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Firm warning

Posted by Eric Wilbur, Boston.com Staff  February 18, 2007 02:18 PM

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While manager Terry Francona was hitting fungoes to pitchers on one side of the fence, the other boasted Boston’s potential starting rotation, fully intact, with Tim Wakefield, Jonathan Papelbon, Curt Schilling, and Josh Beckett, plus Hideki Okajima, pitching left to right on the handful of practice pitching rubbers aligning the field.

On the far end was pitcher Daisuke Matsuzaka, who threw 40-plus pitches, and was popping the mitt of Jason Varitek at a much more audible rate than any of the others.

“That’s really not what we want today,” Francona said. “You know, talking to John [Farrell, pitching coach], he had to back a couple of guys off, just because he thought they were throwing a little firm.”

Matsuzaka met with the media following the workout and said he threw about 60-70 percent of his normal velocity.

“It was a different way of approaching, but overall I think it worked out well,” he said.

  • Francona said that Matt Clement has been working hard in the trainer’s room in his attempt to come back from shoulder surgery. The manager pointed out that assistant trainer Mike Reinold told him that Clement was at the very top percentile in coming back from that process.

  • Struck up a conversation with Noriko Fuzimoto, a reporter for the Hochi Shimbum, who has been covering spring training the past five years, and she assured me that this media contingent on hand at the Red Sox minor league complex is far and away larger than the ones that detailed Ichiro’s and Hideki Matsui’s arrivals in the United States. Most people were comparing it to the Super Bowl, or a World Series game.

    And the positional players aren’t even here yet.

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