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Xander Bogaerts off to Taiwan for WBC: ‘I’m excited’ 02.23.13 at 5:22 pm ET
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FORT MYERS, Fla. — Red Sox top prospect Xander Bogaerts said Saturday he was excited and looking forward to leaving for Taiwan to train with the Netherlands for the upcoming world baseball classic. Bogaerts is one of four Red Sox players in the system taking part in the upcoming WBC. Bogearts left late Saturday night for the long trip to Asia.

Bogaerts certainly went off on a high note, singling home a run in the bottom of the ninth Saturday in Boston’s 4-3 loss to the Rays at JetBlue Park and making a nice defensive play in a rundown to end the Tampa Bay seventh inning.

“I’m excited to be part of the team,” said Bogaerts, who grew up in Aruba, a territory of the Netherlands. “I’ll get to meet the guys again. I had a long time without seeing some of them, so it’€™ll be fun to be playing back with them. [I'm looking forward to] just being with all the guys that I grew up playing with or playing against. That’€™ll make it exciting.”

Bogaerts is leaving just as he is getting to know his teammates in his first big league training camp with the Red Sox.

“Yeah, that’s what makes this kind of tough,” said Bogaerts. “This is my first big league spring training and it would be nice if
I could stay around the big league guys but it’€™s also a good experience to go there and play in the World Baseball Classic. So I’€™m excited.”

Red Sox manager John Farrell said he’s more than supportive of players like Bogaerts and Shane Victorino leaving camp for the WBC.

‘€œMarch 3 is the day that we have that Shane and other guys will travel,” Farrell said. “Team Puerto Rico is going to be here. Team Mexico is going to be in Arizona as Team USA. So it’€™s more travel for Xander and those players traveling to Asia.

“We know going in that Xander’€™s going to get regular at-bats at either DH or third base. With [Oscar] Villarreal and [Jose] De La Torre, they’re going to be pitching out of the bullpen, so they’re going to get the right number of innings in advance of the season.

‘€œThe one thing that [Team USA manager] Joe Torre has mentioned to us, he obviously has run spring training many years, he knows those individual players are also getting ready for their season. They’re about competing and trying to win that tournament, but at the same time he’€™s balancing the individual getting ready for their own respective seasons. We can’€™t dictate anything. Those players are going to go and compete for Team USA or any team.

Read More: 2013 spring training, Boston Red Sox, MLB, WBC
Coming soon: Daisuke Matsuzaka 03.23.09 at 8:25 am ET
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With Daisuke Matsuzaka having pitched last night in the World Baseball Classic, the Red Sox are looking forward to the starter’s return to Fort Myers, where they can regulate the rest of his spring training build-up towards the regular season. Matsuzaka threw 98 pitches in 4.2 innings in Japan’s WBC semi-final victory over the U.S. When the pitcher returns, likely on Tuesday or Wednesday, the team will have its trainers examine him and sit down for a discussion to chart his course for the remainder of spring training.

“It’s not the way we would escalate (his pitch count) on a normal schedule,” said Sox manager Terry Francona. “YOu hope at some point during the season, you don’t have to pay for that.”

Nonetheless, Francona suggested that there was no reason to expect that Matsuzaka wouldn’t be able to take his normal first turn in the rotation, whenever that might be.

A few other notes:

–The Sox have started giving their relievers multi-inning appearances, and will soon start having them appear on back-to-back days. The team would like to do so with every reliever except for Takashi Saito. “With all (Saito) has been through with his elbow, it doesn’t make a lot of sense,” said Francona. “I’m sure there will come a time when we need to (have Saito pitch back-to-back). … Now is not the time.”

Justin Masterson is scheduled to make a start at the minor-league complex on Thursday. The team will let the decision on his starter vs. reliever status play out a bit longer.

–The team is unsure when or whether Rocco Baldelli might play on back-to-back days this spring, or during the regular season, for that matter. At this point, at least, the team does not need to schedule such workloads. If, during the regular season, the team faces left-handed starters on back-to-back days, there might be a desire to see whether Baldelli can make those starts, but the team won’t push the issue, particularly given that both J.D. Drew and Jacoby Ellsbury are considered decent options against left-handed pitchers.

“The guys we have out there aren’t necessarily platoon guys,” said Francona. “But (Baldelli) is a potent bat against lefties.”

Read More: Daisuke Matsuzaka, justin masterson, Rocco Baldelli, Takashi Saito
Dustin Pedroia, Sox avoid WBC calamity 03.20.09 at 1:37 pm ET
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Red Sox second baseman Dustin Pedroia appears to have avoided a serious injury. The 2008 American League MVP returned to the field today, collecting an infield hit and RBI groundout in two at-bats while having no problems either running or in the field.

