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Clint Hurdle: Red Sox will love Joel Hanrahan

Posted by Peter Abraham, Globe Staff February 28, 2013 06:40 PM

BRADENTON, Fla. — New Red Sox closer Joel Hanrahan had a 5.00 earned run average for the Pirates last September and walked 10 in nine innings. But Pittsburgh manager Clint Hurdle said it’s nothing to be concerned with.

“We couldn’t get save opportunities for him. That complicated things for his mindset and routine. He did everything he could to stay ready. We tried to keep him on some kind of rotation and use him every third day when we could. But we couldn’t get the ball to him in the ninth inning with a lead. He’s a guy who needs to throw to stay on line and stay sharp,” Hurdle said Thursday.

Hurdle believes Hanrahan will succeed in Boston.

“It’s a different challenge, different environment. That crowd, all of that,” he said. “He’s built for it. He’s a good man; he’s a tough guy. I would expect good things from him. He’s a very good pitcher with a unique skill set. He did a heck of a job for us.”

Also:

• John Lackey went two innings in a 16-6 victory against the Pirates. After an eight-pitch first inning, Lackey threw 35 pitches in the second. One was a hanging curveball that minor league free agent Jared Goedert hit for a three-run homer.

“My arm felt good and it was a good step in the process. Added a couple of breaking balls today; threw a couple of good ones [and] hung a couple. Good step in the right direction,” Lackey said.

Lackey will start throwing cutters in his next bullpen session but may wait another start before using that pitch in a game.

• Jackie Bradley Jr. was 3 for 5 with three runs scored. He is 8 of 14 this spring in five games. Almost every at-bat has been a good one for him.

“It’s becoming a recurring theme as we talk about him on the field,” John Farrell said.

Even more than his offense, Farrell and the coaching staff have been impressed with how precise Bradley is in center field with the routes he takes to fly balls.

“He’s done an excellent job,” Farrell said.

Farrell said earlier in the week that Bradley could contend for a spot on the roster. But the Sox would not promote him unless there was a significant role to play.

“Any time you’re looking at young player who’s still developing, if he’s not going to get a minimum of three days a week at the major league level, it’s probably working against him as he develops into what we would project as an everyday player,” Farrell said. “We have to temper our enthusiasm with where they are in their career and what their current needs are in their own game.”

• Jonny Gomes needed three stitches in his left knee after banging into a fence on Wednesday trying to bring back a home run. He is day to day.

• The Red Sox had 18 players make at least one plate appearance. All but two reached base by hit or walk and 10 had at least one RBI.

Game report: Red Sox 16, Pirates 6

Posted by Peter Abraham, Globe Staff February 28, 2013 05:48 PM

SCORE: Red Sox 16, Pirates 6

RECORD: 3-4

BREAKDOWN: After falling behind 3-1 in the second inning, the Sox roared back, sending 10 batters to the plate in the third inning and scoring four runs. Then they scored five runs in the fifth inning. Eight Pittsburgh pitchers allowed 14 hits and 15 walks. “We were seeing guys stay with a consistent approach regardless of what the line score says,” manager John Farrell said. “It’s still staying with the process and we maintained that.”

THUMBS UP: Jackie Bradley Jr. was 3 for 5 with a stolen base and scored three runs. Drew Sutton drew four walks and scored two runs. Lyle Overbay twice walked with the bases loaded. Juan Carlos Linares was 2 for 3 with two RBIs. Jose Iglesias also drove in two runs.

THUMBS DOWN: Starter John Lackey gave up a three-run homer in the second inning to Jared Goedert. Lefty Chris Hernandez, who is targeted for the Triple A Pawtucket rotation, allowed a two-run homer by Felix Pie in the fifth inning.

MEDICAL REPORT: Jonny Gomes needed three stitches in his left knee after banging into a fence on Wednesday trying to bring back a home run.

AROUND THE BASES: The Pirates were about as bad as it gets. Shortstop Josh Harrison committed two throwing errors that gave the Red Sox runs. They also had a passed ball and a wild pitch along with the 15 walks. … The Red Sox had 18 players make at least one plate appearance. All but two reached base by hit or walk and 10 had at least one RBI. … David Ross threw out Jose Tabata trying to steal second base in the first inning. Ross’ defensive reputation is well founded based on his work in camp.

NEXT GAME: Friday against Pittsburgh at JetBlue Park, 7:05 p.m. Jon Lester is scheduled to start. NESN has the game.

Final: Red Sox 16, Pirates 6

Posted by Peter Abraham, Globe Staff February 28, 2013 01:07 PM

Game over: Red Sox 16, Pirates 6: What a mess of a game. The Sox had 14 hits and drew 15 walks.

Middle of the 8th: Red Sox 12, Pirates 5: Jackie Bradley is 3 for 5 and is hitting .571 for the spring. The Sox have nine hits and have drawn 15 walks.

Headed back to the clubhouse. Back with more later.

Top of the 7th: Red Sox 10, Pirates 5: Chris Hernandez allowed a two-run homer by Felix Pie in the fifth inning.

Middle of the 5th: Red Sox 10, Pirates 3: Chris Carpenter followed Lackey with two scoreless innings. Off to the clubhouse, back later.

Middle of the 4th: Red Sox 10, Pirates 3: Red Sox sent 10 batters to the plate fourth inning and scored five runs on five walks and two hits. The Sox have drawn 10 walks in the game.

Iglesias had a two-run single in the inning. Overway also drew another walk with the bases loaded, his second of the day.

Middle of the 3rd: Red Sox 5, Pirates 3: Bradey (he's 6 of 11) and Holt singled off Jonathan Sanchez before Lavarnway walked. Sweeney lined to short but Harrison threw the ball into the stands trying to double off Lavarnway and two runs scored.

Sutton and Ross and Overway walked to force in a run. Linares then singled to drive in another.

Top of the 3rd: Pirates 3, Red Sox 1: After two groundball singles into left, Lackey allowed a three-run homer to left by Jared Goedert, a minor league free agent. He finished out the inning but it took 35 pitches.

Middle of the 2nd: Red Sox 1, Pirates 0: Sweeney singled before Sutton walked. With one out, former Buc Lyle Overbay grounded to second. d'Arnaud flipped to Josh Harrison for one out but the shortstop's ill-advised throw went wild as Sweeney scored.

Top of the 2nd: Red Sox 0, Pirates 0: Jackie Bradley was robbed by second baseman second baseman Chase d'Arnaud. Taillon then fanned Holt (curveball) and Lavarnway (high fastball).

Lackey hit Jose Tabata. David Ross then gunned him down stealing second. The throw beat him by two feet. Lackey then fanned Snider swinging.

Now that Lackey's elbow is fixed, he works fast again. Teammates love that.

Pre-game: Welcome to historic McKechnie Field in Bradenton. The charming little park was built in 1914 and has been renovated several times, most recently with an outfield boardwalk and new seats in left. It's a gem.

Babe Ruth, Ted Williams and Roberto Clemente all played here over the years as did many other greats.

John Lackey faces prime-time Pirates prospect Jameson Taillon today. Taillon is a former No. 2 overall pick (2010) with great stuff.

Middlebrooks cleared; takes batting practice

Posted by Peter Abraham, Globe Staff February 28, 2013 11:52 AM

BRADENTON, Fla. — Will Middlebrooks was cleared by a specialist this morning and took batting practice back in Fort Myers. He is tentatively scheduled to play on Friday night.

Middlebrooks took an awkward swing at a fastball in Sarasota in the first inning on Wednesday night and felt a sharp pain in his right wrist, the same wrist that was broken last August when he was hit by a pitch.

Dr. Tom Holovacs, a hand specialist, examined Middlebrooks and did not order any x-rays or further tests.

"There was nothing structural that was revealed in the physical testing that he went through," Farrell said. "Had there been any kind of discomfort, we certainly would have taken him for imaging. But at this point that wasn't recommended by the doctor."

Farrell said Middlebrooks was cleared for all baseball activity.

Farrell said doctors haven't pinpointed any particular reason for the jolt of pain. It could have simply been the unusual swing.

Grapefruit League Game 7: Red Sox at Pirates

Posted by Matt Pepin, Boston.com Staff February 28, 2013 09:52 AM

Here's today's lineup:

RED SOX (2-4)
Bradley CF
Holt 2B
Lavarnway DH
Sweeney RF
Sutton 3B
Ross C
Overbay 1B
Linares LF
Iglesias SS
Pitching: RHP John Lackey followed by LHP Chris Hernandez, RHP Chris Carpenter, and RHP Terry Doyle.

Game time: 1:05 p.m.

TV/Radio: None

Notes: The Red Sox and Pirates play again Friday at JetBlue Park. ... John Farrell's oldest son, Jeremy, is an infielder in the Pittsburgh farm system. ... The Red Sox are also playing a "B" game this morning against the Twins at JetBlue Park. ... Bradley is 5 for 9 in four preseason games and leads the Red Sox with a .556 batting average.

Will Middlebrooks to see wrist specialist

Posted by Nick Cafardo, Globe Staff February 28, 2013 08:44 AM
FORT MYERS, Fla – Will Middlebrooks continued to say he was fine and that Red Sox medical staff and trainers told him there's nothing structurally wrong with his right wrist.

But the Red Sox were also exercising caution after Middlebrooks left the first inning of Wednesday night’s 5-3 loss against the Baltimore Orioles holding his right wrist against his side and in pain,

The pain went away quickly, but the Sox have scheduled a visit with a wrist specialist this morning and that will determine whether further tests will be conducted.

Middlebrooks broke the same wrist when he was hit by a pitch last August.

It was the first time, he said, that he had checked his swing that abruptly and the feeling is he might have jarred some scar tissue.

"It didn't look good at the time," manager John Farrell said this morning. "He seems much better."

"It scared me. Awkward feeling. Awkward movement of the wrist," Middlebrooks said this morning. "Initial zing of pain and that was it."

Middlebrooks said he could work out today and hit, but he said the team would likely be cautious and sit him out.

He was fitted for a new batting glove that would protect the outside of the wrist.

"I had soreness this offseason, but not hurt," Middlebrooks said.

"We hope it isn't. It's hard to tell right now," he said when asked if a repeat of last year might have occurred. "There's no pain or structural damage. So initially I would say no, probably not."

"Maybe it's scar tissue floating around and maybe I broke it up a little bit," he said.

He saw the video of the check swing this morning and said, "It didn't look good. Just freaked me out. It was the first time I'd really checked my swing like that and I was kind of caught in between. Wasn't a normal check-swing."

Game report: Orioles 5, Red Sox 3

Posted by Peter Abraham, Globe Staff February 27, 2013 11:09 PM

SCORE: Orioles 5, Red Sox 3

RECORD: 2-4

BREAKDOWN: The Red Sox lost a 2-1 lead when Chris Davis belted a two-run homer off Junichi Tazawa in the sixth inning. The Orioles added two more runs in the seventh inning off lefthander Drake Britton, who allowed four hits.

THUMBS UP: Pedro Ciriaco was 2 for 4 with an RBI single and a triple subbing for an injured Will Middlebrooks … The first five Red Sox pitchers — Franklin Morales, Joel Hanrahan, Koji Uehara, Andrew Bailey and Andrew Miller — allowed one unearned run on three hits and struck out seven in five innings … Jonny Gomes homered off lefty Zach Britton. It was his first of the spring.

THUMBS DOWN: The Sox allowed a run thanks to some sloppy play in the second inning. Adam Jones grounded to third and Pedro Ciriaco threw high. Daniel Nava, who is learning first base, should have had the ball but it ticked off his glove. Jones then stole second and went to third when the throw from Jarrod Saltalamacchia sailed between the infielders. Jones then scored on a single by Matt Wieters.

MEDICAL REPORT: Middlebrooks left the game in the first inning after an awkward swing jarred his right wrist. But he said afterward he felt fine … Shortstop Jose Iglesias, who wasn’t scheduled to play, has some tightness in his right calf.

AROUND THE BASES: Catching prospect Christian Vazquez threw out Buck Britton stealing second base in the eighth inning then picked off Xavier Avery at third. His defensive skills have created a buzz in camp … Andrew Miller caught a break in the fifth inning after he walked Nolan Reimold with two outs. Brian Roberts followed with a grounder to the right side that struck Reimold. That’s an out and the inning was over … The game was the first of five against the Orioles this spring.

NEXT GAME: Thursday vs. the Pirates at Bradenton at 1:05 p.m. The Red Sox will start John Lackey against lefthander John Locke. Former Red Sox prospect Stolmy Pimentel also is scheduled to pitch in the game.

Middlebrooks relieved after injury scare

Posted by Peter Abraham, Globe Staff February 27, 2013 11:01 PM

SARASOTA, Fla. — When Will Middlebrooks left the first inning of Wednesday night’s game against the Baltimore Orioles holding his right wrist against his side, it appeared the Red Sox third baseman had suffered a significant injury.

Instead it proved to be only a scare. The pain dissipated quickly and Middlebrooks left Ed Smith Stadium feeling only relief.

“I was worried. It worried me for sure. But I feel fine,” he said.

Middlebrooks broke that same wrist when he was hit by a pitch last August. This time he tried to check his swing at a pitch thrown by Chris Tillman and stepped back away from the plate grabbing at his wrist.

The pain was in the same spot on the outside of his wrist where he suffered the break.

“It felt weird on the swing, an awkward thing,” Middlebrooks said.” Fastball up and in, started early, tried to check it. Don’t know if my hand slipped off the bat or what but it didn’t feel right.”

John Farrell and head athletic trainer Rick Jameyson took Middlebrooks out of the game immediately.

“We weren’t taking any chances,” Farrell said. “We’ll get further tests on him in the morning to see what the next steps will be. But I think as the initial discomfort wore off he felt pretty good about it.”

No x-rays are scheduled. Farrell said that could change if Middlebrooks has any swelling or lingering soreness.

Middlebrooks threw his helmet into the dugout as he left the game.

“I was just frustrated. I’ve been busting my ass to get this to where I can play. In my head I was just worried there might be a setback and I don’t think there’s going to be,” he said.

“It was precautionary. Probably could have stayed in the game and stayed in that at-bat and been fine. Just wanted to make sure everything was fine because of the break last year.”

The tests done in the clubhouse were encouraging.

“I have all my strength, we did strength tests, everything is there,” Middlebrooks said. “Everything as of now seems fine. … Just kind of a freak thing and it scared everybody ... It's not serious. It scared me and scared everybody else."

Middlebrooks said his wrist has felt “tight” at times this spring. He suspects the incident on Wednesday was triggered by scar tissue breaking up.

“That’s what we’re leaning towards. That’s our best bet. But I’m not a doctor,” Middlebrooks said. “I wish I was so I could tell you more, but that’s what we’re leaning towards. Nothing’s broken. Nothing’s torn. It was just kind of a scary, awkward swing and we just wanted to make sure everything was normal.”

Final: Orioles 5, Red Sox 3

Posted by Peter Abraham, Globe Staff February 27, 2013 06:58 PM

Game over: Orioles 5, Red Sox 3: That's it from Ed Smith Stadium. Red Sox had 10 hits and take a loss as Tazawa and Britton each allow two runs.

Middle of the 8th: Orioles 5, Red Sox 3: The big news here is that Will Middlebrooks feels fine after leaving the game in the first inning.

"It’s not as serious as we thought it was. It was just more of a scare because of the area it was. It was right where I broke it last year," he said. "I probably could have stayed in the game and done fine. I have all my strength, we did strength tests, everything is there.”

More on this later.

Top of the 7th: Orioles 3, Red Sox 2: Junichi Tazawa, who has not been sharp this spring, allowed a two-run opposite field homer by Chris Davis in the sixth.

Middlebrooks update: Red Sox are saying he has '"right wrist soreness" and will be further evaluated tomorrow.

Middle of the 4th: Red Sox 2, Orioles 1: Ciriaco, who subbed for Middlebrooks, had an RBI single in the third inning. Gomes had a deep homer to left in the fourth.

Middle of the 2nd: Red Sox 0, Orioles 0: Morales threw a perfect inning. Now here comes Hanrahan for a rare second inning appearance.

Middle of the 1st: Red Sox 0, Orioles 0: Potentially big trouble here. With two on and two outs, Will Middlebrooks swung and missed at a pitch from Chris Tillman and injured his right hand. It was an awkward looking swing, as through he were trying to check it. Middlebrooks was taken out of the game.

No official word on what has happened yet. Worth noting that Middlebrooks broke his right wrist last season. We'll post information as it becomes available.

Pre-game: A less-than-capacity crowd has turned out for the game. The Orioles have pretty much their regular lineup (minus Manny Machado, who played earlier today) for the game. So do the Sox, outside of David Ortiz and Mike Napoli.

Hang out for updates. The game also is on NESN.

David Ortiz excused from Red Sox camp for two days

Posted by Peter Abraham, Globe Staff February 27, 2013 05:28 PM

SARASOTA, Fla. — Greetings from Ed Smith Stadium. Here are some Red Sox updates:

• David Ortiz was called away to the Dominican Republic for personal reasons and will rejoin the team on Friday, manager John Farrell said.

• Felix Doubront threw a two-inning simulated game Wednesday and is ready to start on Monday.

• Alfredo Aceves was on Mexico provisional roster for the World Baseball Classic. He also was on the final roster that was released last week. But due to what seems to be some kind of administrative error, Aceves was not officially added to the Mexican roster until Wednesday. The Red Sox were as surprised as anybody to find that out.

“I don’t know how they came to it. But the notice was sent out that he has been added,” Farrell said.

Aceves is set to leave on Sunday to join the Mexican team in Arizona. Their first game is March 7 against Italy. A bigger question is whether Aceves will work as a starting pitcher or a reliever.

The Sox were initially told that Aceves would start. Now it’s uncertain.

“We were under the understanding that he would go in as a starting pitcher. That’s why we brought him [into camp] to do the same,” Farrell said. “[But] that has not been defined.”

Farrell joked that knowing how Aceves fancies himself a hitter, maybe he would play first base in the tournament.

• Aceves, Oscar Villareal (Mexico), Shane Victorino (USA) and Jose De La Torre (Puerto Rico) will leave camp on Sunday to join their respective WBC teams.

• At the request of the Twins, the Sox put together a team to play in a "B" game on Thursday at 10 a.m. The only players on the spring training roster participating will be shortstop Deven Marrero and second baseman Justin Henry.

Mike Napoli ready for first game with Red Sox

Posted by Peter Abraham, Globe Staff February 27, 2013 02:02 PM

FORT MYERS, Fla. — Mike Napoli went through another base-running drill Wednesday afternoon and pronounced himself ready to play on Friday.

Napoli has been held back in spring training because of a condition in his hips. He has been taking batting practice and going through defensive drills, but most of his running has been in a pool to lessen the impact on his legs.

But Napoli ran the bases eight times on Wednesday. He went from home through first base once, from home and took a turn around first twice, and then want from first to third three times.

He also went from second to the plate, from home to second, and then simulated tagging up and scoring from third.

Napoli hasn't tried sliding. But he won't be restricted from that once he plays.

"I'm just going to play the game. That's the best way to go at it," Napoli said. "If you start worrying about things, that's when you hurt yourself."

The plan is for Napoli to start at first base against the Pirates on Friday night.

Napoli still has yet to feel any pain in his hips despite a condition that restricts blood flow to the area.

"It was my muscles and legs, just getting them in shape," Napoli said. "I haven't thought once about my hips in anything I've done."

Ask Nick: Are Red Sox angling for trades?

Posted by Matt Pepin, Boston.com Staff February 27, 2013 10:35 AM

FORT MYERS, Fla. – I can’t tell you how many e-mails I get from fans wondering if the Red Sox constructed their team in such a way that they can trade a few players off at the trading deadline and obtain prospects.

Have a
question?

100x150asknickmugshot.jpg Submit your question here to be considered for the next edition of Ask Nick.
While that could be the byproduct of signing veteran complimentary players, one would hope that the Boston Red Sox, a big market team, would not have that solely in their mind when putting together a team.

Don’t we all want to believe that they constructed a team that can win?

Evidently, there’s not a lot of confidence that this group will.

Because the Red Sox overpaid on some for these players for shorter commitments, not sure many of them would be able to be moved. Certainly not Shane Victorino, who was given a three-year, $39-million deal. Who knows, you may all be right – maybe this team was put together so it can be sold off at the trading deadline.

Strange and sad, if it’s come to that for the Boston Red Sox.

Here’s the mailbag:

Do you think that the Sox' strategy in signing the free agents, and trading for Hanrahan, that they signed this offseason was to stockpile talent for the July 31st trade deadline in order to acquire prospects? Sounds like a good plan to me.
George, Andover, Mass.
That could be George, but what a ridiculous strategy for a big market team if that’s the case. You build a team in the offseason so you can trade them? Who would take Victorino’s contract? Napoli could be dealt, I suppose if someone just wants a half-year fix. Gomes has a two-year, $10 million deal. He was overpaid. Hanrahan could be traded. But again, why would you build a team so you can trade them at midseason? I can see a smaller team doing something like for draft picks, but the Boston Red Sox?

Everything I'm reading about Jackie Bradley, Jr., seems a bit like deja vu all over again. Any of those statements could have been made 60-plus years ago when Willie Mays came up. Can you compare Jackie Bradley to Willie Mays?
Maggie, Burlington, Vt.
Not quite ready to do that Maggie. Bradley has very good skills and like any young player, we’ll see how he adapts to the major leagues at some point. I still believe the Red Sox will send him back to the minors, but at least they’re thinking boldly about keeping him.

As someone who hasn't followed much of spring training until this year, what are the things to watch out for if I'm trying to get an idea of how specific players are going to do on the season? I know this is a very uncertain science, but I'd be curious to hear what you consider as 'good signs' for a batter in spring training.
Alex, Cambridge, Mass.
I’ve been to about 29 of these in my career and I can tell with certainty that there’s no way to measure that. Sometimes pitchers who look like they’re in great shape and throw the ball well have bad years. Guys who are fat and throw poorly have good ones. Honestly, the only thing you watch for is a young player who is making a bid to stick – like a Jackie Bradley – or an older player who looks like he might be at the end of the line.

How would you feel about Mark Cuban buying the Red Sox?
Eddie, Waterford

I like Mark Cuban. He’d be great. But I have no problem with the current owners. They brought two championships to Boston. They’ve gone through a drought recently, but they’ve committed huge resources to this team. Their baseball operations people just haven’t made the right decisions lately. We’ll see if that begins to change this season.

Click the Full Entry button for more Q&A.

FULL ENTRY

A comedic moment for Ryan Dempster in Boston

Posted by Peter Abraham, Globe Staff February 27, 2013 09:14 AM

FORT MYERS, Fla. — Ryan Dempster had one of the most memorable performances of his career in Boston — but it had nothing to do with baseball.

On June 11, 2001, Dempster was in Boston with the Marlins for an interleague series and decided to stop by the old Comedy Connection with his father and a few teammates.

"It was Father's Day weekend and my dad and I liked comedy, so we were at this club and when there was an opportunity to go on stage, I took it," Dempster said. "They didn't boo me, so that was good."

Dempster said he had some jokes prepared for the occasion and he told a few funny stories. He does a great Harry Carey impersonation.

"I was terrified but I didn't do too bad," he said.

Would Dempster ever try comedy once he's done playing?

"That's a hard job. I'm a baseball player," he said. "But that night was fun."

Dempster pitched the next day and lost, by the way. Comedy is not pretty, as Steve Martin once said.

Grapefruit League Game 6: Red Sox at Orioles

Posted by Peter Abraham, Globe Staff February 27, 2013 08:43 AM

Here is the lineup:

RED SOX (2-3)
Ellsbury CF
Pedroia 2B
Victorino RF
Saltalamacchia C
Middlebrooks 3B
Drew SS
Nava 1B
Hamilton DH
Pitching: LHP Franklin Morales followed by LHP Drake Britton, RHP Junichi Tazawa, RHP Joel Hanrahan, RHP Koji Uehara, RHP Andrew Bailey and LHP Andrew Miller.

Game time: 7:05 p.m.

TV/Radio: NESN

Notes: It's a split-squad day for the Orioles, who will be starting LHP Zack Britton with RHP Zach Clark and LHP Mark Hendrickson following. ... There's a road day game on Thursday in Bradenton, so it'll be a quick turnaround for the coaches and some of the players. John Lackey starts that game.

Predicting the Red Sox roster, version 1

Posted by Peter Abraham, Globe Staff February 27, 2013 08:00 AM

FORT MYERS, Fla. — Now that the workouts are over and the games have started in spring training, let's take a shot at predicting the Red Sox Opening Day roster.

ROTATION (5)
LHP Jon Lester
RHP Clay Buchholz
RHP Ryan Dempster
LHP Felix Doubront
RHP John Lackey

Breakdown: Now that Buchholz and Doubront have been scheduled for their first starts, the picture is pretty clear. John Farrell has his starters lined up and in their five-day routines. Only some sort of injury could change this before Opening Day. Doubront does not have options, so even pitching poorly this spring wouldn't change much. He'll get the benefit of the doubt based on last season. If somebody does get hurt, Alfredo Aceves, Franklin Morales, Allen Webster and Steven Wright are lined up as depth.

BULLPEN (7)
RHP Joel Hanrahan
RHP Andrew Bailey
RHP Junichi Tazawa
RHP Koji Uehara
LHP Franklin Morales
LHP Andrew Miller
RHP Clayton Mortensen

Breakdown: This is the toughest unit of the team to predict because there are 10 legitimate candidates. LHP Craig Breslow seems like a candidate for the disabled list based on his being shut down from throwing. RHP Daniel Bard still has options and probably needs to prove himself before he can be trusted again. That leaves either Mortensen or Aceves for the final spot. Farrell seems to really like Mortensen but Aceves is more talented and has more experience. The question is how much eccentric behavior are the Sox willing to put up with?

Just a guess, but the Sox could be hoping Aceves pitches well in the WBC so they can trade him for something more than the bag of rocks they would get now. The other option would be sending Tazawa back to the minors. But if the idea is to win, he should stay if he pitches reasonably well this spring. He has some of the best stuff on the team. The Red Sox need a good start more than they need to avoid exposing middle relievers to waivers.

LINEUP (9)
CF Jacoby Ellsbury
2B Dustin Pedroia
DH David Ortiz
1B Mike Napoli
3B Will Middlebrooks
LF Jonny Gomes
RF Shane Victorino
SS Stephen Drew
C Jarrod Saltalamacchia

Breakdown: It remains safe to assume that Ortiz and Napoli will be ready to go by Opening Day. Beyond that, no positions are remotely open. These are the starters, barring injury or something really unexpected. There's not enough power in the outfield, especially against righthanded pitching. But that was the tradeoff to get a better glove in right field in Victorino and the magic team-building character of Gomes.

BENCH (4)
C David Ross
1B-LF Mike Carp
2B-SS-3B Pedro Ciriaco
RF-CF-LF Ryan Sweeney

Breakdown: For now, we'll stick with the safe selections. Ross is a lock for the bench with Ryan Lavarnway getting an unwelcome trip to Pawtucket. Beyond that, there is fevered competition for the various roles. Lyle Overbay, Daniel Nava or even Mark Hamilton could grab the 1B-LF job. But Carp probably offers the most upside. Brock Holt could beat out Ciriaco. And the extra outfielder could be somebody other than Sweeney, although keeping Jackie Bradley Jr. makes no sense unless he starts.

There is really no reason to get too worked up about the bench guys. These are largely interchangeable pieces.

That's what we have so far. What are your thoughts? Leave a comment.

Game report: Cardinals 15, Red Sox 4

Posted by John Carney February 26, 2013 06:56 PM

SCORE: Cardinals 15, Red Sox 4

RECORD: 2-3.

BREAKDOWN: After Ryan Dempster’s two scoreless innings, Red Sox pitching went south. Clayton Mortensen was touched up for three runs on two hits in two innings. Jose De La Torre allowed four hits and five runs in one inning, and Pedro Beato gave up four runs and four hits in one-third of an inning. The Red Sox committed three errors in taking their worst beating in spring training so far.

THUMBS UP: Dempster threw strikes in his Red Sox debut. “Threw the ball well,” said manager John Farrell. “Established his fastball and showed a good split. It was clean, he did a great job controlling the running game." . . . There was not much else to crow about. Drew Sutton had two hits and reached base three times. Lyle Overbay tripled, and Ryan Lavarnway doubled in a run. Jose Iglesias also doubled.

THUMBS DOWN: Usually sure-handed second baseman Jonathan Diaz committed two of Boston’s three errors. While Anthony Carter’s line didn’t look good -- he gave up three runs, none earned -- Farrell continued to praise his stuff.

MEDICAL REPORT: Clay Buchholz threw a successful second simulated game and is now on track to face the Twins Saturday ... Mike Napoli (hips) will continue his running program Wednesday and play in a game this weekend . . . David Ortiz (Achilles’ tendon) has been taking fielding practice, but he is about a week behind Napoli. Ortiz wants to take things slowly with his heel starting to feel closer to 100 percent.

AROUND THE BASES: Ex-Sox third baseman Mike Lowell came to camp to work with third baseman Will Middlebrooks on his footwork and throwing. Lowell came on the invitation of second baseman Dustin Pedroia, who enjoyed a great relationship with Lowell on the field . . . Jackie Bradley Jr. went 1 for 3 and tracked the ball well in the outfield. He is opening eyes . . . 1B/OF Mark Hamilton hit two long drives. One was caught and the other went off the wall for a double.

NEXT GAME: Wednesday at Sarasota vs. the Orioles at 7:05 p.m. The Sox will start lefty Franklin Morales, followed by Drake Britton, Junichi Tazawa, Joel Hanrahan, Koji Uehara, Andrew Bailey, and Andrew Miller. The Orioles will start lefty Zach Britton.

Ryan Dempster makes good first impression

Posted by Nick Cafardo, Globe Staff February 26, 2013 04:03 PM

By Nick Cafardo, Globe Staff

FORT MYERS, Fla. -- Ryan Dempster pitched two scoreless innings in his Red Sox debut vs. the St. Louis Cardinals Tuesday.

Dempster threw 33 pitches, 24 for strikes.

“Things went good,” said the veteran righthander, who signed a two-year, $26 million deal this offseason. “Body and arm felt good. Was able to attack the strike zone for the most part. Good first day.”

Dempster said he hoped to accomplish “tempo, getting the ball down, pitching to a spot where you feel comfortable and you think you’ll have success and keep trying to inch closer to getting consistent down there.”

He seemed to do that.

“It’s real important as pitchers to get outs," he said. "Why not practice doing that as much as you can? I’ve always taken that approach in spring training, whether I’m a young guy trying to work my way in, or a veteran guy. I practice trying to get outs.

"You can learn a lot. Those are guys you might face during the year or might not. They might get traded and it’s your opportunity to learn about them.”

While Dempster was a strike-throwing machine on this day, he said it hasn't always been that way.

“A number of times, I‘d throw more balls off the backstop than in the catcher’s glove, so it just comes with a little experience and feeling more comfortable,” he said.

Ryan Lavarnway caught Dempster, who feels the Sox catchers have a good approach.

“Nice part of the catchers we have here -- Salty, David [Ross], and Ryan, and especially Ryan -- we’ve had a chance to have some dinner together and get to know each other and what we like to do," said Dempster. "It’s just communication.

"You can sit there and not talk about it or guess and find yourself in a battle to figure each other out. All the guys catching have done an unbelievable job since I got here of asking, 'What do you want to do? Where do you want me to set up?' "

He said he has also picked the brains of his fellow pitchers, who have better American League knowledge than he does, even though he spent a couple of months with the Rangers last season.

“Those guys have faced those guys all year," he said. "[Pitching coach] Juan [Nieves] does a great job preparing for the hitters. The video is there. Nothing like feeling it yourself. But if you study hard enough, you have an idea.”

Dempster is a workout warrior and keeps himself in great shape. But, he said, “Working out isn’t just getting stronger, it’s discipline. Sometimes it helps you get through the mental grind of going through ups and downs of a season.

"As you get older, you get more experience but your stuff tends to go downhill, so I try to make that decline as slow as I can and try to keep myself in good shape. I continue to learn and use that knowledge.”

When asked about his goals, Dempster -- who is known for his sense of humor -- said, “Shoot under par. Try to swim with a dolphin. Stay healthy. That’s all I ever want for me and for the entire team.”

Never swam with a dolphin?

“Not in the wild," he said. "I swam with Snowflake from 'Ace Ventura,' but never in the wild.”

Buchholz ready for game action

Posted by Nick Cafardo, Globe Staff February 26, 2013 12:28 PM
FORT MYERS, Fla. – No. 2 starter Clay Buchholz, set back by an annoying hamstring injury, pitched his second simulated game today and is now ready for action in a real game Saturday vs. the Twins.

Buchholz threw 40 pitches, 20 in each inning to lefthanded hitter Mike Carp and righthanded Mike Napoli. Both hitters got four reps.

Front office personnel, John Farrell, pitching coach Juan Nieves, and Tim Wakefield all watched the outing.

"It was good. Felt more comfortable," Buchholz said. "I've felt comfortable since I started throwing out of the wind-up. I started to find a balance point there at the end to get a good feel for it. Last 10 pitches I stayed on line without jumping toward home plate," Buchholz said

The injury was annoying, but Buchholz didn't think it was a big deal.

"The good thing is we have two weeks extra here this year and it wasn't something that set me back two weeks. I missed my first time in rotation, but I can deal with that. It was unfortunate but I didn't miss much. I feel good running. Zero percent I feel anything while throwing," Buchholz said.

On the anticipation for Saturday: "I'm getting nervous for others getting out there like Lack and Demp. I'm ready. It feels like I'm ready to get out there," Buchholz said.

Mike Lowell in camp to help Will Middlebrooks

Posted by Nick Cafardo, Globe Staff February 26, 2013 11:23 AM

FORT MYERS, Fla. – Mike Lowell stopped by Sox camp to help Will Middlebrooks with some defensive things, including his footwork and throwing.

Lowell said he was invited to come by Dustin Pedroia, who felt Lowell could help give Middlebrooks some tips on how the two of them used to work the double-play.

Lowell was dressed in his No. 25 jersey. The Red Sox have invited a lot of their former players back. Pedro Martinez, Jason Varitek and Tim Wakefield have all worked with players at their respective area of expertise.

Lowell, who works as an MLB Network analyst, is also doing work with Miami Marlins infielders.

"Pedroia mentioned to Will that we have good reputation of turning double plays. Spoke to him and (infield coach) Brian Butterfield this morning. Maybe something I say may trigger doing something better on his part. He's very impressive. He has the makings of being an outstanding player," Lowell said.

Lowell said offensively "the ball sounds different coming off his bat." Lowell is impressed with Middlebrooks's strength and power.

Lowell said he would love to manage some day, but he says the time isn't right.

"I don't mind putting in the time when I'm ready for it," he said. "I still know where my kids are in my life, I'm just not ready. I drove up from kids' baseball game at 8 o'clock last night and I was much more exited about being on a major league field than making sure the rightfielder was looking at home plate or throwing rocks."

Lowell said having ex-players come in with recent major league experience is wise.

"I don't think there's a catcher on the planet who wouldn't learn something from Tek. A Varitek sticks in their mind a little more. It's like my kid doesn't listen to me but he listens to his coach," Lowell said.

Middlebrooks said it was exciting to work with Lowell, who he got to know during spring training.

"Anytime you can work with someone who has won World Series and won Gold Gloves, I'm all for it. It's great to have that at your disposal."

On what they worked on, Middlebrooks said, "I worked on my angles. Playing third base is all about 45-degree angles. Working on in-between hops. Sometimes I get flat out there."

Could Bradley stick with Red Sox?

Posted by Nick Cafardo, Globe Staff February 26, 2013 09:42 AM
FORT MYERS, Fla. — Just asked John Farrell if it was far fetched that Jackie Bradley Jr. could win a spot on the major league team.

Farrell paused and then said, "Good question. The best way to answer it, we didn't have that as a strong possibility and we're four games into the game schedule he would be served well to get at-bats in the minor leagues before he comes up, but again he's making a strong impression in camp."

Farrell said that when Shane Victorino leaves for the WBC to play for Team USA, that Bradley will get reps in right field. Farrell also said he would play Jonny Gomes in right because, especially at Yankee Stadium, left field is a bigger field.

"It's going to be about how [Bradley] fares against quality pitching as we go through camp," Farrell said. "You're finding out about the person from a maturity viewpoint. Is he going to handle adversity? We have to weigh all of those things.

Farrell added, "Every time he's stepped on the field he's done something very positive. He's sound fundamentally, takes great routes to balls and hits both lefthanded and righthanded pitching. For a young player in camp he's done a great job."

Farrell said the staff came into the camp feeling Bradley would go to Triple-A after getting a taste of camp. But he keeps opening their minds. He had three hits in Dunedin on Monday. He was scheduled to start in center field today.

Farrell said the staff never had a predetermined date for reassignment, and it might be that it could be extended.

"We talk about it in the staff room, it looks like he's been doing this a long time. Defensively, when contact is made he's already on the move. He's a world class sprinter where he's going to outrun the baseball."

Also:

• Clay Buchholz was scheduled to throw a simulated game at 10 a.m.

• One of the highlights of Monday were the good routes Jacoby Ellsbury took on some deep drives to the outfield.

• Mike Napoli had the day off running the bases, but is still on track to play later this week.

David Ross learning Red Sox pitchers

Posted by Nick Cafardo, Globe Staff February 26, 2013 08:56 AM
FORT MYERS, Fla. — Clouds moving in this morning, but it appears baseball will be played here with the Cardinals taking the 2:45 trip from Jupiter.

