Pregame notes from Fenway

A quiet day here before the final game of the Angels-Sox series. Many media members from New York have descended to preview this weekend’s Red Sox-Yankee series. Most of the questioning was about Boston’s slow start, but Kevin Youkilis, for one, wasn’t interested in talking Yankees-Red Sox before the Red Sox were to play the Angels.

Francona did speak about Victor Martinez’ improving caught stealing numbers. The first 26 out of 27 basestealers had run successfully against him, now it’s 28 out of 35.

Asked what’s different, Francona said, “I think there’s a lot of factors. If you give up a lot of hits and walks, there’s a lot more baserunners. You’re playing from behind. We kind of got caught in that buzzsaw for a while where there wasn’t a lot of deterrent. We had games where a coiuple of leadoff walks and hits and we had a lot of baserunners and they (the other team was winning).

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“Victor has worked really hard. He took that pretty hard. In between innings you watch him and he wants to know what his time is to second. (2.0 seconds is considered average). He’s really been conscientious about it.”

Asked whether he’s now as good as he was when the Sox first obtained him from Cleveland last July 31st, he said “I would say this week he’s better. He’s been pretty quick the past six or seven throws. The release is quicker. He’s trying real hard to stay with that.”

Francona had new new timetable on Mike Cameron or Jacoby Ellsbury. Both are progressing and both took live BP again this afternoon. Both players are expected to go out on rehab assignments either this weekend or by the beginning of next week.

Youkilis, discussing the Sox’ recent rise said, “It’s just good to play good ball and get three W’s. There’s a lot of bad feeling in the air when you lose games so when you win three in a row you just have more excitement and more confidence in going about your business.

Asked about Theo Epstein’s comments last week about the team playing undisciplined baseball and his general tongue-lashing of the team after being swept by the Orioles, Youkilis said, “I was told about those. I really didn’t know what they were. He didn’t come to us or anything, He went to the papers so as players you know the general manager had every right to be upset about not winning games. He has every right to speak his mind when we’re not producing all the way up to the top.”

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John Smoltz is here with the MLB Network. Smoltz is trying to qualify for the US Open at Pebble Beach in June. He’s one of 9,052 golfers trying to play in 111 qualifying tournaments for a chance to keep moving up the qualifying ladder.

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