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Red Sox, PawSox Each Tally Wins against Twins

Both Boston and Pawtucket drove a few miles west on Daniels Parkway to play against the Twins and Rochester, respectively, in Lee County. And both garnered one-run victories.

First, on the feature field, Hammond Stadium, the Red Sox edged the Twins 4-3. Jake Peavy made his spring debut and looked pretty sharp. He would go three plus innings allowing a run on two hits with two walks and two strikeouts while using 53 pitches (31 strikes). Peavy was removed after issuing a leadoff walk in the 4th.

Lefty Andrew Miller, who has been exceptional to this point in the spring, promptly gave up a double to Oswaldo Arcia before throwing a wild pitch to allow a run to score from third. Kurt Suzuki added an RBI single off Miller as part of a three-run inning.

Boston’s pitching shut down the Twins from there allowing just four hits over the next five innings. Matty Ott (more than likely ticketed for Portland) walked two in .2 innings. Brandon Workman tossed three scoreless innings allowing just a pair of hits and striking out three. Dalier Hinojosa and Francisco Cordero finished off the game with clean frames.

Peavy has been tinkering with a new pitch, a splitter, to add to his repertoire. He gives all the credit to Koji Uehara who, “wouldn’t be the pitcher he is without it”. He unveiled the new pitch in his debut Thursday and according to his manager John Farrell, “It’s got some action in the bottom of the zone. Not too many offered swings at it. It’s something that he’s been working on here as he’s got to camp. But in addition to that, the one thing he talked about last year was trying to kill some of the speed of his curveball. You saw some in the mid-70s, which was good separation from his fastball. For the first time out, he had a good assortment of pitches today.”

The Red Sox sent their “A” lineup and they produced four runs on seven hits against Minnesota, who started with Phil Hughes on the mound. The Twins committed three errors which led directly to all four Boston runs scoring. Seizing opportunities is the name of the game, right?

Shane Victorino had an RBI single in a 2-for-3 afternoon and Dustin Pedroia’s two-run double in the 5th put Boston in front for good. Pedroia finished 2-for-3 in the game. Will Middlebrooks singled and stole a base and Deven Marrero doubled in his lone plate appearance.

A few hundred yards away on the back fields, the PawSox beat Rochester 5-4 to improve to 1-0-1 after two games of Grapefruit League play.

SS/OF Ryan Dent led the way going 4-for-4 (all singles) with two RBI and two runs scored. Third baseman Carlos Rivero went 3-for-4 with an RBI triple and a run scored, his second straight strong offensive game. Second baseman Mookie Betts had two hits, an RBI, a run scored, and a stolen base while OF Bo Greenwell, son of former PawSox and Red Sox star Mike Greenwell, delivered an RBI double which proved to be the winning run.

Lefty Henry Owens made the start for the PawSox and gave up two runs in 3.1 innings. His final line – 3.1 IP, 4 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 4 BB, 3 SO. The win went to Kyle Kraus (1-0) in relief who was charged with one unearned run over two-innings. The recently sent down Miguel Celestino earned the SV (#1) with two scoreless innings along with two strikeouts.

The PawSox will play Norfolk this afternoon in Fort Myers.

Today, the Red Sox will travel to Dunedin to take on the Blue Jays.

Clay Buchholz will try to continue his strong start to the spring and build off his impressive outing last Sunday against the Pirates. The rest of the lineup:

Jackie Bradley Jr. CF
Jonathan Herrera 3B
Mike Carp DH
Mike Napoli 1B
Jonny Gomes LF
Corey Brown RF
Ryan Lavarnway C
Brock Holt SS
Mike McCoy 2B

An injury update on pitcher Matt Barnes. The former first rounder has been dealing with a sore shoulder and was shut down close to two weeks ago. Barnes is now playing catch from 120 feet and the Red Sox hope to get him on a mound by the end of the month. What that means is that he would be a long shot to open the season with the PawSox. It might not be too far from the beginning of the season when he joins the club, but opening night seems far fetched at this point.