Here are a few tidbits from the morning:

Catcher David Ross is trying to learn his pitching staff. He had an interesting and challenging one Monday when he caught Alfredo Aceves, who not only has a lot of movement on his pitches, but sometimes doesn't throw what the catcher puts down for signals.

You can tell by watching him that Ross is very polished catcher. Very smooth behind the plate, but even he found himself darting left and right with Aceves. After just three pitches he was out to the mound.

"You try to feel comfortable as fast as you can," Ross said, "but there's always things that come up that you're learning. And you're always trying to figure out how to get the best out of your pitchers. I don't think it ever ends. It's about me trying to figure out what works best for them. The comfort level just comes. I was more comfortable today with (Daniel) Bard, but I'm sure it will take four or five times. It's different with every person."

Meanwhile, Christian Vazquez keep impressing everyone behind the plate.

Vazquez, who is from Puerto Rico, says people often tell him he's a Carlos Ruiz clone. And you can see why. he's built like him, an excellent defensive catcher whose offense is emerging.

He grew up idolizing Pudge Roridguez and the Molinas.

"I work out with Jose and Yadier in the offseason," Vazquez said. "Yadier is the best. He's the best catcher, thrower and he can hit. He's someone you can watch all day long and learn from. The way he does everything is so smooth. He's the best catcher in baseball in my opinion."

Vazquez should be a Double-A only because Ryan Lavarnway and Dan Butler will be at Triple-A. He's not far from the majors.

"I work hard every day to one day get up there," he said. "I can see it, but I have to get there. I'm the one who has to make that happen by proving I can do it."

Lavarnway was hitting third in today's lineup. He's obviously considered a power threat at the plate. His defense is coming and the Red Sox think he's capable of handling a pitching staff and calling a good game given his aptitude as a Yale student.

Jarrod Saltalamacchia remains the starter. His power is undeniable. This morning, Saltalamacchia was constructing his new catcher's mitt. Interesting where the inside is his old glove and the outside is new. Saltalamacchia has strings going in every direction.

"I'm learning a lot about glove construction," Salty said.

Grapefruit League Game 5: Cardinals at Red Sox

Posted by Matt Pepin, Boston.com Staff February 26, 2013 08:43 AM

Today's lineups:

Red Sox
Bradley Jr. CF
Nava LF
Lavarnway C
Carp DH
Gomez 1B
Sweeney RF
Sutton 3B
Iglesias SS
Diaz 2B
Pitching: RHP Ryan Dempster followed by RHP Clayton Mortensen, RHP Alex Wilson, RHP Jose De La Torre, RHP Oscar Villarreal, RHP Pedro Beato, RHP Anthony Carter

Cardinals

Chambers LF
Descalso 3B
Carpenter LF
Cruz C
Taveras CF
Cedeno SS
Christian RF
Jackson 1B
Johnson DH
Pitching: LHP Jaime Garcia, LHP Marc Rzepczynski, LHP Randy Choate, RHP Eduardo Sanchez, RHP Victor Marte, RHP Jorge Rondon, RHP Maikel Cleto

Game time: 1:35 p.m.

TV/Radio: None

Notes: Clay Buchholz will pitch a simulated game today in Fort Myers ... Mike Napoli is expected to play his first spring training game on Friday ... According to a team news release, the Red Sox have sold out all 17 Grapefruit League games they've played at JetBlue Park since it opened last spring. ... Wednesday night's preseason game vs. Baltimore will be broadcast on NESN.

Webster grabs some of the spotlight

Posted by Peter Abraham, Globe Staff February 25, 2013 05:54 PM

DUNEDIN, Fla. — With R.A. Dickey and Steven Wright on the mound to start the game and Tim Wakefield in the stands, much of the talk at the Red Sox-Blue Jays game was about knuckleballs.

Then Allen Webster came in for the bottom of the third inning.

The 23-year-old righthander, who was part of the Dodgers trade last summer, allowed an RBI double. Then he struck out Jose Bautista (swinging) and Edwin Encarnacion (swinging) to end the inning.

Webster started the bottom of the fourth inning by striking out J.C. Arencibia (swinging) and Brett Lawrie (swinging).

According to the stadium radar gun, Webster hit 99 with his four-seam fastball. His turbo two-seam fastball and changeup are above-average pitches, too.

"That was pretty fun to watch," said Will Middlebrooks, who had a nice view from third base. "He has great stuff."

Said John Farrell: “He was impressive, very impressive.”

The four consecutive strikeouts didn't get Webster too excited. The North Carolina native, speaking so softly that it was hard to hear, said it was just a matter of getting into his mechanics.

“When it started out my heart was racing, the first start of the year,” he said. “I finally got settled down."

Farrell took the long trip here to see Webster and Steven Wright pitch.

"That's really special," Webster said. "But you still have to go out there and do a good job."

Webster threw 130.2 innings last season and 145 in 2011. Unlike Rubby De La Rosa, who will be monitored closely after throwing only 13.2 innings last season post-surgery, Webster can be turned loose.

Webster is likely to start the season in the Pawtucket rotation. Based on what transpired today, he could be at the front of the line for a promotion once a need arises. The ability to strike out four hitters like that in a row is not something you see all the time.

Red Sox report: Doubleheader split

Posted by Peter Abraham, Globe Staff February 25, 2013 05:51 PM

SCORES: Red Sox 4, Blue Jays 2; Rays 6, Red Sox 3

RECORD: 2-2

BREAKDOWN: The Sox split a split-squad doubleheader. In Dunedin, five pitchers combined on a seven-hitter with 10 strikeouts against Toronto. R.A. Dickey allowed two runs on four hits to take the loss. Jarrod Saltalamacchia, Jackie Bradley Jr. (3 for 3) and Mitch Maier (2 for 3) drove in runs. In Port Charlotte, Alfredo Aceves allowed two runs in two innings and Chris Hernandez three. Dustin Pedroia homered.

THUMBS UP: Mike Carp had an RBI double in his first plate appearance of the spring. He started at first base against the Rays. “Nice way to start things,” said Carp, who was obtained from Seattle last week. … Allen Webster, a 23-year-old righthander, allowed a run against the Jays. Then he struck out Jose Bautista, Edwin Encarnacion, J.P. Arencibia and Brett Lawrie in succession. His fastball hit 99 on the stadium radar gun. “When it started out my heart was racing, the first start of the year. I finally got settled down,” said Webster, who was very matter-of-fact about what he did.

THUMBS DOWN: Daniel Bard was erratic in one inning against the Rays. He walked a batter and hit one. But he said his fastball command was better and he expects to add velocity as his mechanics improve. He hit 94.

MEDICAL REPORT: The Red Sox have slotted Clay Buchholz (hamstring) into the rotation on Saturday and Felix Doubront (shoulder) on Monday. Mike Napoli (hips) is set to play his first game on Friday. David Ortiz (Achilles) is about a week behind Napoli.

AROUND THE BASES: Aceves stayed in the dugout after he pitched and watched the entire game. Starting pitchers rarely do that, especially in spring training. “I want us to win,” he said. … Do not assume that Pedro Ciriaco has a spot on the Red Sox bench. Manager John Farrell said Brock Holt, who came over from the Pirates in the Joel Hanrahan trade, is “going to get a very good look in camp.” Holt is a lefthanded hitter with middle infield experience. He will have to show he can play third, too.

NEXT GAME: Tuesday against St. Louis at JetBlue Park at 1:35 p.m. The Red Sox will start Ryan Dempster with Junichi Tazawa, Joel Hanrahan, Andrew Bailey and Andrew Miller following. The Cardinals will start lefty Jaime Garcia.

Final: Red Sox 4, Blue Jays 2

Posted by Peter Abraham, Globe Staff February 25, 2013 01:09 PM

Game over: Red Sox 4, Blue Jays 2: Nice day for Wright and Webster as the Sox win a game on the road. Back with more later on.

Middle of the 9th: Red Sox 4, Blue Jays 2: Jackie Bradley Jr. with an RBI single. The Sox will have Will Latimir to try to close it out.

Top of the 9th: Red Sox 3, Blue Jays 2: No changes here in Dunedin. Sox pitchers have allowed only seven hits.

Top of the 8th: Red Sox 3, Blue Jays 2: Sorry for the delay in updates, had to go to teh clubhouse to speak to Wright and Webster.

Wright had a brief coaching session with Tim Wakefield before the game. Wakefield watched him throw and suggested he move a little bit to the first base side of the rubber so he would center his arm middle of the plate.

Wright said the suggestion paid off. As for the game, both teams have substituted for their entire lineups.

Top of the 5th: Red Sox 2, Blue Jays 1: Webster struck out Arencibia and Lawrie and then got Rasmus on a grounder up the middle that Holt tracked down and made a nice throw across his body.

Lots to like about Webster, who hit 99 and was consistently 94-97.

Top of the 4th: Red Sox 2, Blue Jays 1: Allen Webster replaced Wright. He allowed a one-out RBI double by Cabrera. Then he came back to strike out Bautista and Encarnacion to end the inning.

Webster has a very good two-seam fastball.

Top of the 3rd: Red Sox 2, Jays 0: Solid outing for Wright, who struck out three in that inning. Rasmus had a single with two outs but Sierra struck out looking on a ball back to the backstop. Salty tracked it down and threw him out at first.

Middle of the 2nd: Red Sox 2, Jays 0: The Sox hit the ball hard again. Maier singled to left. Linares then crushed a ball to center that Rasmus tracked down. The wind kept it in the park. Ciriaco then grounded into a double play.

Top of the 2nd: Red Sox 2, Jays 0: Melky Cabrera doubled down the first-base line with one out. But Wright got Jose Bautista on a fly ball to center and Edwin Encarnacion on a comebacker to the mound.

Middle of the 1st: Red Sox 2, Jays 0: The Red Sox struck fast against Dickey, Holt and Bradley had singles. After Middlebrook hit a fly ball to left that was knocked down by the wind, Salty grounded an RBI single into right. Bradley went to third on the play and then scored on a wild pitch.

Overbay, a former Toronto player who was cheered by the crowd, walked. Gomes flied to right and Salty was gunned down (by a few feet) trying to tag up and go to third. Nice throw by Moises Sierra.

Pre-game: Greetings from Florida Auto Exchange Stadium in scenic Dunedin, Fla. The gun shop with the camouflage paint job is right down the street.

It'll be Steven Wright against fellow knuckleballer R.A. Dickey for a few innings. We'll have occasional updates as the game goes along.

It's Knucklepalooza as Sox face Jays

Posted by Peter Abraham, Globe Staff February 25, 2013 12:18 PM

DUNEDIN, Fla. — This is not a normal spring training game. The Red Sox are pitching a knuckleballer, 28-year-old Steven Wright, against Toronto knuckleballer R.A. Dickey.

Tim Wakefield, who won 200 games throwing the knuckleball, is on hand to see Wright pitch in person. Then Wakefield will report to Red Sox camp tomorrow to start working with Wright.

"I'm looking forward to it. Not only to see R.A. pitch, but also this is my first time seeing Steven pitch. Looking forward to working with him," Wakefield said.

Wakefield has never met Wright personally but the two have spoken on the phone. When Wright was in the Cleveland organization last season, former Red Sox coach Rob Leary connected the two.

"It's somebody to talk to who knows about the pitch that he's throwing," Wakefield said. "When I was first coming up, I had pitching coaches who told me, 'I don't know what to tell you.' It's refreshing to be able to contribute to the legacy of the pitch by helping him out."

There is a fraternity among knuckleballers. Tom Candiotti helped Wakefield out, as did Phil and Joe Niekro. Now Wakefield wants to do his part. That Wright is with the Red Sox makes it all the better.

The knuckleball is in vogue. Dickey won the National League Cy Young Award last season when he was with the Mets. Dickey and Wakefield also were featured in the documentary "Knuckleball!"

"It's not so much a freak pitch any more," Wakefield said. "In R.A.'s words, he brought the legitimacy of the pitch back by winning the Cy Young. It made all of us proud."

Wright has yet to pitch in the majors but was 10-6 with a 2.44 ERA in Double A last season. He struck out 103 in 121.2 innings and allowed only 91 hits. The Red Sox traded first baseman Lars Anderson to the Indians for Wright last July.

It was a significant trade as far as the Sox were concerned. Their scouts, particularly pro scouting director Jared Porter, identified Wright as having potential. Because of the success Wakefield had, the Sox are open to the idea of having another knuckleballer.

Assistant general manager Mike Hazen, who is at the game to see Wright pitch, said a good knuckleballer can eat up innings, pitch in different roles and give the opposition a different look. Patience is required but a good pitcher is worth waiting for.

Unlike former teammates Pedro Martinez and Jason Varitek, who are special assistants to GM Ben Cherington, Wakefield has no official capacity with the Red Sox. He will do some work for NESN again this season and assist in charitable endeavors. He still lives in Massachusetts during the summer and is open to the idea of a formal relationship with the Sox.

"My main goal is to help Steven and be a mentor to him," Wakefield said.

Wakefield said every knuckleballer is different. They throw the ball with different grips and at different speeds. The idea, he said, is to make the pitch your own. Wakefield can offer some mechanical advice about how to take the spin off the pitch. There are checkpoints, he said, that can be helpful.

Wakefield could remember only one time in his career when he faced a fellow knuckleballer. It was as a rookie with Pittsburgh in 1992.

Wakefield beat Candiotti of the Dodgers on Aug. 26 that season. Pitching for Jim Leyland, Wakefield threw a six-hitter in a 2-0 victory. Candiotti went six innings and allowed two runs.

"I had to hit against [Candiotti]. That wasn't fun," Wakefield said.

Wakefield hopes to see a time when a knuckleball pitcher comes out of the high school or college ranks and climbs to the majors. Most knuckleballers started out as conventional pitchers who turned to the pitch when their careers began to fade.

"I think it's great. I think it's going to be a popular pitch among young kids out there," Wakefield said. "I think it brings hope to a younger generation of baseball players that may not have the velocity to compete at a higher level. If they can learn this pitch it gives them hope that they could one day wear a big league uniform."

Progress on the injury front for Red Sox

Posted by Peter Abraham, Globe Staff February 25, 2013 12:01 PM

DUNEDIN, Fla. — Here are some updates from John Farrell:

• Mike Napoli will take live batting practice off Clay Buchholz on Tuesday. He will run the bases again either that day or the next and is scheduled to play against the Pirates on Friday.

• As for Buchholz, he is scheduled to pitch against the Twins on Saturday. The plan is for him to start and throw two innings.

• Felix Doubront threw live batting practice back in Fort Myers this morning. He will repeat that on Wednesday and then start his five-day routine and start on Monday against the Rays.

As it stands now, the Red Sox have Jon Lester, Buchholz, Ryan Dempster, Doubront and John Lackey lined up as their rotation. The Sox would like to carry that through to the regular season.

• Lefty reliever Craig Breslow (shoulder) is feeling better but has not yet been cleared to throw. The Sox want him to continue strengthening his shoulder before he starts a throwing program.

There is no great rush for Breslow, who needs only 8-10 appearances in spring training.

Jonny Gomes reunites with Rays

Posted by Nick Cafardo, Globe Staff February 25, 2013 11:30 AM

PORT CHARLOTTE, Fla. — Jonny Gomes has fond memories in his time as a Tampa Bay Ray in 2008.

Gomes who has been on three divisional winners in five years said, "There's always a bond that develops with players on teams that win. That was the case here. It's a great organization. You follow how Joe (Maddon) and Andrew (Friedman) do things and you're going to be OK."

Gomes said while the Rays wind up lose players because certain players overperform, "They always have five guys ready to pout in their place. That's the great thing about this organization."

Gomes doesn't know whether the Rays made a bid to get him back. He is batting cleanup for the Red Sox today and seemed quite proud.

"Yeah, batting cleanup for the Boston Red Sox. No big deal right?" he said.

Bench coach Torey Lovullo is managing the Sox here.

Alfredo Aceves was slated to start and go two innings followed by one inning from Daniel Bard. Aceves will be leaving for Phoenix on Saturday where he will join Team Mexico for the World Baseball Classic. After the batting practice incident where he was lobbing his throws into the hitter, Aceves has been in a good mood.

He was playful before his start today, making fun of this reporter's receding hairline and recommending that a shaved head would be a better look.

Aceves also talked about the need for the Red Sox to play more small ball this season in an effort to manufacture more runs.

In other news, Lovullo expects John Farrell to handle potential booing by Jays fans in Dunedin, and then during the regular season in Toronto, just fine.

He said the guy who will "bring the roof down" in Toronto is third base coach Brian Butterfield who was a popular figure in Toronto and one who some thought should have replaced Farrell as the manager.

Grapefruit League Games 3-4: Red Sox at Blue Jays; Red Sox at Rays

Posted by Peter Abraham, Globe Staff February 25, 2013 07:45 AM

Here are the lineups:

Red Sox (split squad) vs. Toronto in Dunedin
Holt 2B
Bradley, Jr. CF
Middlebrooks 3B
Saltalamacchia C
Overbay 1B
Gomez DH
Maier RF
Linares LF
Ciriaco SS
Pitching: RHP Steven Wright followed by RHP Allen Webster, RHP Chris Carpenter and minor league call-ups.

Blue Jays
Reyes SS
Cabrera LF
Bautista DH
Encarnacion 1B
Arencibia C
Lawrie 3B
Rasmus CF
Sierra RF
Zawadzki 2B
Pitching: RHP R.A. Dickey followed by RHP Josh Johnson, RHP John Stilson, RHP Mickey Storey, RHP Chad Beck, LHP Sean Nolin, RHP Tyson Brummett.

Game time: 1:05 p.m.

TV/Radio: None.

Red Sox (split squad) vs. Tampa Bay in Port Charlotte
Ellsbury CF
Pedroia 2B
Victorino RF
Gomes LF
Drew SS
Sweeney DH
Sutton 3B
Carp 1B
Ross C
Pitching: RHP Alfredo Aceves followed by LHP Chris Hernandez, RHP Daniel Bard, RHP Terry Doyle.

Rays
Zobrist RF
Jennings CF
Joyce LF
Escobar SS
Scott DH
Johnson 2B
Molina C
Loney 1B
Roberts 3B
Pitching: RHP Alex Cobb followed by RHP Jamey Wright, LHP Cesar Ramos, LHP Jake McGee, RHP Marquis Fleming, RHP Jim Paduch.

Game time: 1:05 p.m.

TV/Radio: None.

Notes: The Sox will face RHP R.A. Dickey and RHP Josh Johnson in Dunedin. Tampa Bay is throwing RHP Alex Cobb followed by RHP Jamey Wright, LHP Cesar Ramos and LHP Jake McGee. ... John Farrell will manage the team in Dunedin, subjecting himself to the slings and arrows of the Blue Jays fans and media there. Bench coach Torey Lovullo will handle the team in Port Charlotte.

Red Sox game report for Sunday

Posted by Nick Cafardo, Globe Staff February 24, 2013 05:23 PM

SCORE: Red Sox 5, Cardinals 3

RECORD: 1-1.

BREAKDOWN: The Red Sox bounced out to a 2-0 lead in the second inning on a Pedro Ciriaco RBI single after Mauro Gomez led off the inning with a single. A double-play grounder by Jose Iglesias got the second run in. Leading 2-1 in the sixth, Mark Hamilton forced in a third run with a bases loaded walk followed by a Ciriaco sacrifice fly. The Cardinals got two off Andrew Bailey in the sixth making it a 4-3 game. The Sox added one more on a JC Linares single scoring Jonathan Diaz who was hit with a pitch and stole second base.

THUMBS UP: Lefthander Jon Lester pitched two scoreless, hitless innings and struck out one. He threw 24 pitches. Rubby De La Rosa, the young righty obtained in the August 25th mega deal with the Dodgers, hit 100 mph on the radar gun in the ninth inning in his second spring training appearance throwing six pitches, all for strikes. Daniel Nava stroked two hits, one a righthanded double while Mauro Gomez and Pedro Ciriaco also had two hits apiece.

THUMBS DOWN: Andrew Bailey surrendered two runs on three hits in the sixth inning. John Farrell said that Bailey’s thought process is ahead of his execution at this point, but liked the way Bailey threw the ball. Jose Iglesias went 0-for-3 and knocked into a double-play.

MEDICAL REPORT: Mike Napoli ran the bases for the first time in Fort Myers. Will likely appear in a game by the end of the week. Craig Breslow’s shoulder symptoms subsiding but not ready to get on a throwing program.

AROUND THE BASES: Pedro Ciriaco remains Boston’s depth at third base, which John Farrell identified as the thinnest depth wise. Ciriaco started at third and had two hits….Farrell will be with the team in Dunedin and will spend the day against his former team. He said he’s going to watch prospects Steven Wright and Allen Webster pitch and for no other reason…Farrell said Lester’s first outing was “a good starting point. Looked sharper in the second inning (six pitches).”….Farrell was impressed with Daniel Nava’s at-bats especially a double hit righthanded. Nava struggled vs. righties last season…

NEXT GAME: Split-squad: Monday vs. Rays in Port Carlotte and Jays in Dunedin. Alfredo Aceves vs. Alex Cobb in Port Charlotte and Steven Wright vs. R.A. Dickey in Dunedin.

Jon Lester seeks 2010 form

Posted by Nick Cafardo, Globe Staff February 24, 2013 03:22 PM

JUPITER, Fla. - Jon Lester threw two scoreless, hitless innings vs. the Cardinals at Russell Dean Stadium Sunday in his first spring training outing.

Lester, who threw 24 pitches, faced the minimum six batters with one strikeout (of Carlos Beltran). He threw only six pitches in the second inning, but didn’t mind the lack of work.

“I’ll never complain of a quick inning in spring training,” Lester said. “The quicker I get back to the dugout the better.”

Lester said he threw all fastballs and one changeup. He feels throwing a lot of fastball’s will increase his arm strength and he’ll gradually start to interject more off-speed pitches as time goes on.

“I was trying to get my feet under me; keeping the ball down in the zone. Being two innings when it works, it’s great to pound fastballs. That was our goal today got some work in,” he said.

Lester is undergoing a restoration of his 2010 stuff (19-9, 3.25 ERA) which he started at midseason last year. After a tough July he said he felt he got back to his better habits in August and September and continued to work things out in the offseason.

Manager John Farrell talked about getting Lester back to throwing on a downward plane.

“The simplest way to describe it is my hand is on top of the ball rather than the wrist being underneath the ball and pushing the ball. And that was something we fell into last year with a whole bunch of things we don’t have time to get into that created that pushing of the ball,” Lester explained.

“When I can get my arm up and get my hand on top of the ball, that creates a downward plane. I can get the ball to the thigh and knee area with good angle and it has a little bit extra on when it gets to home plate. That’s what we’re looking for. You’re going to have a misfire now and then. Sometimes you can go out there and be locked in with everything and throw your hat and glove out there and you have mechanics, location, and angle and some games you have to fight pitch to pitch. In those 30 starts you only have one or two when you throw your hat and glove and the rest you’re grinding through,” Lester added.

He said he’s tried to learn as much as he can from a bad season, but he doesn’t want any more education.

“I think anytime you can learn a lot from things that don’t go your way. I don’t like not having a good season. I don’t like going out there every five days and getting my ass kicked. I like to win. I don’t know if sucking sets you up for a good season. I mean if it does, great. I don’t want to do it again. I think it humbles you.

"The big thing is the embarrassment of not being me and getting back to the stupid stuff that you forget about when you’re in the minor leagues,” Lester said.

He said he does want to embrace the role of the ace. He said he won’t lobby for it, but he wants to be the best and he hopes if his teammates rally around him he can live up to those expectations.

Farrell touches a few bases

Posted by Nick Cafardo, Globe Staff February 24, 2013 12:01 PM
JUPITER, Fla. — John Farrell’s pregame press conference touched on the progress of Clay Buchholz, David Ortiz, Felix Doubront and Mike Napoli, his upcoming trip to Dunedin where he’ll face the music from the Toronto media, and the issue of third base depth.

Here are some of the highlights:

• Napoli ran the bases today in Fort Myers and Farrell still projects him getting into a real game later this week.

• Buchholz will throw a simulated game Tuesday (35 pitches, two innings), throw a light side session on Thursday and be ready for a real game start next Saturday.

"Even with this plan Clay will get six appearances and be on track for the normal projection for that 95-pitch target we want to get to," Farrell said.

• Felix Doubront, a little lighter in the tummy, will throw live BP Monday and Wednesday, and if all goes well, Farrell projects a start next Monday. He said Craig Breslow, also slowed by a sore left arm, is “more symptom-free, but he has more strength gains to make before we implement a throwing program for him.”

• On Jon Lester’s delivery: "The delivery you see now is like he was before. The lead leg was like a swinging gate, collapse on the backside, lost that downward plane. He’s made some tangible adjustments in camp. They started late last season."

Farrell said Lester’s loss in velocity the past two years could be because of those mechanics or "it could be he's logged 1,000 innings the last five years and there’s going to be a natural effect."

On the mechanics, Farrell said because they were off it affected getting "late action in the strike zone and causes his cutter to be tracked longer in the zone. The flight of the fastball is more flat." Farrell said Lester still has plenty of velocity.

• Farrell did a lot of shifting on Toronto last year and plans to do some with Boston. "Yes we will shift, but to what extent, we’re going to get a better read. We felt we had the ability to move (third baseman Brett) Lawrie around more freely. We’d like to put the third baseman on the (shortstop) hole side against lefthanded hitters."

Farrell said he has to gauge how effective Will Middlebrooks would be in that situation. Lawrie may have the best range of any third baseman in the league.

• On why he’s going to his old stomping grounds in Dunedin rather than Port Charlotte for tomorrow’s split squad game against the Jays and Rays. "I’m looking forward to seeing (Steven) Wright and (Allen) Webster. My focus is on our team and players. We still have decisions to be made."

Farrell said both Wright and Webster are major depth starters for the Sox this season.

The obvious storyline is Farrell returns to see his old players with the Blue Jays. "You mean I couldn’t wait to get to Dunedin?” he quipped. When told about his "history" with the Jays he said, "I’m thankful for that history, extremely grateful for the opportunity, but that’s not swaying or influencing where I go. It’s our players first."

• Farrell said David Ortiz is about a week behind Napoli as far as game time. He’ll get swings in BP and if he needs more swings he can take some minor league game at-bats. Newly acquired Mike Carp will play in one of the games Monday as competition between Carp, Lyle Overbay, and Daniel Nava for the hybrid first base/outfield backup job begins.

• Asked if there’s one position where he’s concerned about depth, Farrell said third base.

"The depth there might not be as readily clear as others. We have to take a look at some guys over there. You’ll see Brock Holt over there. That prototypical guy is not clear cut. It would be great to have two or three deep at every position, wishful thinking. (Pedro) Ciriaco did a great job when he stepped in for Will last year and he made the most of an opportunity. He’s a valuable guy to have on a team."

Napoli on the run, hopes to play soon

Posted by Peter Abraham, Globe Staff February 24, 2013 11:18 AM

FORT MYERS, Fla. — Mike Napoli cleared another hurdle on Sunday when he ran the bases for about 10 minutes at JetBlue Park.

Napoli was previously restricted to batting practice and fielding drills in spring training because of a condition that restricts the flow of blood into his hips. Running at roughly half speed, he went straight to first base twice, rounded the bag twice and then went from the plate to second base twice.

"It wasn’t a full-go, but it felt good to just run and make the turns. It felt good just running," Napoli said. "Just progress from there. I had a little conversation about it at the end, I want to get close to that full burst from first to third."

Strength and conditioning coach Pat Sandora and assistant athletic trainer Brad Pearson supervised the session. Napoli hopes to get in a game by the end of this week. He understand the caution the Red Sox are taking, but he has yet to feel any symptoms or pain.

"It feels good. I expect to be fine. I'm just going through the steps of what they want me to do," Napoli said. "I'm fine with it, as long as I'm ready for Opening Day, which I should be easily. It's a long spring, I'll just get myself in shape and get ready to go."

Napoli took batting practice before he ran the bases. Here's a short video of Napoli running.

A few morning notes from the Fort

Posted by Peter Abraham, Globe Staff February 24, 2013 09:12 AM

FORT MYERS, Fla. — Nick is in Jupiter with the team for this afternoon's game against the Cardinals. But here at Fenway South, there are a few items worth mentioning:

• Mike Napoli will run the bases today for the first time since he arrived in camp. If that goes well, and there's no reason to think otherwise, he could get into a game within a few days.

• Clay Buchholz said he feels fine after throwing a two-inning simulated game on Saturday. He is scheduled for another two-inning sim game on Tuesday. Pitching coach Juan Nieves said Buchholz is tentatively scheduled to pitch on Saturday.

Now that the pitchers are into their five-day routines, the Sox need to slot Buchholz into a spot that would allow him to prepare for his first start in the regular season. Pitching Buchholz on Saturday lines him up behind Jon Lester. Then Ryan Dempster is in the third slot.

• Nieves was working with Bard a bit in the bullpen on some mechanical stuff. Then Nieves hopped in a car for the long drive to Jupiter.

Grapefruit League Game 2: Red Sox at Cardinals

Posted by Peter Abraham, Globe Staff February 24, 2013 07:39 AM

Here is the lineups:

RED SOX (0-1)
Holt 2B
Nava LF
Lavarnway C
Sweeney RF
Gomez DH
Hamilton 1B
Ciriaco 3B
Maier CF
Iglesias SS
Pitching: LHP Jon Lester (2 innings) followed by RHP Rubby De La Rosa, RHP Junichi Tazawa, RHP Joel Hanrahan, RHP Andrew Bailey, LHP Andrew Miller and RHP Koji Uehara.

CARDINALS (0-1)
Furcal DH
Carpenter 2B
Beltran RF
Wigginton 1B
Descalso 3B
Cruz C
Taveras LF
Christian CF
Cedeno SS
Pitching: LHP John Gast followed by RHP Edward Mujica, LHP Sam Freeman, RHP Michael Blazek, RHP Eric Fornataro, RHP Fernando Salas.

Game time: 1:05 p.m.

TV/Radio: None.

Notes: The Sox left all of their regular position players at the Fort for a workout. The team will be sending two split-squad teams on the road Monday.

Baseball coverage in today's Globe

Posted by Peter Abraham, Globe Staff February 24, 2013 07:20 AM

Pedro Martinez has embraced his new role with the Red Sox. Amalie Benjamin has an in-depth look at what Martinez is bringing to the Sox.

John Lackey returned to the mound on Saturday and was deeply appreciative of the moment.

The notebook has Clay Buchholz ready to join the rotation.

Athletes with charitable foundations, including Josh Beckett, do not give as much as you might think. Callum Borchers has that story.

In the Sunday Baseball Notes, Nick Cafardo writes that the Yankees are still a tough out. (Subscription only).

In a not-so-shocking turn of events, Dan Shaughnessy is down on the Red Sox. (Subscription only).

For John Lackey, a welcome return

Posted by Peter Abraham, Globe Staff February 23, 2013 07:14 PM

FORT MYERS, Fla. — For one day at least, it wasn’t about expectations for John Lackey, his spot in the rotation or whether he could live up to his big contract. It was simply a chance to play baseball.

Lackey had gone 515 days without pitching in a real game. His right elbow gave out by the end of the 2011 season, the ulnar collateral ligament so frayed that doctors were surprised he found a way to get the ball to the plate.

Tommy John reconstruction surgery and months of rehabilitation followed.

Lackey finally took the mound on Saturday as the Red Sox opened their spring training scheduled with a game against the Tampa Bay Rays at JetBlue Park. He threw just one inning but rarely have 20 pitches been so satisfying.

“I missed playing baseball. It was fun being back out there.” Lackey said.

Lackey warmed up like he normally would. But there was one change to his usual routine.

“I kind of took a second before I went on the mound on the bench and kind of reflected on the past year and a half. It’s been a lot of work,” Lackey said. “I’ve got to thank a lot of trainers, a lot of people that helped me get back to this point. I was excited to be back out there.”

Lackey smiled when asked about giving up a run, saying he was satisfied just to hit Jarrod Saltalamacchia’s glove on the fly after so much time away.

Red Sox manager John Farrell, who twice had Tommy John surgery during his playing career, could relate to Lackey’s emotions.

“It’s a big step,” he said. “Over the last 16 months, he was obviously on his own program and probably at times felt like he was the only one going through it. Today was the first step, the first building block and getting back to being a regular member of this rotation.”

In addition to a much slimmer build, Lackey showed a rehabilitated persona, too. He cracked jokes with reporters after the game and for the first time since signing with the Sox, seemed at ease answering questions.

“I’m excited,” he said. “I feel like it’s one of my first spring trainings, I really do. It’s been a long road back to here and it’s fun to be back out.”

See the Sunday Globe for more on Lackey.

Red Sox game report for Saturday

Posted by Peter Abraham, Globe Staff February 23, 2013 07:07 PM

SCORE: Rays 4, Red Sox 3

RECORD: 0-1.

BREAKDOWN: The Rays led 2-0 until the seventh inning when Jose Iglesias cracked a two-run homer over the wall in left. The lead was brief as Tampa Bay’s Leslie Anderson hit a two-run shot off Oscar Villareal. The Sox rallied in the ninth as Jeremy Hazelbaker doubled and scored on a single by Xander Bogaerts. But Daniel Nava struck out looking to end the game.

THUMBS UP: Righthander Alex Wilson struck out three of the four batters he faced in the fourth inning, all of them swinging. … Bogaerts, in addition to his single, executed a rundown in the seventh inning.

THUMBS DOWN: Jarrod Saltalamacchia dropped a foul pop-up in the third inning then threw a ball away trying to catch a runner stealing third. That allowed a run to score. … The Sox grounded into three double plays.

MEDICAL REPORT: LHP Craig Breslow (shoulder) hopes to start his throwing program tomorrow. “That would help my sanity,” he said. “I feel like I’m ready.” … Mike Napoli (hips) will run the bases on Sunday. He could be ready to play in a game by mid-week.

AROUND THE BASES: Nava entered the game at first base in the sixth inning. The outfielder, who hadn’t played first base since 15 appearances in junior college in 2005, easily handled the one ball grounded his way. “He looks fine over there for right now,” manager John Farrell said. … The crowd was announced at 9,680, a sellout. … Villareal, who is in camp on a minor league contract, was added to Mexico’s roster for the WBC. In all, the Sox will lose five players to the tournament. … The Red Sox will face R.A. Dickey on Monday when a split squad team travels to Dunedin for a game against the Blue Jays. The Sox will start their knuckleballer, Steven Wright. Tim Wakefield will be on hand to evaluate Wright before he reports to Sox camp as a guest instructor. .. The Sox held a moment of silence before the game for Johnny Pesky, who was a long-time fixture at spring training. Pesky died last August.

NEXT GAME: Sunday vs. St. Louis in Jupiter. LHP Jon Lester will face LHP John Gast.

Bogaerts heads for Taiwan . . . and squid pizza?

Posted by Peter Abraham, Globe Staff February 23, 2013 05:23 PM

FORT MYERS, Fla. — Xander Bogaerts is catching a flight to New York tonight then will go from there to Taiwan to join the Dutch team for the World Baseball Classic.

Jackie Bradley Jr. visited Taiwan with Team USA for an amateur tournament a few years ago. That prompted this exchange in the clubhouse a few minutes ago:

Bradley: "You're going to lose weight there."

Bogaerts: "Why? I won't like the food?"

Bradley: "Put it this way: We ordered pizza and it came with squid on it."

Bogaerts: "Oh, man. Really?"

Bradley: "I was there four days and lost five pounds. All I did was eat when I got home."

Bogaerts: "I better bring some food with me."

Bogaerts was 1 for 2 with an RBI single today. Bradley was 1 for 1.

Final: Rays 4, Red Sox 3

Posted by Peter Abraham, Globe Staff February 23, 2013 01:37 PM

Game over: Rays 4, Red Sox 3: Jeremy Hazelbaker doubled with one out and scored on a two-out single by Xander Bogaerts, who is flying to Taiwan after the game for the WBC. But Nava fanned looking to end it.

Middle of the 9th: Rays 4, Red Sox 2: Last ups for Red Sox. David Ross leads off.

Middle of the 8th: Rays 4, Red Sox 2: Oscar Villareal allowed a two-run homer by Leslie Anderson.

Top of the 8th: Rays 2, Red Sox 2: Jose Iglesias went deep over the Faux Green Monster to tie the game. The blast scored Jeremy Hazelbaker, who had walked.

Iggy has shown a more powerful swing this spring and that certainly was evidence.

Middle of the 7th: Rays 2, Red Sox 0: The Sox have three hits and the Rays four. Not awhile not going on in this one. Both teams have substituted for their starting lineups.

Middle of the 6th: Rays 2, Red Sox 0: Sorry for the lapse in updates. Went down to the clubhouse to interview John Lackey.

It's fair to say that was as relaxed and cheerful as Lackey has ever been speaking to the media since coming to Boston. He joked that he so excited about being being on the mound that he was "just trying to hit the glove in the air."

Lackey said his surgically repaired elbow felt fine and that he pitched without some pain for the first time in years.

"I missed playing baseball," he said.

Top of the 4th: Rays 2, Red Sox 0: Middlebrooks singled before Sweeney walked with one out. But Ellsbury grounded into a 4-6-3 double play.

Middle of the 3rd: Rays 2, Red Sox 0: Jennings doubled before Joyce walked. Joyce should have popped out but Salty dropped the ball. When Jennings stole third, Salty's throw went into left field and a run scored.

Cust grounded into a double play and Roberts grounded back to Britton.

Top of the 3rd: Rays 1, Red Sox 0: 1-2-3 inning for Brandon Gomes.

