury sits in Yankees early rout of Red Sox Tuesday 03.18.14 at 3:30 pm ET
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Felix Doubront struggled with release point throughout his outing Tuesday against the Yankees. (AP)

Felix Doubront struggled with release point throughout his outing Tuesday against the Yankees. (AP)

TAMPA — On this day, the Yankees didn’t need Jacoby Ellsbury against his former team.

Sitting out the first game between the two archrivals since he followed the path of Johnny Damon, Ellsbury (sore right calf) watched as the Yankees banged out 10 hits and seven earned runs off Red Sox starter Felix Doubront in an 8-1 win over Boston Tuesday afternoon at Steinbrenner Field.

Doubront, who had not allowed a run in six innings over two previous spring starts, was in trouble from the start Tuesday. He worked out of the first inning with only one run scoring. But in the next frame, Doubront was rocked for four runs on five hits and a walk as the Yankees sent eight batters to the plate in building a 5-0 lead.

After a seven-minute delay due to a swarm of bees along the left field line, Doubront took to the mound for the third inning. Doubront gave up a leadoff triple to catcher Francisco Cervelli but the Red Sox lefty showed his best stuff of the day, working out of the jam without the run scoring.

“Just taking positive things like that,” Doubront said. “I went out there and I didn’t care. The man on third. I want to throw strikes.

Looking to increase his pitch count and build him up for the regular season, the Red Sox sent Doubront out for the fourth. He allowed a leadoff single to Brett Gardner before inducing a double play from Derek Jeter. But with two outs, Carlos Beltran doubled before Mark Teixeira walked.

Doubront was pulled for Brandon Workman, who gave up a home run to Soriano, charging two more runs to Doubront’s line. The Sox lefty allowed seven earned runs on 10 hits, walking three, striking out two. He threw 79 pitches on the day.

“Bad feeling,” Doubront said afterward. “I didn’t feel the grip, changeup was bad, left the pitches over the plate. One of those days.”

‘€œHe probably didn’€™t have as much finish to his pitches as we’€™ve seen in his first couple of outings,” manager John Farrell added. “Quite possibly, we’€™re into that part of camp where he’€™s battling through a little bit of a dead arm which is completely normal and expected but we got him up to 80 pitches which is in line for the progression we’€™re trying to get him to.’€

‘€œDidn’€™t see the consistent tempo of the game that we’€™ve seen the first [two] starts he’€™s made. It was a challenge for him to get into the flow of the game today.’€

Doubront tapped himself on the shoulder several times Tuesday in an effort to remind himself to slow down and get into proper mechanics.

“I threw a couple of pitches good and then I went back to the wrong mechanics. But it’s just a thing where I have to repeat my delivery,” he said. “That last inning, I gave up that double, I started my delivery too fast and missed my release point. You can have an outing like that and learn from it.

“My arm feels good. It was just my release point. That was the tough part to find today. I threw some very good pitches but sometimes 0-2, 1-2 I left the pitch in the zone and good swings from them. Nothing I can do but throw my bullpen and pitch in the next five days.”

The Red Sox meanwhile couldn’t do much against Yankees starter Michael Pineda. The right-hander held the Sox scoreless on four hits over 4 1/3 innings, striking out five and walking none. He left in the fifth inning with an 8-0 lead.

The Red Sox broke through in the top of the seventh for their only run, when Jonathan Herrera singled home Corey Brown.

As for the bizarre developments before Doubront took the mound in the third, Red Sox left fielder Mike Carp first noticed the swarm of bees and took off for center field while four groundskeepers sprayed the infested area.

“Not a big fan of bees flying around my head,” Carp said. “It’s just one of those things I’ve never seen happen — or, I’ve seen it happen, but it’s never happened to me. I’m sure they’ll get their laughs on ESPN tonight.”

Ironically, the game was broadcast on ESPN Tuesday, so there will be plenty of video from which to choose.

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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 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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