FORT MYERS, Fla. — Red Sox manager John Farrell said while Jackie Bradley Jr. remains the team's starting center fielder, he can't deny how well Grady Sizemore has looked and how he has thrust himself into the competition.
Sizemore, who was scheduled to start in center field and lead off in tonight's game vs. the Phillies, is expected to go at least "seven or eight innings, possibly a full game," according to Farrell. That would mark the first time Sizemore had played so deep.
"We came into camp as Jackie as the guy to start in centerfield and I don't think anything has radically changed that thought," Farrell said. But we can't deny the fact that Grady Sizemore has looked very well in camp. We're still trying to get our arms around his durability. We're starting to get a little more of that test and answers to some of those questions."
Farrell was asked whether he would keep both Bradley and Sizemore on the roster.
"I can't say we wouldn't do that, but there are also limits to the roster," Farrell said. "We've said it many times that the one thing we've befitted by is a deep and talented roster. Early in the season you want as many of those players as you can. You try, one way or another, to keep as many good players as you have. That's something we'll arrive at before we break here."
Asked when he realized Sizemore would be a factor, he said, "As camp has unfolded and Grady has shown well."
Farrell said the team has not spoken to Sizemore on whether March 31st would be the hard and fast date on his future (he could possibly go to Pawtucket to start the season).
"We haven't gotten to that point," Farrell said. "We wanted to take a look at spring training itself and we didn't know how he was going to respond to the day-to-day and so far it's been favorable. His timing at the plate has looked very good. It doesn't look like he's missed two years."
Shane Victorino will also return to action vs. Philadelphia.
"He did take BP yesterday, just didn't want to take the live at-bats yesterday so he's in there today," Farrell said. Victorino was pulled out of Friday's game as he experienced some soreness in his surgically repaired thumb.
Farrell said Jon Lester would continue to build and would face the Yankees next week in Fort Myers.
"Right now our plan for him is to pitch that night," Farrell said. "Given that we've taken some guys through simulated games the first couple of times out, we don't want to have our guys pitching completely in those controlled settings so right now everything is pointing toward him pitching in the night game here."
Farrell also said there is competition for the utility spot between Jonathan Herrera and Brock Holt.
"Those two guys have the versatility, and as we've said before, the ability to play shortstop is the preference for that position. We've tried to get them both time on the left side of the infield because we know that both play second base very well," Farrell said.
Despite no time on the mound as the Red sox try to ease Craig Breslow back, Farrell said "he's still in position to be on time. We're anticipating he'll see hitters by the second half of this week."
And the build up for Xander Bogaerts at shortstop underway.
"The work he's done with Butter (coach Brian Butterfield) and to maintain the range he has, we feel very comfortable with him at shortstop," Farrell said.