Middle of the 2nd: Rays 1, Red Sox 0: Jose Lobaton walked with one out, took second on a wild pitch and third on a fly ball to center. But Zobrist grounded to third.

Top of the 2nd: Rays 1, Red Sox 0: Ellsbury drew a walk of Alex Colome. But Pedroia fanned looked and Victorino grounded into a 3-6-3 double play. Lackey is done and Drake Britton is in.

Middle of the 1st: Rays 1, Red Sox 0: Lackey loaded the bases on 10 pitches. Ben Zobrist walked on five pitches. Desmond Jennings then singled to left before Lackey hit Matt Joyce with a 1-1 fastball.

Jack Cust fanned swinging. Ryan Roberts hit a fly ball to deep right to drive in a run. Lackey then got Sean Rodriguez on a fly to right to end the inning. Lackey threw 20 pitches, 10 strikes.

Pre-game: Beautiful day here in Fort Myers for the first Grapefruit League game of the season. John Lackey will be on the mound for an inning in his return from surgery.

NESN and WEEI will have the game. We'll have updates here, too.

Buchholz throws 37 pitches

Posted by Peter Abraham, Globe Staff February 23, 2013 11:24 AM

FORT MYERS, Fla. — Clay Buchholz threw 37 pitches in a two-inning simulated game on Saturday. He is expected to slot into the Red Sox rotation next week.

Buchholz threw 21 pitches in the first inning then 16 in the second. He faced Juan Carlos Linares and Mike Carp.

Carp had a good swing on Buchholz in the first inning but the righthander was otherwise sharp. His fastball command was less precise in the second inning. But when he missed, he missed low.

"Felt really good," Buchholz said. "The one thing that we need to sit and work on is [pitching] out of the stretch. Didn’t really get to go in depth with it. There’s definitely some kinks in the delivery. Other than that, felt strong."

Buchholz warmed up like he normally would. He then sat down a bit before throwing six warm-up pitches like he would before an inning. Then he faced the hitters.

Ben Cherington, John Farrell and a host of team officials were there to watch. Teammates Daniel Bard, Ryan Dempster and John Lackey also watched. Bard and Dempster threw bullpen sessions later on.

Buchholz didn't seem to have any problems with his right hamstring.

"If it were midseason and I needed to pitch, then I could pitch. We’re treating this like we have two extra weeks," Buchholz said. "There’s no rush for me to get back. I’m still going to have six, maybe seven, outings in the spring before we head north. I don’t think there’s going to be anything holding me back."

Lefthander Franklin Morales threw an inning in the sim game. He threw 23 pitches.

Also:

• Daniel Nava will play first base in today's game when he comes off the bench. The Red Sox like the way he looks at the position.

• Mike Napoli has felt no pain in his hips despite his being diagnosed with avascular necrosis. But the Red Sox will not use Napoli to catch this season unless an emergency arises, Farrell said.

Napoli did more one-on-one work with Brian Butterfield this morning. He will run the bases for the first time on Sunday.

• Xander Bogaerts leaves tonight for the WBC. He will fly to Taiwan via New York to join the Dutch. The other Red Sox players in the WBC will leave March 2 or 3.

Shane Victorino is playing for the WBC. RHP Jose De La Torre is with Puerto Rico. RHPs Alfredo Aceves and Oscar Villareal are with Mexico. Villareal was a late addition to the Mexican team.

Victorino will play every other day until he leaves. So he could get in four game or so.

• Jonny Gomes and David Ross weren't hunting alligators on Friday after practice. They took an airboat ride out into the swamps to look for the. "One big one came right up to the boat," Ross said. "That was interesting."

• LHP Craig Breslow is close to starting his throwing program. That will happen this weekend.

(Note, this post was updated at 1:01 p.m. with Buchholz's comments).

Yankees: You bet we're evil

Posted by Peter Abraham, Globe Staff February 23, 2013 11:09 AM

FORT MYERS, Fla. — Back in 2002, when the Red Sox and Yankees were tussling over Jose Contreras, Larry Lucchino referred to the New Yorkers as the Evil Empire.

The Yankees, all these years later, agree.

Ashby Jones of the Wall Street Journal has an entertaining story about how the Yankees fought a company trying to trademark using the term "Evil Empire" when it is associated with baseball.

Part of their case was assrting that they are, in fact, baseball's Evil Empire and own the rights to that term. A judge agreed.

"I give them credit. Their embracing it is clever indeed," Lucchino told the Journal.

Larry Bird and his influence on the Red Sox today

Posted by Peter Abraham, Globe Staff February 23, 2013 09:01 AM

FORT MYERS, Fla. — The practice plan posted in the Red Sox clubhouse this morning said "Larry Bird" under the team activities.

Would the Celtics legend, who lives about an hour south of here in Naples, be at the workout?

Alas, no. Brian Butterfield, the ever-inventive third base coach and infield instructor, named one of his drills after Bird. It's a rundown drill that will feature Butterfield making over-the-shoulder and blind throws to the fielders to keep them on their toes.

Hence, it's the Larry Bird drill.

Grapefruit League Game 1: Rays (ss) at Red Sox

Posted by Peter Abraham, Globe Staff February 23, 2013 07:44 AM

Here are the lineups:

RED SOX (0-0)
Ellsbury CF
Pedroia 2B
Victorino RF
Saltalamacchia C
Gomes LF
Drew SS
Middlebrooks 3B
Overbay 1B
Sweeney DH
Pitching: RHP John Lackey followed by LHP Drake Britton, RHP Pedro Beato, RHP Anthony Carter, RHP Jose De La Torre, RHP Oscar Villareal, RHP Alex Wilson and RHP Steven Wright.

RAYS (0-0)
Zobrist RF
Jennings CF
Joyce LF
Cust DH
Roberts 2B
Rodriguez 3B
Duncan 1B
Lobaton C
Lee SS
Pitching: RHP Alex Colome.

Game time: 1:35 p.m.

TV/Radio: NESN / WEEI.

Good morning from Fort Myers

Posted by Peter Abraham, Globe Staff February 23, 2013 07:30 AM

FORT MYERS, Fla. — It's game day for the Red Sox.

After 11 days of workouts and a doubleheader against two college teams, the Red Sox host a split-squad of Tampa Bay Rays at 1:35 p.m. John Lackey will be on the mound for one inning in his quasi-official return from Tommy John surgery.

Lackey hasn't faced big league hitters since Sept. 25, 2011. He had surgery on Nov. 1 and has been recovering in the 16 months since.

Lackey has looked good in camp, the movement in his fastball evident in bullpen and BP sessions. This spring will be about him taking gradual steps in preparation for the season. He'll get eight starts in all with the aim of pitching a total of 24-27 innings and getting to 95-100 pitches in the penultimate spring start.

NESN and WEEI have the game today. But we'll have notes and updates all day, so hang around.

Red Sox coverage in today's Globe

Posted by Peter Abraham, Globe Staff February 23, 2013 07:23 AM

Junichi Tazawa had a breakout season for the Red Sox in 2012. How will he factor into the bullpen this season?

The notebook has David Ortiz literally making some strides.

Red Sox training camp report No. 11

Posted by Peter Abraham, Globe Staff February 22, 2013 04:16 PM

WEATHER: It was a postcard-perfect day in the Fort, sunny and 82 degrees.

MEDICAL REPORT: Mike Napoli (hips) is set for his first base-running drill on Sunday. Assuming that goes well, he could get in a game within a few days. Felix Doubront (shoulder) threw his second bullpen session. Clay Buchholz (right hamstring) will throw two innings in a simulated game on Saturday. That could clear him to enter the rotation.

FUNDAMENTALLY SPEAKING: It was a quick workout for the Sox before they fled Fenway South for 20th annual Red Sox Children's Hospital Celebrity Golf Classic at The Forest Country Club in South Fort Myers. Seven pitchers had bullpen sessions, Jon Lester and Alfredo Aceves among them. The team defensive drill was on defending push bunts. A 45-minute round of batting practice wrapped the day up.

THUMBS UP: Ryan Sweeney had on dark blue shorts and a white belt for the golf outing. He looked ready for the PGA Tour.

THUMBS DOWN: Pedro Martinez had a brace on his right wrist. He injured himself doing some gardening. Yes, gardening. Pedro said he was trimming some bushes and jammed his hand.

AROUND THE BASES: Newcomer Mike Carp was given No. 38. He is the first player to wear that number since Curt Schilling in 2007. Ben Cherington and assistant GM Mike Hazen watched Carp take batting practice. He lined several balls off the fence. … The Sox have 36 exhibition games before the April 1 opener against the Yankees in New York.

SCHEDULE: The Sox open Grapefruit League play against a Rays split squad at 1:35 p.m. on Saturday at JetBlue Park. John Lackey starts for the Red Sox.

Look out, alligators

Posted by Peter Abraham, Globe Staff February 22, 2013 02:02 PM

gatorhunters.jpg

FORT MYERS, Fla. — Via Jacoby Ellsbury's Twitter feed, here's a photo of Jonny Gomes (left) and David Ross heading out to find alligators.

Either that or they've been chosen to star in a remake of "Deliverance."

In other camp news, John Farrell was asked by WBZ's Jonny Miller whether he would consider becoming the athletic director at Oklahoma State, his alma mater. Former Sox manager Bobby Valentine is the new AD at Sacred Heart University in Connecticut.

"I don't know how to answer that," Farrell said, laughing.

Red Sox pitching plans for upcoming games

Posted by Peter Abraham, Globe Staff February 22, 2013 01:37 PM

Saturday vs. Rays: John Lackey (1 inning) followed by Drake Britton, Pedro Beato, Anthony Carter, Jose De La Torre, Oscar Villareal, Alex Wilson and Steven Wright.

Sunday at Cardinals: Jon Lester (2 innings) followed by Rubby De La Rosa, Junichi tazawa, Joel Hanrahan, Andrew Bailey, Andrew Miller and Koji Uehara.

Monday split squad at Blue Jays: Steven Wright (2 innings), Alan Webster (2 innings), Terry Doyle (2 innings) followed by Jose De La Torre, Pedro Beato, Chris Carpenter and Anthony Carter.

Monday split squad at Rays: Alfredo Aceves (2 innings) followed by Chris Hernandez (2 innings), Daniel Bard, Clayton Mortensen, Oscar Villareal and Alex Wilson.

Tuesday vs. Cardinals: Ryan Dempster (2 innings) followed by Junichi Tazawa, Joel Hanrahan, Andrew Bailey and Andrew Miller.

Wednesday at Orioles: Franklin Morales (1 inning) followed by Drake Britton (3 innings), Koji Uehara, Chris Carpenter, Daniel Bard, Anthony Carter and Pedro Beato.

Thursday at Pirates: John Lackey (2 innings), Chris Hernandez, Clayton Mortensen, Terry Doyle, Oscar Villareal, Alex Wilson and Jose De La Torre.

Ortiz steps up intensity of workouts

Posted by Peter Abraham, Globe Staff February 22, 2013 01:06 PM

FORT MYERS, Fla. — It has been just over seven months since David Ortiz strained his right Achilles tendon. But he has not yet been cleared to play.

How can that be?

Ortiz said today he had a "small tear" in his Achilles that has healed and a recent MRI showed no difference from the tendon in his left foot. His doctors and therapists also advised a gradual buildup to being able to play in a game.

"They want to get you prepared for all the pounding when you step on bases and other stuff. When you get through all those drills, you're good to go," Ortiz said. "We do a lot of a lot of twisting and turning, a lot of stepping hard on the one foot. I'm pretty sure that once the time comes to run the bases, I'll be good to go."

Ortiz was on the conditioning field in front of the clubhouse this morning with strength and conditioning coach Pat Sandora. He ran straight ahead several times and then did some agility drills. It was at a higher intensity than previous workouts.

"I would like to be in the game tomorrow, no question," Ortiz said. "But they're just being smart and not trying to rush. We have another six weeks still. They want to make sure that when I'm in, there's no setback."

Ortiz said he has had "good soreness" from workouts.

"The doctor says it's normal. I'm just doing things I wasn't able to. Your foot has to get used to it. Once you get used to it, you'll be fine."

Ortiz is hopeful of playing within 7-10 days. He has been taking batting practice, fielding grounders and lifting weights. The only obstacle to overcome is running the bases.

"I'm going at it. You guys see me, we're doing things every day," Ortiz said.

Ortiz is confident that he will be ready to face the Yankees on Opening Day.

"It doesn't matter what kind of injury you had. You have to go through a program to rebuild that place where you got injured," Ortiz said.

Ortiz said he has a "little bit of calcification" in his Achilles, which is going away. He also has been told he is not more susceptible to rupturing his Achilles. The treatment has given him peace of mind.

"I'm not afraid of that. If I'm afraid of that I wouldn't be doing what I'm doing," he said. "If you have a tear, any bad move that you make it will snap. That's not my concern any more. I think we'll be fine."

Justin Timberlake and Jay-Z to play Fenway

Posted by Peter Abraham, Globe Staff February 22, 2013 10:11 AM

Justin Timberlake and Jay Z will play Fenway Park on Aug. 10. Tickets are on sale Feb. 28 through Live Nation.

Jason Aldean is playing Fenway in July.

A tough year behind him, Mike Carp joins Red Sox

Posted by Peter Abraham, Globe Staff February 22, 2013 09:16 AM

FORT MYERS, Fla. — Mike Carp was the opening day left fielder for the Seattle Mariners last season, taking his position at the Tokyo Dome before a crowd of 44,227 on March 28.

He injured his right shoulder diving for a ball hit by Kurt Suzuki in the fourth inning, trying to make a play for Felix Hernandez. Carp stayed in the game, the adrenalin keeping him going.

"I'm not coming out of the game. It's the first day of the season," Carp said Friday morning after arriving at Red Sox camp. "I had waited my whole life to make an opening day roster."

Carp went on the disabled list the next day and didn't play again until May 1. The injury hadn't healed properly and Carp returned to the DL on June 11 and didn't return until July 24.

"It took some time. It was a pretty significant injury. Towards the end of the season, that second stint on the DL really helped," Carp said. "We did the whole rehab process over. It's been pretty normal ever since. ... Just had to wait for it for heal. It was just banged-up more than anything."

No surgery was required and Carp said he's fully healthy. But Seattle obtained Mike Morse and Raul Ibanez and Carp was squeezed out. The Mariners designated him for assignment on Feb. 12 and on Wednesday he was traded to the Red Sox.

"I had a lot of expectations coming into last year. [Had a] big 2011, finally getting an opportunity to play," Carp said. "It's just one of those tough-luck plays. I think it made me mentally tough. Definitely kept me hungry for this year."

Carp joins the Sox seeking a spot on the bench as a backup first baseman and left fielder. Because he's on the 40-man roster and out of options, that might give him an advantage. But Carp first has to prove he's a better option than Lyle Overbay, Daniel Nava and Mark Hamilton.

"It's anybody's game. You have to perform. If you don't perform, you don't make the team," he said.

Carp sees the Red Sox as a good fit.

"It's pretty crazy. You think about the tradition and everything that goes on. It's one of baseball's premier teams. Just excited to be a part of it and look forward to the opportunity I get here," he said. "I'm excited to be healthy. I'll go out and perform as best I can and we'll see what happens at the end of the spring.

Carp is 4 for 14 at Fenway Park with two home runs. That's much too small of a sample size to be indicative of anything. But the Red Sox believe the lefthanded hitter has the kind of approach that could fit the park. It has to be better for him than cavernous Safeco Field was.

"Definitely excited about left field. I use the whole field. If I can use that Monster to my advantage, get a couple of doubles," Carp said.

The Mariners moved the fences in this season.

"Tough luck on my part," Carp said. "But the AL East has a bunch of short porches."

Good morning from Fort Myers

Posted by Peter Abraham, Globe Staff February 22, 2013 07:23 AM

FORT MYERS, Fla. — The Red Sox have a workout this morning then will head off their annual charity golf tournament. The Grapefruit League season starts Saturday with an afternoon home game against a split-squad Rays team.

Meanwhile, did you hear that Bobby Valentine was selected as the athletic director at Sacred Heart University? William S. Paxton had the story for the Connecticut Post.

Bobby V obviously had a rough time in Boston. But he's a smart guy and could be the right choice for that school.

Red Sox coverage in today's Globe

Posted by Peter Abraham, Globe Staff February 22, 2013 07:13 AM

Nick Cafardo has the story of former Boston College baseball captain Pete Frates and his battle with ALS.

For Daniel Bard, it was another positive step.

The notebook has the Red Sox getting a glimpse of their future.

Dan Shaughnessy writes that Stephen Drew will try to write his own legacy in Boston. (Subscription only).

For Bard, it starts with being aggressive

Posted by Peter Abraham, Globe Staff February 21, 2013 08:38 PM

FORT MYERS, Fla. — John Farrell offered some insight into how the Red Sox are rebuilding Daniel Bard. The first step is to get him to attack hitters with the ferocity he once did.

His three strikeouts against Northeastern (and 13 strikes on 18 pitches) would seem to be evidence that is working.

“We went from a guy that was ultra-aggressive, ultra-confident to one, with the change in role, came a change in mind-set,” Farrell said. “We’re getting back to shorter stints, the aggressor mentality. I know that’s something he set out to not only establish but to regain and prove. Today was the first step in that process.”

Farrell was the Red Sox pitching coach when Bard debuted with the team in 2009. After two years of mixed messages from an assortment of pitching coaches, Bard trusts what Farrell and new pitching coach Juan Nieves are telling him.

He also isn’t trying to regain everything at once. Bard touched 94 miles per hour with his fastball today. That’s better than what it usually was last season, but not close to the velocity he featured as a reliever in 2011.

“I don’t think it’s going to happen overnight. The one thing that we want to do is establish the aggressiveness first,” Farrell said. “If we have to make adjustments to gain more consistent command, that might be the case. First step is more from the mentality side of things.”

Bard welcomes the idea that he has to prove himself and earn a spot in the bullpen.

“That’s a good thing,” he said. “The last time I really came into camp with something to prove was my first big league spring training in ’09. I was not supposed to make the team by any means. I had a lot of people that I needed to impress in my mind and I was able to come out and do that.”

Bard's fastball command was a little inconsistent against Northeastern but he regained his arm slot by throwing a slider.

Farrell said that Bard stays on top of the ball when he throws the slider and that helps him adjust.

Bard was asked his assessment of Red Sox camp to this point. His answer was interesting.

"It feels relaxed, man,” Bard said. “The guys that have been the mainstays: Me, Salty, David, Pedey — are all competitive but I think we play best when we’re a little bit relaxed. The guys they brought in — Johnny, Shane — they seem to have a lot of fun playing the game. I think that’s what we were missing last year and maybe the year before a little bit. I think we have a group of guys who want to have fun."

Future on display for the Red Sox

Posted by Peter Abraham, Globe Staff February 21, 2013 08:15 PM

FORT MYERS, Fla. — The Red Sox used their veteran players in the first game of Thursday’s doubleheader against Northeastern and Boston College. They produced a 3-0 victory that was, outside of some good pitching performances, unremarkable.

Manager John Farrell used a younger lineup against the Eagles. Xander Bogaerts, the organization’s top prospect, batted sixth. Jackie Bradley Jr., a center fielder with great potential, hit third.

Bogaerts was 1 for 4 with a double in an 11-1 victory. Bradley was 1 for 3 with an RBI double.

Bogaerts, 20, is a shortstop. But he started at third base in preparation for his role with the Netherlands in the upcoming World Baseball Classic. He handled two ground balls without any problems. One required his going to the backhand and making a long throw.

“Exciting young player,” Farrell said. “Regardless if he’s standing at third or short, he’s a presence in the box. Hard contact. In Game 2, a little bit of a glimpse into the future somewhat.”

Bogaerts will sub in for Will Middlebrooks at third base on Saturday against Tampa Bay then leave for the WBC. The Netherlands starts pool play in Taiwan on March 2. Bogaerts will fly there via New York.

“I’ll probably ask the Red Sox for a sleeping pill or something,” he said.
“That’s tough.”

Bogaerts will return to the Red Sox after the WBC and could appear in a few games before going to minor league camp.

“The Red Sox are my first priority. They gave me the opportunity to go play and I’m thankful for that,” he said. “I’ll be back.”

Bradley’s double was a fly ball that carried to right-center and nearly cleared the fence in the third inning. In the fifth inning, he hit an infield popup and hustled to second base, just in case it fell in.

The ball wasn’t caught, but it was ruled foul. Still, Bradley made an impression on the play.

“You want to always to do the right thing,” he said. “You don’t want to take any plays off. That time you take a play off, they’re going to see it.”

Bradley had to make only one play in center field, tracking down a line drive off the bat of Jimmy Dowdell in the second inning.

“We were able to quickly see what everyone has raved about,” Farrell said. “The precision to his routes and jumps was impressive.”

Bradley, 22, enjoyed being on the field with Bogaerts.

“If we’re both on the same field at the same time up there in the future, that’ll be great. He’s a great player and I’m honored to be playing on the field with him,” Bradley said.

Both Bogaerts and Bradley have handled the attention that comes with being invited to major league camp well.

Bradley played for a two-time NCAA champion at South Carolina and is used to scrutiny. Bogaerts played in the South Atlantic League at 18 and acquitted himself well, posting an .834 OPS. He mixes in with major leaguers effortlessly.

Bradley reminds me a lot of David Wright in terms of his confidence at a young age and the ability to communicate with teammates, coaches, the media, and everybody else he comes in contact with.

Bogaerts is unique in a lot of ways. He is big for a shortstop, hits the ball a ton, speaks four languages, and has a great feel for the nuances of baseball. You do not have to be a professional scout to pick him out of a group of players.

It's exciting to consider what kind of players they could become, but it's also important to note that Bradley has played 61 games at Double A and Bogaerts 23. They still have bridges to cross before being ready for the majors.

Still, as Farrell said, that glimpse of the future was entertaining.

Red Sox training camp report No. 10

Posted by Peter Abraham, Globe Staff February 21, 2013 07:04 PM
SCORES: Red Sox 3, Northeastern 0; Red Sox 11, Boston College 1.

BREAKDOWN: Seven pitchers combined on a four-hitter in the first game for the Sox. They struck out 14 over the seven-inning game. Jarrod Saltalamacchia had an RBI double. Pedro Ciriaco and Jose Iglesias added run-scoring singles. The Sox had 11 hits against the Eagles, six for extra bases. Dan Butler and Shannon Wilkerson each had two-run homers.

THUMBS UP: Clayton Mortensen struck out two of the three Northeastern batters he faced. “Every time I see the guy pitch he gets people out,” manager John Farrell said. … Mauro Gomez was 3 for 3 with two RBIs against BC. … Jeremy Hazelbaker drew two walks and had a single in three plate appearances in the second game.

THUMBS DOWN: Dustin Pedroia struck out looking and grounded into a double play in the first game. He was muttering to himself. … Jonny Gomes misplayed what should have been a routine fly ball into a single in the first game. … Jonathan Diaz, a non-roster second baseman, had a throwing error in the nightcap.

MEDICAL REPORT: Mike Napoli (hips) and David Ortiz (right Achilles') didn’t play. Napoli is expected to start running the bases next week and could be in games soon after. Ortiz is at least a week behind that schedule. … LHP Craig Breslow (shoulder) is improving and will soon start throwing.

AROUND THE BASES: The Red Sox were the first major league team to play a game this spring, discounting intrasquad games. … Andrew Bailey, who has been throwing the ball since the first day of camp, looked sharp in his inning against BC. His fastball command has been excellent. … Will Middlebrooks, in his first game since breaking his right wrist, was 0 for 2. … The Northeastern players crowded around the batting cage to watch Ortiz take some swings. Big Papi then posed for photos and signed autographs. … NESN’s Jerry Remy arrived at Fenway South. … The Red Sox are 23-0 against BC and 11-0 against Northeastern.

NEXT GAME: Tampa Bay on Saturday at 1:35 p.m. (NESN, WEEI). John Lackey will face lefthander Enny Romero.

Final: Red Sox 11, Boston College 1

Posted by Peter Abraham, Globe Staff February 21, 2013 04:02 PM

Game over: Red Sox 11, Boston College 1: The Sox sweep the two college teams. They had 11 hits in the nightcap. Seven pitchers combined on a three-hitter.

Top of the 7th: Red Sox 11, BC 1: Bogaerts had a double to the gap in left. But he was stranded there. The Sox have 11 hits.

The final pitcher of the day for the Sox — the 14th in all — is Brock Huntzinger.

Middle of the 6th: Red Sox 11, BC 1: Quick, perfect inning for Doyle.

Top of the 6th: Red Sox 11, BC 1: Shannon Wilkerson with a two-run homer. Now Terry Doyle, who played at BC, will face BC.

Middle of the 5th: Red Sox 9, BC 1: Jose De La Torre had a quick inning, thanks in part to a nice backhanded play at third base by Bogaerts and a strong throw. He has looked comfortable at third base as the Sox prepare him to play their in the WBC.

Once he returns from the WBC, the Sox have said Bogaerts will return to shortstop.

Middle of the 4th: Red Sox 9, BC 1: Oscar Villareal with a scoreless inning for the Sox as he worked around a walk.

Top of the 4th: Red Sox 9, BC 1: The first six batters of the inning got on base and all scored. In all, the Sox sent 12 batters to the plate and scored eight runs. Dan Butler had a two-run homer, Jon Diaz a two-run double and Mauro Gomez a two-run single. Jackie Bradley added an RBI double in the inning.

Middle of the 3rd: BC 1, Red Sox 1: Junichi Tazawa allowed a run. No 9 hitter John Gorman drew a walk, took third on a double by Hennessy and scored when Burera grounded to third.

Top of the 3rd: Red Sox 1, BC 0: Gomez doubled off Hunter Gordon and scored on a single by Hazelbaker. Bogaerts, Diaz and Butler then grounded out.

Middle of the 2nd: BC 0, Red Sox 0: 1-2-3 inning for Andrew Bailey. A fly ball, a strikeout and a groundout.

Top of the 2nd: BC 0, Red Sox 0: Easy inning for Bayuk. Henry flew to left, Holt grounded out and Bradley lined to center.

Middle of the 1st: BC 0, Red Sox 0: Uehera allowed a leadoff single by John Hennessy. Blake Butera then lined to right and with Hennessy on the move, it was a double play. Matt Pare reached on a throwing error by Diaz before Tom Bourdon singled. But Uehera fanned Geoff Murphy to end the inning.

Pre-game: With no time to waste, the Sox are back on the field to face the Eagles. But it's an entirely new team. The Sox will use their younger players for this game augmented by nine call-ups from minor league camp.

The lineup:
Justin Henry RF
Brock Holt SS
Jackie Bradley CF
Mauro Gomez 1B
Jeremy Hazelbaker LF
Xander Bogaerts 3B
Jon Diaz 2B
Dan Butler C
David Renfroe DH
Pitching: RHP Koji Uehera followed by RHP Andrew Bailey, RHP Oscar Villareal, RHP Terry Doyle, RHP Jose De La Torre, RHP Junichi Tazawa.

Boston College is starting Nate Bayuk.

Final: Red Sox 3, Northeastern 0

Posted by Peter Abraham, Globe Staff February 21, 2013 01:32 PM

Game over: Red Sox 3, Northeastern 0: The Sox had seven pitchers combine on a four-hitter. Saltalamacchia, Ciriaco and Iglesias each drove in a run.

Northeastern turned three double plays and played very well. It was 25-0 last year.

The Red Sox will take their at-bats in the seventh. Not sure if that counts toward the score. But then again the game doesn't really count.

Game 4 against BC will be at 4 p.m. Hang around for updates.

Top of the 7th: Red Sox 3, Northeastern 0: Pedro Ciriaco had an RBI single in the fifth inning and Jose Iglesias one in the sixth.

Pedro Beato in to try to close it out.

Middle of the 5th: Red Sox 1, Northeastern 0: Clayton Mortensen retired the side in order. Sox pitchers have allowed two hits and fanned eight.

Top of the 5th: Red Sox 1, Northeastern 0: Salty drew a walk. But Middlebrooks grounded into a double play and Drew popped out.

Changes: Jose Iglesias at shortstop, Drew Sutton at third, Ryan Lavarnway is catching.

Middle of the 4th: Red Sox 1, Northeastern 0: Alex Wilson allowed a single then got a double play and a strikeout.

Note: During spring training, the media has clubhouse access to players during games when they come out of the lineup. So if there is a lag in updates, it's because of that.

Top of the 4th: Red Sox 1, Northeastern 0: Ellsbury walked. Then Pedroia grounded into a double play. Victorino walked but Gomes fouled out to the catcher.

Two hits for the Sox, two hits for the Huskies.

Changes for the Red Sox: Alex Wilson pitching. Mitch Maier in center, Pedro Ciriaco at second, Ryan Sweeney in right and Daniel Nava in left.

Middle of the 3rd: Red Sox 1, Northeastern 0: Andrew Miller hit Puttress with a pitch with one out then handled the Huskies from there.

The Sox have hit two batters. Wonder if that has any relation to Pedro Martinez preaching the other day that pitchers have to pitch inside?

The Sox starters will be getting two at-bats, by the way.

Top of the 3rd: Red Sox 1, Northeastern 0: Perfect inning for Nick Cubarney. Drew grounded to short, Overbay struck out looking and Ross lined to right. Barbosa made a nice diving catch.

Middle of the 2nd: Red Sox 1, Northeastern 0: Encouraging inning for Daniel Bard. After Connor Lyons reached on a bloop single, Bard struck out the side from there. He threw 18 pitches, 13 of them strikes.

Bard had a nice slider and occasionally missed with his fastball early in the inning. But he got into a decent groove.

Top of the 2nd: Red Sox 1, Northeastern 0: Northeastern's Dylan Maki was a play away from a perfect inning. Then it got away from him a bit.

Ellsbury grounded to second and Pedroia struck out looking. Victorino then grounded an infield single up the middle. Second baseman Mike Foster had a play, maybe, but the ball popped out of his hand. Victorino was given a single.

Jonny Gomes was hit by a pitch before Jarrod Saltalamacchia lined a double off the wall. Will Middlebrooks then popped to right.

Daniel Bard on the mound for the Sox.

Middle of the 1st: Northeastern 0, Red Sox 0: Shaky inning for Joel Hanrahan. NU's Aaron Barbosa lined an 0-2 pitch to left field. Jonny Gomes took an awkward route to the ball and it fell in for a single. Hanrahan struck out John Puttress before Barbosa stole second.

Pete Castoldi lined to right before Hanrahan hit Jason Vosler. Will Dougherty then struck out swinging at a high fastball. Hanrahan threw 17 pitches, 13 strikes.

Pre-game: Good afternoon from JetBlue Park and sunny Fort Myers. The Sox are about to play Northeastern. Hang out here for updates.

Joel Hanrahan starts the seven-inning game. The Sox will use a different reliever for every inning.

Northeastern's Roman steps up for Sandy Hook

Posted by Peter Abraham, Globe Staff February 21, 2013 01:03 PM

FORT MYERS, Fla. — R.J. Roman is a sophomoe infielder for Northeastern. He had several of the Red Sox autographing a ball before the game today.

But it's not a souvenir. Roman is from Newtown, Conn., and attended Sandy Hook Elementary School. He's going to auction the ball for charity and is among those organizing a celebrity softball game for the town.

According to Globe photographer Matt Lee, the Sox players were all signing the ball.

Good thinking by R.J. and good luck to him.

Red Sox to pay tribute to Pete Frates before BC game

Posted by Peter Abraham, Globe Staff February 21, 2013 12:14 PM

FORT MYERS, Fla. — There will be a special moment before the Red Sox play Boston College later this afternoon.

Former BC captain Pete Frates will present the ball before the game. He learned about a year ago that he has ALS and has been literally fighting for his life since.

Frates was a standout player for the Eagles from 2004-07. He played in four games against the Red Sox, was the MVP of the Beanpot and eventually the team captain. The Beverly native went to Germany to play after graduation and was playing in the Intercity League when he first realized something was wrong.

Go to petefrates.com to learn more.

Terry Doyle, who played with Frates at BC, will be one of the pitchers for the Red Sox today. BC coach Mike Gambino is a former Red Sox minor leaguer.

Carp on the way; Ellsbury stays in place

Posted by Peter Abraham, Globe Staff February 21, 2013 10:26 AM

FORT MYERS, Fla. — A few pregame notes via John Farrell's dugout media session:

• Mike Carp, who was acquired from the Mariners on Wednesday, ran into weather-related travel delays and was not expected in Fort Myers until Thursday evening.

He will have to pass a physical before getting on the field. Seattle designated Carp for assignment before he reported to their camp in Arizona and has been working out on his own since.

“We’ve got to see where he’s at from a baseball rhythm standpoint,” Farrell said.

• Jacoby Ellsbury has been shifted around the lineup on occasion in his career. But Farrell sees him as a leadoff hitter and isn’t planning on any spring training experimentation.

“At this point, to start, that’s the first thought, yes,” Farrell said. “If he emerges or has a repeat year like he had a couple of years ago could you see that in three hole? Possibly. But to start, this is where we’re at.”

Ellsbury was primarily a leadoff hitter last season but did hit second 12 times and third 10 times. In 2011, during his breakout season, Ellsbury batted first for all but nine games early in the season. He never hit third that season.

• That shortstop Stephen Drew is completely healthy and looks it in the field has been a positive development for the Sox. Drew, who badly fractured his right ankle in 2011, is moving fluidly.

“What’s been most encouraging is the freedom to his actions in the field,” Farrell said. “The ankle injury doesn’t show any ill-effects. Just in drill work, the range he has shown. The fact that he’d be back to 100 percent physically, you look back to 2-3 years ago, this is a guy that was a mid [to] upper teens home run guy, double-digit triples, an offensive threat and really a well-rounded player.

“The early read is we have that same type of player back.”

• First baseman Mike Napoli will not play this weekend but could get in a game by the end of next week. He will have to first get in some base-running drills. “There’s no reason to think that he’s going to continue to ramp up without any setbacks,” Farrell said.

Napoli was held back in the early stages of camp because of the condition of his hips. But he has been increasing his activity over the last few days. David Ortiz, who is coming back from an Achilles strain, is a few days further behind.

• Farrell on how Jose Iglesias has looked in batting practice: “He’s a little bit more narrow in his base, he’s a little bit more upright. It’s allowed him to see the ball better and I really think free up his swing. He got deep in his crouch over time. I think it kind of caused him to work against his body a little bit. But the fact he’s upright in that stance, he feels like he’s able to hit the ball with a little bit more authority wherever it’s pitched in the zone.

• Ryan Lavarnway will catch knuckleballer Steven Wright when he starts against the Blue Jays on Monday. Because Wright throws his knuckleball hard, much like R.A. Dickey, it’s easier to catch than the floaters Tim Wakefield once threw.

• LHP Craig Breslow (shoulder) is feeling better and will soon start his throwing program.

Good morning from the Fort

Posted by Peter Abraham, Globe Staff February 21, 2013 07:43 AM

FORT MYERS, Fla. — The Red Sox have two seven-inning games today, Northeastern at 1:35 p.m. and then Boston College. The regulars are playing the first game then a bunch of prospects in the second.

There's no television or radio coverage, but we'll have updates on both games right here on Extra Bases. So hang around for that.

Here are the Sox lineups.

Red Sox coverage in today's Globe

Posted by Peter Abraham, Globe Staff February 21, 2013 07:39 AM

The Red Sox obtained Mike Carp from the Mariners and he could be an important piece of the puzzle.

Nick Cafardo was in Yankees camp to see Kevin Youkilis and the former Red Sox star talked about his tumultuous 2012 season.

Dan Shaughnessy writes that Ben Cherington can't escape blame for last season.

The notebook has Jason Varitek enjoying a new role.

Varitek learning on the go in a new role

Posted by Peter Abraham, Globe Staff February 20, 2013 07:57 PM

Lee_soxnine19_spts.jpg

Matthew J. Lee/Globe staff

FORT MYERS, FLA. — Jason Varitek did not agree to become a special assistant to Red Sox general manager Ben Cherington for ceremonial reasons. After 15 years as a player, he had a sincere interest in learning another side of baseball.

In December, Varitek attended the winter meetings with Cherington and other front office staffers. Then he was in Boston five weeks later to speak at the team's rookie development camp. Now he is back in uniform for spring training, helping to instruct catchers.

Varitek will work in player development next month, guiding minor league players and then help the amateur scouting department prepare for the June draft.

At 40, Varitek is retired as a player. But his career as an executive may be just starting.

“I’m learning a lot of different areas, different avenues,” Varitek said Wednesday.

Several major league teams, most notably the World Series champion San Francisco Giants, have incorporated former major league players into their decision-making structure. That hasn’t been the case for the Red Sox in the last decade, but Cherington values the counsel of Varitek.

Pedro Martinez holds a similar position on Cherington’s staff. Tim Wakefield also has become involved.

Varitek has a hybrid role for now. He will spend some days in uniform, working directly with players, and others at a desk, offering his opinion about roster moves and organizational policy.

“I’m enjoying these days of being on the field because that’s what I’m most accustomed to,” he said. “But that learning process still has a lot of things to be involved with over the next six, eight months.”

Varitek has a wife and four daughters and a life he wants to lead with them. But the idea of playing a role with the Red Sox held appeal.

“I’ll go out to see some of our younger players. Maybe even to go out and see amateur players preceding the draft,” Varitek said. “There are pieces and parts in a lot of different areas.

“It’s a learning experience to understand the work that everybody does … The only reason I am here is just to help. It’s not to take anybody’s job or advance in somebody else’s job. It’s just to be helpful.”