Nonetheless, John Farrell says that Barnes is making excellent progress.

Tomorrow is a travel day for me as I head down to Ft. Myers for a week to cover the team in person. I’ll be covering both the PawSox and the Red Sox throughout, so expect some photos and up to the minute updates on all the spring training action.

Happy Friday!

Jeff
@jlevering4
jlevering@pawsox.com

Minor League Games are Under Way

While the roster for the PawSox is far from set, the “Pawtucket” roster played against the “Rochester” roster yesterday on the back fields at JetBlue Park to a 5-5, 10 inning tie.

Most of the Pawtucket roster featured players that will be in either Portland or Salem, but the team got a nice boost with starter Felix Doubront pitching to keep with his regular rest. The lefty went 4.2 innings allowing two runs on three hits while striking out five. Nathan Reed (Independent/Mexican League in 2013) followed and threw 1.1 hitless innings. Mickey Pena (Salem/Portland/Arizona Fall League) went the next three innings and allowed seven hits and three runs. Chris Resop (Oakland/Sacramento) needed only four pitches to retire the side in the 10th-inning but the game was called after the top of the 10th.

Stefan Welch (Altoona/Salem, mid-season trade with PIT) launched a three-run homer in the bottom of the 4th-inning to give the PawSox a 3-2 lead. Third baseman Carlos Rivero (Syracuse, Harrisburg) added an RBI double in the 7th-inning to tie the game at 4-4 and catcher Dan Butler (Pawtucket Team MVP) delivered a run-scoring single in the bottom of the 8th to even the score at 5-5. Butler had two hits in the game.

The PawSox will play Rochester again today, but in Lee County just down to road.

Boston will be back in action as well as they will play the Twins in Lee County, a few hundred yards away from the PawSox.

Jake Peavy is scheduled to make his spring debut after he cut his left index finger (non pitching hand) while fishing. Here’s the rest of the lineup and pitching assignments after Peavy.

Daniel Nava LF
Shane Victorino RF
Dustin Pedroia 2B
David Ortiz DH
Mike Napoli 1B
A.J. Pierzynski C
Xander Bogaerts SS
Will Middlebrooks 3B
Jackie Bradley Jr. CF
Pitching after Peavy: LHP Henry Owens, RHP Brandon Workman, LHP Andrew Miller, LHP Jose Mijares, RHP Dalier Hinojosa, RHP Francisco Cordero.

The Red Sox made their first round of cuts earlier today. Among the names that were optioned to Pawtucket: RHP Anthony Ranaudo, RHP Alex Wilson, RHP Alex Hassan, OF Bryce Brentz and 3B Garin Cecchini. And these players were sent to minor league camp: RHP Matt Barnes, INF Heiker Meneses, LHP Henry Owens, C Blake Swihart, RHP Noe Ramirez, RHP Miguel Celestino and 1B Travis Shaw. Now, this doesn’t mean these players won’t still appear in big league spring training games, as evidence of Owens pitching today, but they won’t be making the Boston roster. And, to be fair, none really expected to make the initial roster with the exception of maybe Wilson. There are just not many jobs to be won this year, a stark contrast from a season ago.

Still “on the roster” are new comer Dalier Hinojosa and shortstop Deven Marrero. There is speculation now that Marrero could be the starter in Pawtucket the start the year. Whether he is or not is still a couple weeks from being determined, but to say that John Farrell and the rest of the Boston brass is not impressed with his defense is an understatement.

It’s not necessarily a bad thing these guys got “cut”. It just means they’ll be getting more consistent work, it’ll just be on the back fields. With the big league regulars starting to stretch out their playing time, the at-bats and the innings just aren’t there for some of these guys to get their reps. These moves allow them to do just that.

