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Wrapping up a busy day

Posted by Peter Abraham, Globe Staff  March 24, 2010 06:14 PM

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First up, the details:

* Dustin Pedroia's left wrist is fine. X-rays were negative, he was his usual wise-cracking self back in Fort Myers and will take batting practice tomorrow. Crisis over.

* The Sox actually played well for a change today, beating the Pirates 6-4. It was 6-1 before Fernando Cabrera got cuffed around in the ninth inning.

* Josh Beckett, who has not yet officially been named the Opening Day starter, was sharp. He struck out nine in five innings, allowed three hits and threw 56 of his 85 pitches for strikes. He told reporters he was pleased with his command, especially that of his change-up. The mission now is to remain healthy for April 4. Rather than back off as some starters do, Beckett wants to throw 90-95 pitches in his final start. That makes sense since he'll probably get an extra day of rest.

* Mike Cameron (who's hitting .400, by the way) belted his second homer of the spring. Bill Hall and Victor Martinez also connected. V-Mart hits everything on a line it seems and his swing is the same from both sides of the plate, too.

Now to a few less-than-obvious details:

* Terry Francona is just not sure if Alan Embree has time to make the Opening Day roster. But the 40-year-old lefty is sure he does after throwing a scoreless inning in a minor league game today.

“I look at it this way, I don't think they would have called me if they didn't think that I could do it,” he told Amalie Benjamin back in Fort Myers. “And coming back here with what had happened before, you look at it as I wouldn't want to come back and fail. I want to come back and go back to Boston with my head up high. I'm looking forward to it.”

Embree has an out in his deal on April 15.

* Joe Nelson and the Vulcan change-up may be headed back to Fenway. He has struck out seven of the last 12 batters he has faced and looks ultra confident in his stuff. Nelson explained that once he got his fastball up around 90, 91, it improved the look of his change-up. "There has to be some difference to make it effective," he said. "I'm there now."

Because Nelson can be effective against lefties by changing speeds, his chances of making the team are climbing. But his contract out isn't until June according to WEEI.com. As teams assemble their final rosters, one of the goals is to keep as many players under control as they can. Who's on the roster for Game 1 is really meaningless in the big picture.

* Mike Lowell said that while his right hip feels considerably better than it did last season, he does not expect to gain the mobility he had before the injury and subsequent surgery. That said, Lowell looks fine at first base. He's still not hitting (1 for 10 after three poor at-bats today) but is at least swinging at the pitches he wants to swing at.

* The Red Sox have played before sellout crowds in all 22 games they have played this spring, home and away. Outside of orange groves and strip clubs, they're Florida's most lucrative business.

* Josh Reddick was only 1 for 4 today and is down to .400. But he did hit his seventh double of the spring.

* Francona has mastered the George Costanza tactic of leaving on a high note, making some sort of funny comment then leaving his press conference while everybody is laughing. It works for him.

* Finally, the big story tomorrow is that Daisuke Matsuzaka is scheduled to throw three innings of relief behind Tim Wakefield. Outside of a minor-league game, it'll be the first appearance of the spring for Dice-K. I suspect the Red Sox have them on the same day for a reason. Wakefield will probably start the season as the No. 5 starter with Matsuzaka staying behind in Florida and pitching on the same schedule.

Thanks for reading the blog today.

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