PawSox select Levering to broadcast team

Posted by Peter Abraham, Globe Staff February 20, 2013 07:47 PM

Some news from Triple A Pawtucket to pass along:

The Pawtucket Red Sox have named Jeff Levering as one of their radio broadcasters for the 2013 season. A second broadcaster has yet to be determined. The duo will handle all 144 PawSox games on 920 WHJJ and the 12-station PawSox Radio Network.

Levering was chosen from among more than 150 applicants to replace Aaron Goldsmith, who last month became a new radio voice for the Seattle Mariners.

Levering, 29, has spent the past three seasons as the radio broadcaster for the Springfield Cardinals, the Double A affiliate of the St. Louis Cardinals.

Prior to joining Springfield, Jeff spent three seasons (2007-09) as Director of Broadcasting/Media Relations for the Rancho Cucamonga Quakes, the Angels High A affiliate in the California League.

Jeff received his degree in broadcast journalism from Chapman University, where he also played baseball all four years and was the starting DH on the 2003 Division 3 national championship team. Levering also played in summer leagues as a teammate of Dustin Pedroia.

Pawtucket has sent a number of broadcasters to prominent positions. Along with Goldsmith, Dan Hoard is now calling Cincinnati Bengals games. Gary Cohen (Mets), Don Orsillo (Red Sox), Dave Flemming (Giants), Andy Freed (Rays) and Dave Jageler (Nationals) also spent time at McCoy Stadium.

Red Sox lineups for Thursday

Posted by Peter Abraham, Globe Staff February 20, 2013 07:07 PM

FORT MYERS, Fla. — Here are the lineups for the college doubleheader on Thursday at JetBlue Park.

NORTHEASTERN (1:35 p.m.)
Jacoby Ellsbury CF
Dustin Pedroia 2B
Shane Victorino RF
Jonny Gomes LF
Jarrod Saltalamacchia DH
Will Middlebrooks 3B
Stephen Drew SS
Lyle Overbay 1B
David Ross C
Pitching: RHP Joel Hanrahan followed by RHP Daniel Bard, LHP Andrew Miller, RHP Alex Wilson, RHP Clayton Mortensen, RHP Pedro Beato, RHP Anthony Carter.

BOSTON COLLEGE (4 pm.)
Justin Henry RF
Brock Holt SS
Jackie Bradley Jr. CF
Mauro Gomez 1B
Jeremy Hazelbaker LF
Xander Bogaerts 3B
Jonathan Diaz 2B
Daniel Butler C
David Renfroe DH
Pitching: RHP Koji Uehara followed by RHP Andrew Bailey, RHP Oscar Villarreal, RHP Terry Doyle, RHP, Jose De La Torre, RHP Junichi Tazawa.

Notes: Both games will be seven innings ... There is no TV or radio coverage ... Mike Napoli (hips) and David Ortiz (Achilles strain) are not yet cleared to play ... The Red Sox will call up Renfroe and eight other players from the minor league camp for the second game.

Red Sox training camp report No. 9

Posted by Peter Abraham, Globe Staff February 20, 2013 05:36 PM
WEATHER: After a foggy start of the day, it warmed up to 81 degrees when the team was on the field.

MEDICAL REPORT: Clay Buchholz (right hamstring) threw 30 pitches of live batting practice and felt fine. Mike Napoli (hips) won’t play in a game this weekend but feels ready to go. “Just waiting for them to clear me,” he said.

FUNDAMENTALLY SPEAKING: In what was the last major full-squad workout before games start, the pitchers went through some fielding drills before 10 of the starters threw live batting practice. The position players worked on cutoffs and relays before joining the pitchers for BP.

THUMBS UP: Alfredo Aceves threw live batting practice with the expected vigor after his lob-filled outing on Sunday. “He had a very good day today. Focused, good effort level,” manager John Farrell said. … Daniel Nava, who has been focused on learning first base, spent time after the workout with coach Brian Butterfield. Nava has been dogged at trying to learn the intricacies of a new position.

THUMBS DOWN: Felix Doubront, who has been slowed by a sore shoulder, threw in the bullpen for the first time since camp started. He looked tentative and was clearly fighting to get a feel for his pitches. It could be a few weeks before he is ready for a game.

AROUND THE BASES: The Sox will use their regular position players against Northeastern on Thursday then a group of prospects against Boston College in the second game of a doubleheader. Joel Hanrahan starts the first game, Koji Uehara the second. … Ryan Westmoreland, the former top prospect who has undergone two brain surgeries, reported to minor league camp, walking in with the aid of a cane. He remains determined to try and restart his career. … The Sox condensed their activities this season, using the four “cloverleaf” fields at their complex instead of all six. The thought was too much time was wasted going between diamonds.

SCHEDULE: The Sox will play a doubleheader against Northeastern and Boston College starting at 1:35 p.m. Thursday. The games will be seven innings each.

Carp 'can't wait' to join Red Sox

Posted by Peter Abraham, Globe Staff February 20, 2013 04:35 PM

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FORT MYERS, Fla. — Via Twitter (see above), Mike Carp seems excited about joining the Red Sox.

General manager Ben Cherington said Carp is part of a competition for a spot and doesn't necessarily have an edge. Roster management will factor in, but the Sox want the best fit.

"Obviously some guys have different levels of control, on and off the [40-man] roster. But it's a competition and we'll see what happens," he said. "It would be nice to have a combination of a fourth outfielder and a first baseman. We want to make sure we're covered defensively."

Said manager John Farrell: "We’ve been able to add a talented player to camp here, someone that we’ve had conversations about during the course of the offseason and finally he became available."

Carp has hit lefthanders better than righthanders during his career, which doesn't fit the profile for what the Red Sox are looking for in a bench player. But Carp did hit righthanders better in Triple A for two years.

"Personally we’ve seen a very good approach at the plate, a guy that doesn’t seem to be overexposed with one certain type of pitch thrown against him. That’s a first-hand view of him," Farrell said.

"The biggest thing is that when we looked at players to fit this role, it wasn’t a matter of one strength that stood out. The defensive versatility was equally important to the offensive production. Yes, he had has some good success against lefthanded pitching. We’ll get a better read on why that’s been once he reports and we get to know him more as a person and a player.”

Said Cherington: "We'll see. But I wouldn't bank on him being a reverse split guy."

Veteran first baseman Lyle Overbay, who is in camp on a minor league contract, expected some additional competition.

"It’s not that big of a surprise. I just do what I can and see if I fit. That’s all I can do ... I knew coming in that they might make a trade,” he said.

Farrell spoke to Overbay and the other players involved. Overbay is confident he'll get a fair shot.

“I know John has to feel comfortable with four outfielders if he goes with me, that kind of thing. Those are little things when it comes down to it. I have to show I can perform," he said.

Ideally, one player will be able to back up both positions. But the Sox are open to the idea of having a player for each spot.

The candidates break down like this:

First basemen/outfielders: Mike Carp, Mark Hamilton.

Outfielders: Mitch Maier, Ryan Sweeney.

Outfielders learning to play first base: Daniel Nava.

First basemen learning to play outfield: Lyle Overbay.

Nava and Carp are on the 40-man roster. Nava has options, so he could be stashed in Pawtucket as insurance. Sweeney and Overbay have opt-outs on their minor league contracts. Overbay can declare free agency on March 26 if he is not on the 40-man roster, Sweeney on March 28.

Kevin Youkilis turning the page on Boston

Posted by Nick Cafardo, Globe Staff February 20, 2013 12:19 PM

TAMPA — Kevin Youkilis walked out of the bathroom on Wednesday with a freshly shaven head. He looks to be in good shape, but he looks different in pinstripes for sure.

He is a Yankee he said because of the “few teams” who courted him this offseason, he felt “the Yankees had the best chance of winning the World Series.” Since his opening remarks in New York about being a “Red Sox forever” Youkilis has become more Yankee-like.

He was a bit combative during our discussion, unwilling to discuss the April incident with Bobby Valentine that seemed to stain the relationship of player and manager for the remainder of his tenure in Boston.

“I’m not going to talk about Bobby. I’ve moved on, he’s moved on. I’m a New York Yankee in 2013 and that’s what I’m focusing on. I don’t think it does any good to rehash stuff like that. You have your opinion. You’re pretty adamant about what you thought, so go with it.”

Sure sounded like Youkilis hadn’t moved on, but he wasn’t about to engage in any more chit-chat about Valentine.

He said the Red Sox made one call to him this offseason to gauge interest with his agent Joe Bick, but, “that was the only call they made.”

Would he have come back if they wanted him?

“I was a free-agent so I was just going to go through my options,” Youkilis said.

He said the White Sox, the team he was traded to, made him an offer as did the Cleveland Indians. He said the lure of reuniting with Terry Francona and coach Brad Mills was tempting. He said other teams engaged in discussions with him, but he thought the Yankees’ one-year, $12 million deal was the best situation to perhaps reignite his career which had taken a downward path the previous three years.

He had been banged up a lot. It seemed as if his body was breaking down.

“My health was actually all right,” Youkilis said. “Nothing was wrong with me. I had an extended rehab. They took it slow with me and made sure I was 100 percent.”

He went to the White Sox and had a killer first week. He played well at times after that, but this was not the old Youk Red Sox fans had grown to love over the years. This was a different version. A version that made one think his best days were behind him and that the Red Sox made the right choice to opt for Will Middlebrooks as their third baseman of the future.

The Sox brass decided that making Valentine play Adrian Gonzalez in right and Youkilis at first and having to platoon players wasn’t going to work over time. So they traded Youkilis for Zach Stewart and Brent Lillibridge. Neither player is still with the Red Sox.

What happened to Youkilis?

“Mixture of things,” he said. “I battled myself with my stance and my hands and all sorts of different things. I battled myself. Mentally, I had a down year which can lead sometimes to some things on the field. When you battle yourself on the field that’s not good. I was trying to make things different to hit .300 out of .230 and you can’t do it. You have to keep it simple.

“I had my best week when I was traded. I have a little watch (for making the playoffs) back at my house from the Chicago experience which I really enjoyed. But during that time, my wife was pregnant and she was there for a few weeks in Chicago but then she had to go back to California and we were away from each other for two months. Our child was born.

"That was mentally tough on me. It was tough being away from my family and not being there for my wife, but I was also fighting myself in baseball. A lot of those things added up. There’s no excuses other than not performing and doing your job."

So now he feels he has a fresh start. He dresses near another newcomer, Travis Hafner, in the Yankees clubhouse.

He has more new faces and new manager Joe Girardi to deal with. He’s got the third base job because Alex Rodriguez may miss the season with more hip surgery. So this is his chance to be Youk again — the OBP machine he was in Boston.

“It’s not a matter of proving anything to anyone but myself. Helping my team win and winning the games. Playing the game hard. As long as I can help this team win in some way every game, I feel I’m doing my job,” he said.

Deep down he probably thought he’d always be a Red Sox.

“It’s one of those things where you never know what the future holds. I was there long enough to see a lot of guys come and go — Nomar and Pedro — all the greats who were there. You can’t see it [forever], things happen and it’s part of the game,” he said.

He’s more than aware of the new people the team has put in place, replacing Adrian Gonzalez, Carl Crawford, Josh Beckett and Youkilis from the 2012 Red Sox team that started the season.

“Oh yeah. I see guys they picked up. They have a bunch of guys I’ve played against and know. It’s a different team. Good coaching staff. I love Brian Butterfield. I love that Arnie Beyhler got the first base job. I’m not rooting for them during the 19 games they play against us,” Youkilis said.

Red Sox management thought the chemistry of the team was poor. So they changed it.

“Guys got along, but I think it was a different atmosphere. Different things were happening with different managers, coaches and players. The whole thing was different. Tito wasn’t there. Players have to play though no matter what the situation was.”

Why did the poor play continue from September of 2011 to the beginning of 2012?

“We just didn’t play good baseball. You can look at a million different reasons why. You can look at this variable or that variable, but we as players didn’t perform. And that’s the bottom line.”

And now the third baseman for the Yankees, Kevin Youkilis.

“I grew up at third base, but I played more first base than third base. Third is a tough position. First base is easier. Third is one of the toughest positions in the infield. I’ve been working hard on trying to improve my weaknesses. Trying to improve every day. I’m working on foot work or what [coach] Mick Kelleher wants me to work on.”

Yes, he will always love his time in Boston, but “I think we have a great team over here. It’s going to be fun.”

Red Sox acquire Carp from Mariners

Posted by Peter Abraham, Globe Staff February 20, 2013 10:14 AM

FORT MYERS, Fla. — The Red Sox have acquired first baseman and left fielder Mike Carp from the Seattle Mariners for a player to be named later or cash.

Ryan Kalish, who is recovering from shoulder surgery, was placed on the 60-day disabled list to make room for Carp on the 40-man roster.

“It’s definitely a better opportunity for me than staying in Seattle as far as their needs go and my chance to get as many at-bats as possible,” Carp told the Seattle Times. "It’s really exciting. I have a chance to go to a great organization and should really get a chance to play. I’m looking forward to showing them what I can do.”

Carp, 26, hit .213 last season over 59 games. He missed 78 games due to three stints on the disabled list. Carp was out twice with a right shoulder injury and then with a groin strain. He was Seattle's Opening Day left fielder before injuring his shoulder diving for a ball.

Over his final 25 games of the season in the majors, Carp hit .293 (22 of 75) with three doubles, a home run and seven RBI.

In 2011, Carp ranked among American League rookies in batting average (3rd, .276), slugging percentage (2nd, .466) and OPS (2nd, .791) and was named to Baseball America’s All-Rookie Team. He had 17 doubles, one triple, 12 home runs, and 46 RBI in 79 games for the Mariners.

Carp will join a crowded field of candidates for a spot on the Red Sox bench. The team is hopeful of finding a lefthanded hitter who can play first base and left field. Lyle Overbay, Mitch Maier and Mark Hamilton are in camp on minor-league contracts. Daniel Nava, a switch hitter, also is under consideration.

Carp may have to prove he can hit righthanders to earn a spot. For his career, he has actually hit lefties (.300/.341/.462) better than righthanders (.241/.323/.398).

Given the uncertain health of first baseman Mike Napoli, who has a hip condition, the backup first baseman could get significant playing time.

The Sox also need a player who can sub for Jonny Gomes in left field. Gomes is significantly better against lefthanded pitching than he is against righthanders. Carp has been primarily a first baseman in his career, but has played 52 games in left field.

Carp is out of minor league options. According to Red Sox sources, any player sent back to Seattle in the deal would not be a significant prospect.

Hanrahan open to staying with Red Sox

Posted by Peter Abraham, Globe Staff February 20, 2013 09:37 AM

FORT MYERS, Fla. — Joel Hanrahan will be a free agent after the coming season. But if the Red Sox are interested in him beyond this season, Hanrahan is willing to talk.

"It has been great here so far," Hanrahan said this morning. "I didn't know what to expect, being traded over here. But I was a fan of this team before and I've enjoyed everything about it. If they want to talk about something, I would listen."

Hanrahan, 31, was an effective closer for the Pirates from 2011-12. The Sox would likely want to see how he pitches before even considering a deal.

The Red Sox generally avoided long-term deals with relief pitchers. They also have a potential in-house candidates in Daniel Bard and Junichi Tazawa.

But a strong performance by Hanrahan could change that equation.

Progress for Clay Buchholz

Posted by Peter Abraham, Globe Staff February 20, 2013 09:31 AM

FORT MYERS, Fla. — Clay Buchholz is set to throw live batting practice today. Barring any setbacks with his strained right hamstring, he will throw a simulated game of two innings on Saturday.

What looked like a potential problem for the Sox has turned out to be a minor injury so far.

Red Sox making a play for Mike Carp

Posted by Peter Abraham, Globe Staff February 20, 2013 09:16 AM

FORT MYERS, Fla. — Mike Carp has made sense for the Red Sox for a long time now. He could be joining them soon.

The lefthanded hitting first baseman and left fielder was designated for assignment by Seattle on Feb. 12. Nick Cafardo reported on Monday that the Sox were interested and now comes word from Alex Speier of WEEI that the Sox are "hopeful" of making a deal.

The Twins and Astros also have interest. Carp, 26, hit .213/.312/.341 over 59 games last season. But he had a decent 2011 season (.276/.326/.466) season that included 12 home runs.

Carp would represent an upgrade on the bench for the Red Sox, or at least the chance at one. For the moment, they have several lefthanded hitting first basemen/outfielder types in camp including Lyle Overbay, Mark Hamilton and Mitch Maier along with switch hitter Daniel Nava.

Pedro making some memories

Posted by Peter Abraham, Globe Staff February 20, 2013 07:56 AM

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FORT MYERS, Fla. — Forgot to post this great photo from the Globe's Matthew J. Lee on Tuesday. It's Pedro Martinez signing autographs. In the background, the always stoic Jason Varitek is walking to another field with the catchers.

Talk about a shot that captures two men well. Pedro having some fun and Tek taking care of business.

Good morning from Fort Myers

Posted by Peter Abraham, Globe Staff February 20, 2013 07:43 AM

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FORT MYERS, Fla. — It's a foggy morning in Fort Myers but it should burn off soon.

Today will be the final major full-squad workout for the Sox. They have a doubleheader against Northeastern and Boston College on Thursday and then a shorter workout on Friday before their annual charity golf tournament.

The Red Sox are not playing intrasquad games this season, which isn't unusual. Some teams like them and others don't. John Farrell said that the college games serve basically the same purpose.

Check back later for more coverage.

Red Sox coverage in today's Globe

Posted by Peter Abraham, Globe Staff February 20, 2013 07:37 AM

David Ross attracted the Red Sox because of his talent and personality.

Nick Cafardo writes that the Red Sox are a mixed bag.

The notebook has Xander Bogaerts switch positions temporarily.

Ask Nick: What is Pedro's role?

Posted by Chad Finn, Globe Staff February 19, 2013 03:14 PM

Have a
question?

100x150asknickmugshot.jpg Submit your question here to be considered for the next edition of Ask Nick.

FORT MYERS, Fla. – Except for the Alfredo Aceves blip, the Red Sox have had a pretty uneventful spring training so far. There seems to be harmony in the clubhouse with John Farrell at the head of things. The players seem to be happy and good natured. All we have to see now is whether they can play.

Mike Napoli is getting his first formal training at first base, working daily with third base coach Brian Butterfield. Don’t expect the end result to be someone like Adrian Gonzalez and Kevin Youkilis with the glove. The first base defense won’t be that good.

Don’t get too worried about Felix Doubront being a little out of shape. One thing I’ve learned over the years is that you can look good and play bad and look bad and play well. And don’t get too excited about John Lackey being in shape. He has to show he can come back from Tommy John surgery.

I also wonder if they’re missing the boat on Jose Iglesias. Is it better to have an above-average shortstop who can hit like Stephen Drew or a magician at shortstop whose offense is poor but who can save outs, games and a pitching staff in Iglesias?

That’s what spring training is for.

Here’s the mailbag:

I've seen a lot written in the Extra Bases blog lately about the involvement of Pedro Martinez with the pitching staff. I was hoping to get your opinion on this. What do you think the true impact of Pedro's role will be on the actual performance of the pitching staff? Do you think that his involvement will directly lead to more wins for the Red Sox compared to typical coach? Or will the benefit be much less subtle than that?
-- Mike, Melrose

It’ll be more subtle than anything. He’s not a full-time instructor. Whatever he can observe and talk to players about little things will be helpful. He can valuable in other ways such as evaluating amateur talent. I’m thinking he might be more valuable in that area than anything else.

Alfredo Aceves is just to much trouble. He's OK, but not that good, a superstar in his mind only. Trade him or just release him, but get the bad apple out of the way before he is a cancer to this team. Do you think the Sox can get anything for him?
-- Bob, Newfields, New Hampshire

The strange thing for me is they devoted so many resources toward signing good character players and then they leave Aceves in the clubhouse. Aceves's problems just didn’t sneak up on them. There’s a laundry list. The incident the other day as just one of a few.

In five years the Red Sox will still have a great home-grown infield (Will Middlebrooks 1B, Dustin Pedroia 2B, Deven Marrero SS, Xander Bogaerts 3B) but what else will they have without risking a big free-agent acquisition. After the infield talent everything drops off (save for Matt Barnes and Jackie Bradley Jr.). What are they going to look like in five years? Also is Jonathan Crawford the person the Sox should be drafting? He seems to have ace-caliber pitches and could team with Barnes for a great 1-2 punch. I think we to take need a pitcher with our high (7 overall) draft pick. Why aren't they going after Mike Carp more? And finally, who is going to be Johnny Gomes platoon mate?
-- Xander

Lots of points, Xander. I mean what organization knows what they’ll look at in five years? Those plans change constantly. Toronto expected to look a lot different than what they look like entering the season as they had planned. The Red Sox’ plan also changed dramatically after they dealt Adrian Gonzalez, Carl Crawford and Jose Beckett. As for who they’re drafting, Jonathan Crawford would be a nice pick. I’m sure they’ll always choose a pitcher unless there’s a slugging first baseman they like better. On Gomes, they have always intended to platoon him. Nava and Sweeney are the front runners. I suppose Jackie Bradley could thrust himself into the mix if he has a great camp.

Can the Red Sox trade Aceves to Pittsburgh for Garrett Jones or Seattle for Mike Carp or Justin Smoak. Thanks for your time
-- Jeffrey O'Neill, Rochester, New Hampshire

Can’t get Jones or Smoak for him, but Carp for sure.

FULL ENTRY

Bogaerts (temporarily) shifts over to third

Posted by Peter Abraham, Globe Staff February 19, 2013 02:25 PM

FORT MYERS, Fla. — Xander Bogaerts, for the first time that he could remember, played a different position on Tuesday.

The shortstop shifted over to third base and took some groundballs in preparation for the World Baseball Classic. Bogaerts, who is from Aruba, will play for the Netherlands.

“I’m not worried about it. It’s just something new,” Bogaerts said. “It should be a good experience, the whole thing.”

Bogaerts looked comfortable at third base. Other than the ball getting on him faster, many of the angles are the same as shortstop.

“He’s an infielder. You know what? He’s got a lot of natural ability and instincts there,” Sox manager John Farrell said. “We’ll get two days of workdays with him and then get him in a game.”

Bogaerts will start at third base against Boston College on Thursday in the second game of a doubleheader.

The Red Sox have no plans to move the 20-year-old Bogaerts from shortstop. But the Dutch team has Braves shortstop Andrelton Simmons and conferred with the Red Sox about using Bogaerts at third base or as the designated hitter.

“It’s been clearly outlined,” Farrell said.

Bogaerts leaves the Sox next week to join the Dutch team in Arizona for a brief mini-camp before traveling to Taiwan for the first round of the tournament.

Bogaerts is generally regarded as one of the top prospects in baseball.

Red Sox training camp report No. 8

Posted by Peter Abraham, Globe Staff February 19, 2013 02:20 PM

TUESDAY’S WEATHER: It was 75 and sunny after a few chilly days. Everyone survived the cold snap.

MEDICAL REPORT: Felix Doubront (left shoulder) will throw in the bullpen on Wednesday and Clay Buchholz (right hamstring) will throw live batting practice. Mike Napoli (hips) took infield with the regulars for the second straight day.

FUNDAMENTALLY SPEAKING: The pitchers worked on fielding comebackers and throwing to second. They also fielded bunts and threw to third. They had a refresher on signs, too. The position players had sliding drills then worked on positional defensive skills before taking batting practice.

THUMBS UP: Mark Hamilton, a first baseman in camp on a minor league contract, has shown a lot of power from the left side. The 28-year-old came up in the Cardinals organization stuck behind Albert Pujols and Lance Berkman … Lyle Overbay is putting in a lot of extra work to try and make the team as a backup first baseman. He stayed late to work with coach Brian Butterfield … Hard not be impressed with shortstop Stephen Drew and his work in the field. He is fully recovered from that ankle injury.

THUMBS DOWN: It was an ugly day. Dustin Pedroia tripped over third and landed on his face. “I was enjoying the moment,” he said. Daniel Bard and Chris Hernandez flung balls into the outfield that were intended for second base. David Ortiz took infield and let a ball get through his legs.

AROUND THE BASES: Jason Varitek was back in camp and back in uniform, touring the stations with the catchers and helping run a few drills … The Red Sox have no plans to use Jarrod Saltalamacchia at first base … Tim Wakefield will be in Dunedin on Monday to get a first-hand look at knuckleballer Steven Wright … Pedro Martinez watched the bullpen sessions, spent about 45 minutes talking to Ben Cherington then signed autographs for dozens of fans.

SCHEDULE: The Sox will hear a presentation from the Baseball Assistance Team on Wednesday morning before working out. They’re also getting fitted for their uniforms.

Is Dustin Pedroia on Twitter? Depends when you ask

Posted by Peter Abraham, Globe Staff February 19, 2013 09:16 AM

FORT MYERS, Fla. — Friends and teammates have long pestered Dustin Pedroia to get on Twitter. He would seem to be a natural for 140-character remarks.

But Pedroia has been stubbornly resistant to Twitter, saying he doesn't have the time.

Then @15Lasershow showed up last night.

At 8:05 a.m., Pedroia was asked if that was his account.

"Ain't me, man," he said.

Will Middlebrooks, a Twitter maven, said that he created a fake account and was posing as Pedroia. That seemed unlikely. So the news went out (via Twitter, of course) that the account was fake.

About 20 minutes later, Pedroia claimed it really was his account. He said he was trying to look up something Jim Rome said and started an account, not realizing you could look that up via the web.

Middlebrooks and Cody Ross then goaded Pedroia into a few more tweets, or so he said.

Then this exchange happened:

Confused beat writer: "You said it was fake."

Pedroia: "Yeah, I know. But it's me."

Confused beat writer: "Now I look like a dope."

Pedroia: "Now?"

Pedroia now says that he won't be Tweeting. If that really is his account, we shall see. Hopefully he does Tweet, it would probably be fun to follow.

Today's lesson: Drink more Red Bull in the morning. Being alert is helpful when dealing with tricky baseball players.

Pitching plans for the Red Sox

Posted by Peter Abraham, Globe Staff February 19, 2013 09:08 AM

Saturday vs. Rays: John Lackey (two innings or 35 pitches) followed by Drake Britton, Pedro Beato, Anthony Carter, Jose De La Torre, Oscar Villareal, Alex Wilson and Steven Wright.

Sunday at Cardinals: Jon Lester (two innings or 35 pitches) followed by Rubby De La Rosa, Junichi Tazawa, Joel Hanrahan, Andrew Bailey, Andrew Miller and Koji Uehara.

Monday at Blue Jays: Steven Wright followed by Allan Webster, Terry Doyle, Jose De La Torre, Pedro Beato, Chris Carpenter and Anthony Carter.

Monday at Rays: Alfredo Aceves (two innings or 35 pitches followed by Chris Hernandez (two innings or 35 pitches) and Daniel Bard, Clayton Mortensen, Oscar Villareal and Alex Wilson.

If you extrapolate the schedule out to Opening Day, Lester would start against the Yankees. No surprise there.

Good morning from Fort Myers

Posted by Peter Abraham, Globe Staff February 19, 2013 07:48 AM

FORT MYERS, Fla. — Here's what the Red Sox have scheduled for the next few days:

Today: Full-squad workout

Wednesday: Full-squad workout

Thursday: Doubleheader against Northeastern and Boston College, two seven-inning games.

Friday: Abbreviated full-squad workout then annual charity golf tournament.

Saturday: Rays at Red Sox, Grapefruit League opener.

Sunday: Red Sox at Cardinals in Jupiter.

Things are ramping up for the Red Sox, as you can see. The players will be pleased to be done with the workouts and back in the routine of playing games. Check back here later, we'll have a report on what happens today.

Red Sox coverage in today's Globe

Posted by Peter Abraham, Globe Staff February 19, 2013 07:41 AM

Jose Iglesias, with some help from Dustin Pedroia, is trying to move forward. Nick Cafardo has the story.

The notebook has Pedro Martinez working closely with Felix Doubront and Rubby De La Rosa.

Dan Shaughnessy writes that everybody is blaming Bobby Valentine.

Red Sox training camp report No. 7

Posted by Peter Abraham, Globe Staff February 18, 2013 04:52 PM

WEATHER: It was a chilly 43 when the Sox took the field but warmed up to 68 by the time the workout was done.

MEDICAL REPORT: Clay Buchholz (right hamstring) threw 10 pitches to a standing catcher than 35 regular ones. He’s scheduled for live batting practice on Wednesday. … Felix Doubront (left shoulder) is set for his first bullpen session on Wednesday. ... John Farrell reported that Craig Breslow's shoulder is not responding to treatment as quickly as hoped. An MRI showed inflammation.

FUNDAMENTALLY SPEAKING: The Red Sox outfielders practiced in the main stadium, taking fly balls off the faux Green Monster in left field and chasing balls into the triangle in center. The team defensive work was on pickoffs and rundowns. The position players took batting practice, as usual.

THUMBS UP: Outfielder Jeremy Hazelbaker, who is in the first major league camp, looked comfortable in the defensive drills. He covers a lot of ground quickly. … Jackie Bradley showed off a strong arm. … Jose Iglesias drilled two consecutive balls off the fence in left center during batting practice then knocked the next pitch well over the fence. … David Ortiz is adding a little more each day, including defensive work.

THUMBS DOWN: Brock Holt, an infielder who came over in a trade with the Pirates along with Joel Hanrahan, had a tough session of batting practice, mistiming his swing throughout. “Can’t get worse,” he muttered at one point.

AROUND THE BASES: Mike Napoli took 100 groundballs at first base, twice a many as Sunday. Now that he has been cleared, he’ll be working daily with coach Brian Butterfield. … The pitchers were on the field for about 90 minutes. But Alfredo Aceves stayed longer, patrolling center field on Field 3 during batting practice with a bat. When the ball came his way, Aceves would chase it down then slap it back to the infield. … The Sox have hired Brian Abraham as a bullpen catcher and batting practice pitcher. He worked for the Blue Jays last season as a scouting and video coordinator. Abraham is a Holy Cross graduate and Worcester native. … Jarrod Saltalamacchia’s three daughters — Sidney, Hunter and Sloane — were running on the conditioning field after the workout. “Tires them out,” Salty said.

SCHEDULE: The Sox have two more full-squad workout days left. They start stretching at 9:30 a.m. on Tuesday.

Martinez talks it over with Bard

Posted by Peter Abraham, Globe Staff February 18, 2013 04:10 PM

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FORT MYERS, Fla. — Globe photographer Matthew J. Lee captured this image of Pedro Martinez working with Daniel Bard earlier today.

Martinez is here this week. Jason Varitek was here last week and Tim Wakefield will be making an appearance soon, too.

As the Red Sox try to escape the hole they drove into, having three players who were part of so much success should be helpful.

Aceves' agent meets with Cherington

Posted by Nick Cafardo, Globe Staff February 18, 2013 02:20 PM

FORT MYERS, Fla. — John Farrell addressed the media after the Sox workout today. Not as eventful as Sunday, when Alfredo Aceves provided the entertainment by lobbing his batting practice pitches resulting in a talking to by pitching coach Juan Nieves and Farrell.

Aceves' agent, Tom O'Connell, met with Ben Cherington and then with his client. O'Connell was assured that everything has been addressed and that the team wants Aceves to be a big part of the bullpen.

Farrell touched on a few other subjects:

On Clay Buchholz: "Buchholz had a successful bullpen today. Threw all of his pitches. No restrictions. Still not cleared for full baseball activity but his mound session was good. And puts him in line on Wednesday to face live hitters in live batting practice."

On ailing reliever Craig Breslow: "Still getting treatment - probably not responding as fast as he anticipated. The MRI that he underwent didn’t show any signficant changes. Still trying to get that inflammation out of there."

On Pedro Martinez' role in camp: "He’s focussing on Rubby (De La Rosa) and Felix sharing his experiences and much of the mindset a starting pitcher has to go through not only in spring training but also how to manage a full season."

On what Martinez can add: "The biggest thing is the way he has able to adapt throughout his career. Even when the his physical power started to tail off at times ho he made adjustments and learned to pitch, that he’d be able to lend that experience in those conversations."

Farrell said he already had conversations with Martinez on the messages being sent. "That’s taken place on a couple of occasions already. No question we don’t want mixed messages. We don’t want one guy talking over another and creating any mixed messages or confusion. He can relate to every pitcher on some level. It’s as much about dealing with pitching in Boston standpoint of what adjustments he had to go through. He has the scope of a whole major league career. He has to be clear where they are at their stage in their careers and not fast forward things too much."

On how he's approaching Thursday's college games vs. BC and Northeastern wth his hitters: "We’ll get them at least two at-bats and have guys come up from the minor league camp to finish those games."

On having Gary DiSarcina as the Triple-A manager: "We were teammates in the Angels system in the early 90s. To have him back here, I think he thinks about the game with similar views and how to conduct ourselves and how the game should be played. A very experienced guy who has a very good feel for the game. Just the way he interacts with players in a positive way that lends it to middle infielder’s but not limited to that. He’s been a great addition since coming back. Even though his playing career is over his passion for the game hasn’t stopped. A way or a path or a role that he can not only stay involved but impact a lot of players that want the same career he had."

On whether Xander Bogaerts could play more shortstop for the Netherlands in WBC with Texas shortstop Jurickson Profar out of the mix: "Hasn’t changed what we’ve been instructed. He's going to compete for a spot at third base and if not there then he’ll get his at-bats in the DH role. He leaves here on the 23rd and I believe their training in Taiwan. We've got a few days of work to get him exposed to third base."

Opening Day starter? "Not today. We've got a few other things to take care of before we get to that. We’ve got to get through Northeastern and BC first."

Any more injuries? “No. We’re making pretty good strides. The guys that were nicked up early on, everyone’s making solid progress. Napoli today took about 100 ground balls with all the work total after BP today, and that familiarity continues daily with Butter (third base coach Brian Butterfield). With the exception of Breslow’s situation kind of plateauing, we’re getting closer to full strength.

More on Napoli's progression: "As he gains comfort with a number of different movements he’s going to be asked to do we’ve got a menu of things set up already tomorrow that will start to lead in to throws on the front end of double play and more active around the bag, some picks in the dirt. There’s a progression that we’ll go through, but he looks pretty smooth and fluid at first."

The wit and wisdom of Pedro Martinez

Posted by Peter Abraham, Globe Staff February 18, 2013 01:46 PM

FORT MYERS, Fla. — Pedro Martinez was back at Red Sox camp today, in uniform and on the field. He spent a few minutes chatting with Daniel Bard at one point and fans flocked to the scene to watch.

"We were just talking generally about pitching and when I looked up everybody had a camera pointed at us," Bard said. "It was cool to talk to him."

One of Martinez's assignments will be working with Felix Doubront, the young lefthander.

"He’s so young and so full of talent that sometimes you take for granted the opportunity we’re given," Martinez said. "But the same way it comes, the same way it could go. All it takes is a bad injury and you’re out of baseball. and the only thing that prevents injuries is hard work.

"I believe he just doesn’t know. He hasn’t been taught that he’s going to be held accountable for his performance out there and the way he looks and that this is really a serious business. I think it takes a little while to get him mentally prepared to understand the responsibility that he has on top of his shoulders with the whole Boston community and the team.

"I think he’s so young, nowadays these pitchers come up so young, so talented that they don’t realize how much they’re going to be counted on. I think Doubront is a good example. I think he needs to know that he’s really important to this team, to the organization, to the community, to Boston. and that they’re counting on him to be one of the big men. at the same time he’s still a young kid trying to develop and he’s already in the big leagues trying to perform."

"You have to take that into consideration and be patient with him, and at the same time guide him through it. I think I can be a good asset to him to learn about some of the things that he has to do."

Asked if he would be tough on Doubront, Martinez said, "Baseball’s not easy. It wasn’t easy for me. You have to expect it to be tough. One thing I’m going to be with him, just like I always was with you guys, I’m going to be straightforward and I’m going to say it the way it is. Point-blank, the way it is. If he wants to hear it or if he doesn’t, that’s OK.. I just know that I want the best for him and I want the best for the organization and I would love to help. I can’t handle the fact that I have all this knowledge and not give it away. I would love to give it away. and I hope he sees me as a good example of hard work and dedication and will to do things.

"Being out of shape a little bit is normal, probably not as much as before. But being out of shape a little bit in spring training, this is the only place where you can be a little bit out of shape. You’re here to get in shape.So he has plenty of time to get in shape. I think he’s going to do it right. I think if he does put emphasis on the things that he’s going to do, he’s going to do it exactly the way he should. So I wouldn’t panic that much on that. At the same time, you have to hold him accountable to go and do his work every day."

Martinez is Red Sox royalty. He was 117-37 with a 2.52 ERA from 1998-2004 with an ERA+ of 190. Factor in that he was pitching in the AL East at the height of the Steroids Era. It's remarkable.

Pedro talked to the media after the workout. Here are some of the highlights:

Any chance he comes back? "No, no, no. No chance."

What is he hoping to add to the Red Sox? "I hope to add some knowledge. Any help I can give the staff in every aspect. It could be mechanically, it could be on the field, it could be off the field, it could be mentally. I know a lot. I know about all they're going through, struggles and stuff like that. What we go through in the middle of the season, especially after the first half. I can relate to a lot of them."

On putting the Red Sox uniform back on: "You know what? It's weird but feels like the first day to me. I'm so excited to be part of this team and part of the season that we have here. ... It felt kind of funny to be putting on a pair of [baseball] pants again."

On watching the 2012 Red Sox: "There's nothing you can do from in front of your TV. Sometimes, the few games that I stopped to watch at Fenway, it was painful to see that the chemistry wasn't there, that the team wasn't doing what they were supposed to. I was trying to be optimistic about the team staying together all year. That never happened. I know that is one of the biggest reasons the team didn't perform to to the level everybody expected."