But Pedroia insists that he was not the only one who avoided significant injury when he left the World Baseball Classic due to a strained lower left abdominal muscle. Sox pitcher Daisuke Matsuzaka, who is slated to pitch against Team USA this weekend, may have also avoided damage with Pedroia back in the Grapefruit League.

“Daisuke’€™s lucky I’€™m not there. I’€™d hit a line drive right off his back,” said Pedroia. “You guys can put that in your papers: I’€™d hit a line drive right off his back. He’€™d better hope that the Red Sox don’€™t trade him.”

Clearly, the last week has done little to dampen the second baseman’s confidence. Here are the rest of Pedroia’s thoughts on his first game activity since the strain. Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: Daisuke Matsuzaka, Dustin Pedroia, WBC,
Five Things We Learned on Thursday in the Fort at 6:07 am ET
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As spring training days go, Thursday was a fairly full one. The Red Sox clubhouse has reclaimed nearly all of the players who traveled far and wide to participate in the World Baseball Classic. Only Daisuke Matsuzaka (slated to start Saturday in a semi-final game) remains in the tournament, and so yesterday offered an opportunity for players to reacquaint with their spring training surroundings and to examine their wounds. And so, the post-WBC scene takes front and center in today’s edition of Five Things:

1) Yes, Kevin Youkilis was kidding when he suggested that Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter was responsible for a sprained left ankle and Achilles tendonitis that forced the Red Sox first baseman out of the World Baseball Classic on Wednesday. No, Youkilis was not kidding when he said that he does not blame the WBC for the injury (even if he suggested that neither the several days spent on Toronto’s artificial turf during the first round of the tournament nor the decision to dog-pile with his manic teammates after a walk-off win against Team Puerto Rico did him any favors). More important at this point than the fault, however, was the prognosis. Youkilis could be back in games by early next week, and the Sox do not deem the injury serious. Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: Dustin Pedroia, Kevin Youkilis, WBC,
Pedroia prepares for return 03.19.09 at 5:52 pm ET
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SARASOTA, Fla. — Dustin Pedroia did not make the trip to Ed Smith Stadium to play the Reds tonight. But then, because of injuries to some of the team’s starters and the absence of a designated hitter rule in the National League park (something that prevented David Ortiz from making the trip), almost no recognizable names on the Red Sox made the roughly 75-mile trip.

“I turned around (on the bus),” manager Terry Francona admitted sheepishly, “and I didn’t know anybody.”

Though Pedroia was held behind at City of Palms Park, however, his day was anything but lost. The second baseman swung for the first time since suffering a lower left abdomen strain while playing for Team USA at the World Baseball Classic on Saturday, taking live batting practice at the Red Sox’ spring training facility. The session went without a hitch, and so the 2008 MVP will be back in the lineup on Friday when the Sox play the Pirates.

He is expected to get two at-bats on Friday, stay back to take batting practice on Saturday, and then increase his workload to three at-bats on Sunday.

“When he first came back we were all holding our breath a little bit,” said Francona. “After the initial relief, once he started getting back into what he was doing, we thought he was going to be okay.”

Prior to taking B.P., Pedroia reiterated that he is encouraged by his progress.

“I feel good. I haven’t felt (the injury) since (it happened),” said Pedroia. “The training staff has done a great job.”

A few other pre-game notes:

–In the absence of a D.H., Jon Lester will hit in tonight’s game. Lester looked a bit befuddled when confronted with a batting helmet in City of Palms before he hit the road for tonight’s start. Francona did not go so far as to say that Lester must superglue his bat to his shoulder.

“We may have him bunt,” said Francona. “We’€™ll see. I don’€™t want to give away too much strategy.”

–On a day when Tim Wakefield‘s knuckleball was giving fits to a team of Twins minor leaguers, George Kottaras looked comfortable behind the plate. Wakefield allowed one hit and fanned three in five scoreless innings, throwing 48 pitches (32 strikes). Through the first three innings, Kottaras boxed one nasty late-breaking pitch (with no base runners aboard), but otherwise, did a good job of keeping his hands close to his body and receiving the ball late. Kottaras has received very positive assessments of his receiving ability. More on him in a bit.

–The day after he looked strong in a two-inning minor-league stint, Brad Penny reported no setbacks, and the big right-hander is set to start on Monday in a Grapefruit League game against the Tigers. “(Penny was) real upbeat. That was good to hear,” said Francona. “I thought he was strong. That was a good step forward.”