Boston now has 46 players in camp. They’ll need to make 21 more cuts to get to the final roster limit of 25 before their March 31st opener at Baltimore. Not a ton of jobs to win on the big club, but certainly a lot of intriguing names that could end up in Pawtucket because of the competition.

On the lighter side, my blogging buddy Rick has been singing the theme song for the Lansing Lugnuts for months now. Literally, at least 10-15 times a day he’ll just randomly pop out a, “You gotta go nuts, go nuts, go nuts”. It was quite entertaining for the first couple weeks…it’s getting a little long in the tooth now. Just to get a taste…

Everyone in the office is now trying to get a new song stuck in his head…any suggestions?! We started this one today, but it just doesn’t have the traction yet.

At least it’s a good deal…Like our Dollar Menu Mondays…where all your ballpark favorites are just a buck…Hot Dogs (a better deal at McCoy), Peanuts, Chips, Popcorn and Cracker Jacks all just a dollar on Mondays.

Makes me ready for Opening Day, which is just 21 short days away, against Lehigh Valley April 3rd.

Go Sox (Red and Paw!),

Jeff
@jlevering4
jlevering@pawsox.com

Red Sox Split Tuesday Double Dip

Boston split up their roster to play in a pair of games Tuesday, one at home against Miami, the other on the road in Sarasota against the Orioles. Boston beat Baltimore 6-5 and lost to Miami 5-4. Both had highs and not too many lows.

We’ll begin on the home front where the Red Sox saw the spring debut of John Lackey, the team’s #2 starter. The big righty out of Texas allowed just one hit over his first two innings. The 3rd was a different story as the Marlins went single, double, single, strikeout, sacrifice fly before Lackey was removed from the game once he reached his pitch limit. Said acting manager Torey Lovullo after the game, “I thought he was good. He ended up making some pitches in his final inning that ran his pitch count up, but overall for the first he stepped on the mound, his fastball was downhill. He located it and I think the idea for him was to get his legs under him and make those types of pitches. I thought he was good.”

Lackey’s final line included three runs allowed on four hits while he did not walk a batter and struck out three. Overall, a good start to the spring.

As for the rest of the bullpen, they allowed just two hits over the next five and a third innings. Andrew Miller, Burke Badenhop, Koji, and Tazawa all have spots in the Boston ‘pen come season’s beginning and all were sharp allowing just two base runners total.

Drake Britton, who the Sox are still trying to iron out whether he’ll be a starter or a reliever, pitched the final two innings of the game. After a 1-2-3 8th, Britton struck out the first batter he faced in the 9th before allowing a single and a pinch-hit two-run homer to allow the Marlins to take the lead. The southpaw got out of the inning without any further damage. The two runs were the first allowed by Britton in six spring outings. He’s struck out seven and walked just two.

At the plate, the Red Sox had just six hits. Mike Carp hit his 3rd homer of the spring. Christian Vazquez added an RBI single. Travis Shaw had an RBI double and Bryce Brentz had an RBI single in a 1-for-2 day that included a walk to boost his average to .409.

Grady Sizemore started for the second straight day, the first time he had played in back-to-back games since September of 2011, and went 0-for-2. Many pundits think he is poised to win the starting job in center field if he stays healthy. Depth is never a bad thing, especially when a guy like Jackie Bradley Jr. is neck and neck with the former All-Star.

Ian Browne, who covers the Red Sox for mlb.com, wrote a nice piece about Grady’s success to this point and how he is passing all the tests that have been given to this point. http://mlb.mlb.com/news/article/bos/grady-sizemore-passing-all-tests-could-win-starting-job-with-red-sox?ymd=20140311&content_id=69104394&vkey=news_bos

The contest in Sarasota featured a number of players that will more than likely be in Pawtucket. From all the pitchers who appeared (again, more than likely), to the position players sans Nava, Middlebrroks and Pierzynski.