Why did he want to the return to the Sox now? "I can't sit still for long. I have to work. I grew up working. Since I was 14 I was dropped off the [Dodgers] Academy by Ramon, which was a really good choice. After that I just went out an play and play and play and play and I was never home. Even though my family needs me and I need my family now, I still need some time to actually go away and have a schedule and have something to do and at the same time, to be where I like to me, which is a baseball diamond.

"I won't comprise things that are important to me in my life and the family life."

On still being competitive: "It's different for me to deal with because I can't pitch. I would love to brush someone back. 'Hey, hey, get off the plate. This is my area.' Now I have to sit and watch and rely on someone to do it so I can get my giddy-up always."

On pitching inside: "You team them when to do it, how to do it and how to do it properly and effectively. I think it's all part of the game. You have to pitch inside and you have to brush them back when you have to. You have to actually make them feel uncomfortable all the time if you want to have success. One of the things that makes you feel uncomfortable is a pitch inside that is close to you at you at 99. Rubby De La Rosa or Doubront or Lester can get anybody uncomfortable. I will preach it and I will say they need too pitch inside if they want to have success."

How many players did Pedro hit on purpose? "Probably 90 percent of them. But it was always retaliation for my teammates."

Even Karim Garcia [in 2003?] "Not on purpose. It didn't even hit him, it hit the bat. Lucky bastard."

Gerald Williams? "Not on purpose. Gerald Williams? No. Karim Garcia? No. some others, I don’t know. there are some that were in retaliation. Some of them to show them that some things I wouldn’t allow them to do. But a lot of them, you play around it. They understand it too. They know that they’re going to get hit for something that happened. If you disrespect a player, if you disrespect me."

On whether a great player can be a great coach: "This may sound weird, but I never considered myself a great player. I made myself along with my teammates a better player than I was. I never thought I was a superstar. I worked like I was a hungry man going for the first game in the big leagues. I have a lot of me with Petite, Maddux, Clemens, Nolan Ryan, Tom Seaver, Bret Saberhagen, believe it or not, someone I really analyzed a lot. Tom Glavine, I have a lot of little things that I learned from everybody and I tried to stack them all together and use them."

Did he ever let go the anger he felt when the Red Sox let him go and sign with the Mets? "I never held it against them because you have to understand, baseball has a dark side and that’s the negotiations."

A few Red Sox injury updates

Posted by Peter Abraham, Globe Staff February 18, 2013 09:10 AM

FORT MYERS, Fla. — Curious about the injured guys? Here is the latest from the clubhouse this morning:

Craig Breslow (left shoulder): He has been playing long toss out to 75 feet and said his shoulder is feeling better. No bullpen session has been scheduled. But Breslow will need only 8-10 appearances this spring to get ready, so there's no timing issue.

Clay Buchholz (right hamstring): He will throw a bullpen session today. Once he passes a few running tests, he'll be fully cleared for everything. The Sox seem to have avoided major trouble with this one.

Felix Doubront (left shoulder): He has been throwing out to 135 feet and is set for a bullpen session this week.

Alex Hassan (stress fracture, left foot): He is out of the walking boot he was in and playing long toss to build up his arm strength. He's still doing treadmill work in a pool to keep pressure off his foot. Hassan is due for an MRI on March 1 and hopes that will clear him for more work.

Mike Napoli (hips): He has been cleared to start fielding drills and took 50 grounders on Sunday. That will continue today. Infield coach Brian Butterfield is in charge of polishing Napoli's skills at first base. It's worth noting he hasn't felt any symptoms.

David Ortiz (Achilles tendon): He is taking batting practice and doing some agility drills. He has not started to run the bases yet and the Sox will take their time with that.

Red Sox pitching plans for Thursday

Posted by Peter Abraham, Globe Staff February 18, 2013 09:00 AM

FORT MYERS, Fla. — The Red Sox have a doubleheader on Thursday against Northeastern and Boston College. The seven-inning games will be at 1:35 p.m.

Here's how the Sox will line up their pitching:

Northeastern: Joel Hanrahan, Daniel Bard, Andrew Miller, Alex Wilson, Clayton Mortensen, Pedro Beato, Anthony Carter.

BC: Koji Uehara, Andrew Bailey, Oscar Villareal, Terry Doyle, Jose De La Torre, Junichi Tazawa, TBA.

The idea is to have each reliever throw one inning each.

Ciriaco ready to compete; Nava adapting to first

Posted by Nick Cafardo, Globe Staff February 18, 2013 08:59 AM

FORT MYERS, Fla. -- Pedro Ciriaco says his sore right shoulder has improved and he should be able to take part in normal activities in spring training.

The Red Sox utilityman hurt his shoulder early in the winter ball season and wasn't able to play as much as he'd hoped. The Red Sox wanted him to get some outfield play in in the hopes of making him their super utility player. While that didn't happen then, John Farrell said he will get Ciriaco some outfield reps.

Ciriaco was one of the few bright spots in Boston's 2012 season. He got to play a lot of third when Will Middlebrooks went down. Really, for the first time in his professional career, Ciriaco has a chance to stick with a major league team all season.

"That part is exciting," Ciriaco said, "but I'm not approaching it any different. I've had to fight to make teams my entire career and I'm going to try my best to make sure I make the team. I know I have to perform well to make it."

The Red Sox would love for Ciriaco to be able to play outfield so they can reduce the number of outfielder's they have to carry

Daniel Nava is playing a lot of first base in drills and feeling as if he has the hang of it. Nava last played first base in junior college.

"The more I work there, the better it feels," he said. "The things I learned about the position way back in college are coming back to me. The throw in the infield is different, but I think I have the right arm action for it. Obviously, it's different with the reactions to the ball when it's hit and some of the footwork, but that's coming."

Alfredo Aceves put his cell phone down in his locker and swiftly moved through the clubhouse this morning. Aceves created the first controversy of camp with his strange BP session Sunday when he spent about 15 throws lobbing the ball to the batters before pitching coach Juan Nieves straightened him out. Aceves then met with manager John Farrell, who further discussed the situation.

One situation the Red Sox baseball operations department is worried about is the fact that Clayton Mortensen is out of options and therefore must either make the major league roster or be subjected to waivers.

Mortensen is one of those pitchers you'd hate to lose. The Sox may be able to make room if they move Aceves or start Junichi Tazawa in Triple-A.

Good morning from Fort Myers

Posted by Peter Abraham, Globe Staff February 18, 2013 07:54 AM

FORT MYERS, Fla. — Turned on the television for a bit last night. Word that it would fall to 35 degrees was treated like a natural disaster. People were advised to keep their pets inside and bundle up.

Somehow we survived to make it to JetBlue Park. Stick around for updates on the blog and an assortment of amateur photos on Twitter. Follow @PeteAbe to check that out.

Red Sox coverage in today's Globe

Posted by Peter Abraham, Globe Staff February 18, 2013 07:40 AM

It was another eventful day for Alfredo Aceves with the Red Sox.

The notebook has the Red Sox getting creative on infield drills.

Dan Shaughnessy says that Jacoby Ellsbury is gone after this season and he's willing to bet on it.

Red Sox get creative in the infield

Posted by Peter Abraham, Globe Staff February 17, 2013 06:40 PM

FORT MYERS, Fla. — It was the kind of thing that made you look twice. But that really was Daniel Bard at first base with Ryan Dempster at second, John Lackey at shortstop and Andrew Miller as the world’s only 6-foot-7 lefthanded third baseman.

The Red Sox were having some fun on Sunday morning, but with a purpose. As part of working on bunt defense, they had the pitchers rotate through the infield positions to get a better sense of what their teammates do.

Pitching coach Juan Nieves suggested the drill. It is something his former team, the Chicago White Sox, do in spring training.

“It serves a couple of purposes. One, it continues to allow the pitchers to go through the bunt responsibilities. But it also gives them insight in what every other player on the field’s responsibilities are,” manager John Farrell said.

“They get a better understanding of not only reading the pace of the bunt, they can understand how much distance has to be traveled in certain situations. From that standpoint, it was helpful.”

The pitchers enjoyed the challenge of scooping up throws and charging the ball. Lackey, who played first base in junior college, was particularly adept at those skills.

“I played shortstop when I was a sophomore in high school,” Miller said. “I kind of knew what to do. But Lack was pretty good.”

Defensive drills can get boring for pitchers. But the Sox made it into a competition, counting who had the fewest mistakes. They were a noisy bunch.

Farrell was enjoying himself watching the action.

“I’ll tell you, when you get into spring training one of the tough things is to get creative,” he said.

What if there’s an emergency some night, might Farrell try one of his pitchers in the infield?

“Let’s hope it doesn’t come to that,” he said.

Alfredo being Alfredo

Posted by Nick Cafardo, Globe Staff February 17, 2013 05:46 PM

FORT MYERS, Fla. – The problem with not moving Alfredo Aceves this offseason is that the more incidents that pile up on his resume the harder it gets to move him and get something decent for a very good pitcher.

The Red Sox brought so many character guys into camp, got rid of Josh Beckett, Adrian Gonzalez and Carl Crawford, but they failed to move out the player who accumulated that the most disciplinary problems on the team last season -- Alfredo Aceves.

Aceves made a mockery of John Farrell’s camp on Sunday with his lobbing of the ball into home plate during batting practice. It was the first “incident” from a player in the Farrell era, and it comes as no surprise that Aceves was the culprit.

Aceves was upset last spring training when the team informed him he would not be a starter. Bobby Valentine immediately identified him as the closer when Andrew Bailey went down with his thumb injury.

And while the good times lasted for a while when Aceves amped up the velocity to 97 mph early in the season, there were blown saves, blown leads, and blow-ups with Valentine that once again painted Aceves as a malcontent.

The team suspended him three days for conduct detrimental to the team when late in the season he was passed up for a closing assignment for Bailey, who had returned to the team. In his disgust Aceves took his jersey off in the bullpen and whipped it against the bullpen wall.

Later, after Aceves had returned from his suspension, he sidestepped Valentine on the mound and walked around him after Valentine came out to yank him after a poor outing. The team elected not to discipline him, much to Valentine’s chagrin.

And now this.

Farrell certainly knew he might have his hands full with Aceves. There were plenty of warning signs that his strange behavior might be an ongoing issue throughout the season and no matter who was in charge.

Aceves was “talked to” by both Farrell and pitching coach Juan Nieves and eventually started throwing at normal speed, the issue was “addressed” according to Farrell.

The issue that gnaws at Aceves has not gone away.

He is still not going to be one of the team’s five starters unless there are injuries.

He’s also not going to be the closer. So he’ll be what he was in his first season in Boston and in his Yankee career – a long or middle man. This just isn’t going to satisfy Aceves, who told me when I wrote that he wanted to be a starter because starters make more money, “I want to be a starter because I have four pitches.”

He does have that.

The situation here is never going to be satisfactory for Aceves and with it will come problems.

While this incident was relatively minor, (“Alfredo being Alfredo” according to one Red Sox front office person) it’s a reminder of last season and the problems which existed.

Is he worth the trouble?

The Red Sox made the decision this offseason that he was. We’ll see if their patience will be rewarded or whether bigger issues develop.

Red Sox training camp report No. 6

Posted by Peter Abraham, Globe Staff February 17, 2013 04:42 PM

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Matthew J. Lee/Globe staff

WEATHER: Not that we’re expecting any sympathy back home, but it was 46 degrees and windy when the workout started. It warmed up a bit, but not much.

MEDICAL REPORT: Clay Buchholz (right hamstring) was back on the field for some half-speed drills. He will throw off the mound on Monday. Felix Doubront (left shoulder) is set to throw early this week, too. Mike Napoli (hips) took 50 grounders at first base.

FUNDAMENTALLY SPEAKING: The Sox had pop-up drills for their infielders and outfielders. The wind made for some long runs and twisting catches. The pitchers were on another field working on bunt defense. They made it into a competition and the intensity was pretty robust for a weekend day in spring training.

THUMBS UP: Lyle Overbay, in camp on a minor league deal, is a solid first baseman. With Napoli off to the side watching, he was with the starters and fit in seamlessly. … Napoli showed all-field power in batting practice, particularly to left. … John Lackey looked sharp during live batting practice, keeping his fastball down. It’s still early, but he has been a revelation so far.

THUMBS DOWN: Pedro Ciriaco, who was playing shortstop, let a couple of pop-ups drop. Another fell between he and third baseman Will Middlebrooks. But the wind and a high sky didn’t make it easy. … David Ortiz had on his uniform, a hooded sweatshirt and a jacket on to combat the chill. This is a guy who has played in Boston for 10 years? Toughen up, Big Papi.

AROUND THE BASES: With school vacation in session, the Sox had their largest crowd since camp opened. The team said over 5,000 fans attended the workout and the open house at JetBlue Park. … The Sox have a doubleheader against Northeastern and BC on Thursday. The plan is to use 14 relievers one inning each. … The Sox had Photo Day before the workout and stayed in their home whites. … Ortiz appropriated one of the equipment carts and drove it from field to field. How does he get one and not the manager? “He’s been here longer,” Farrell said.

SCHEDULE: The Sox have three more workouts before the college doubleheader. They’ll be on the field at 9:30 a.m. Monday morning.

Farrell addresses an issue with Aceves

Posted by Peter Abraham, Globe Staff February 17, 2013 01:32 PM

FORT MYERS, Fla. — Alfredo Aceves took the mound on Field 4 on Sunday afternoon to throw live batting practice to teammate Jarrod Saltalamacchia. The drill is designed to simulate game conditions for the pitcher and hitter.

It should have been a routine few minutes of spring training. But with Aceves, few matters are routine.

The first pitch was lobbed in, chest high and at Little League speed, as was the second.

“I wasn’t really sure what was going on,” said Christian Vazquez, who was catching.

Manager John Farrell, who was watching from the side, asked Aceves if something was wrong physically. Then he sent pitching coach Juan Nieves out to the mound.

In Spanish, Nieves explained to Aceves to pick up the pace during an animated conversation. The next pitch was a legitimate fastball, but Aceves continued to mix actual pitches with soft tosses. Not until the end of his session did Aceves start to really pitch.

Farrell was waiting for the eccentric righthander when he came off the mound. Their conversation didn’t look like a pleasant one.

"He didn't go through the drill as intended and we've addressed it," Farrell said. "His session on the mound didn't go as intended. He's healthy and it has been addressed.”

Aceves told reporters later that it was "another day in spring training" for him.

"It was usual, whatever is usual for me and usual for every single one of us," he said.

Aceves did not share what Farrell said to him

“It’s in the team. Stays in the team,” he said.

For Aceves, what he considers usual could lead to his getting traded or released before Opening Day given his history with the Sox. It appeared he was testing his new manager and Farrell responded quickly.

The Red Sox suspended Aceves for three games last August after he angrily confronted former manager Bobby Valentine following a game when he wasn’t used as the closer.

A few days after he returned to the team, Aceves had a dugout confrontation in Oakland with Dustin Pedroia over repeated throws to second base during a game.

Two weeks after that, Aceves drew notice by walking off the mound in roundabout fashion after being taken out of the game by Valentine.

The Sox did not formally discipline Aceves for that incident but did bury him in the bullpen. He allowed 13 earned runs over 9 2/3 innings in his final five appearances. By the final days of the season, Aceves was barely communicating with anyone.

But the Red Sox brought Aceves back, signing him to a one-year contract worth $2.65 million. He will work as a starter this spring in case a need arises. If that doesn't happen, Aceves would become a long reliever.

Aceves has long said he wants to be a starter. But Farrell seems confident a relief role would be accepted.

"That's not to limit or to outline the exact inning he would pitch. We want to take advantage of his versatility and his resiliency," Farrell said.

“This is seeing him across the field and also getting a chance to talk with him one-on-one, he wants to be in a role of responsibility. He likes to be a guy that's counted on. He's proven it many times over that he's a talented pitcher that can pitch late in a game and can be trusted as a pitcher.”

The question with Aceves has always been whether he can fit into a team concept. Since their first conversation after he was hired as manager, Farrell has made it clear to Aceves that is a requirement.

"We've got to ensure that remains consistent. And part of that would be my consistency with him, whether it's to have a difficult conversation or pat him on the back,” Farrell said.

"There are 25 individuals on this team. There are certain things that are going to be accepted. I think those are normal in any kind of clubhouse or team setting. If someone strays outside of that, it's my job to make it clear on what's expected.”

Farrell is aware of the issues Aceves last season and his history with the Yankees. But the last-place Red Sox were in no position to jettison a pitcher who is undeniably talented.

Farrell approached this season with a clean slate.

"What took place last year I can't speak to first-handed. I can get some background on some certain situations," he said. "I think it's important that not only Alfredo but every other guy in our clubhouse, we build that relationship and earn that trust along the way. That's critical."

What does Farrell think of Aceves' personality?

"Still getting to know it," was the diplomatic response. "Just from across the field he's a heck of a competitor and a very talented pitcher. I'm starting to gain my own personal history with him right now and we had a part of that discussion today."

Good morning from Fort Myers

Posted by Peter Abraham, Globe Staff February 17, 2013 08:25 AM

FORT MYERS, Fla. — With the full understanding this will elicit no sympathy, it's 44 degrees and the wind is howling here. But nonetheless we shall persevere.

It's Photo Day here at JetBlue Park, which is just what it sounds like. The players and coaches have to pose for a bunch of photos. There are crews here from various media outlets, baseball card companies and the like. It's one of the rituals of spring training for every team.

It starts at 7 a.m. with John Farrell and the coaches. Then the young players have their sessions until the final group of veteran guys at 8:30 a.m. The team will be on the field about an hour later.

Many of the Red Sox starters will be throwing live batting practice today. So check back later for a report.

NESN will have a live show starting at 10 a.m. Tom Caron will have on assorted guests, including a few sportswriters.

Baseball coverage in today's Globe

Posted by Peter Abraham, Globe Staff February 17, 2013 08:13 AM

Jonny Gomes believes he is more than a platoon player. But Ryan Sweeney likes his chances of playing a lot.

Nick Cafardo writes that Steven Wright could have an interesting future for the Red Sox.

The notebook has Daniel Bard taking a step forward.

Dan Shaughnessy looks at the road ahead for Mike Napoli. (Subscription required).

In the Sunday Baseball Notes, Nick checks in with the Tampa Bay Rays. (Subscription required).

A step forward for Daniel Bard

Posted by Peter Abraham, Globe Staff February 16, 2013 07:33 PM

FORT MYERS, Fla. — In his previous spring trainings, few would have taken notice Daniel Bard throwing live batting practice for the first time. But on Saturday, when the righthander took the mound on Field 3, a large crowd gathered.

Red Sox manager John Farrell was watching, as were several members of the baseball operations staff, general manager Ben Cherington among them. Television cameras were on hand, too.

Once a premier relief pitcher, Bard became a starter last season and quickly regressed. His velocity fell off sharply and then his control vanished. So alarming were the results that he was sent to Triple A Pawtucket for three months.

Bard is now back in the bullpen and has been throwing well since arriving in camp. On Saturday, with minor leaguers Jeremy Hazelbaker and Jonathan Diaz at the plate, Bard needed a few pitches before he started to consistently throw strikes with some zip to them. It was a productive session, another step.

“Felt good,” Bard said. “Just trying to work the kinks out. Once I settled in, I felt fine. … The focus was just being in the strike zone as much as possible, trying to be down with everything. The second half I was pretty pleased with. I felt like I accomplished most of those goals.”

The Red Sox have told Bard not to make every trip to the mound a trial.

“One of the things we’ve talked to Daniel about is let’s not make this a story every day,” Cherington said. “He’s a healthy pitcher getting ready for the season. Understand what happened last year, that he’s of interest. But there’s a lot of other guys like him just trying to get ready for the season and he’s back in a role that should be comfortable for him. I think he feels like every day feels a little better.

Farrell downplayed the importance of the session.

“Just getting consistent with his timing. He had a good feel for his secondary pitches. Again, it’s just BP, I don’t want to overanalyze it too much.”

Red Sox training camp report No. 5

Posted by Peter Abraham, Globe Staff February 16, 2013 01:58 PM

WEATHER: The sun returned to the Fort. It was 60 degrees when the team hit the field and warmed up a bit from there.

MEDICAL REPORT: Mike Napoli (hips) and David Ortiz (right Achilles tendon) will not be ready for when games start next week. But both remain on track for Opening Day. … GM Ben Cherington said the Sox have talked to LHP Felix Doubront about his conditioning and that he has done everything they’ve asked since camp started.

FUNDAMENTALLY SPEAKING: The Sox did some team defensive work involving bunt plays. For the first day of that, it was crisp. The individual defensive drills were a showcase for Jose Iglesias, whose quick hands had fans murmuring in appreciation.

THUMBS UP: Ortiz is finding his rhythm at the plate. Big Papi launched a series of balls onto the roof of the batting cage beyond right field at Field 3. … Andrew Bailey is healthy and looks it. He showed location and velocity during his session of live batting practice. … Catching prospect Christian Vazquez took charge on the bunt drills like he was a veteran. Pitchers have said they like throwing to him, too.

THUMBS DOWN: Junichi Tazawa accidentally hit Jonny Gomes in the shoulder with a pitch during the live batting practice. Gomes shrugged it off. … Mauro Gomez was struggling a bit during the individual defensive drills, letting a few balls get by him. But he was better in the team segment. The Sox need lefthanded hitters on their bench and the righthanded hitting Gomez will have trouble making the team.

AROUND THE BASES: The Red Sox won’t try outfielder Ryan Sweeney at first base, Cherington said. But infielder Pedro Ciriaco will get some time in the outfield during camp. … After some wavering, minor league righthander Jose De La Torre decided to keep his commitment to play for Puerto Rico in the World Baseball Classic. … Cherington said the intent is to start the season with 12 pitchers. The Sox have carried an extra reliever at times in recent years.

SCHEDULE: The Sox have photo sessions on Sunday morning but will hit the field at the usual time of 9:30 a.m. Many of the starters will pitch live BP.

Kalish seeking a little inspiration

Posted by Peter Abraham, Globe Staff February 16, 2013 09:33 AM

FORT MYERS, Fla. — Ryan Kalish won't be able to catch or throw a baseball for several months as he recovers from shoulder surgery. But the new glove he ordered arrived right on schedule the other day.

Because their gloves are custom made, many players often get something embroidered on the side. Usually it's their names or initials or the name of a family member.

Kalish's glove has the letters NDCQ. It stands for "Not dead, can't quit."

It's an expression coined by Richard "Mack" Machowicz, a former Navy SEAL who now has a career in television and as an author.

"Just something to remind me not to give up," said Kalish, who has had three surgeries in the last 17 months. "I'll look at that glove a lot and think about when I can play again."

The Red Sox have 59 players in camp and Kalish is the only one who can't get on the field to at least some degree. As his teammates head out the doors of the clubhouse every morning, he goes into the training room for rehab.

"Just trying to keep my head up," he said.

Live batting practice on tap for Sox

Posted by Peter Abraham, Globe Staff February 16, 2013 09:19 AM

FORT MYERS, Fla. — The Red Sox will start live batting practice at 10:45 a.m. There will be 15 pitchers throwing.

This exercise is largely for the pitchers to get used to throwing with a hitter in the box. The hitters can swing, but for them this is more about timing the ball than making good contact.

Each pitcher is scheduled to face two hitters. Those pitchers throwing are Joel Hanrahan, Alex Wilson, Anthony Carter, Daniel Bard and Andrew Bailey.

The second group is Koji Uehara, Junichi Tazawa, Clayton Mortensen, Pedro Beato and Chris Carpenter. The third group has Oscar Villareal, Andrew Miller, Terry Doyle, Jose De La Torre and a fifth pitcher to be determined.

All of the position players, including David Ortiz and Mike Napoli, will step in.

NESN has coverage of today's workout starting at 10 a.m. Nick Cafardo will be on the show and I'll join Tom Caron on set at 11:15 a.m.

Good medical news for Mike Napoli

Posted by Peter Abraham, Globe Staff February 16, 2013 09:01 AM

FORT MYERS, Fla. — Mike Napoli said the results of the MRI he had on Thursday were encouraging and will allow him to start doing defensive drills and more running.

Napoli has avascular necrosis in his hips, a condition that restricts the blood flow to his bones. He said that medication has helped to stem the disease.

"I'm going to start doing a lot more things," he said this morning. "To actually take the MRI and get the results, it's good news. ... It stayed the same, it didn't get worse. That's what we wanted."

Napoli will start today taking groundballs at first base this afternoon with coach Brian Butterfield. He'll be on his knees at first and progress from there. He also will increase the running program he is on. That has been on a modified treadmill.

"I'll be ready for Opening Day. We just have to take it slow," Napoli said.

Good morning from Fort Myers

Posted by Peter Abraham, Globe Staff February 16, 2013 07:35 AM

FORT MYERS, Fla. — The ceremonies are over here at Fenway South. The Red Sox have had their big meeting, the owners have done their press conferences and by now you're seen plenty of footage of guys playing catch on television.

It's time for the Sox to go to work.

Starting today, the team has five days before the college doubleheader against Northeastern and BC on Thursday. They will be busy days as John Farrell and his coaches work on team defense, base running and all the other fundamentals.

With a new manager and an entirely new coaching staff, learning will be a two-way street. They need to learn the players and the players need to learn the coaches.

It has only been a few days, but there's not a lot of nonsense in how Farrell and bench coach Torey Lovullo have set up camp. The stations are quick and the players are spread out, so repetitions are frequent.

There's work to do defensively, that's for sure. Mike Napoli, once he is cleared, has to get deep into first base. Shane Victorino will get acclimated to right field. Jonny Gomes needs improvement in left and the same is true of Will Middlebrooks at third base.

Once the games start, the Sox will keep practicing in the morning and the competition for playing time will heat up. The bench and bullpen need to get settled and perhaps a spot in the rotation, too. Felix Doubront can't assume anything.

The pomp and circumstance is over. The Red Sox have work to do.

Red Sox coverage in today's Globe

Posted by Peter Abraham, Globe Staff February 16, 2013 07:26 AM

With John Farrell the Red Sox have set a new tone.

The notebook has Mike Napoli and David Ortiz waiting to get in on the action.

Dan Shaughnessy writes that Carl Crawford and Adrian Gonzalez are still complaining now that they're Dodgers.

With Farrell, the Red Sox setting a new tone

Posted by Peter Abraham, Globe Staff February 15, 2013 07:03 PM

FORT MYERS, Fla. — The Red Sox tried something creative last season when they installed Bobby Valentine as manager. The hope was that he would catch the attention of a talented team that had lost its way.

“It was pretty obvious what they wanted to do,” reliever Andrew Miller said. “There was, on a lot of people’s parts, an effort to change the style. They wanted a different kind of personality.”

In new manager John Farrell, the Red Sox are placing a safer bet. Today, as the team went through its first full-squad workout, the difference in style was hard to miss.

When third base coach Brian Butterfield gathered a group of players around him to explain a base-running drill, Farrell stood five feet away listening. In the bullpen, Farrell only occasionally interjected his opinion to a pitcher. He left it to pitching coach Juan Nieves to say the most.

Unlike last season, you had to look around to find the manager, not listen.

“It’s fair to say it’s a little different, just the tone. If you stand out there, you don’t hear the manager. With Bobby, he had a certain presence and we knew where he was,” Miller said.

Miller was quick to add that the players, not Valentine, bear the build of the responsibility for last season’s failures. But it’s clear the players as a group appreciate Farrell’s methods.

“The way he goes about his business is great. He comes in here with confidence and ready to work,” third baseman Will Middlebrooks said. “But it’s not his way or the highway. It’s what we need to better ourselves as a team.

“He’s knows we’re professionals, he knows we know how to work. If he sees something, he won’t say something in front of the whole group. He’ll take you off to the side. He makes it an individual thing.”

Farrell also appears to have chosen wisely in hiring his coaches. Unlike last season, when Valentine had a fractious group, Farrell has all close confidants who share his vision.

“You seek the best available people and give them the freedom to do their work. To look over one’s shoulder all the time and micromanage, I think that’s a de-motivator and doesn’t allow for the creativity of the individual to come out,” Farrell said. “We’ve got that in place with our staff and the individuals that comprise the staff.”

See the Globe tomorrow for more on Farrell and the influence is having in his return to the Red Sox.

Red Sox training camp report No. 4

Posted by Peter Abraham, Globe Staff February 15, 2013 02:52 PM
WEATHER: It was 64 and overcast with a few drops of rain now and then. But the Red Sox did everything as planned.

MEDICAL REPORT: Clay Buchholz (right hamstring) threw from 120 feet and felt fine. The plan now is for him to return to the mound for a bullpen session on Tuesday. His hope is for that to come as early as Sunday. … Felix Doubront (left shoulder) is scheduled for a bullpen session on Wednesday. He will throw from 135 feet on Saturday. … Craig Breslow (left shoulder) threw from 75 feet. His return to the mound is not yet scheduled.

FUNDAMENTALLY SPEAKING: The position players had a busy day in their first official workout. There was a base running drill followed by throwing, individual defense and batting practice. The pitchers who didn’t have bullpen sessions worked on comebackers, covering first base and home and fielding squeeze bunts.

THUMBS UP: The Red Sox have a coach with a fungo bat slap softer baseballs at the pitchers to work on their fielding reflexes. The balls come in at close to game speed. John Lackey and Ryan Dempster were the two best at it. … David Ortiz did some running and agility drills to test his Achilles tendon and seemed to be moving well. … Batting practice home runs doesn’t necessarily mean a while lot. But Jonny Gomes put several balls into orbit.

THUMBS DOWN: Coaching staff assistant Ino Guerrero was serving as the third base coach during a base running drill. He was waving his arm counter-clockwise as the runners came around. “Wrong way, Ino,” shouted Dustin Pedroia.

AROUND THE BASES: How precise is the schedule? The bullpen sessions were set for 10:02 a.m., 10:14 a.m. and 10:26 a.m. … Jon Lester said that he believes in leadership by example. He is showing in his actions hustling from station to station and going full speed though the drills. … Felix Doubront reported in poor shape and the staff isn’t happy about it. He had conditioning problems in 2011, too.

SCHEDULE: The Sox will be back on the field at 9:30 a.m. on Saturday.

The wonderful world of Alfredo Aceves

Posted by Peter Abraham, Globe Staff February 15, 2013 09:07 AM

FORT MYERS, Fla. — Alfredo Aceves is playing for Mexico in the World Baseball Classic. The team starts play on March 7 in Arizona.

Mexico is in pool play with Italy, Canada and the United States. The top two teams advance to the semifinal round in Miami starting March 12.

"It's an honor to play for the native Mexicans," Aceves said. "Hopefully we can play before 50,000 people, that would be great."

Red Sox manager John Farrell is under the impression that Aceves will be a starter for Mexico. But that is apparently news to Aceves.

"I'm just going to show up and do whatever they want me to do," he said. "I'm not sure what they want."

Aceves said he took a few weeks off after last season then started a program that involved working out five days a week, resting on Saturday and then playing for a local team on Sunday.

Aceves said he played for "The Banditos" and proudly showed off his hat, which featured a masked man on the front.

Did Aceves pitch for the team?

"I pitched the last game," he said. "I usually just played."

He played the field?

"Yeah, sometimes. It was a good league. Some of the guys threw 90."

Aceves was then asked how he felt about the Red Sox.

"Good question," he said. "I'm excited. I think we can have a good team, even after everything that happened last season. I feel good about that."

Has he spoken much to John Farrell about his role?

"We talked. Everything will be very professional. It was good."

Aceves, as usual, looks to be excellent shape. As to what kind of impact he can have on the Red Sox, he's a talented pitcher when he's focused.

Today's schedule for the Red Sox

Posted by Peter Abraham, Globe Staff February 15, 2013 08:44 AM

FORT MYERS, Fla. — Weather permitting, here is what the Red Sox are up to today:

Bullpen sessions: Drake Britton, Chris Hernandez, Alex Wilson, Alfredo Aceves, John Lackey, Franklin Morales, Rubby De La Rosa, Ryan Dempster, Steven Wright and Jon Lester are scheduled to throw.

Non-throwing pitchers: The rest of the pitchers have three sets of defensive drills. They'll work on comebackers with throws to first and second. They'll work on covering first and home and then work on defending bunts, including squeeze plays.

Position players: They have a throwing program followed by base-running drills, individual defensive work and then batting practice. John Farrell has said base running will be a major point of emphasis this spring.

The Sox expect to be on the field at 9:50 and be finished around noon.

Good morning from Fort Myers

Posted by Peter Abraham, Globe Staff February 15, 2013 07:36 AM

FORT MYERS, Fla. — There are a number of spring training days you star on the calendar. There's the day pitchers and catchers report, there's the first Grapefruit League game and then there's the last game before heading off to start the season.

Then there is today, the first full-squad workout.

It's a fun day usually. The clubhouse is full of people and the manager holds a big meeting beforehand, laying out his goals for spring training and the season. The owners are usually around and they might say a few words, too.

The trainer, the public relations guy, the people in community relations, everybody gives their spiel to the players.

Once that is over, the team takes the field and there is action everywhere. Pitchers pitch, catchers catch and hitters hit. Every field has something going on. The veteran players ease their way into it and the prospects hustle like it's Game 7 of the World Series.

David Ortiz has been in big league camps since 1997. For guys like Jackie Bradley, Deven Marrero and Xander Bogaerts, this is their first.

Spring training is fun, although it does get boring near the end. For writers, it's a chance to see different players and work on stories without worrying about examining wins and losses. Plus you sleep in the same bed every night, albeit in a rented condo. Once the season starts you're traveling around and life becomes hectic.

Just know this much about spring training: It's largely a mirage. Players who look great could actually be terrible. Players who look awful can become All-Stars. Teams that seem invincible could start 1-10. The aim is to stay healthy, get physically prepared and perhaps audition some players. Don't get too caught up in the results or the statistics.

A reader emailed Thursday asking how the Red Sox look. They're playing catch and taking batting practice, they look great. But so do 29 other teams at this point.

Hope you're enjoying the coverage so far. If you have any story ideas, please e-mail me. Trust me, I'll be looking for some in a few weeks.

Thanks for reading Extra Bases and the Globe. It's truly appreciated.

Red Sox coverage in today's Globe

Posted by Peter Abraham, Globe Staff February 15, 2013 07:23 AM

Red Sox president Larry Lucchino admits that the sellout streak will soon end. What does that mean for the team?

Nick Cafardo writes that the Red Sox have some options at shortstop.

The notebook has Jacoby Ellsbury discussing his contract status and some former Red Sox with varied opinions on the team.

Larry Lucchino may petulantly refuse to answer his questions, but Dan Shaughnessy loves him anyway. (Subscription only).

Our Red Sox page on Boston.com has everything you need.

Farrell's message to the Red Sox on Friday

Posted by Peter Abraham, Globe Staff February 14, 2013 06:35 PM

FORT MYERS, Fla. — John Farrell will address the Red Sox before Friday's first full-squad workout. His message will focus on expectations.

But not expectations in terms of results. Expectations in terms of how to conduct your business.

“When you communicate what you expect, we can all be held accountable in our own way,” he said. “That’s not to be authoritative or being a dictator, that’s just to say this is what we’re about and what we hope to get accomplished in spring training."

As for his rules, Farrell said he has only two: Be on time and be professional.

“Being professional encompasses a number of things,” Farrell said. “That’s how you play the game, that’s how you treat the people around it and that’s how you treat the guy dressing next to you. This game will always be about the players and yet we have to provide the boundaries in which we’re going to operate.”

Ellsbury on the future: Ask my agent

Posted by Peter Abraham, Globe Staff February 14, 2013 06:17 PM

FORT MYERS, Fla. — Jacoby Ellsbury said today he enjoys playing for the Red Sox. As to whether he will stay with the team, that’s a question he would prefer agent Scott Boras to answer.

Ellsbury will be a free agent after the coming season, having taken three consecutive one-year contracts since gaining arbitration rights.

Can he see himself in Boston next season?

“I think I’m focused on just playing. I’m focused on helping the team win. Any questions about contracts or anything like that, I think it’s best to just call my agent and do it that way,” Ellsbury said.

Ellsbury then deflected a question about whether he wants a long-term offer from the Sox.

“Like I’ve said a lot of times, I love playing here. I love the fans. I appreciate the Red Sox obviously giving me my opportunity early in my career in the draft and selecting me. I love playing here,” he said.

“Any contract stuff like that, just kind of like I said last year, if there is anything that comes on the table, if I’m presented with something, we’ll go from there.”

Boras said in December at the Winter Meetings that Ellsbury would benefit more by going on the open market.

Team president Larry Lucchino was asked about the odds of retaining Ellsbury.

"Would we like to have him here? Yes. Do I think that there will be some negotiations that will take place during the course of the year, perhaps sooner? Possibly. We wouldn't rule anything out,” he said.

“We'd really very much like to have him here, like to have him be part of a core Red Sox team.”

Red Sox training camp report No. 3

Posted by Peter Abraham, Globe Staff February 14, 2013 05:35 PM
THURSDAY’S WEATHER: It was 70 degrees with periods of rain, at times heavy.

MEDICAL REPORT: Clay Buchholz (right hamstring) threw from halfway up the mound to a standing catcher. He may be only a few days away from a normal bullpen session. Mike Napoli had an MRI on his hips. The results will determine when he starts doing more than hitting and throwing.

FUNDAMENTALLY SPEAKING: The Sox had a full slate of activities canceled by rain. The 14 pitchers scheduled to throw in the bullpen did their work under cover in the batting cages instead. The hitters then took batting practice.