Kevin Youkilis will be examined by a foot specialist on Saturday. Until then, any work he does will be off the field. When examined, then the team will figure out his schedule for a return to the diamond.

Read More: Dustin Pedroia, Tim Wakefield, WBC,
Blame Jeter, Not the WBC for Youkilis Injury at 2:14 pm ET
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The injury has a culprit. Until today, the source of Kevin Youkilis‘ sprained ankle and tendonitis of the Achilles tendon had not been explained. Youkilis, back in Red Sox spring training camp following his exit from the World Baseball Classic on Thursday, corrected the record.

Derek Jeter,” Youkilis said, “kind of grabbed at my ankle and twisted it.”

Youkilis, of course, was speaking in jest about his Team USA teammate. In fact, despite the fact that he had to leave the WBC due to injury, the Sox first baseman and cleanup hitter tried to emphasize that the tournament was neither to blame, nor would he be deterred from encouraging teammates to participate in the future.

“This is something that didn’t just start a couple days ago,” said Youkilis, who suggested that he had started feeling discomfort at the beginning of spring training, while he was still with the Sox and before he reported to Team USA. “This has been something that’s been going on for a couple weeks now. I know people have been hearing that this is the WBC’s fault, that this is a stupid idea. It’s not. It’s a great thing. We had fun. It was a blast. It was an honor to represent the country.

“I didn’t get hurt playing in the WBC. I could probably go out right now and probably play if need be. But it’s not in my best interests right now. I need time to recuperate. If I don’t stay in this boot for three days, this will linger the whole season for me. This is something I had to do. I had to come home. It’s not easy for me to walk away from playing baseball — ever. Especially with Team USA. But this is something that was in the best interests of the Red Sox and the best interests of myself. This year is about playing for the Boston Red Sox and winning a championship.”

Youkilis did not offer a “single-bullet theory” of a sole culprit to explain the injury. It was just normal baseball activity — perhaps amplified a bit by a spirited celebration after Team USA’s walkoff victory over Puerto Rico — that resulted in a condition that required treatment.

“I think, more or less, it was just running, going side-to-side, things like that, dog-piling, running around, having so much fun doing that, that was probably not the brightest idea,” said Youkilis. “When you have your adrenaline up, you can do a lot of things. It probably wasn’t the greatest decision on my part to participate in dog-piling, running around and jumping around. It probably didn’t help it at all, but it had nothing to do with all that.”

Youkilis actually has a history of problems with the left foot, as he battles plantar fascitis in the appendage. The first baseman, in fact, was pleased to note that the MRI on his ankle suggested that his foot is in excellent shape. He will follow a normal rehab course to calm down the inflammation and prepare for the year.

“My main concern is being able to play a whole season without something lingering,” he said. “I don’t think it’s going to linger.”

The Team USA training staff included Youkilis’ ankle in its daily injury reports in recent days, but for the most part, it had not been a big deal. In the last couple of days, particularly during and after the walk-off win against Team Puerto Rico on Thursday, the condition became worse. And so, the decision was made for Youkilis to leave the tournament and return to Fort Myers for examination by the Red Sox’ medical staff, which gave him two MRIs (one on the ankle, another on the Achilles) before putting his left leg in an immobilizing boot.

He is expected to be in a boot for two to three days, have another day off to rest and then return to game activity, likely early next week.

“We’re not really concerned at all,” said Epstein.

Epstein declined to say whether or not he viewed the tournament as responsible for the rash of injuries to participants. Youkilis, on the other hand, made clear that he did not consider the tournament at fault.

“It definitely was an awesome experience. I’d recommend it for all the guys four years from now. I had a blast. I had a great time,” said Youkilis, whose sole complaint was the number of  days off between games. “I wish I could be there in L.A. to help the guys win. It was very disappointing for me to come home.”

Read More: Derek Jeter, Kevin Youkilis, WBC,
Sox: Youkilis ‘not expected to miss significant time’ 03.18.09 at 8:21 pm ET
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The Red Sox issued the following statement about the left ankle injury to first baseman Kevin Youkilis:

“Kevin Youkilis returned to Fort Myers, FL this afternoon to be examined by the Red Sox medical staff. He was diagnosed with a mild left ankle sprain as well as mild Achilles tendinitis in his left foot. Both MRI results were negative. To limit movement and allow his ankle to heal, Youkilis will wear a walking boot for the next several days but is not expected to miss significant time.

“Youkilis originally experienced some pain in his left ankle several days ago and it worsened in last night’€™s game vs. Team Puerto Rico.  He will no longer participate in the World Baseball Classic and will return to Red Sox camp tomorrow.”

Read More: Kevin Youkilis, WBC,
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