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Pregame news from Dunedin

Posted by Nick Cafardo, Globe Staff  March 28, 2011 12:35 PM

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DUNEDIN, Fla - Manager Terry Francona arrived here a tad late after meeting with cut players Hideki Okajima and Alfredo Aceves back in Fort Myers this morning. The Red Sox-Blue Jays game is delayed until at least 1:15 p.m. because of scattered downpours, lightning and thunder. It's cloudy right now and another front is due in shortly.

Tony Pena Jr. is scheduled to start the game. Yesterday Pena served as bat boy for Jon Lester's camp game. The Sox have Dustin Pedroia, Adrian Gonzalez, Mike Cameron and Jed Lowrie as the name players in the lineup.

Francona on the cuts, which enabled lefty Dennys Reyes and righty Matt Albers to make the team:

"We talked to Okie and Aceves and (Felix ) Doubront (who went on the 15-day DL because he's a bit behind after early camp elbow soreness which has subsided).

"Actually, pretty tough," Francona said of his conversations. "We came into camp with extra. Everybody performed really well. We certainly, in the back of our head, thought certainly if there's not a big separation we want to keep quantity. That was certainly in the back of our minds. Saying that, Aceves pitched well enough to make our ballclub. We told him that. We also thought (Matt) Albers pitched really well. He was so good, we didn't want to lose him."

On Okie's demotion to Pawtucket: "Hope it's not (forever). Last year was kind of a struggle and the end of the year he pitched pretty well. Reyes has more action on the ball. We just want Okie to get consistency back so we're not staying away from him. He was pretty good about it." Okajima also has a guaranteed contract which will pay him $1.75 million no matter where he plays.

Aceves will be a starting pitcher at Pawtucket with the idea of being able to use him in any role when he returns to the Red Sox. He had a $650,000 major league deal and a $200,000 minor league deal.

"They're hearing one thing - you're going down," added Francona. "As disappointing as it is - it may be a bad day - but it's not a horrible situation."

How will both Reyes and Albers be used?

"We'll see," Francona said. "Dennis is our only left but we're certainly not going to knock (Daniel) Bard out in favor of a lefty. But earlier in the game, sometimes if we're winning or a pitcher comes out early, maybe to get a big lefty. We're hoping Albers can give us 1-plus with that two-seamer and and pitch against righthanders and occasionally lefties and get us a ground ball. Not give us length, but if we're down a couple of runs maybe give us a couple of innings. His ball has so much life, it's hard not to like it."

"In first meeting we told the whole group - look around. We're not supposed to have a lot of openings. Go do your job and we'll communicate to you about it. To their credit, that's what they did. We're a day away from packing and leaving and it's hard. I understand that. It's a good situation for the ballclub....but it's a hard day for the players."

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