THUMBS UP: Shane Victorino was the only player who did some work on the field, playing catch for several minutes between showers to loosen up a little. He flew into Fort Myers on Wednesday night.

THUMBS DOWN: The weather. Teams need rainouts after a few weeks of spring training, not the third day.

AROUND THE BASES: Joel Hanrahan said he enjoyed throwing in the cages because the pop of his fastball in the catcher’s glove echoed louder. “It sounded like I was throwing 105,” he said. … Farrell said he likes the idea of batting David Ortiz third against righthanders and Dustin Pedroia in that spot against lefthanders. When Pedroia bats third, Victorino would bat second.

SCHEDULE: Today is the first full-squad workout. There’s a meeting at 8:30 a.m. and the team is scheduled be on the field to stretch an hour later. Rain is possible again.

Kevin Youkilis: 'I'll always be a Red Sock'

Posted by Peter Abraham, Globe Staff February 14, 2013 04:06 PM

FORT MYERS, Fla. — Kevin Youkilis arrived at Yankees camp today, direct from California. He is clean-shaven, adhering to team rules. He also has a new batting stance after working with hitting coach Kevin Long over the winter.

Youkilis may be a Yankee. But his heart remains in Boston.

"I'll always be a Red Sock," Youkilis said. "To negate all the years I played for the Boston Red Sox, and all the tradition, you look at all the stuff I have piled up at my house and to say I'd just throw it out the window, it's not true."

He also answered other Boston-centric questions:

On David Ortiz saying Bobby Valentine was the problem last season: "That’s his opinion. For me, as an individual, I know the problems I had playing baseball aren’t on one person other than myself. When you don’t individually do well, it’s on yourself. There can be variables here and there. You can make excuses, but you've got to hold yourself accountable.

"And that team last year, you've got to hold all yourselves accountable as a team. There’s not one player, there’s not one coach, there’s not one manager that’s going to make or break a season. When Tito got fired, the same thing. It wasn’t Tito’s fault, it’s the players’ fault. Tito can’t throw, Tito can’t hit. Collectively, we just didn’t do it as a bunch. Unfortunately, that’s how it goes."

On his personal issues with Valentine: "That was already addressed. I took care of that, and feeling and all that, it is what it is. I talked to him directly and that will always stay behind closed doors. I said my two cents of what I felt, and he said his two cents and you just go on with your life, you can’t sit back and be angry about it, you just got to move on. I’m in a different place this year with the New York Yankees, and Bobby’s doing his thing, and you just got to move on in life. You can’t be sour grapes all the time. Life’s too short."

The Yankees make their first visit to Fenway Park on July 19.

Gonzalez, Crawford criticize Red Sox

Posted by Peter Abraham, Globe Staff February 14, 2013 02:31 PM

FORT MYERS, Fla. — Out in Arizona at Dodgers camp, former Red Sox players Adrian Gonzalez and Carl Crawford are speaking out against the Red Sox.

Here's what Adrian Gonzalez told USA Today:

"Chemistry is something you need to have among the players but also with the owners, the coaches and the front office. It needs to be complete. In Boston we had great chemistry among the players – we loved each other, we were together – but that was only among the players. It wasn't there with the rest. That's why the team didn't win. It needs to be an organization-wide thing.''

Red Sox president Larry Lucchino was asked about it.

"It's hard for me to interpret what he was saying. I haven't seen it before. It sounded pretty general. He could have been referring to, I suppose, coaches, managers, front office people. I'm not going to comment on all the possibilities. I really don't know. I have fond feelings for [Gonzalez] and I wish him great good luck where he is. I don't see it as an overall accusation against the franchise."

Carl Crawford also spoke about his time in Boston.

"I knew with the struggles I was having, it would never get better for me. I just didn't see a light at the end of the tunnel. It puts you in kind of a depression stage. You just don't see a way out," he told the Los Angeles Times.

"Toughest two years of my career, by far. From the outside, you watch guys playing over there and you think you can go and play. But you realize, once you get there, it's a little tougher than you expected."

"It was just everything. Me not playing well. Me being in an unfamiliar area in an environment that was toxic. Just all those things combined. You start to say, 'Is this ever going to end?' "

Asked if he regretted signing with the Red Sox, Crawford replied, "A lot of times I did. You hear a lot of talk about how I just wanted money. At some point, you just wondered if you made the right decision."

Crawford hit .260 with a .292 on-base percentage in two seasons with the Red Sox. He hit 14 home runs in 623 at-bats and stole 23 bases.

Lucchino: Fenway sellout streak could end in April

Posted by Peter Abraham, Globe Staff February 14, 2013 02:04 PM

FORT MYERS, Fla. — Red Sox chief executive officer Larry Lucchino predicted today that the team's sellout streak could end sometime in April, perhaps as early as the second game.

"It's going to rest in peace, I think, sometime in April I suspect," Lucchino said. "That's not a terrible thing. It's an extraordinary accomplishment."

The second home game is April 10 against Baltimore. That could be when the streak ends.

"Historically for all of baseball, the second game of the season has been the toughest game to sell tickets for," Lucchino said. "It could be as early as that. I have no doubt that Opening Day will be a sellout. Of course April weather doesn't help a lot. We have a lot of home games in April. It could be as early as the second [game] but I suspect it will be some time in the first or second week."

The Red Sox have sold out a Major League Baseball record 793 consecutive games dating back to Feb. 15, 2003. The team has a loose definition of a sellout, basing it on tickets distributed.

Lucchino claimed the Red Sox have sold 99.6 percent of the available seating capacity over the last 11 years.

"Our comp tickets are among the lowest in all of baseball," he said. "We talk about having more people in the ballpark than there are seats for them. That's been the operating definition."

Could empty seats affect the team's bottom line?

"Ticket sales are more challenging this year then they've have been since the very first year that we were here, maybe even including the first year," Lucchino said. "There may be a reduction in ticket revenue. I don't think that's going to affect us if we have a winning team, if we have the kind of successful team we think we'll have. I think people will jump back into the ballpark, albeit at a later time in the season than they have historically.

"I don't want to predict too much of a downturn yet. But I do know that it is a possibility. But I still think we will generate [revenue] from a lot of other sources, some of which are occasionally decried by members of the media, which will still be substantial."

Lucchino said he has heard negative comments from fans based on the team finishing in last place in 2012.

"We sense the frustration fans feel," he said. "But we're also getting some positive comments from people, particularly about John Farrell and the new coaching staff. Particularly from people who are long-time loyalists. There may have been some less avid fans who have fallen off the bandwagon in recent years. To them we have something to prove. Maybe to everybody we have something to prove."

Lucchino said the Red Sox won't lack for fans at Fenway.

"We're still going to fill this ballpark with lots of people a lot of times," he said. "Having set the record will always be a source of pride for the franchise and our fans."

The Red Sox have a payroll of close to $180 million. But Lucchino took delight in portraying the team as underdogs.

"We're going to be a competitive team. If I had to name the favorite, I would put the target on my friend Paul Beeston at Toronto and let him see how he likes being the preseason favorite. I reminded him recently there are no trophies for winning the offseason," he said.

"If he want to go into the season feeling that he is the prohibitive favorite, that's great. We're just scrappy underdogs trying to win for our franchise and our fans."

Lucchino said he agreed with the comments of owner John Henry on Monday that the team had gotten away from its "core philsophy" of building the roster. The Red Sox, he said, do not grind out at-bats as well as they once did.

"We have fallen considerably," he said. "We used to have incentives in contracts related to on-base percentage to show you how important we thought that it was. I think there was a kind of deviation from that somewhere along the way."

The Red Sox have their first full-squad workout on Friday. That is traditionally when Henry, team chairman Tom Werner and Lucchino all address the team. But that could change this season.

Lucchino said he and the owners are more likely to speak to players on an individual basis and may only introduce themselves before the meeting and speak briefly.

"The message to be sent and stated tomorrow will be done by our new manager, John Farrell," Lucchino said. "It's the first meeting of all 59 players who are here in camp and it's his meeting."

Lucchino, who pushed for the hiring of Bobby Valentine before the 2012 season, lauded Farrell.

"I like a lot of about him," Lucchino said. "He commands respect. He also has a skill set that's particularly important to the success of this team, his pitching expertise. He is an honest guy. I think he'll be an outstanding Red Sox manager."

Lucchino claimed he has not read the new book by former Red Sox manager Terry Francona and Globe columnist Dan Shaughnessy. "Francona, the Red Sox Years" has several unflattering references to Lucchino and his style of management.

"I haven't [read the book]. I know some people find that hard to believe. But it seems logical to me. I want to look forward, not back," he said. "I'm afraid if I do read it, I will find in it inaccuracies and things that will cause me to react to it in a way that would divert me and cause some kind of sideshow instead of dealing with the here and now. It seems perfectly logical to me not to read it. I don't feel any great compulsion to. I may get around to it sooner or later."

However Lucchino gave a terse "no comment" to two questions posed by Shaughnessy during his 31-minute press conference. He then answered the exact same questions posed by other reporters/

Lucchino also touched on some other topics:

On team revenues: "We are concerned about generating revenue, make no mistake about that. We're not embarrassed or apologetic about that. But the revenue goes into the ball club. It goes into the payroll. It goes into the amateur signing bonuses. It goes into the machinery of the club. It doesn't go out into private bank accounts. We're not the largest market in baseball. As far as a television market, we're 22nd in all of baseball as far as TV homes. But we overproduce and generate revenue beyond that television market size and we use that money to go into the franchise."

(Boston is the seventh largest television market in the county according to the most recent Nielsen Designated Market Area rankings. Lucchino is referring to the size of individual teams markets as defined by MLB. That takes population over a larger geographical area into account.)

On having three managers in three seasons: "We like stability. We've had a lot of stability in the time that we've been here. You can compare it to some of the least stable and more volatile franchises in recent years and we're nowhere near that degree of instability."

On retaining Jacoby Ellsbury: "Would we like to have him here? Yes. Do I think that there will be some negotiations that will take place during the course of the year, perhaps sooner? Possibly. We wouldn't rule anything out. We'd really very much like to have him here, like to have him be part of a core Red Sox team. Like Ben Cherington says, he's part of the next great Red Sox team. But I don't think it's appropriate to have too much of a discussion about the negotiation process now."

On the clubhouse chemistry: "I think there's going to be a new, more positive energy in the clubhouse. There are guys who have a reputation for being great teammates and I think they're going to help change the culture. The manager and the new coaching staff, they have come together beautifully from what I've heard."

On whether the Red Sox will pursue high-end free agents: "We certainly can shop there. We'll always shop there. The question is how active will we be in that market. We'll look for deals that make sense. We'll have exceptions, too. One of the lessons we learned in recent years is that we'd rather pay a little more on a shorter-term deal than have a multi-year contract that goes out five, six, seven, eight years. We appreciate the flexibility. We think it's better for the inevitable kind of reloading that a club has to do periodically."

On regrets from the offseason: "I was always a big Cody Ross fan. To be honest, at one point we were joking at a meeting in baseball [operations] that I should wear a Cody Ross jersey to the next meeting because I was so eager to see us reach out to him. I do have a great fondness for him and respect for him. I wish him great success and I'm surprised that an old general manager that I worked with, Kevin Towers, plucked him and he's playing out there [for Arizona]. But we've done well. That's not to say I'm not excited about Jonny Gomes and the other outfield prospects that we have here. I think our fans are going to fall in love with Jonny Gomes."

A different Drew joins the Red Sox

Posted by Peter Abraham, Globe Staff February 14, 2013 09:51 AM

021413drew607.jpg

New Red Sox shortstop Stephen Drew may wear No. 7, but he's not much like his brother. (Matthew J. Lee / Globe Staff)

FORT MYERS, Fla. — J.D. Drew was an acquired taste for Red Sox fans and some never acquired it.

Drew was an even-tempered right fielder from 2007-11. All he did was get on base a ton and play excellent defense. Statistically, he compared favorably to others players at his position.

But because Drew had a big contract and struggled with injuries, a segment of fans didn't much like him. A smaller subset of knuckleheads resented the fact that he never threw his bat or cursed at the umpire.

Stephen Drew, the new Red Sox shortstop, isn't his brother. He doesn't really look much like him or even talk like him. His personality is different, too. But some fans will be predisposed not to like him anyway.

That's too bad. If first impressions mean anything, he seems like somebody eager to play for the Sox.

"It's exciting," Drew said when he arrived in camp this morning. "You guys know J.D. and stuff like that. But it's going to be a fun year for me getting to play with these guys. I played against them in the interleague three times in my career. I had fun there, I like Fenway. It's a historic park and the fans get into it. At least I'll be on the home side this time."

Drew has No. 7, the number his brother wore.

"For me, it's an honor to wear the jersey for my older brother. I looked up to him," Drew said.

Drew wore No. 7 in high school and kidded his brother last week that he actually had the number first.

As to their personalities, Drew said he was a little different.

"We still are both kind of low-key guys. That's what you'll see. But I probably get a little more feisty here and there every once in a while," Drew said.

Drew is likely a one-year player for the Red Sox. He is trying to rebuild his value after suffering a severely broken ankle in 2011. That limited him to 86 games in 2011 and 79 last season. He said he is fine now and had a normal offseason.

The Red Sox have Xander Bogaerts and Jose Iglesias in their system, their turn is coming. But for now, Drew could be a good fit. He was a productive player from 2008-11, hitting .273/.333/.454. Drew plays solid defense, too.

J.D. Drew retired after the 2011 season and hasn't seen around the team since. He is busy being a father and husband in Georgia.

“His body was not doing what it wanted to. He was frustrated. He had a good career, though," Stephen Drew said.

Shane Victorino comes flyin' in

Posted by Peter Abraham, Globe Staff February 14, 2013 09:23 AM

FORT MYERS, Fla. — Shane Victorino spoke to reporters for 13 minutes this morning in the clubhouse. There were very few pauses.

Victorino is a high-energy player on the field and has personality that reflects that. The 32-year-old arrived in camp today and seemed genuinely thrilled to be joining the Red Sox.

"It's a storied franchise. To be part of his organization, the last couple of years has been pretty rough," Victorino said. "But at the end of the day, it's about 2013. It's about putting those years behind us as an organization and moving forward. I'm excited to be part of this team."

Victorino, who is known as the Flyin' Hawaiian, isn't setting out to change the tenor in the clubhouse.

"Winning heals all," he said. "When you don't win, people are always going to wonder and find answers why. People are going to blame the clubhouse, the atmosphere. I wasn't here to be a part of that. The backbone of this team is still there."

Victorino will be in camp for about two weeks before joining Team USA for the World Baseball Classic. He plans to work as much as possible with center fielder Jacoby Ellsbury before he leaves and when he returns. Victorino has been a center fielder for much of his career and is making the change to right field.

"Hopefully he stays healthy, I think that's the most important part. Jacoby needs to stay healthy," Victorino said. "He's had some unfortunate injuries but when he's healthy, to me, I think he's one of the best center fielders in the game. It's going to be fun playing alongside him."

Victorino played for Team USA in 2009 and enjoyed the experience. But he said it was a tough decision this year given that he was joining a new team.

"Of course it was. You don't want to get pulled away from the organization in regards from that," Victorino said. "That USA team that I get to play on and represent our country was the deciding factor for me."

Victorino will be the fourth outfielder for Team USA. But manger Joe Torre has told Victorino he'll get enough at-bats to prepare for the season. He also assumes Torre knows he needs to play right field, too.

"I'm not worried about it," he said.

Victorino was traded from the Phillies to the Dodgers last July 31. When the Dodgers obtained Carl Crawford from the Red Sox on Aug. 25, Victorino knew his days in Los Angeles were numbered.

With Crawford, Matt Kemp and Andre Ethier in the outfield, there was no room for Victorino.

The Red Sox aggressively pursued him as a free agent. Victorino's three-year, $39 million was one of the surprises of the offseason.

"I never thought Boston would be the team I would end up at," Victorino said. "I knew that an opening would open here. Given the opportunity to come here, I was pretty excited."

Good morning from Fort Myers

Posted by Peter Abraham, Globe Staff February 14, 2013 07:45 AM

FORT MYERS, Fla. — It's raining at the Fort today and the Red Sox will probably be working out inside.

The position players will take their physicals today and the first full-squad workout is on Friday.

Meanwhile, in honor of Valentine's Day, here are a few players the Red Sox could pick up for the day:

Ellis Valentine
Candy Maldonado
Vance Lovelace
Frank "Sweet Music" Viola

Red Sox coverage in today's Globe

Posted by Peter Abraham, Globe Staff February 14, 2013 07:35 AM

Will Middlebrooks enters his second season looking to make some adjustments to his approach at the plate.

Dan Shaughnessy writes that Jon Lester wants to change his attitude. (Subscription only).

The notebook has Ryan Kalish trying to stay optimistic. It was a good day for Clay Buchholz, too.

Our Red Sox page on Boston.com has everything you need to know.

For Jon Lester, quite a catch

Posted by Peter Abraham, Globe Staff February 13, 2013 07:25 PM

lester fish .jpg

FORT MYERS, Fla. — Via the Red Sox Twitter account, here's a photo of Jon Lester and the big fish he caught Wednesday.

Lester did a long, friendly interview with the media and then caught a nice fish. There's a lesson for all you young players out there.

Long ago, I worked for a small paper that regularly published photographs of people with the fish they caught. We ran them every Sunday, and the part-timers were charged with coming up with captions.

It wasn't easy, as there are so many ways to describe a person holding a dead fish.

One day a new hire asked the sports editor what he was supposed to do. The editor, who was busy, said, "Just write that some guy caught a big-ass fish."

Later that day, when the page came back to proofread, there was the caption, "Guy catches big-ass fish."

Fortunately for us, it didn't make the paper.

Enter to win a set of Topps baseball cards

Posted by Matt Pepin, Boston.com Staff February 13, 2013 04:54 PM

The Topps Baseball Card company is offering Boston.com readers the chance to win a set of its new 2013 Topps Baseball Series 1 cards and a Jim Rice Silver Slugger card.

The entry deadline is Feb. 20 at noon. Winner will be notified after that.
Go here to enter. Contest rules are here.

Red Sox training camp report No. 2

Posted by Peter Abraham, Globe Staff February 13, 2013 04:12 PM
Wednesday, Feb. 13

WEATHER: 82 and sunny, with a 13-m.p.h. wind from the southwest

MEDICAL REPORT: Clay Buchholz (right hamstring) played catch and reported improvement. Mike Napoli (hips) is limited to playing catch and batting practice. Felix Doubront (left shoulder) threw from 75 feet.

FUNDAMENTALLY SPEAKING: The pitchers who later threw in the bullpen started their day with 3-1 plays, which involve covering first when the first baseman fields a grounder. Those who didn't throw went through a series of three fielding drills. The position players took batting practice and there was a brief round of infield

THUMBS UP: For a guy who has never played an inning at first base professionally, Daniel Nava looks pretty comfortable there. He worked with the pitchers on the 3-1 plays. ... Jon Lester had a strong bullpen session throwing to David Ross. He threw only fastballs and changeups but they were accurate. "I see why he's so good," Ross said. "Guy has a world of talent."

THUMBS DOWN: David Ortiz had a bunch of popups and grounders in his batting practice. When he finally belted one out (to right field, no less), he cursed and shook his head. Ortiz didn't start hitting until last week because of his Achilles' injury, and it shows.

AROUND THE BASES: Third base coach Brian Butterfield stood about 40 feet from Jose Iglesias and tried to drive grounders by him, first to his glove side and then to his backhand. Iglesias let a few get by, but his quick hands earned a hug from Butterfield. "You're good," he said ... Pedro Ciriaco, who is being developed as a utility infielder, took grounders at second and third ... John Henry was spotted signing autographs near Field 1.

SCHEDULE: Position players get their physicals on Thursday. The pitchers and catchers should be on the field around 9:30 a.m. There is rain in the forecast.

Clay Buchholz responds well to treatment for hamstring

Posted by Peter Abraham, Globe Staff February 13, 2013 02:11 PM

FORT MYERS, Fla. — Clay Buchholz, who strained his right hamstring on Tuesday, played catch Wednesday afternoon and said he felt much better.

"It was a little sore when I woke up. But once I came in and the trainers started getting into it, it improved a lot," Buchholz said. "They said that the inflamed area is about 50 percent smaller than it was yesterday."

Manager John Farrell concurred.

"Good day for Clay Buchholz," Farrell said. "He's responded favorably to treatment. Range of motion is good; strength is good. He still has some sensation in a smaller spot, more localized than [Tuesday] ... An encouraging day for him."

Also:

• Mike Napoli will have a follow-up MRI on his hips on Thursday as part of his physical. If he is cleared, he can begin to start working out in the field. For now, he has been limited to playing catch and taking batting practice.

The process could take a few days. Red Sox doctors will evaluate the test, as will the specialist Napoli is seeing.

"Once it’s reviewed, then there will be a work plan laid out, not only volume, but the type of work that will follow from that point," Farrell said.

• Jacoby Ellsbury arrived in Fort Myers on Monday. But he has yet to work out on the field. According to Farrell, Ellsbury is working on the right shoulder he injured last April 13.

"He'll be on the field tomorrow," Farrell said. "He's come in and gotten some work done on the continued strengthening of his shoulder. That's part of the general maintenance."

Ellsbury has not made himself available to the media, unlike all of the other players in camp.

• Felix Doubront played catch from 75 feet and will push out to 90 and 120 feet on Thursday. The Sox are building him up slowly because of a sore left shoulder.

• The Sox had Daniel Nava and Mitch Maier, who are outfielders, taking grounders at first base. That will continue, Farrell said. The Sox are looking for a lefthanded hitter off their bench, ideally one that can play left field and first base.

Lyle Overbay, a first baseman might start working in the outfield.

• According to a major league source, the Sox have internally discussed Mike Carp, who was designated for assignment by the Mariners on Tuesday. Carp is a lefthanded-hitting first baseman with 52 games of experience in left field.

• Bob Tewksbury, the team's sports psychology coach, will have an expanded role this season, according to Farrell. There have been "mental skills classes" each day for the pitchers. Those meetings, Farrell said, are position-specific.

Tewksbury, Farrell said, will be around the team more than previous seasons and take some road trips. The plan is for 85 days, Farrell said.

"When we have a resource such as Tewks, to not use it, to not incorporate it more, we're not giving the players everything that they can take advantage of," Farrell said.

Tewksbury pitched in the majors for 13 years. He then earned a Master’s degree in sports psychology and counseling from Boston University.

• Farrell was asked about John Lackey previously looking "lumpy" and how he's lost weight. Lackey has lost 17 pounds, although it looks like more.

"He smoothed the lumps out," Farrell said.

Red Sox probably won't bite on Kyle Lohse

Posted by Nick Cafardo, Globe Staff February 13, 2013 01:46 PM

FORT MYERS, Fla. -- The remaining top free-agent pitcher, Kyle Lohse, is there for the taking, but for now the Red Sox don't feel a hamstring injury to Clay Buchholz and some soreness in Felix Doubront's shoulder are problematic enough to take the leap for Lohse, according to team source.

Lohse won 16 games for the Cardinals last season but has come up empty to this point. Signing him requires draft pick compensation and a multi-year commitment. But the feeling is Lohse will sign somewhere soon, whether it's Cleveland or even the Cardinals, who have lost Chris Carpenter for the season.

Buchholz hurt his hamstring while reaching for ball during pitcher fielding practice. Doubront has been a little sore, but it's early and the team feels both pitchers have plenty of time to recuperate.

Jon Lester hits the right tone

Posted by Peter Abraham, Globe Staff February 13, 2013 01:40 PM

FORT MYERS, Fla. — Jon Lester further bruised his reputation last week with some petulant comments to WEEI.com. For skeptical fans, it was not what they wanted to hear.

But when he met with the media Wednesday, Lester did more than damage control. He showed himself as somebody who really does recognize what has gone wrong since the final month of the 2011 season.

In response to a question from the Globe's Dan Shaughnessy, Lester said he does love baseball and loves playing in Boston, even in the bad times.

"Sometimes I kind of want to strangle myself," Lester said. "It can be intimidating, especially when you have seasons like last year. It's tough. You know you suck and your teammates are trying to pick you up and everybody else knows you suck. You're just trying to kind of break even on the whole deal. It's tough. But at the same time, it's the greatest place to play."

Lester also acknowledged that he needs to be more of a leader with the departure of Josh Beckett. Part of that, he said, is improving his body language on the mound and not complaining to umpires.

Manager John Farrell has spoken to Lester about those subjects.

"You want to express some things, you want to give some honest feedback. This is something that in the time here prior, it was a topic of conversation at times when it needed to be," Farrell said. "You don't want to take a person's personality completely away from him. But at the same time, I think there are limits to not showing composure or not being composed. When that kind of is exceeded, we all need to be pulled back every now and then.

"I think listening to Jon and what he had to say, he spoke very candidly about that. I think he's in the right place and thinking about it the right way right now."

For Kalish, it's starting over again

Posted by Peter Abraham, Globe Staff February 13, 2013 09:01 AM

FORT MYERS, Fla. — If Ryan Kalish were healthy and ready to play, he could have earned 350 at-bats for the Red Sox this season as the fourth outfielder. The Red Sox will spend much of camp hoping a lefthanded hitting fourth outfielder emerges.

Instead Kalish needed 30 seconds to get his t-shirt on this morning, the painful remnants of shoulder surgery on Jan. 29 in Los Angeles. He had two anchors placed his right shoulder to repair a labrum tear.

It will be 4-6 months before Kalish is ready to play in a game again. If he's lucky, he'll play in a handful of minor league games in August. The 24-year-old had similar surgery on his left shoulder in November of 2011 and surgery on his neck a few months before that.

This all goes back to a diving catch Kalish made for Pawtucket in April of 2011.

"I had a feeling something was wrong with my [right] shoulder last year but we had an MRI after the season and there was nothing there that required surgery," Kalish said. "They said maybe I would eventually need it. But we thought with the offseason I would be OK."

Instead Kalish felt what he described as a "stabbing pain" when he started hitting. That led to another look at his shoulder and then surgery.

"I can't lie to you, it's depressing. I've been hiding out," Kalish said. "You think about a lot of things, but I'm still young and I can come back from this."

See the Globe on Thursday for more from Kalish.

Also:

• Pedro Ciriaco, Stephen Drew, Jonny Gomes, Mauro Gomez, and Ryan Kalish all arrived this morning and settled into their lockers. That's 58 of the 59 players on the roster. Position players have their physicals Thursday and Shane Victorino is on his way.

• Steven Wright, the knuckleballer, has never actually met Tim Wakefield. But the two have exchanged text messages and Wakefield will be here before the end of the month.

"He wants to watch me throw first and then we'll talk about what he sees and what advice he might have," Wright said. "I'm excited about it. He obviously had a lot of success with the pitch and success in Boston."

• Felix Doubront said his shoulder felt a little discomfort when he started long-tossing and that's why the Red Sox have slowed him down. "It's nothing bad. They're just being careful," he said.

• The Mariners have DFA'd Mike Carp, a lefthanded hitting first baseman and outfielder. He is the kind of player the Red Sox could have interest in.

Good morning from Fort Myers

Posted by Peter Abraham, Globe Staff February 13, 2013 07:27 AM

FORT MYERS, Fla. — It's Day 2 for pitchers and catchers here at Fenway South. It's 72 and headed to 82 but there's some rain in the forecast starting on Thursday.

The plan is to stick around the bullpen today and watch the pitchers, especially the younger guys.

For beat writers, this is the best chance you get to see the prospects. Once the season starts, it can be difficult to find time to catch a game in Portland or Pawtucket. But here you can get a decent feel of what guys can do.

Guys like Rubby De La Rosa, Allen Webster, Steven Wright, Drake Britton, and Chris Hernandez have a chance to help the Red Sox at some point this season. It's a good sign that the Sox have five young starters in camp instead of some of the last-chance veterans we saw last year.

If you're around the Fort today, keep an eye on third base coach Brian Butterfield (No. 13). He keeps the players hopping.

Red Sox coverage in today's Globe

Posted by Peter Abraham, Globe Staff February 13, 2013 07:18 AM

Dustin Pedroia doesn't want to go through what happened to the 2012 Red Sox again.

Nick Cafardo writes that David Ortiz may not have enough lineup protection. Meanwhile Ortiz unloaded on Bobby Valentine.

Dan Shaughnessy writes that this is a season of redemption for the Red Sox. (Subscription only).

The notebook has Clay Buchholz leaving the field with a hamstring strain.

Check out our Red Sox page for stories, video and more.

Observations from the first day of Sox camp

Posted by Peter Abraham, Globe Staff February 12, 2013 06:19 PM

FORT MYERS, Fla. — A few things jotted down in the notebook today . . .

• Xander Bogaerts, Jackie Bradley, and Deven Marrero were together for batting practice on Field 2 at one point. Ben Cherington and a number of other team officials were on hand to watch and surely dream of the future a bit.

Bogaerts looks the part of an All-Star. He's athletic and has that fluid Robinson Cano-type of swing, albeit from the right side. He's fun to watch in the cage.

Marrero said he was "totally surprised" the Red Sox invited him to camp. He was drafted last June out of Arizona State and never expected that call. "I'm just here to learn and pick the brains of the veteran guys," he said. "It's exciting."

Marrero, Bradley, and Bogaerts have lockers next to each other in a corner of the clubhouse. All three were sitting there this morning looking at the older players coming in.

"I have to admit, this is pretty cool," Bradley said.

• David Ortiz isn't fully healed from the Achilles' tendon strain he suffered last July. But he did take batting practice and looked comfortable. Ortiz then jogged out to the outfield to shag flies.

It may sound like a long recovery period for Ortiz. But Achilles' injuries usually take a while to heal and let's be honest, there's a lot of Big Papi. He's not that nimble when he's feeling great.

• Hard not to feel for Alex Hassan, the outfielder from Milton, Mass., who fractured a bone in his left foot last month. Hassan fouled a ball off his foot while working out at Duke and was told at first it wasn't anything serious. Then an MRI found a crack near his arch and he was placed in a walking boot to take some weight off it.

He's hopeful of getting on the field in a few weeks. For now he's working out in a pool.

• Saw 53 of the 59 players who are on the roster, and that's with infielders and outfielders not having to report until Thursday for their physicals. Those missing so far: Pedro Ciriaco, Stephen Drew, Jonny Gomes, Mauro Gomez, Ryan Kalish, and Shane Victorino.

• This team does not have enough outfielders. Once you get past Victorino, Gomes, and Jacoby Ellsbury, it gets thin fast. There's Daniel Nava, Ryan Sweeney, Mitch Maier, and assorted prospects who aren't ready yet.

• Facing hitters is the only test for a pitcher that really matters. But Daniel Bard sure looks like, well, Daniel Bard in the bullpen.

• John Farrell is honest and direct when he answers questions, which is a good thing. He's also letting his coaches coach and that's a good thing, too. Last year's camp was way too much about Bobby Valentine. That was a product of the media (yes, I'm guilty as charged) and Bobby's comfort in the spotlight.

• The biggest thing that strikes you about this team is how different it is. There's a new manager, new coaches, and so many new players. Of the 15 players who had the most plate appearances last season, only nine are in camp. Of the 15 pitchers who threw the most innings, only nine of them are back as well. That's a lot of change over one offseason.

That's it for today. Thanks to everybody for reading.

Pedroia: 'We’ve got to do everything better'

Posted by Peter Abraham, Globe Staff February 12, 2013 06:14 PM

FORT MYERS, Fla. — Until last season, Dustin Pedroia had never played for a team with a losing record.

“Not even Little League,” he said.

That the Sox finished 69-93 and a whopping 26 games out of first place was hard to accept, even with all the injuries and turmoil that marked the season.

“It’s tough when you go out there trying to compete and you never win,” Pedroia said.

Pedroia said it “took a while” to get over the season once he returned home to Arizona with his wife and two sons.

“I think everybody is motivated to make sure that doesn’t happen again,” Pedroia said. “We’ve got to do everything better than we did last year. There was a lot of frustration. It’s not fun coming to the field when you’re not winning every day.

“You think about some things. You’ve just got to try and turn the page and get after it.”

The Red Sox won the World Series in Pedroia’s first full season in 2007 and went to the ALCS the following year. They have not won a playoff game since.

“Thought it was easy, man,” he said. “You expect that to happen every year. I still do. I still feel that. I’ll never change. Our goal is to win the World Series every year. If we come into camp and that’s not the goal … I know everybody thinks that’s not our goal right now, but it is.”

Unlike some players, including David Ortiz, Pedroia declined to blame former manager Bobby Valentine for the problems of last season.

“He didn’t play,” Pedroia said. “It’s the players. Bobby didn’t go out there and get any hits or make any errors or do any of that. We lost those games, it’s on us.”

But Pedroia is clearly pleased with the decision to hire John Farrell, the pitching coach under Terry Francona for four years and an adherent to the way things used to be done with the Sox.

“John’s awesome," said Pedroia. "Everybody got to know him when he was here before. He’s easy to talk to. Obviously when he walks in the room, he has that presence that he brings. It’s going to be great for us."

Spring training, as usual, means getting used to another shortstop for Pedroia. This year it will be Stephen Drew, who was signed to a one-year deal. Drew will be the third different shortstop Pedroia has played with in three seasons.

“I’m excited," said Pedroia. "It’s going to be fun. He’s a great player and I’m looking forward to getting out there with him. He’ll be fine. He’s a great player with a lot of talent."

Drew is one of seven free agents the Red Sox signed. General manager Ben Cherington also traded for closer Joel Hanrahan.

Several of the moves — particularly the acquisitions of outfielders Jonny Gomes and Shane Victorino — were designed with the idea of improving the approach of the team. There were times last year when Pedroia seemed like one of the few players interested in the game that night.

“I thought the moves were great. We added a lot of personality to the team,” Pedroia said. “There’s guys that are going to bring a lot of energy to the clubhouse to the team, a lot of positive stuff.”

See the Globe tomorrow for more from Pedroia.

Ask Nick: Are Sox well-armed?

Posted by Chad Finn, Globe Staff February 12, 2013 02:17 PM

Have a
question?

100x150asknickmugshot.jpg Submit your question here to be considered for the next edition of Ask Nick.

FORT MYERS, Florida – OK, it seems like the Red Sox have nicer guys on this team and the atmosphere is calmer than last season. Do nice guys and tranquility equal wins? There’s got to be some talent sprinkled in their somewhere and that’s the part we can’t see yet.

The expectations are fairly low right now and you can still make a case for the Red Sox staying in fifth place. If all goes well and one of two other American League East teams underachieve or are beset with injuries, the Sox could be a playoff team. That’s how wide the AL East net is cast with Toronto being the one team that can break away.

We start spring training with a pretty wishy-washy outlook.

Here’s the mailbag:

Do you think the Red Sox are going to start the season with the guys they have, or do you expect them to make any more moves? A lot of people seem to think the Sox ought to try to add another pitcher; if all goes well I think they're pretty good as it is, but a little competition for a spot in the rotation could be a good thing. What are we looking at? Lester, Buchholz (if healthy), John Lackey, Ryan Dempster, Felix Doubront, not necessarily in that order? I've read that Franklin Morales is generating some interest with other teams. Can we get anything of value for him for 2013, or do you think it advisable to hold onto him?
-- Dan, Felton, Delaware

It’s always a good thing to have extra pitchers, but the one thing that gets sticky is if you don’t have anywhere to put them especially guys who are out of options and have to stay on the major league team or be subjected to waivers. So this is where I think the Red Sox will likely have to deal someone – whether it be Andrew Bailey, Alfredo Aceves or Morales, who has had a bit of a setback early. But they won’t do anything until they know what Daniel Bard or John Lackey look like in games. There are some interesting possibilities out there for deals. For instance, even though Detroit as committed to Bruce Rondon as their closer, what if the rookie isn’t ready? Wouldn’t be Bailey be a fit? And if so, could you land someone like Rick Porcello, straighten him out and get into the starting rotation mix?

Has anyone actually seen David Ortiz run yet? Is there any language in his contract to protect the Red Sox if the heel has not healed yet,or he re-injures it?
-- Peter, Rochester, New York

Not sure if anyone saw him run in offseason, but he's here now and we'll see soon. The fact that his prognosis has gone from taking part in all spring training activity and then Ben Cherington saying he’ll be ready by the beginning of the season is somewhat alarming. As for language, the only protection is that he has incentives for staying healthy.

Are the Red Sox' prime prospects (Matt Barnes, Xander Bogaerts, Jackie Bradley, Bryce Brentz) as good as they seem?
-- Michael, Newton

That question is impossible to answer until they’re up in the majors and we see how they perform. The jury was certainly out on Will Middlebrooks and then he made a splash as a rookie. They all have made similar progressions in being able to conquer the level of the minors that they’re at. So that part is similar. Should we assume they also adapt to the majors like the players you mentioned? That’s where we need to hold back a bit.

FULL ENTRY

Ortiz rips Valentine; heel getting better

Posted by Nick Cafardo, Globe Staff February 12, 2013 01:58 PM

ortiz0212.jpg

Matthew J. Lee/Globe staff

FORT MYERS, Fla. — David Ortiz ripped former Red Sox manager Bobby Valentine today, saying, "He did things I’d never seen in the game before.”

Ortiz, who said he expects to be ready for Opening Day as the strength in his Achilles' tendon improves, said, “An organization and a team is like the human body. If the head is right, the body is going to function right. But if the head is mixed up, they’re going to be all over the place. That was part of our situation last year. Guys weren’t comfortable with the manager we had.

“Even situations, as a player, you have to handle better. But you get confused and you don’t know how you're going to react with things. The first move our organization did was go and try to fix that. I’m pretty sure we're looking at that as a positive move. It’s like a fresh start. Pretty sure a lot of guys are comfortable with a manager like John [Farrell]. We’re going to get back to the basics."

