FORT MYERS, Fla. -- All you Argenis Diaz fans out there will now have to travel to the player development complex to see the shortstop. Pitcher Charlie Zink and catcher Carlos Maldonado have been reassigned to the minor league complex, and Diaz was optioned to Portland. The cuts, which will continue as camp moves along and as players return from the WBC, were the first the Red Sox have made thus far this spring. Zink was sent down because there were no more starter's innings, and Maldonado was a victim of the six catchers at camp this spring, leaving him without enough time to play.
"By his own admission, he had a tough camp," manager Terry Francona said of Diaz. "He didn't catch the ball as much as he wanted to. I think he probably took it to the plate with him a little bit. The way he plays his season is certainly much more important than 20 at bats in February and March. The thing we've preached to him since we've gotten our eyes on him is make the routine play. And with his talent, the spectacular play will come."
But that's not all the fun that's being had here today. Mike Lowell will make his spring debut at designated hitter for the Sox, and Brad Penny is scheduled to throw 20-25 pitches in live batting practice on the back field at City of Palms Park. Penny will follow that up with two innings at the minor league complex Friday in an intrasquad game. Lowell is scheduled to play third base against the Yankees Friday, then play third again Sunday.
Couple of minor notes . . .
The Sox are starting to get a few players back from the WBC. Angel Chavez (Panama) already has returned, and Jason Bay (Canada) is likely expected back today. Francona said he sent a message to Bay at 5:30 a.m., but (understandably) hasn't yet heard back.
The relievers might get a two-day break in the next week or so, before the team starts getting them ready for the regular season.
The Sox are currently on the field working on rundown drills with some players over from the minor league complex.
Francona shrugged off the issues with David Ortiz's shoulder soreness. Ortiz has said at the WBC that it is a problem when he throws but does not affect his hitting. Francona indicated that it wasn't an issue. "He missed the second and third day of camp just because I think he might have overthrown a little bit, so we knew that," Francona said. "But that's not an issue. If it was an issue, it would show up in their reports or with David telling us."
There's going to be an all-star lineup at Jupiter, Fla., Thursday. Even though the Sox have had trouble getting enough starters to road cities because of the missing WBC players, the team will take a good lineup to face the Cardinals. Jed Lowrie, Julio Lugo, Jason Varitek, and Jacoby Ellsbury all will make the trip, with Josh Beckett and Justin Masterson pitching. That will allow the team to have a full day off for the position players with no game scheduled for tomorrow.