In the 6-5 win, Allen Webster started and was lights out for the first three innings allowing just a pair of singles. But, in the 4th after he retired the lead off man, Webster lost his command walking three straight batters to end his outing. Oh so promising to start, then to have it end on a bit of a sour note is unfortunate. The crazy thing is that he hadn’t walked a batter until the rough 4th. Regardless, he got through the 1st relatively clean which is a huge plus.

Reliever Alex Wilson walked one and recorded two outs. Lefty Tommy Layne tossed a perfect inning and has yet to allow a run in the spring. Brayan Villarreal allowed a run in two innings of work and Noe Ramirez picked up the two inning save despite allowing two runs on four hits.

But perhaps the story of the day was the offense. Boston pounded out 12 hits, eight of which were extra base hits. Brock Holt, Will Middlebrooks and Ryan Lavarnway homered, Jackie Bradley Jr. tripled, Daniel Nava doubled twice, and A.J. Pierzynski and Holt doubled too.

Three of the Sox six runs were scored off of old teammate Alfredo Aceves, who signed with Baltimore in the offseason.

Former Red Sox prospect Michael Almanzar, a Rule-5 selection this past December, doubled home two runs in his only at-bat.

Boston will enjoy one of just two open dates in the spring schedule today, but they’ll pick back up game action Thursday down the road at Lee County against the Twins. Another pitching debut is on tap, this being the one of Jake Peavy.

A couple of links to good reads for the day, both coming from the Boston Globe.

The first from Peter Abraham who dives into a number of bullet points on the progress of the team at this point in the spring…http://www.bostonglobe.com/sports/2014/03/12/red-sox-spring-training-progress-report-updates-and-observations/X7DVkyRDWZksaXqtkRTxOJ/story.html

The second from Nick Cafardo on a couple scouts opinions of what the Red Sox have with Will Middlebrooks and Xander Bogaerts on the left side of the infield…http://www.boston.com/sports/baseball/redsox/extras/extra_bases/2014/03/scouts_share_thoughts_on_bogaerts_middlebrooks.html

Enjoy your Wednesday!

Jeff
@jlevering4
jlevering@pawsox.com

Lester Deals in Spring Debut; Lackey Debuts Today

Any rust on Jon Lester? No chance. Not after his three shutout innings allowing just a hit and a walk while striking out four in the Red Sox 6-2 win over Tampa Bay.

After his start, Lester said, “I felt good. It felt good to get the first one out of the way. Kind of what we talked about last week as far as getting used to the surroundings and the fans and the whole routine of a normal work day. It was good. It was a step in the right direction going through spring.”

The team has been cautious with both Lester and Lackey after their larger than usual workloads from the 2013 World Series run.

Speaking of Lackey, he’s scheduled to make his Spring debut against the Marlins this afternoon. More on that in a bit.

Boston got offensive contributions from David Ortiz, who blasted his first homer of the Spring, Mike Napoli who launched his second and Corey Brown, who figures to be in the PawSox starting lineup, homered for the first time in the 8th inning. Brown also singled and is hitting a steamy .571 (4-for-7) and making the most of his opportunities with his new club.

Will Middlebrooks’ bat has started to heat up as he went 2-for-3 with a double and boosted his spring average to .316. Grady Sizemore added another hit (1-for-3) to raise his spring mark to .364. And Sizemore will be playing today as well, the first time he’s played in back-to-back games this spring. Xander Bogaerts has been slow to get going in the average department hitting just .188, but he walked two more times yesterday and his approach has been steadfast.

On the mound, the rest of the staff was strong. Chris Capuano, competing to be the swing man in the rotation and long man in the bullpen, allowed a solo homer to Evan Longoria on the first pitch he threw, but was fine after that. His final line, 3 IP, ER, 4H, 2 K.

Anthony Ranaudo looked much better in his outing yesterday as he threw two scoreless innings. He did walk a couple and allowed a hit while striking out two.

Jose Mijares allowed a run in his one inning in the 9th, an RBI single by Kevin Kiermaier who was strong against the PawSox in the Governors’ Cup Finals for Durham.