Ortiz was one of the few players who publicly supported Valentine last season. But after he was fired, Valentine made the comment that Ortiz “decided not to play" the rest of the season. Ortiz had suffered a setback with his heel and was advised to shut it down and rest the injury.

Asked what specifically he remembered about Valentine, Ortiz said, “Last year in spring training, just to give you an example. When we were doing workouts, I started seeing things I’ve never seen in baseball. I’ve been watching and playing baseball for a long time. I had question marks on things that I saw. Those question marks went into the season and you guys saw the disaster that happened.

“We were doing drills and game-changing things. For example, we practiced cutoff and relay throws coming from outfielders. The shortstop and second baseman have to go two feet from the outfielder to take the throw and it gives the runner an extra step. The outfielder is watching the guys run. I didn't think we got anyone out with that play. I saw guys hitting the cutoff man 20 feet away from the infield.

"Those are the things, I don’t think they get the games any better. That’s a different game I grew up watching. Little things that happened. Everybody has their reasons for doing that.”

Valentine’s reasoning was that his outfielders had poor arms and he wanted the stronger-armed infielders making the throw.

Ortiz said he will take his time easing into things. But he thinks Opening Day is going to happen.

"A couple of weeks ago, I started to do drills and stuff and doing good," he said. "Not 100 percent yet but I was pain-free doing it, which is a good sign. Now the trainers start moving forward with things slowly and tomorrow we’re going to continue doing the drills and stuff.

"The good thing is it didn’t bother me at all. In the beginning, I was a little concerned and later on I was going after it pretty normal. I didn’t have any setback or anything. I surprised myself.

“I’m not concerned about it because we did a whole bunch of stuff. We went back to take an MRI of my Achilles' and it was pretty normal. Before that, there was a tiny tear so that I was worried about my Achilles' snapping. That’s not the case anymore."

Concerning last year, he said, “The way we struggled and not being able to do anything, it was very hard on me. I remember when I tried to get back and my thing got kind of worse, I pretty much tried to give it a try but it didn’t work out. That’s when they had to put me off.

"I was hoping things would get better but it doesn’t work that way. It was hard."

In retrospect, he felt he wasn’t ready to return.

“Yeah, I wasn’t ready," said Ortiz. "I thought I was. I was doing some running and stuff. I knew I wasn’t 100 percent but I thought I could survive the rest of the season, but things got worse. I put my career to the side and tried to come back. And I tried to help this ball club that was struggling badly. The doctor told me I could have snapped my Achilles' running down to second base [on the final play of his season]."

Asked if the Sox got enough help with offseason moves, Ortiz said, “I think they did a good job. It always can be better. Sometimes it’s not what you want and it is what it is.

"If you look at the market this offseason, there wasn’t much you could possibly get. It wasn’t anything crazy out there. They went out and got some good players. We need to get back in and play way better than what we did last year.”

Will Red Sox fans be patient?

“To be honest with you, I ran out of patience last year, and I’m a player," said Ortiz. "I can imagine the fans, where they’re at. They see what our offseason was like. We went out there and got some of the players to fill where we got hurt last year in those spots.

"We got our bullpen better. Our starting pitching is going to be better this year. As a player, you learn from your mistakes and when things are going bad. We have guys with more experience this year."

Ortiz took batting practice on Tuesday and was moving around well.

Ortiz was asked whether, given the news out of Miami about more players being linked to PEDs, he feels people will be suspicious of him because he’s playing so well late in his career.

“I don’t know," he said. "First of all, when I first heard about that, I started saying, us as baseball players, we might be the dumbest athletes out of all the sports and it’s because there’s a history of players doing things like that and getting caught.

"All I can tell you is that I keep working hard and trying my best. I’m not going to do this for the rest of my life. At some point, enough is enough. As long as your name is not being mentioned in a situation like that, it’s OK.”

Red Sox training camp report

Posted by Peter Abraham, Globe Staff February 12, 2013 01:58 PM

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Matthew J. Lee/Globe staff
Tuesday, Feb. 12

Weather: 82 and sunny.

Medical report: Clay Buchholz grabbed his right hamstring covering first base in a drill and left the field. He is day to day with what is bring called a minor strain. LHPs Craig Breslow and Felix Doubront were held back from throwing to rest sore shoulders. OF Alex Hassan (left foot fracture) is not ready to work out on the field.

Fundamentally speaking: The pitchers who threw in the bullpen also had a seminar on controlling the running game with Triple A pitching coach Rich Sauveur. The other group went through three drills: comebackers, covering first, and fielding bunts. Third base coach Brian Butterfield, who ran the bunt drill, had the pitchers working hard.

Thumbs up: Daniel Bard looked solid in the bullpen. He is throwing all of his pitches, a bit unusual for this early in camp. When he missed the strike zone, it was low. “It feels right coming out of my hands, which is good for this time of the year,” he said. “It has felt right all along this year.” … Ryan Dempster takes the fielding drills very seriously, making crisp throws and working at a quick tempo. Veteran pitchers come to learn that fielding their position well often leads to an extra win or two every season.

Thumbs down: Rubby De La Rosa fumbled the ball a few times doing the comebacker drill. He may have a great arm but he’s not very graceful on the field.

Around the bases: Daniel Nava took grounders at first base for the second consecutive day. The outfielder is hoping that more versatility will lead to a spot on the roster. He last played first base for 15 games in junior college in 2005. Ryan Sweeney, who could be competing for a job with Nava, watched from the bench and wondered aloud if he should be trying the infield, too. … Jose Iglesias said he gained 8 pounds during the offseason. The Red Sox encouraged him to get stronger, believing that will help him at the plate. … There was a fairly small crowd of fans for the first workout. Rarely were more than 30 fans behind the backstop at any field.

Schedule: The team will be back on the field at 9:30 a.m. Wednesday.

Peter Abraham

Hamstring strain for Clay Buchholz

Posted by Peter Abraham, Globe Staff February 12, 2013 11:56 AM

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Matthew J. Lee/Globe staff

FORT MYERS, Fla. — Red Sox starter Clay Buchholz left the field after straining his right hamstring while covering first base during a spring training drill today.

"It's the best thing that it happened now and not when we're getting ready to pitch in games," Buchholz said. "As far as they told, it's mild as it can be. For how I'm looking at it, get here early and do the treatment on it and hopefully I'm back in the next four or five days."

John Farrell said Buchholz would be further evaluated on Wednesday and is day-to-day. He described the strain as being mild.

"That's the way it is sometimes," Buchholz said. "It's not the way I wanted it to start."

Buchholz wasn't scheduled to pitch in an exhibition game until the second week of the schedule. He doesn't expect he will have to miss that start.

"Nah. I don't think it's that. I'm able to walk around. I wasn't able to walk the last time [he strained a hamstring] in 2010," he said. "I feel like it's not going to take a whole lot of time."

Overbay says swing corrected

Posted by Nick Cafardo, Globe Staff February 12, 2013 09:43 AM
FORT MYERS, Fla. — Lyle Overbay, signed to a minor-league deal by the Red Sox, is in major-league camp trying to earn a spot as Mike Napoli's backup at first base.

He also said he's talked to the Red Sox about possibly playing some left field, which would give him more at-bats.

"Funny, I was an outfielder in college and converted to first base," Overbay said. "We've had some discussions about it."

Overbay has had a rough couple of years at the plate, but he said Arizona hitting coach Don Baylor made an adjustment in his swing that shortened it up.

"My swing had gotten long and I wasn't able to get it back," Overbay said. "Don did a drill with me and it just clicked for me."

Overbay has been a Red Sox killer in the past, but he said, "I just love hitting at Fenway Park. It's suited to my swing. I've always felt really comfortable hitting there."

Pedroia is sexy and he knows it

Posted by Peter Abraham, Globe Staff February 12, 2013 09:21 AM

There was a passage in Terry Francona's book that described the Red Sox owners doing a marketing survey that determined Dustin Pedroia was a "sexy" player and that the team needed more such players.

Pedroia's reaction?

"They didn't need to hire a damn marketing team. I could have told them that for free," Pedroia said. "It was all my friends. ... I don't know, I just started laughing. That's pretty funny."

Pedroia was asked if he read Francona's book. He rolled his eyes and laughed.

"No," he said. "I have no time for that."

Pedroia also got the obligatory question about what he did during the offseason.

"Straight body building," he said.

How did that go?

"What do you think?" he said. "Awesome."

Big Papi among the early arrivals

Posted by Peter Abraham, Globe Staff February 12, 2013 09:02 AM

FORT MYERS, Fla. — Pitchers and catchers have their first official workout today. The position players don't start until Friday. But David Ortiz was in camp today for the first time, joining Dustin Pedroia, Will Middlebrooks, Jacoby Ellsbury, Mike Napoli, Jose Iglesias, Xander Bogaerts, Deven Marrero, Daniel Nava, and others.

Big Papi looked to be moving around just fine. We'll be talking to him more later on.

A few notes before the team hits the field:

• The pitchers will work on comebackers, fielding bunts and covering first today. Those throwing bullpens include Daniel Bard, Joel Hanrahan, Junichi Tazawa, and Andrew Miller.

• Iglesias, who resides in Miami, said had no involvement in the controversial Biogenesis Clinic there.

• LHP Craig Breslow, who is being slowed down because of shoulder discomfort, said he felt fine and isn't concerned. "They're just being cautious because we have some extra time this year," he said. "It's not a problem."

• New catcher David Ross was impressed with how aggressive the Red Sox were in trying to sign him early in the free agency period. He said Ben Cherington and John Farrell communicated with him often and said how much they valued his team-oriented approach.

"My thing is winning," Ross said. "Everything else is secondary."

• OF Alex Hassan has a stress fracture near the arch of his left foot, the result of a foul ball. He is wearing a walking boot and is limited to pool work at this point. He's hopeful of getting in games before the end of spring training.

• Xander Bogaerts will be here for about two weeks before going to Arizona for a mini-camp with the Dutch national team. Then it's on to Taiwan for pool play in the World Baseball Classic.

"It'll be worth it," he said. "I think I'll learn a lot. I'm looking forward to it."

• Remember those clubhouse televisions that Bobby Valentine ordered to show plays being handled fundamentally well? They now show CNN and MLB Network.

Good morning from Fort Myers

Posted by Peter Abraham, Globe Staff February 12, 2013 07:35 AM

FORT MYERS, Fla. — Pitchers and catchers will have their first official workout this morning. The Sox should be on the field around 9:30 a.m. or so.

The media gets in the clubhouse at 8 a.m., so check back later for more reports. It's another sunny day in the Fort.

The catcher and the chef

Posted by Peter Abraham, Globe Staff February 12, 2013 07:30 AM

FORT MYERS, Fla. — Ryan Lavarnway should be able to stay in good shape during his career. His fiancee, Jamie Neistat, majored in culinary arts (and business management) and is a prolific food blogger.

Her Cooking in Red Socks blog features healthy recipes and reviews of restaurants she tried during her travels to see Ryan play.

Jamie is an engaging writer and clearly knows what she is talking about when it comes to food. Check her blog out when you get a chance.

Red Sox coverage in today's Globe

Posted by Peter Abraham, Globe Staff February 12, 2013 07:24 AM

John Henry opened up to the media about a number of Red Sox topics.

Nick Cafardo wonders what Henry thinks of his last two managers.

Dan Shaughnessy writes that he believes Henry when he says he's not selling the team. (Subscription only).

The notebook has Craig Breslow and Felix Doubront being slowed by shoulder issues.

Check out the Red Sox page on Boston.com for all you need to know.

Fan information for attending workouts

Posted by Peter Abraham, Globe Staff February 11, 2013 07:41 PM

FORT MYERS, Fla. — If you're going to be in Fort Myers and want to see the Red Sox workouts, here is what you need to know:

Tuesday: The session is expected to start at 9:30 a.m. Fans may enter the complex through the West Gate beginning at 9 a.m. Tours of JetBlue Park are also available from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and cost $5 per person.Tickets for tours may be purchased from the JetBlue Park box office. Concessions and merchandise will be on sale during these workouts.

Full squad workouts: The first one will be Friday.

In general: All practices from February 12-20 will take place at the Fenway South Player Development Complex, located at 11500 Fenway South Drive in Fort Myers. On most days, the workouts will begin at approximately 9:30 a.m.

Directions: From the North: Take I-75 South to Exit 131 (Daniels Parkway). Make a left off the exit and go east for approximately two miles. Fenway South will be on your left. From the South: Take I-75 North to Exit 131 (Daniels Parkway). Make a right off the exit and go east for approximately two miles. Fenway South will be on your left.

Red Sox will focus on base running

Posted by Peter Abraham, Globe Staff February 11, 2013 05:59 PM

FORT MYERS, Fla. — Red Sox manager John Farrell said base running would be a point of emphasis in spring training.

“From the new terminology that will be implemented to what we expect … there will probably be a greater emphasis on that than maybe what they’ve been exposed to in the past,” Farrell said.

Farrell said the intent is to be to help the players become more aggressive and productive running the bases rather than stealing more bases.

“Outlining what we would look to exploit in certain situations. If there’s a matchup between a pitcher and catcher that we can exploit, what we’ll try and do is put pressure on the defense as far as our first to thirds,” Farrell said.

(It is worth noting that Toronto stole 123 bases last season under Farrell, fifth in the American League. They were caught 41 times, also fifth. The Red Sox stole 97 bases.)

Farrell said having a new third base coach (Brian Butterfield) and a new first base coach (Arnie Beyeler) would require extra time spent on in-game communication.

Some more from Farrell:

• Farrell was asked what he likes about this team.

“The roster is filled with talent. Players that come in new, they come from winning teams, they come from playoff experience,” he said. “I think we’ve got a balanced team. If you just looked at our lineup, there’s speed, there’s power, there’s left/right capability. I think our bullpen is a strength. We know that there’s talent in that rotation, and yet we have to get some guys on track, rebuild some confidence in certain areas.

"But the most important thing is the talent that was brought in, they’re guys that are noted team players and they put the other guy first and the team first maybe than rather their own view of the game. All that being said, the thing that I’d like to put back the focal point is the game. The game on a nightly basis is the most important thing and not the individual things that might lead up to it.”

• With new right fielder Shane Victorino expected to miss three weeks of camp while playing for the United States in the World Baseball Classic, Farrell said it would be a priority to get him on the field with center fielder Jacoby Ellsbury as often as possible. “To me, that’s going to be critical,” Farrell said. “Their understanding of how much range each has and their communication with Shane moving to right field full time, that time that they do have in camp will be critical as far as the reps together.

• Farrell spent a good part of his day in individual meetings with the players. He got through everybody except Junichi Tazawa and Koji Uehara. Their interpreter is not due in camp until Tuesday. “My Japanese isn’t that good,” said Farrell, who in 2007 took some rudimentary Japanese classes to try and communicate better with Daisuke Matsuzaka.

• Farrell said one of his goals was to improve the tempo at which some of the starters work.

• Farrell was asked how much he is like his old friend Terry Francona. “God, I hope I’m not similar,” he said. “Except for the success that he enjoyed.”

• There are no plans to name a team captain.

New spring training caps for the Red Sox

Posted by Peter Abraham, Globe Staff February 11, 2013 05:12 PM

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FORT MYERS, Fla. — The Red Sox are changing up their spring training caps a bit. Here is the Diamond Era 59FIFTY model they will wear.

It's available on Feb. 22 at MLB.com and at spring training sites. It goes national on March 1.

MLB pushes new caps on teams for marketing reasons from time to time. Some players are superstitious about their caps and dislike changing them.

A few years ago the Sox were given white caps with a red "B" on them for July 4 and Terry Francona groused that he looked like he drove an ice cream truck. He kind of did, too.

Slow start for Breslow and Doubront

Posted by Peter Abraham, Globe Staff February 11, 2013 03:46 PM

FORT MYERS, Fla. — Two Red Sox pitchers, lefthanders Craig Breslow and Felix Doubront, will be held back during the early part of spring training because of shoulder soreness.

“Not because of injury situations. Just maybe some discomfort and overall strength that they felt in their long-toss program,” manager John Farrell said. “More precautionary than anything.

“When they got aggressive in their long-toss program there was some sensation in there, a little bit of irritation. Want to be clear that it’s not an injury situation.”

Because of the World Baseball Classic, teams are starting spring training early. That allows the Red Sox to be cautious.

For the 25-year-old Doubront, however, it’s a red flag given that he threw 161 innings last season. That was by far the most of his career. The Red Sox shut down a tiring Doubront in August with what they said was a knee contusion. He returned and pitched well.

Dempster ready to get started with Red Sox

Posted by Peter Abraham, Globe Staff February 11, 2013 01:13 PM

FORT MYERS, Fla. — New Red Sox starter Ryan Dempster stopped to speak to reporters on his way out of the park this afternoon.

Those who know him well say the 35-year-old righthander is a funny guy. He showed a little of that when asked about the Red Sox hitters.

"I want a chance to face Will Middlebrooks again. He took me deep last year. I want a chance to face him again, maybe in [live] BP. I'll throw one behind his ear or something," Dempster said. "But I won't hit him. He's my teammate now."

Dempster also offered an amusing scouting report on new closer Joel Hanrahan.

"He throws cheese and he's got a nasty slider and a big, huge, bushy goatee that I think the hitters get intimidated by," Dempster said. "I know from the other side, playing against him the last few years, when he's coming in the game it's pretty much lights out. That's a great feeling to have as a team, as a pitcher, when you're sitting there watching your closer come in and save the game for you. That's a really, really nice feeling. The whole back end of our bullpen is pretty remarkable right now."

Beyond that, Dempster expressed enthusiasm for starting the season and helping a new team.

"I like to provide consistency. That’s something over the course of my career I take the biggest pride in," he said. "I try and take the ball every fifth day as long as I can and go out there and give my best effort and be prepared."

Dempster received a two-year deal worth $26.5 million. He said the Sox also attracted him because of the changes they were making. The turmoil that has defined the franchise in recent years did not dissuade him.

"Not at all. I'm a huge believer in no matter what happens, whether you win a World Series or finish in last place in the league, that's last year and it's over with," he said. "You just come in and just do the best you can this year. We've got a different look, different players [and] a different staff. With that comes a new opportunity to go out there and just focus on having a good year this year."

Dempster said that after spending nine seasons with the Cubs, he's used to playing in a large market with passionate fans and a lot of media coverage."

"It's part of the appeal," he said.

Henry opens up on some Red Sox topics

Posted by Peter Abraham, Globe Staff February 11, 2013 11:13 AM

FORT MYERS, Fla. — Until today, John Henry’s last Twitter post came on July 16. “Jacoby and Carl On the field together. Finally. Should be a great second half,” wrote the owner of the Red Sox.

Jacoby Ellsbury and Carl Crawford were indeed on top of the order that day and the Red Sox beat the Chicago White Sox. But the losses came at an unrelenting pace after that and the Red Sox fell into last place, never to escape.

Crawford, Josh Beckett and Adrian Gonzalez were traded, manager Bobby Valentine was fired and Henry stayed quiet throughout. There were no Twitter messages or press conferences, only occasional emails to deny reports he wanted to sell the team.

Henry emerged from his media seclusion on Monday, speaking for about 25 minutes on a cement patio outside of JetBlue Park.

Henry mocked reports, which mainly came from Fox Business Network, that he planned to sell the team.

“They didn’t turn out to be true,” he said. “I’m very happy. … The last 12 years have been the best years of my life. Tom [Werner] and Larry [Lucchino] and I have had a tremendous working relationship. We’ve always been on the same page. It’s fun working with talented people.

“You just don’t get an opportunity to own something like the Boston Red Sox. As long as we can do it, the three of us are committed to being here. These thoughts that we’re somehow selling … those are just erroneous."

Henry also addressed, again, the idea that his owning the Liverpool Football Club in England distracts from his duties with the Red Sox.

“I think it’s affected perceptions. I mean, everything affects you. But the things that have been said, repeated over and over again, are fairly ludicrous," he said. "The last time I was in Liverpool I think was in May of last year. I don’t know where this fraction comes from. You can say every major league owner is distracted if you want to try and make a case for it because they all have other businesses, other endeavors. I think they all do. The major thing is the perception.

"Imagine if I had nothing else to do other than run the Red Sox? What do you think would be different?"

Some of the Red Sox limited partners, he admitted, have concerns.

"I would say some of them are not OK because they read the same stuff that you write and probably some of them think we are distracted. But we aren’t. Last year’s losses on the field weren’t the result of Liverpool," Henry said.

"I would say all three of us are intimately involved every day with everything that goes on at Fenway Sports Group. But every day is different. You have different issues that come up just about every day."

The Red Sox as an organization, Henry said, got away from the values that led to two championships, the last in 2007.

"We had a core philosophy for a lot of the years and we moved away from that philosophy and it’s hurt us. It’s definitely hurt us. Last year, I think, was the beginning of trying to put us back on the right track," he said.

"When you have a certain amount of success you generally you don’t tend to change your philosophy. In our case there was a very profound shift, I think, of what we were trying to do. Why? That’s a good question. I would only speculate why. But there was a shift and I don’t think it ultimately, with hindsight, proved to be [right]."

Henry also disputed the notion that as part of that shift, the Red Sox signed star free agents to help the team's television rating.

"I have to laugh. That’s just laughable,” Henry said. “It’s ludicrous to say that we signed any player since we’ve been here for PR purposes. That is just … I don’t think anybody would assert that. If it’s asserted it’s just ludicrous.”

Henry on some other subjects:

On the 2013 Red Sox: “It’s hard to know at this point and we may not be finished. I definitely think we will contend for a playoff spot."

"We haven’t had the kind of depth that it turns out that we need. That’s one thing that he’s worked on and we’ve been working on this year. I think more in terms of depth, we’ve planned more for injury. But it’s difficult when you have your best players injured. Even when you have sufficient depth it’s hard to be a playoff team.”

On John Farrell: “I think a lot of him. I think everybody in the organization, from the time that he was here, had tremendous respect for John. We’re very happy that he’s here."

"I think last year was definitely a setback. Finishing in last place was something I never thought would happen while we owned the team."

"The whole thing about revenue has been about trying to attract the best players. We haven’t been able to stay with the Yankees as far as the payroll. But when we got here there was such a wide gulf between the two teams. We had to concentrate on revenues. But all those revenues have gone into the team. They haven’t gone into the pockets of partners. I think it’s well known and if you ask any of our partners that in 12 years they haven’t received a penny in profit. They’ve gotten some tax distributions. Revenue here is about one thing, it’s about winning. For us, that’s why we’re here.”

On restoring some stability to the team: “I think winning is what’s important. With that will come stability. We had tremendous stability. Who was more stable than we were for eight or nine years? We had issues last year. You’re going to have changes, you’re going to make changes when you have issues.”

On whether he’s still having fun: “Winning is fun. Losing isn’t fun. Again, for us, despite what you may read or see in the press, the joy of this is being successful on the field.”

Could they sell one day, given the high value of MLB franchises? “Tom and I made a lot of money over the years. That doesn’t drive us. If it was a driving factor, yes, I’m sure that would be a consideration. But quality of our lives is what drives us, and our competitive spirit. We’re determined to be successful. From day one here, that hasn’t changed. The value of these assets is just something we don’t think in terms of. We think in terms of our day-to-day lives.”

On the job GM Ben Cherington is doing: “We always hold everyone to a high standard. When you finish last, you’re going to make changes. That’s something we started to do with the big trade [with the Dodgers]."

On Bobby Valentine: “It’s always hard to say how much a manager impacts performance. I think of Bobby Valentine as a great baseball manager, a great mind. It’s clear in retrospect he wasn’t the right man for that group last year. I don’t think you can blame Bobby for that. You can blame us. You blame me, you blame Larry, Tom. I think he should manage again. He’s a great manager for the right team. I think he came in and didn’t want to be disruptive. So he didn’t have his own coaches. In a perfect world he would have done some things differently. If you ask him he would have done some things differently coming in. It just didn’t work.”

On PEDs in baseball: “Baseball has done a lot, especially recently, about the PED situation and we finally have been able to address those issues.”

Are the Sox hoping the free agents they signed have bounceback seasons: “Usually that’s a pretty good bet as opposed to the other way around. Usually free agents are signed and don’t do well. Historically free agents are overvalued over the last 15-20 years. There’s a regression to the mean in baseball that’s well known. We don’t have a lot of long-term contracts. In transition, it makes a lot of sense to have flexibility going forward. It will be an interesting year for baseball.

On changing the chemistry of the team: “Ben addressed that last year with the trade. On paper we looked great. We didn’t really transition well on paper.”

Is Bill James more involved in decisions: “It’s not so much that Bill goes out and makes recommendations. If you ask Bill a question, you get a detailed analysis that is extremely well done. It’s something that we’ve gotten away from to our detriment over the years.”

Good morning from Fort Myers

Posted by Peter Abraham, Globe Staff February 11, 2013 08:41 AM

FORT MYERS, Fla. — Luis Tiant just walked by and Jason Varitek is standing on the sidewalk. It's a big day for spotting former Red Sox stars so far.

The Red Sox pitchers and catchers will take their physicals today in preparation for the first official workout on Tuesday.

Owner John Henry, rumor has it, will be meeting with the media today. The pitchers and catchers probably will be on the field, too.

Hang out today, we'll keep you posted.

Red Sox coverage in today's Globe

Posted by Peter Abraham, Globe Staff February 11, 2013 08:37 AM

The Red Sox notebook looks at players who could be in line for contract extensions.

A striking return to the Fort for two Sox

Posted by Peter Abraham, Globe Staff February 10, 2013 05:29 PM

FORT MYERS, Fla. — A plane carrying Jacoby Ellsbury and Dustin Pedroia was struck by lightning on its way to Fort Myers.

Here's what Ellsbury posted on Twitter:

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That's good luck? Yikes. Pedroia probably wanted to get out and walk the rest of the way. He's not much for flying.

Meanwhile Jason Varitek was the latest Red Sox luminary to arrive in camp.

Calm day before the start

Posted by Peter Abraham, Globe Staff February 10, 2013 10:19 AM

FORT MYERS, Fla. — Good morning from Fenway South and what is so far a quiet morning for the Red Sox.

Most of the players are taking a day off before they report for physicals on Monday. Then spring training gets started on Tuesday.

With only a few exceptions, most of the pitchers and catchers are here already.

We'll keep you updated on anything worth updating. But right now there is literally nothing going on.

UPDATE, 10:52 a.m.: Koji Uehara and Junichi Tazawa were out running some sprints. That's about the extent of the action so far.

UPDATE, 1:18 p.m : Mike Napoli and David Ross have arrived in camp.

Red Sox coverage in today's Globe

Posted by Peter Abraham, Globe Staff February 10, 2013 10:07 AM

It's a season of change for the Red Sox as spring training gets started.

Nick Cafardo writes that Bryce Brentz shooting himself in the leg is part of a bigger problem for baseball.

The notebook has Jarrod Saltalamacchia getting the nod behind the plate. There are plenty of other updates, too.

Here are five questions the Red Sox need to answer in spring training.

In the Sunday Baseball Notes, New MLBPA general counsel David Prouty talks about his new role. (Subscription only).

Cherington chats about contracts

Posted by Peter Abraham, Globe Staff February 9, 2013 05:30 PM

FORT MYERS, Fla. — Jacoby Ellsbury will be a free agent after the season, so naturally Red Sox GM Ben Cherington was asked about the odds of negotiating an extension with agent Scott Boras.

Cherington — who must have been tempted to laugh out loud — gave a diplomatic answer.

“Ellsbury is a very talented player and we know what he can do on the field when he’s feeling good physically,” Cherington said. “We’re obviously a better team when he’s on the field and we’d love for him to be a Red Sox for a long time.

"But I’m not going to get into anything other than that. We’ve had a good relationship with Jacoby and hope that continues."

Cherington was asked a few minutes later about the idea of negotiating extensions with some of his other players. Jon Lester is signed through 2013 with a $13 million option for 2014. Jarrod Saltalamacchia will be a free agent after this season. Dustin Pedroia is signed through 2014 with a $11 million club option for 2015.

In the past, the Red Sox have looked to sign their core players ahead of schedule.

"I can’t rule it out. But I can’t rule it in, either," Cherington said. "The closer a player is to free agency the more likely those conversations take place. For the team, there’s obviously a benefit to having players on a good contract and having control left. In a lot of cases, there’s incentive for a team to let it play out. When you have players who have done a lot for the team and mean a lot to the team, I think you always have to have an open door to a conversation.

"But that doesn’t mean it goes anywhere and there’s nothing going on right now as I sit here today.”

In the case of Lester and Saltalamacchia, the Red Sox would probably want to see improved performance before committing more dollars. Lester has seen his strikeout rate fall three years in a row. His ERA+ has dropped for four consecutive years, to a point where he was well below the league average last season.

Pedroia is under control for three more seasons. But given his status within the organization, the Sox could soon open talks with him.

A few other notes from today:

• Sox owner John Henry arrived at the park shortly before 10 a.m. He had no entourage save clubhouse man Pookie Jackson, who gave him a lift from the airport. Henry spoke informally with reporters and said he would take questions later this week.

Henry did mention that ticket sales for spring training were up seven percent. He speculated that people like the experience at JetBlue Park.

• Righthanded relievers Koji Uehara and Clayton Mortensen were among the players who checked in.

• The Sox will have 59 players in camp. That counts OF Ryan Kalish, who is recovering from shoulder surgery and won't be participating beyond rehab work.

Brentz says he is ready to play after gun accident

Posted by Peter Abraham, Globe Staff February 9, 2013 04:48 PM

FORT MYERS, Fla. — Red Sox outfield prospect Bryce Brentz said today he has been jogging and hitting for the past two weeks after a gun accident left a bullet wound in his left leg.

“It’s a minor setback really,” Brentz said. “I plan on being in camp Monday ready to go.”

Brentz said he was visiting his brother outside of Nashville, Tenn., three weeks ago when he tried cleaning his handgun, but failed to empty the chamber first. The gun discharged and the bullet hit Brentz in the leg, going through.

“I was very fortunate,” he said. “I understand it could have been worse. I’m mad at myself because I respect firearms. I have a license to carry a gun. I’m an outdoorsman and I’ve been around firearms my entire life. It was just one of those things that happened that will never happen again. I have to be more careful.”

Brentz said the accident didn’t deter him from staying away from guns. In fact, he said he eventually finished cleaning the gun the very next day.

While GM Ben Cherington indicated Brentz might be lost for most of spring training and may have cost him a chance to be in major league camp, Brentz hoped there would be a change of heart.

“I don’t want to put words in anyone’s mouth, but I hope they’re open to it,” Brentz said.

Salty and Ross set to do the catching

Posted by Peter Abraham, Globe Staff February 9, 2013 12:10 PM

FORT MYERS, Fla. — The Red Sox catching competition may be over already.

General manager Ben Cherington made it clear this morning that Jarrod Saltalamacchia and David Ross will be the catchers and that Ryan Lavarnway has to wait his turn.

"For right now I think our expectations [are] Salty and Ross, they're the two proven guys. We signed Ross for a reason and Salty has continued to build on each year and added some things and gotten better. He's a power threat [and] capable of being one of the best catchers in the league. We've seen that. We've seen other parts of seasons when he's struggled.

"He's still a young guy. We expect him to continue to develop and be even better this year than he was last year. We think Salty and Ross complement each other well offensively.
"We feel pretty good about where we are catching wise."

So where does that leave Lavarnway?

"Lavarnway has come a long way. We think he's going to be a really good player for us. Sometimes the clock doesn't start exactly when the player wants to. But he's proven at the Triple-A level that he's capable of helping a major league team. That's going to happen, we just don't know exactly when."

Lavarnway, 25, has played 144 games in Triple-A over the last two seasons, hitting .295/.382/.511 with 26 home runs and 98 RBIs. He has hit .172 /.230/.286 in 209 major league plate appearances from 2011-12.

Cherington did not speculate on the possibility of a trade.

"I'm not sure about the odds. We'll see," he said. "We've talked to teams all winter. We kind of know where other teams are and some teams have done most of what they need to do and some teams are still working on things and may have some questions this spring training. We'll continue the conversations and see if anything comes to us that makes sense. But we're not motivated to make a deal. We don't need to make a deal. We'll see if one comes to us that makes sense."

Cherington: Brentz shot himself in the leg

Posted by Peter Abraham, Globe Staff February 9, 2013 11:52 AM

FORT MYERS, Fla. — Red Sox general manager Ben Cherington said this morning that outfield prospect Bryce Brentz shot himself in the leg while cleaning a handgun last month and is not on the spring roster as a result.

"He was at home cleaning a gun and it accidentally went off. He was injured in the process," Cherington said. "Fortunately for him, it was something he's going to recover from and be fine and won't affect his baseball career."

Cherington said the bullet passed through Brentz's leg.

"I guess you could say he got lucky relative to what could have happened. I think he understands he got lucky and it's a serious thing. He's got to be careful," Cherington said.

Brentz is in Fort Myers. He would have been invited to major league camp but is not yet physically ready to play. He could be cleared for games by the end of spring training.

"He's doing well," Cherington said.

Brentz is an avid hunter and owns several guns. Cherington said the Red Sox have no team policy that addresses gun ownership or use.

"Certainly in a case like this we've talked to Bryce. We've had a couple of conversations with him about how serious this is," Cherington said. "He wasn't doing anything illegal or anything like that. He had a gun he was trying to clean and there was an accident. It's something we may have to deal with case by case. We talked to Bryce about it."

Brentz, 24, hit .290/.349/.465 last season with 17 home runs and 76 RBIs. He spent most of the season with Double A Portland and was very unlikely to make the major league team.

Alex Speier of WEEI first reported this morning that Brentz was involved in a gun accident.

John Henry arrives at spring training

Posted by Peter Abraham, Globe Staff February 9, 2013 09:59 AM

FORT MYERS, Fla. — Red Sox owner John Henry strolled up to the team complex this morning and shook hands with a group of reporters.

"You guys are here early," he said.

Henry informally chatted with the group for a few minutes. If tradition holds, he will take questions at some point next week.

Red Sox invite 19 to spring training

Posted by Peter Abraham, Globe Staff February 9, 2013 09:33 AM

FORT MYERS, Fla. — The Red Sox have invited 19 players to spring training. Here's the breakdown:

Pitchers: RHP Pedro Beato, RHP Chris Carpenter, RHP Anthony Carter, RHP Jose De La Torre, RHP Terry Doyle, LHP Chris Hernandez, RHP Oscar Villarreal.

Infielders: Xander Bogaerts, Jonathan Diaz, Mark Hamilton (also OF), Justin Henry, Deven Marrero, Lyle Overbay, Drew Sutton,

Outfielders: Jackie Bradley, Jeremy Hazelbaker, Juan Carlos Linares, Mitch Maier, Ryan Sweeney.

Of note: Bogaerts, Bradley, Bradley and Marrero are among the team's top 10 prospects. ... Beato, Carpenter and Sweeney were all with the Sox last season. ... Sutton was with the Sox in 2011. ... A bit of a surprise that OF Bryce Brentz wasn't invited to camp. ... De La Torre will play for Puerto Rico in the WBC. ... The Sox will have 59 players in camp including OF Ryan Kalish, who is recovering from shoulder surgery.

UPDATE, 10:54 a.m.: Alex Speier of WEEI reports that Brentz cannot participate in camp because of an injury sustained in a gun accident. Brentz told Speier he was injured while cleaning his gun last month. He said it was "nothing serious" and that he would be ready for the start of the season.

Red Sox coverage in today's Globe

Posted by Peter Abraham, Globe Staff February 9, 2013 08:49 AM

Daniel Bard feels comfortable again after a 2012 season that was a disaster for him.

The notebook has Pedro Martinez arriving in camp along with updates on David Ortiz, Mike Napoli and a good deed from Andrew Bailey and Craig Breslow.

Ortiz should be ready for start of season

Posted by Peter Abraham, Globe Staff February 8, 2013 05:41 PM

FORT MYERS, Fla. —  Designated hitter David Ortiz is still recovering from a strained right Achilles' tendon and may be slowed for a portion of camp. But Red Sox manager John Farrell expects he will be ready for Opening Day.

“He’s still going through some agility work and some rehab with the Achilles,” Farrell said Friday. “That’s one of the areas that the workload and the volume of it will be monitored.”

Farrell said the extent of that would be determined once the medical staff gets a look at Ortiz in person.

“How we get [to Opening Day], that might take some initial adjustment along the way,” Farrell said.

Ortiz was injured last July 16 and played only one game the rest of the season, that coming on Aug. 24 when he re-injured his foot and was returned to the disabled list.

Some other notes from camp:

• New first baseman Mike Napoli is scheduled to arrive here on Saturday. Despite a hip condition that led to a reduction of the contract he originally agreed to, Napoli is fully cleared to play.

“He talks very confidently of how he feels,’’ Farrell said. “The work he’s gone through; he’s on a treadmill now running. Even though it’s a modified treadmill to reduce overall some weight impact, he’s back running. And watching him hit, there is no restrictions on his lower half.”

Farrell said that Napoli would not be doing any catching, however. The Red Sox will be careful not to place any unneeded stress on his hips.

• Pedro Martinez spent some time on the field speaking in Spanish to young pitchers Felix Doubront and Rubby De La Rosa while they played catch. He then stood behind a fence in the bullpen and unobtrusively watched several other pitchers throw.

For even veteran major leaguers, seeing Martinez around the team is a thrill.

“I met him today for the first time,” reliever Andrew Bailey said. “I was actually talking to somebody in the hallway when he came out a side door. I was like, ‘Pedro Martinez, there he is.’ It was pretty cool.”

