Gonzalez ready to push things
Targets next week for possible debut
FORT MYERS, Fla. — Adrian Gonzalez is just about ready to take the field for the Red Sox.
The first baseman, who is recovering from surgery on his right shoulder, took batting practice on the field again yesterday, a process he plans to repeat today before taking tomorrow off.
“We’re at that point where you’ve got to push it a little more, I guess,’’ he said, “We’ll see how it responds to hitting on back-to-back days. Then I can start planning out for some kind of game action next week sometime, maybe even earlier.’’
Said manager Terry Francona, “We’ll look at it. I don’t want to start pushing. The last thing we want to do is play him too quick. When the medical people say he can play, then if he wants to play, we’ll sit down and figure it out.’’
Gonzalez talked in some detail about his surgery, which was to repair a torn labrum.
“It’s not something that I lost games over and I’m trying to recover from,’’ he said. “It was surgery to get me to be 100 percent instead of 95. It really isn’t a surgery I needed. But it’s a surgery that is going to help me in the long term.’’
Rocket landing Roger Clemens watched the Red Sox beat the Astros, 3-2, in a split-squad game at City of Palms Park from a suite behind home plate. His son, Koby, is the Houston first baseman. Koby Clemens, 24, has spent six years in the minors, hitting .270. He was 0 for 4 yesterday. The elder Clemens faces a July 6 date in federal court on charges of obstruction of justice, making false statements, and perjury in relation to his alleged use of steroids during his playing career . . . The Sox had sold out every spring training home game since March 16, 2003, until yesterday ended the streak at 109 games. The game was a late addition to the schedule, which hurt ticket sales. The Sox tried to compensate by offering $5 tickets, but entire rows were empty down the lines. Attendance was 4,909.
They meet again Carl Crawford will face his old team, the Rays, tomorrow in Port Charlotte. “It was going to happen eventually,’’ said Crawford, who was drafted by the Rays in 1999 and spent his entire career with the organization before signing with the Sox in December. “I’ll be happy to see those guys.’’ Rays manager Joe Maddon is looking forward to the reunion. “I have not had the chance in person to tell him how much I appreciate what he had done for us,’’ Maddon told reporters in Port Charlotte. “I’m looking forward to seeing it. I’m sure that he’s going to have a lot of things going on probably with our group as a whole, and maybe the fan base, too. But we play each other so many times, let’s just get over it and move on.’’
Cameron slowed Mike Cameron, who has not played since last Thursday, said he is dealing with tendinitis in his left knee but hopes to DH tonight against the Orioles. “I was feeling so good that I just went,’’ Cameron said. “I just need to slow down a little and take care of myself. I’ll be fine.’’ . . . Daniel Bard allowed four runs on five hits and three walks in his first 1 2/3 innings of the spring. But he was sharp against the Astros in the seventh inning, setting down the side in order and striking out two . . . Bill Hall started at second base and had two hits and an RBI for Houston. The veteran hit .247 with 18 homers for the Sox last season, playing all over the field. Francona said he “highly recommended’’ Hall to his friend, Astros manager Brad Mills . . . Lefthander Felix Doubront, who has started playing catch after being shut down with a tight elbow, should get into a game before spring training is over, according to Francona . . . Hall of Famer Jim Rice, who was at City of Palms Park, celebrated his 58th birthday.
Ellsbury in fine form Jacoby Ellsbury went 3 for 4 with a steal and two infield hits in an 8-7 split-squad win over the Cardinals at Jupiter. Ellsbury will be Boston’s starting center fielder, but his spot in the batting order is still undecided. He made a nice case for himself yesterday, hitting against lefty Jaime Garcia and stealing a base off catcher Yadier Molina, one of the best in the business. “I felt good, put some good swings on the ball,’’ said Ellsbury. “You want it all to come together, so it’s nice to put the overall game together.’’ Ellsbury drew raves from bench coach DeMarlo Hale, who managed the game. “He got on base, he battled in every at-bat against a good lefty,’’ said Hale. “Good day for him. He got a good read against the lefty to steal the base. That’s his game. He hit the ball up the middle, opposite field. Those are the things he can do. When he’s on base, pitchers have to pay attention to him.’’ Ellsbury didn’t seem worried about whether he’ll be the leadoff hitter. “Whatever is best for the lineup,’’ he said.
Two strikes Once Ryan Lavarnway figures out the defense part of the game, he could be Boston’s catcher of the future. He can hit. Entering yesterday’s game in Jupiter in the sixth inning as a DH replacement for David Ortiz, Lavarnway knocked in a run with a double. Then in the eighth, he blasted a two-run homer . . . Some Sox players watched Albert Pujols take batting practice and just shook their heads in disbelief . . . Patriots coach Bill Belichick was at the game as the guest of Cardinals manager Tony La Russa . . . Sox lefty Kyle Fernandes did a Houdini act in the ninth — getting out of a jam after putting the first two men on — to get the save . . . Fifteen players were signed to one-year contracts: pitchers Bard, Michael Bowden, Clay Buchholz, Doubront, and Stolmy Pimentel; catchers Luis Exposito and Mark Wagner; infielders Lars Anderson, Jed Lowrie, Yamaico Navarro, and Oscar Tejeda; and outfielders Ryan Kalish, Darnell McDonald, Daniel Nava, and Josh Reddick.
Peter Abraham reported from Fort Myers; Nick Cafardo reported from Jupiter, Fla.