On to today where the Marlins visit JetBlue Park. Remember last week when Boston was across the state and the Miami brass was upset with the players that were sent for their game. Today, the Marlins are fielding their regular season lineup to which Owner John Henry tweeted…

Classic!

Boston will trot out John Lackey to the hill in his spring debut. The lineup behind him will be…

Grady Sizemore CF
Dustin Pedroia 2B
David Ortiz DH
Mike Napoli 1B
Jonny Gomes LF
Xander Bogaerts SS
David Ross C
Bryce Brentz RF
Jonathan Herrera 3B

In addition to the game at JetBlue, the Red Sox will send a split squad to Sarasota to play Baltimore. Allen Webster will make his third spring start. His first against the Twins was not great, but his second against Miami was very strong. He’s looking to get in back-to-back solid starts.

The lineup behind Webster…

Daniel Nava 1B
Jackie Bradley Jr. CF
Will Middlebrooks 3B
A.J. Pierzynski C
Ryan Lavarnway DH,
Corey Brown LF
Alex Hassan RF
Brock Holt 2B
Deven Marrero SS

A good sprinkling of big league regulars and depth guys. I don’t think the Orioles will scoff at this travel squad like Miami did last week.

Lastly, Red Sox Manager John Farrell didn’t officially commit to his starting rotation to begin the season, but the way it maps out with rest would be Jon Lester on Opening Day, John Lackey, Felix Doubront, Jake Peavy and Clay Buchholz.

It’s supposed to “feel” like spring today in Pawtucket! Opening Day is only 23 days away!

Jeff
@jlevering4
jlevering@pawsox.com

Things ‘May’ Be starting to Come Together; Two Monday Debuts

After a really rough start to the spring for the Red Sox, it seemed things were starting to turn around a bit with a 4-1 win over Atlanta on Friday afternoon.

Felix Doubront fired four scoreless inning allowing just a pair of hits while striking out three. And the rest of the bullpen of Koji, Taz, Edward Mujica, Burke Badenhop and Francisco Cordero held the Braves to just two hits over the final five innings. All but Cordero looks to have a pretty sizable role in the Boston bullpen.

The offense, which was more of regular season preview, pounded out 11 hits including a pair from Grady Sizemore. Ryan Lavarnway had a big two run single during a three-run 7th inning outburst. All of Boston’s runs were scored with two outs.

What optimism was gained in Friday’s win was quickly extinguished after a truly rough Saturday. In a split squad doubleheader with Baltimore, Boston lost both ends 7-3 and 13-2, respectively, while committing EIGHT errors.

In game one, the lone bright spots were Will Middlebrooks and Bryce Brentz who each went 2-for-3 with homers. For Brentz, it was his 3rd and for Middlebrooks, his 1st.

Henry Owens made the start in Sarasota and went just 2.1 innings allowing three runs on five hits. he walked two and struck out one. So far, Owens has appeared in two official spring games allowing four runs in 4.1 innings (8.31 ERA) on six hits. The tall lefty, who has been described as a mix of Chuck Finley with his build and Jeff Spicoli from Fast Times at Ridgemont High (only because he is from Southern California), is rated as the 2nd best prospect in the Red Sox system, and the best pitcher.

Alex Wilson had a rough day allowing four runs on five hits while recording just two outs. Tommy Layne, Matty Ott and Jose Mijares each tossed 1.1 scoreless innings. Noe Ramirez threw a scoreless frame as well.

At least the first game was competitive because the night cap was not pretty at JetBlue. A 13-2 drubbing where Boston made six errors and had just three hits.

The good: Christian Vazquez hit a two-run 9th inning homer, his first of the spring. Corey Brown and Brandon Snyder singled. Chris Hernandez and Jose Valdez were the only pitchers not to allow a run.