Bailey is eager to get to know Martinez.

“His presence, just being around … the carefree mentality, just having fun is great, especially at this time of the year. During camp everyone is like that,” Bailey said.

“I think any baseball fan can appreciate what he did and what he meant to the game. The numbers that he put up are just ridiculous.”

Farrell said Martinez has a generally undefined job description. He’ll be free to contribute in different ways.

“It’s kind of an open book right now,” Farrell said. “The one thing that’s great about Pedro is that he has been an open book for us in wanting and willing to give that experience and that guidance in any way he can. He’s respectful not only of the coaching staff but the structure that’s in place. We’ve got a very good resource to tap into.”

• Farrell said 30 players, roughly half the spring training roster, have reported. “It speaks to the overall eagerness that we’ve touched on from time to time and guys wanting to get after it and get ready for the start of the season,” the manager said. Righthanded reliever Junichi Tazawa, who could earn a prominent role in the bullpen, arrived on Friday.

• There will be an informal workout for players on Saturday, but only meetings among the coaches on Sunday. Physicals will take place on Monday with the first official workout for pitchers and catchers on Tuesday.

• Farrell said he wants the main group of starting pitchers to make seven starts in spring training.

• Several Red Sox are caught in the snowstorm hitting the northeast. Franklin Morales left Florida to return to Connecticut and may be delayed. Joel Hanrahan and Will Middlebrooks are hunkered down in Boston. Bullpen catcher Mani Martinez also is trying to escape the blizzard.

• Alfredo Aceves, Farrell said, will be a starter for Mexico in the WBC.

• GM Ben Cherington said there are no plans to add to the roster before the official start of camp on Tuesday. "I'm not closing the door to it. But nothing is on the front burner," he said.

• Jarrod Saltalamacchia had the existential question of the day: "Where does a Floridian go to retire?”

Former Sox coach to run Boras facility

Posted by Peter Abraham, Globe Staff February 8, 2013 02:17 PM

Via Ken Rosenthal comes this interesting story about Scott Boras.

The agent is going to open a gym in Miami for his clients so they will have a place to workout in the offseason and avoid personal trainers who could have connections to performance-enhancing drugs.

Alex Ochoa, the Red Sox' first base coach last season, will run the facility. Boras already has a center in southern California.

One would think the MLB Players Association might consider a similar model. Or perhaps work with MLB to compile a list of approved trainers and/or facilities. There are clearly some players, such as Alex Rodriguez, who set out to cheat. But there seem to be some players who are misled by disreputable people posing an trainers.

MLB considers Schilling incident 'closed'

Posted by Peter Abraham, Globe Staff February 8, 2013 01:51 PM

As the Globe reported on Thursday, Major League Baseball launched an investigation in 2008 after Curt Schilling informed the Red Sox that a member of the team's medical staff suggested he try human growth hormone to treat a shoulder injury.

MLB officials confirmed their inquiry to the Globe, as did Schilling. MLB issued a statement today regarding the incident:

“At the time of the incident in question in 2008, the Boston Red Sox immediately reported the allegations to Major League Baseball as required by our investigative protocols. Once the Red Sox reported the matter, Major League Baseball assumed sole responsibility for the investigation. The Club handled the matter consistent with all MLB rules and requirements and in a manner that was above reproach.

"Major League Baseball thoroughly investigated the allegations and considers the matter closed.”

Red Sox GM Ben Cherington said today he had no comment on the issue, saying that MLB would make any statements needed.

Bailey, Breslow help out in Newtown

Posted by Peter Abraham, Globe Staff February 8, 2013 12:31 PM

FORT MYERS, Fla. — Andrew Bailey lives in Cheshire, Conn., with his wife and infant daughter. They are about 40 minutes from Newtown and news of the tragedy on Dec. 14 hit hard.

"It was so close to home," Bailey said Friday. "Just being in that area ... and hearing the stories. I couldn't imagine what those kids were going through."

On Jan. 27, Bailey and teammate Craig Breslow ran a baseball clinic in Newtown for kids at Sandy Hook Elementary School and others from the town. Red Sox prospect Matt Barnes, a Connecticut native, helped out. So did former Sox manager Bobby Valentine.

"It was nice to go up there and see kids in good spirits and meet a lot of those kids who were at that elementary school," Bailey said. "For me it was doing my part of what I could do to help those kids kind of ease away from that memory."

They conducted a 90-minute clinic for kids 6-8 and then a second clinic for older kids. Then there was an autograph session.

"It was awesome," Bailey said. "It was all baseball. ... We just wanted to do something for them."

Bailey and Breslow are two of baseball's most charitable players. Breslow's Strike 3 Foundation raises funds for children's cancer research. Bailey is heavily involved with Strike 3.


Another sign of spring: Pedro arrives

Posted by Peter Abraham, Globe Staff February 8, 2013 09:57 AM

pedro.jpg

FORT MYERS, Fla. — This entry will be short. But it's certainly one worth posting.

The great Pedro Martinez has arrived at Red Sox camp.

He joined the Red Sox as an assistant to GM Ben Cherington a few weeks ago. Here is what he had to say then.

It's amusing that Pedro arrived in camp much earlier as a special assistant then he did as a player.

Sign of spring: The truck arrives at the Fort

Posted by Peter Abraham, Globe Staff February 8, 2013 09:12 AM

truck.jpg

FORT MYERS, Fla. — As New England prepares for snow, Red Sox fans will be pleased to learn that the vaunted truck has arrived at Fenway South.

Contrary to popular belief, there's not all that much baseball equipment on it. It's mostly luggage and assorted other items the team needs to conduct spring training. There are turnstiles, souvenir kiosks and plenty of golf clubs.

It's 72 here and headed to 81. You guys hang in up there.

Red Sox coverage in today's Globe

Posted by Peter Abraham, Globe Staff February 8, 2013 09:00 AM

A member of the Red Sox medical staff suggested to Curt Schilling in 2008 that he try HGH. That triggered an MLB investigation.

Nick Cafardo writes that the PED issue impacts every team.


MLB investigated Schilling report in 2008

Posted by Peter Abraham, Globe Staff February 7, 2013 04:16 PM

Former Red Sox pitcher Curt Schilling was standing in the clubhouse at Fenway Park early in the 2008 season when a member of the team’s medical staff suggested he try human growth hormone to help overcome a shoulder injury.

“There were a few people around and I was shocked,” Schilling said on Thursday. “After this person left, I turned to a teammate and said, ‘Can you believe that?’ It came out of nowhere.”

Schilling reported the incident to Theo Epstein, then the team’s general manager. Epstein was required to inform Major League Baseball and an investigation subsequently took place.

“Our office was notified. We take any report like this seriously and there was an investigation," MLB vice president Pat Courtney said.

Courtney would not say what the results of that inquiry were because it was personnel matter involving a team employee.

Schilling said the person no longer works for the Red Sox, something that two baseball sources confirmed. The team has made a number of changes in their medical staff in recent years, but none apparently were as a direct result of the 2008 investigation.

Schilling said “two or three” investigators from MLB came to Boston to speak to him.

“I don’t remember who they were. I was trying to downplay the whole thing because I wasn’t playing at the time and I didn’t want to cause any problems in the clubhouse,” Schilling said. “Had I known Theo was going to report it to MLB, I would have never said anything. I was kind of mad that he had to do that.”

Schilling did not identify the person involved, telling the Globe only that it was not former medical director Thomas Gill, former head athletic trainer Paul Lessard or former strength and conditioning coach Dave Page.

Schilling responded to a Twitter user who asked why he wouldn’t expose somebody who suggested he a drug banned by Major League Baseball.

“Because outing the person would not do anything for anyone. It wasn't anyone in uniform, nor the baseball ops group,” Schilling wrote.

Schilling said he was taken aback by the suggestion he try HGH, a substance banned by Major League Baseball. He said the comment was not made in a joking manner.

“It was right out in the open, it was sort of a conversation between one and a half people. There were people listening,” Schilling said. “It was the last thing I expected.”

Schilling initially spoke about the incident on Thursday morning during an appearance on ESPN Radio.

Shortly after, Red Sox president Larry Lucchino said he was “surprised” by the news.

“Certainly this is something to look into, but it came from out of left field, to use a baseball cliché,” Lucchino told reporters at a Jimmy Fund event in Boston.

Later in the day, Lucchino said he did recall the incident and said the investigation by MLB was conducted “in a timely manner.”

Schilling said he was not tempted to use HGH despite dealing with an injury that would eventually require career-ending surgery.

“I have sons and it wasn't something I was going to do, to take that step and cross the line," he said. "I’ve had been clean and I wasn’t going to do something to change that at the end of my career. I said something at the time because I was worried about younger players."

Courtney said MLB planned to speak to Schilling again to make sure the incident he is speaking of now is the same one he reported then.

"It is," Schilling said.

Indians will give Rich Hill a shot

Posted by Peter Abraham, Globe Staff February 7, 2013 03:22 PM

The Indians have signed lefthanded reliever Rich Hill to a minor league contract and invited him to spring training.

Hill, 32, appeared in relief in 25 games for the Red Sox last season after returning from Tommy John surgery in April and had a 1.83 ERA. Hill returned to the disabled list in June with an elbow strain and did not come back until September.

Hill pitched in only 40 games over three seasons with the Sox because of injuries. He pitched exceptionally well in those games, compiling a 1.14 ERA and striking out 36 in 31.2 innings.

The Indians also avoided arbitration with infielder Mike Aviles, signing him to a two-year, $6 million deal that includes a team option for 2015. The Red Sox traded Aviles to Toronto in October as compensation for manager John Farrell. The Blue Jays then traded him to the Indians on Nov. 3.

NESN to televise 14 spring games

Posted by Peter Abraham, Globe Staff February 7, 2013 02:05 PM

NESN will televise 14 Red Sox games during spring training. Here is the schedule:

Feb. 23 vs. Rays, 1:30 p.m.
Feb. 27 at Orioles, 7 p.m.
March 1 vs. Pirates, 7 p.m.
March 3 vs. Yankees, 1:30 p.m.
March 8 vs. Twins, 7 p.m.
March 9 vs. Orioles, 7 p.m.
March 10 at Rays, 1 p.m.
March 15 vs. Twins, 7 p.m.
March 17 vs. Rays, 1 :30 p.m.
March 21 vs. Phillies, 7 p.m. (NESN Plus)
March 23 vs. Pirates, 1:30 p.m.
March 24 at Phillies, 1 p.m.
March 28 vs. Twins, 7 p.m.
March 30 vs Twins, 1:30 p.m. (NESN Plus)

NESN will start 11 consecutive days of "Red Sox Live" from Fort Myers on Feb. 10. The show, hosted by Tom Caron, will feature Peter Gammons along with Sox players, coaches, and executives.

Lucchino 'surprised' by Schilling's accusations

Posted by Peter Abraham, Globe Staff February 7, 2013 02:00 PM

Former Red Sox pitcher Curt Schilling said on Wednesday that “former members of the organization” presented him with the option of using performance-enhancing drugs as a way to overcome the shoulder injury that ended his career.

According to Schilling, the incident occurred in the clubhouse during the 2008 season. Red Sox team president Larry Lucchino said he was “surprised” by the news.

“Certainly is something to look into, but it came from out of left field, to use a baseball cliché,” Lucchino told reporters at a Jimmy Fund event in Boston.

Schilling, who works for ESPN as an analyst, made the accusations on ESPN Radio.

“At the end of my career, in 2008 when I had gotten hurt, there was a conversation that I was involved in, in which it was brought to my attention that this is a potential path I might want to pursue," Schilling said on ESPN Radio.

Schilling was asked to identify who made that suggestion.

“No,” he said. “Former members of the organization. They’re no longer there.

“It was an incredibly uncomfortable conversation because it came up in the midst of a group of people. The other people weren't in the conversation, but they could clearly hear the conversation. And it was suggested to me that at my age and in my situation, why not? What did I have to lose? Because if I wasn't going to get healthy; it didn't matter. And if I did get healthy, great.

“It caught me off guard, to say the least. That was an awkward situation.”

Schilling has so far not responded to a request to be further interviewed. But he responded to a Twitter user who asked why he wouldn’t expose somebody who suggested he use drugs banned by Major League Baseball.

“Because outing the person would not do anything for anyone. It wasn't anyone in uniform, nor the baseball ops group,” Schilling wrote.

Chicago Cubs president of baseball operations Theo Epstein, the Red Sox general manager in 2008, could not be reached for comment.

Schilling signed a one-year, $8 million contract before the 2008 season and passed a physical. But he never pitched because of a torn rotator cuff and biceps injury.

There was a dispute at the time about what course of action to take. Dr. Thomas Gill, the Red Sox medical director at the time, advised a course of rest and rehabilitation. Dr. Craig Morgan, who had twice previously operated on Schilling’s shoulder, suggested another surgery.

A third party, Mets team physician Dr. David Altchek, agreed with Gil. Because Schilling was 41, the thought was that surgery would mean the end of his career.

After trying the team approach for nearly five months, Schilling had surgery in June and it did end his career. The righthander announced his retirement on March 24, 2009.

Schilling says he was encouraged to try PEDs

Posted by Matt Pepin, Boston.com Staff February 7, 2013 11:13 AM
Former Red Sox pitcher Curt Schilling said on an ESPN Radio interview Wednesday he was encouraged to consider using performance-enhancing drugs near the end of his career.

“At the end of my career, in 2008 when I had gotten hurt, there was a conversation that I was involved in, in which it was brought to my attention that this is a potential path I might want to pursue,” Schilling said in an interview with Colin Cowherd that focused on the use of PEDs in baseball and recent allegations about several star players.

Schilling did not specifically name the Red Sox, but when asked where he was told that, he replied “in the clubhouse.”

He was then asked who was involved.

“Former members of the organization,” he said. “They’re no longer there. But it was an incredibly uncomfortable conversation because it came up in the midst of a group of people. The other people weren’t in the conversation, but they could clearly hear the conversation, and it was suggested to me that at my age, and in my situation, why not, what did I have to lose? Because if I wasn’t going to get healthy, it didn’t matter, and if I did get healthy, great.

“It caught me off guard, to say the least, but that was an awkward situation.”

Schilling was 41 when he played his last game in 2007 as a member of the Red Sox’ World Series championship team. He signed a one-year deal with the Red Sox for 2008, but did not pitch because of shoulder problems. He officially retired from baseball in 2009.

Why Xander Bogaerts should stay at shortstop

Posted by Peter Abraham, Globe Staff February 6, 2013 05:43 PM

FORT MYERS, Fla. — Via email or Twitter, several readers have asked the same question in recent days: Should the Red Sox move Xander Bogaerts to a different position?

It's a good question. Because the 20-year-old Bogaerts is 6-foot-3 and 180 pounds, he looks like he could play third base, first base or even the outfield. He had 60 extra-base hits in 476 at-bats last season, numbers that suggest he would fit the offensive profile of a third baseman.

"Bogaerts has the offensive potential to be an All-Star at any position," wrote Jim Callis in the Baseball America Prospect Handbook.

The Red Sox also have a number of other shortstop prospects. Jose Iglesias could play in the majors right now defensively. Deven Marrero, a first-round pick last June, was a star at Arizona State. He turns 23 in August and figures to make quick progress through the system.

Tzu-Wei Lin was signed out of Taiwan last year for $2.05 million. The Sox also have Jose Vinicio, who made solid strides at Greenvillle last season. He was signed to a $1.95 million bonus in 2009.

Lin is 18 and Vinicio 19; they are not close to ready. But the point is that the Sox could shift Bogaerts to another position knowing they have other players at shortstop. If the idea is to get as many good players on the field as possible, why not try it?

But it would be a mistake to have Bogaerts change positions. Certainly now and maybe ever.

That Bogaerts is a little big for a shortstop should not be an issue. Derek Jeter and Troy Tulowitzki are 6-3. Cal Ripken Jr. did just fine at 6-4. In 262 games for the Red Sox, Bogaerts has shown good range and an above-average arm. He's not a super-quick Jose Reyes type, but he plays the position well.

Red Sox GM Ben Cherington said a few weeks ago that the organization was pleased with the progress Bogaerts has made defensively. The Sox view him as a shortstop. Assistant GM Mike Hazen, farm director Ben Crockett and a number of other team officials have said roughly the same thing.

It's telling that the Sox told the Netherlands not to play Bogaerts in the outfield during the WBC. They don't like the idea.

Bogaerts finished last season with Double-A Portland, playing 23 games. He could start this season in the Eastern League and move his way up to Pawtucket. With Stephen Drew on a one-year contract, it's conceivable Bogaerts could be a candidate to play shortstop for the Red Sox in 2014.

The idea of having a 21-year-old, cost-controlled budding All-Star at shortstop should appeal to any Red Sox fan. Shortstop is a premium position, why waste a talent like Bogaerts somewhere else? Why throw an obstacle in his development path by having him change positions?

To be sure, circumstances could change. Bogaerts could get heavier and perhaps lose a step defensively. Maybe Iglesias will discover the ability to hit this season and force his way into the majors. Perhaps Marrero will blossom into a premier prospect in his first full professional season.

But let those things happen on their own, if they happen at all. Bogaerts is generally regarded as one of the top 10 prospects in the game. Let him decide whether he can play shortstop in the majors and leave it to somebody else to adjust. If he's that good, the Sox will have a foundation player for a decade. It's hard to do better than that.

A (brief) report from Red Sox camp

Posted by Peter Abraham, Globe Staff February 6, 2013 12:30 PM

FORT MYERS, Fla. — There were 19 pitchers on the field today, a pretty large percentage of the spring training roster. Four of the five catchers on the 40-man roster also are on hand.

It's fun to see baseball again, but don't get too caught up in which players are here and which aren't. These are optional workouts and plenty of guys are working just as hard (if not harder) back at their homes. Some players have family matters and other things to attend to before they arrive.

If showing up early translated to success, everybody would do it. Showing up on time and being physically prepared to play is really all that matters.

A few notes:

• Rubby De La Rosa was playing catch with Felix Doubront today. De La Rosa is compact (5-foot-11, 205 pounds) for a righthander, but pops the mitt even just playing catch.

• Jon Lester walked out of the clubhouse today with a fishing pole and tackle box. Daniel Bard did the same a few minutes later. I tried fishing here two years ago. Caught a fish with my first cast then spent two hours looking at the water. Maybe it's time to try again.

• Steven Wright, the knuckleballer, is here early. He has made a quick rise with the Sox, landing on the 40-man roster being acquired from Cleveland for Lars Anderson at the trade deadline last July. At 28, Wright is too old to be considered a prospect. But for a knuckleballer, that's youthful.

Wright is a long shot to make the team out of spring training. But he could put himself in position to get called up from Pawtucket once a need arises. Be interesting to see to what degree Tim Wakefield can help him.

Wright throws a harder knuckleball (like R.A. Dickey) while Wakefield threw more of a floater. But the mechanics are roughly the same.

• Outside of pitchers and catchers, they're aren't too many others here. But outfielder Daniel Nava, as usual, showed up early. "I'm a nerd like that," he said, laughing.

• The Red Sox are not planning to hire an advance scout to replace Dana Levangie, who is now the bullpen coach. Steve Langone, the advance scouting coordinator, will go on the road more often. Levangie also will be involved in preparing scouting reports.

• A helicopter buzzed the field for about 10 minutes while the catchers were taking batting practice. Was half expecting it to land and see Pedro Martinez pop out.

• John Farrell is back in Boston for a few days. He will be at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute on Thursday as the Red Sox mark their 60th anniversary with The Jimmy Fund. Larry Lucchino and Will Middlebrooks will be on hand along with Red Sox Spanish Beisbol Network play-by-play announcer Uri Berenguer, a former Dana-Farber patient.

More from John Lackey

Posted by Peter Abraham, Globe Staff February 6, 2013 07:15 AM

FORT MYERS, Fla. — This morning's Globe features an exclusive in-depth interview with John Lackey.

Here's a little more from the interview that didn't make the story:

On repairing his image in Boston: "Pitching better and us winning will cure a lot of things. This is a results business. I haven't had good results. The fans want to see me pitch well."

On his 2010 season: "I was 14-11 and if I had won one more game, it probably would have looked a lot better. Fifteen just seems like a better number. I think I was better than people say. If you pitch 200 innings in the majors, something is going right for you."

On dealing with the Boston media: "It has been difficult. I don’t read a lot or go on the computer. But it has affected my family and friends more than it has affected me. You hear it from those kind of people. You don’t want to hear stuff like that from your mom. It’s different. But they’ve learned to deal with it as I have.”

On being a first baseman in high school and college: "I loved it, I really did. Pitching was what the scouts wanted me to do and it was a no-brainer because I wanted to get to the big leagues. But I still think like a position player. I try and pitch fast because I know the guys don't want to play behind somebody working slow. And I try and support the guys in the dugout because I know how hard it is."

On the Dodgers trade last season: "It was kind of a shock. Within the clubhouse, guys were wondering what it meant. You're not expecting that to happen. For those guys who got traded, I think they were more than OK with it. ... For me, I want to stay here and be part of turning it around. It would be great to bring this team back and get in the playoffs again. That is the goal."

On the idea that he dislikes Fenway Park: "Not true. I didn't have success there early in my career but it was better my last few years with the Angels. You have to forget about the wall and just pitch. I like the atmosphere, actually. The fans are into the game."

On John Farrell: "Good move. He knows the pitching staff and he's a straight shooter. You're going to get the truth. ... I've had three managers here and, what, 17 pitching coaches? It has been a little crazy. But it feels like things have settled down now. It's good for everybody."

Red Sox coverage in today's Globe

Posted by Peter Abraham, Globe Staff February 6, 2013 07:03 AM

It has been a rough three seasons for John Lackey in Boston. He opened up about his past and his hopes for the future.

The notebook has Dana Levangie becoming the new bullpen coach, Andrew Bailey taking his demotion in stride and Alex Hassan getting over an injury. Nick Cafardo has the story.

Tuesday was Truck Day in Boston. People sure like that truck. Marie Torto has the story.

Red Sox name Levangie as bullpen coach

Posted by Peter Abraham, Globe Staff February 5, 2013 04:08 PM

The Red Sox today named Dana Levangie as their bullpen coach.

Levangie, 43, is native of Whitman, Mass., and attended American International College in Springfield. He was drafted by the Red Sox in 1991 and played until 1996, reaching Triple A Pawtucket.

He was a catcher in the minors.

Levangie became a bullpen catcher for the Red Sox in 1997. He was promoted to professional scout in 2005 then became a major league advance scout in 2006. He will continue to assist with scouting duties.

Levangie replaces Gary Tuck, who unexpectedly retired last week.

“We are extremely pleased to add Dana to the major league staff,” John Farrell said. “He has been a valuable asset to the Red Sox in a variety of roles and his vast knowledge of the major leagues, particularly the American League, will enable him to make an impact on our staff and with our bullpen.”

A few notes from today's Red Sox workout

Posted by Peter Abraham, Globe Staff February 5, 2013 02:33 PM

FORT MYERS, Fla. — The workouts at Fenway South are done for the day. Here are a few notes:

• OF Alex Hassan was back in Boston today to get his left foot checked out. He fouled a ball off his foot last month and has what manager John Farrell called a "stress reaction." Hassan is in a walking boot and may be a few weeks away from getting started.

Hassan, a Milton native, is on the 40-man roster. Even before the injury, he was not in the mix for a spot on the Opening Day roster. The 24-year-old hit .256/.377/.365 for Pawtucket last season.

• The Sox will name a bullpen coach later today. Farrell said only that the choice came from within. Given that Chad Epperson has been here working with the catchers, he is a possible choice.

• Shortstop prospect Xander Bogaerts will not be playing any outfield for the Netherlands in the World Baseball Classic. The Red Sox have requested that he stay on the left side of the infield or DH. "Left side of the infield is here we're perfectly comfortable," Farrell said.

Rangers shortstop Jurickson Profar has dropped off the Dutch team, so Bogaerts could get more innings at shortstop than expected. But the Dutch also have Braves shortstop Andrelton Simmons.

• Farrell and his coaching staff were here in December to get a good look at the place and draw up a logistical plan for spring training. After spending two seasons managing the Blue Jays and conducting spring training at their hardscrabble Dunedin facility, Farrell is enjoying Fenway South.

"There is no comparison to Dunedin," he said. "It's nice to have two field fields at a minimum."

Ask Nick: Underwhelmed by Overbay

Posted by Chad Finn, Globe Staff February 5, 2013 01:31 PM

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FORT MYERS, Fla. – The low expectations for the Red Sox continue to ooze out in this week’s mailbag. There are lots of concerns still about the first base situation where Mike Napoli and Lyle Overbay will man the position with the team hoping they’ll have good power numbers from the right and left side.

People often ask me, "what would you call this season?" I would have to say it’s a bridge season. The Red Sox did not part with their top prospects for established player so they’re obviously going to try to go down that road and slowly incorporate Jackie Bradley Jr., Xander Bogaerts, Matt Barnes, Henry Owens, Allen Webster and Rubby De La Rosa into their future plans.

The Blue Jays elected a different approach – they got sick of waiting for their prospects – and trading many of them away for established players. Interesting that two teams in the same division would change course in the opposite direction.

On paper, the Jays are the team to beat, but as we know things always seem to happen up there, particularly pitching injuries which can derail them.

Red Sox beat writer Pete Abraham and I have arrived in The Fort and we’ll begin our coverage for what should be another interesting spring training with lots of new faces, a new manager (again) and lowered expectations, which may work in the team’s favor.

Here we go:

My question concerns Juan Carlos Linares. We paid pretty good dough to get him and he seems to be able to do the job in the minors when called upon at the plate and outfield when healthy. Why don't they give him a legitimate look? I think he would adjust well to the big leagues because he has pretty good patience at the plate.
-- Artie, Sacramento, California

I don’t know whether at this point in his career that he’s just been typecast as a 4-A player. He seems to have a good bat and plays the outfield well. Every so often there’s that guy who falls through the cracks and Linares just might be one of them. Sometimes guys like that just need to get to a different organization where the talent evaluators view him with a fresh eye.

It seems to me that Rubby De La Rosa, Franklin Morales, and Alfredo Aceves could all be at least as effective starters as John Lackey and Ryan Dempster. John Farrell keeps raving about Lackey's potential, but I'll believe it when I see real results. The three I mentioned all have tremendous upside as starters.
-- Ethan, Somerville

De La Rosa, of course is a younger guy who hasn’t be given his shot yet while Aceves has only made nine career starts (4.18 ERA). I agree with you on Morales. That’s worth exploring and he will be stretched out as a starter in spring training. As for Lackey, they’re paying him a lot of money. They have to see what he can do post-Tommy John. And Dempster has had a solid career. Had a great first half last year with a bad team (Cubs) and had a good stretch with the Rangers before a few bumps in the road especially against the tough Angels lineup.

Now that the deal with Mike Napoli has been whittled down to a year, and assuming there is not an option for a second year (is there?), whom do the Sox see as their first baseman in 2014? Is Napoli destined to be Adrian Beltre Redux? .
-- Jim, New York City

That’s a very interesting question. There’s certainly the possibility they could move Xander Bogearts to third and move Will Middlebrooks to first if they prefer not to spend big money on a free-agent first baseman or deal for some like Justin Smoak. If Napoli has an injury-free and productive season they probably sign him up again for another year.

Why were the Sox so high on bringing Napoli and Jonny Gomes to Fenway? They will be a defensive liabilites, not something you want to help out a pitching staff that was horrible last year. I think Ben Cherington should have gone after Adam LaRoche, who is great defensively. Living in New York, I watch Mark Teixeira do something every night with his defense to help the team win. We won't see that from Napoli or Gomes
-- George, Castleton, New York

Probably right on that one George. They obviously hope the offense makes up for the mediocre defense. They feel they can get away with subpar defense at first base and left field. We’ll see.

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Big crowd of pitchers at Fenway South

Posted by Peter Abraham, Globe Staff February 5, 2013 10:59 AM

bullpenphoto.jpg

FORT MYERS, Fla. — Pitchers and catchers do not officially report until Feb. 12, but plenty of Red Sox beat that deadline.

Andrew Bailey, Daniel Bard, Craig Breslow, Clay Buchholz, Felix Doubront, John Lackey, Jon Lester, Andrew Miller, and Franklin Morales were among those on hand at the team complex this morning.

Bailey, Bard, Lackey, and Lester threw bullpen sessions in what was perfect weather: sunny and 70 degrees.

Two quick observations:

• Bard was throwing free and easy and appeared confident. "Felt good," he said.

One bullpen session is not much to evaluate, but Bard looked a lot more like he used to. He was throwing from the stretch and letting it fly. Their were no radar runs around, but Bard was throwing the ball well.

• Lackey is thinner than he has been in years. He didn't pitch last season while recovering from Tommy John surgery but is under no restrictions this spring.

Jarrod Saltalamacchia, Ryan Lavarnway, Daniel Nava, Juan Carlos Linares, and Dan Butler are the position players who are here.

The Red Sox have not hired a bullpen coach yet. But Chad Epperson, a minor league catching instructor, is working with Salty, Lavarnway, and the rest of the catchers. Epperson filled in for Gary Tuck last season and he appears to be the favorite for the job.

While the coaching position is bullpen coach, it's a combination of running the bullpen and being a catching instructor.

Athletics trade for Jed Lowrie

Posted by Peter Abraham, Globe Staff February 4, 2013 08:31 PM

Jed Lowrie is on the move again, this time to Oakland. The Houston Astros traded Lowrie and righthanded reliever Fernando Rodriguez to the Athletics for first baseman Chris Carter, righthander Brad Peacock, and catching prospect Max Stassi.

Lowrie, who turns 29 in April, hit .244/.331/.438 for the Astros last season. The trade is bit of a homecoming for Lowrie, an Oregon native who attended Stanford before the Red Sox drafted him in 2005.

The Sox traded the oft-injured Lowrie and Kyle Weiland to the Astros last year for righthander Mark Melancon.

Get this: Lowrie will make $2.4 million this season, which made him one of the highest paid players on the Astros. Their top-paid players now:

RHP Bud Norris ($3 million)
1B Carlos Pena ($2.9 million)
RHP Jose Veras ($2 million)
LHP Wesley Wright ($1.025 million)
RHP Philip Humber ($850,000)

That's amazing. And the Astros will be playing in the American League West this season.

Houston starts a four-game series at Fenway Park on April 25.

Greetings from Gate C-11

Posted by Peter Abraham, Globe Staff February 4, 2013 07:30 AM

Good morning from Logan Airport. We're waiting for a flight to Fort Myers and the start of spring training. Pitchers and catchers report on Feb. 12, but players have started to gather and it's time to start reporting on the 2013 Red Sox.

We'll have reports on Boston.com starting on Tuesday and in the paper on Wednesday. Please follow along on Twitter, too. You can find me at @PeteAbe and Nick is at @nickcafardo.

A few thoughts on the Red Sox as camp prepares to open:

• The Red Sox do not appear to be preparing any major roster additions before camp breaks. But there could be some shifting once the players assemble.

Ben Cherington has a surplus of relievers, particularly if Daniel Bard has himself back in working order. Cherington also has an extra catcher, particularly if Ryan Lavarnway looks good in camp. Scouts will be keeping a close eye on Andrew Bailey.

• At this time last year, the Sox had an unsettled rotation. Felix Doubronbt, Daniel Bard, Alfredo Aceves and assorted non-roster players were competing for two spots. Now the Sox have five starters they believe in and most of their depth is in the form of legitimate prospects like Rubby De La Rosa and Alan Webster.

That seems like a positive sign. If one of the starters stumbles or becomes injured, it's much preferable to have a prospect get those innings instead some last-hope veteran. The Red Sox wasted a lot of innings last season on pitchers who had no chance of returning for this season.

• John Farrell is interviewing for bullpen coaches and a decision is expected soon. Minor league instructor Chad Epperson and minor league coach Rich Gedman are the two obvious candidates. The Sox are almost certain to hire from within this late in the process.

• It'll be interesting to see whether John Lackey had more velocity on his fastball. Pitchers coming back from Tommy John surgery often add a little zip because they spent a year building up the muscles in their arms.

Lackey averaged 91.5 mph with his fastball in 2011 while pitching much of the season with an injury. That's in line with the rest of his career. But the year off and rehab work could boost him him up a little.

• Daisuke Matsuzaka, as of this morning, is still a free agent. The fall from "best pitcher on the planet" to "should we take a shot?" was pretty steep.

• Wonder how much Jason Varitek and Pedro Martinez will be around camp? As of last week, their schedules were still being worked out. In essence, both have the right to dictate how much (or how little) they want to be around.

• Really looking forward to seeing Jackie Bradley, Xander Bogaerts and some of the other position player prospects. After a fallow period caused in part by a change in draft strategy, the Red Sox have a group of young players that are worth getting excited about.

A few non-Red Sox thoughts:

• The spring training playlist (a work in progress) includes "Anna Sun" (Walk The Moon), "Runaways" (The Killers), "Stay Useless" (Cloud Nothings), "Here Comes My Man" (Gaslight Anthem), "No Light, No Light" (Florence + The Machine), "Take A Walk" (Passion Pit), "Closer" (Teagan and Sara), "Teenage Icon" (The Vaccines), "Yeah Yeah" (Willy Moon) "Saturday" (The Enemy) and "World Wide Rebel Songs" by Tom Morello.

Recommendations are welcome.

• By the way, if like alternative tracks, you really should be listening to Radio BDC here on the site.

• Bringing a few books to spring training. Have "The Signal and the Noise" by Nate Silver and "The Liberator" by Alex Kershaw.

• Watched the Super Bowl with no rooting interest beyond being in a few pools. Happened to be in my car during the first quarter and it was amazing how quiet the streets were. As much as we all love baseball, the NFL rules the world.

• Was it me or were the commercials largely forgettable? But Jennifer Hudson, Alicia Keys and Beyonce were tremendous. The kids from Newtown, too. Heartbreaking to see them and think back to that awful day.

• Spring training is a good time to catch up on Oscar contending movies. Not sure "Amour" will be playing in Fort Myers, however.

That's it for now. It's just about baseball season. Hope you hang out with us for the ride.

Red Sox retain RHP Chris Carpenter

Posted by Peter Abraham, Globe Staff February 1, 2013 03:36 PM

Righthanded reliever Chris Carpenter cleared waivers and was outrighted to Triple A Pawtucket. He has been designated for assignment on Jan. 22 when the Red Sox signed Mike Napoli.

Carpenter, 27, was obtained from the Cubs last Feb. 21 as part of the compensation for Theo Epstein. He had elbow surgery on March 29. Carpenter had 21 appearances in the minors before joining the Red Sox in September.

In eight games, Carpenter pitched six innings. He allowed six earned runs on seven hits. Carpenter walked 10 and struck out two.

Spring training preview: Catchers and DHs

Posted by Peter Abraham, Globe Staff February 1, 2013 09:30 AM

Fifth and final in a series of spring training roster breakdowns this week. Monday: Starters. Tuesday: Relievers. Wednesday: Infielders. Thursday: Outfielders. Today: Catchers and DHs.

As the Red Sox prepare for spring training, here is a look at their catchers and designated hitters:

CATCHERS

Expected starter: Jarrod Saltalamacchia.

In the mix: David Ross, Ryan Lavarnway.

Prospects of note: Christian Vazquez.

Organizational depth: Dan Butler.

Break glass in case of emergency: Mike Napoli.

Breakdown: Is Salty the starter or could he get traded? All we know for sure is that the Sox signed Ross with the intent of using him more than an average backup. They value his defense and leadership. Lavarnway, who made great strides defensively last season, is an organizational favorite. But the Sox could maintain their depth by sending him to Pawtucket. With Saltalamacchia a free agent after the season, that would be a prudent move. Butler and Vazquez were added to the 40-man roster in November. It's unusual for a team to have five catchers on the 40-man, but that's the situation for the moment.

What's good: Salty belted 25 homers last season and drove in 59 runs. That made him one of the more productive catchers in the game ... Ross threw out 15 of 34 runners last season, and the Braves were 54-35 in games he started the last two seasons ... Lavarnway was voted the best defensive catcher in the International League last season. He hit .295/.376/.439 for the PawSox.

What's bad: Saltalamacchia hit .222 with a .288 OBP last season. He struck out 139 times in 448 plate appearances ... Lavarnway struggled offensively (.157/.211/.248) in 166 major league plate appearances ... Napoli was initially expected to catch a few games, but the diagnosis of avascular necrosis in his hips could limit him to first base.

Theme song: "Supply And Demand" by The Hives.

DESIGNATED HITTERS

Expected starter: David Ortiz.

In the mix: Mauro Gomez.

Prospects of note: Juan Carlos Linares.

Organizational depth: Ryan Lavarnway.

Breakdown: Ortiz was given a lifetime achievement contract of two years and $26 million. But at 37, he remains the best DH in the game. Many teams are using the DH as a way to give position players time off from the field. But the Red Sox are sticking with a traditional slugger. Gomez, who profiles as a DH, could fill in if needed. The same is true of Lavarnway.

What's good: After struggling in 2008-09 (.250/.348/.482), Ortiz went .296/.391/.558 over the last three seasons with 84 home runs. He has hit .325 with 17 home runs against lefthanders the last two seasons. Amidst all the chaos of the last two seasons, he has become the face of the franchise.

What's bad: Ortiz strained his right Achilles' tendon last July 16 and played only one game the rest of the season. He is expected to be at full speed for spring training. But Ortiz has to be cognizant of doing the proper stretching and getting enough treatment to avoid further injury.

Theme song: "A Legend In My Time" by Johnny Cash.

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