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Red Sox Notebook

Pitching plans put into motion

By Peter Abraham
Globe Staff / February 28, 2012
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FORT MYERS, Fla. - The pitchers competing for spots in the Red Sox rotation have been slotted into games starting Thursday as Daniel Bard and Alfredo Aceves will face the Twins in a “B’’ game at Minnesota’s complex.

Bard, who is being converted to a starter after spending three seasons as a setup man, has the inside track on one of the two open spots. Aceves is in the same position, but he has started nine games in his career.

Clayton Mortensen, Jesse Carlson, Tony Pena Jr., Alex Wilson, Will Inman, and Justin Thomas will follow Bard and Aceves to the mound.

On Saturday, Jon Lester will start against Northeastern in the first game of a doubleheader at JetBlue Park. Justin Germano, Michael Bowden, and Matt Albers are scheduled for that game.

Lefthander Felix Doubront, another potential starter, will face Boston College in the nightcap. Junichi Tazawa, Doug Mathis, and Chorye Spoone are slated for that game, too.

On Sunday, Josh Beckett will start against the Twins in the Grapefruit League opener. Andrew Miller, Mark Melancon, Thomas, Pena, and Scott Atchison will follow.

The Sox will play Minnesota at Hammond Stadium on Monday with Clay Buchholz starting. Vicente Padilla, another rotation hopeful, will follow. Inman, Carlson, and Brandon Duckworth have innings scheduled.

Bard is scheduled for March 6 against the Orioles at Fort Myers with Carlos Silva starting against Toronto in Dunedin on March 7. Lester will start in the “B’’ game March 7.

The Sox are setting up a rotation of Lester, Beckett, Buchholz, and Bard in the first four slots. But with two scheduled days off this spring, that could change before Opening Day April 5 in Detroit.

Morales shut down

Aaron Cook (shoulder) and Ross Ohlendorf (back) are close to being ready to throw live batting practice. They are scheduled to throw in the bullpen this morning.

But lefty reliever Franklin Morales has been temporarily shut down. He has what manager Bobby Valentine called “a situation’’ with his shoulder.

When strength tests were compared with last season, Morales was deficient and was given a few days off as a precaution. He has told the trainers he feels fine and wants to pitch.

Closer Andrew Bailey is a day or two from taking the mound. He was held out for a few days because of a strained muscle behind his shoulder.

Bailey was injured while being tested for his vertical leap. “I feel fine,’’ he said. “The bad news is I don’t have very good hops.’’

Steady progress

Carl Crawford swung at balls on a tee again and for the first time took some flips. He also stood in the batter’s box on the field to track pitches during live BP.

“Everything feels good,’’ said Crawford, who is recovering from left wrist surgery. “I’m making progress. You might think I’m going fast, but it feels slow to me.’’

Crawford has yet to swing at a pitched ball. But he is showing a new, more-closed stance at the plate.

“I’m comfortable with it,’’ he said. “I just want to get to a point where I can take BP again.’’

Appearance by Kaat

Jim Kaat, who won 283 games from 1959-83, earning 16 Gold Gloves, spoke to the pitchers before the workout. He is a neighbor of pitching coach Bob McClure across the state in Stuart. “I think he just brought some of his wisdom,’’ Valentine said. “A guy who has 283 wins and Hall of Fame credentials, I’m sure any time a pitcher can talk to a pitcher with that kind of credential, it’s a good thing. I’m glad that he was here, honored.’’ . . . Valentine is looking to schedule a team-building activity, something now in vogue with managers. In lieu of a practice, the team instead takes a day for billiards, bowling, or some other recreational activity.

Peter Abraham can be reached at pabraham@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @PeteAbe.

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