The bad: a good number of the Red Sox regulars were in the starting lineup. Six errors, five of them fielding, two by Jonathan Herrera and one each from Jonny Gomes, Garin Cecchini and Heiker Meneses, and an errant pickoff from Brayan Villarreal. A.J. Pierzynski had a passed ball. The Orioles were 4-for-4 in stolen base attempts, three by Jemile Weeks. Only 7 of the 13 runs scored by Baltimore were earned. Brandon Workman started and went 3.1 innings allowing two runs on four hits with two walks and two k’s. His spring ERA now sits at 11.12 (7ER/5.2IP/9 hits).

As we’ve talked about before, wins and losses in the spring are not that important, just show some progress from the team. There were a few funny tweets during the Saturday double-dip debacle mentioning that John Farrell should run into the showers and throw all the bats in to get the team’s attention, a la the manager from Bull Durham before his infamous “lollygaggers” speech. No need for that at this point, but it sure would have been funny.

Sunday was big turnaround as the club went to Bradenton to face the Pirates. Clay Buchholz looked like the 12-1 ace from a year ago mixing and matching his pitches efficiently and effectively. He went three no-hit innings while walking just one and striking out one. His two-seamer was down in the zone consistently and got five ground balls out of the nine batters he faced. Three were flyouts and the other putout was a caught stealing. Very good stuff from Buch.

Andrew Miller struck out the side in the one inning he threw and looked dominant. Dalier Hinojosa continues to impress firing a pair of scoreless innings and Francisco Cordero picked up another save throwing a clean 9th. Rubby De La Rosa is continuing to try and find his groove this spring. He allowed the Pirates first hit in the 7th inning and an RBI single to former Sox prospect Chris McGuiness. De La Rosa’s spring ERA currently sits at a bloated 11.25 (5ER/4IP/9 hits).

The bats came around as Jackie Bradley Jr. delivered a two-run single, Mike Carp went 2-for-3 with a homer (#2) and Derrik Gibson had an RBI single.

Bryce Brentz added a couple singles to boost his spring average to .400 (8-for-20).

On to the present as the Red Sox host Tampa Bay at JetBlue Park today. Shane Victorino is in the starting lineup to make his spring debut and Jon Lester will start on the mound for his first start in a “real” game since the World Series. Victorino had offseason thumb surgery and is being eased back into game action while Lester has just been held back, along with John Lackey, after their heavy workload in the playoffs last year.

As for the rest of the lineup against the Rays, it looks Opening Day-esque…

Grady Sizemore CF
Dustin Pedroia 2B
David Ortiz DH
Mike Napoli 1B
Daniel Nava LF
Shane Victorino RF
Xander Bogaerts SS
A.J. Pierzynski C
Will Middlebrooks 3B

Jake Odorizzi will start for the Rays…that’s a name that could be familiar to PawSox fans as he started the game that Pawtucket was no-hit on May 5th and started Game 1 of the finals in September. He was tough on the PawSox in both of those starts. Odorizzi, a former first rounder by the Brewers, was part of the Zack Greinke deal that sent him from Kansas City to Milwaukee (Odorizzi went to KC) and was shipped to Tampa Bay (along with 2013 Rookie of the Year Wil Myers) from KC for James Shields.

And don’t look now, but minor league games start Wednesday when Rochester visits the JetBlue Park back fields.

Good to be back, happy Monday…24 days until Opening Night at McCoy!

Jeff
@jlevering4
jlevering@pawsox.com

A Tie is as Good as a Win

In essence, the 2014 PawSox tied the Miami Marlins yesterday. Marlins brass has made a big stink about the Red Sox not sending enough “A-list Players” to their game at Roger Dean Stadium in Jupiter Thursday. A quote from the Sun-Sentinel…The Marlins charged extra money for tickets to Thursday’s spring training game in Jupiter, Fla., because the World Series-champion Boston Red Sox were in town. The problem? The Red Sox didn’t exactly send out the same lineup that beat the Cardinals last October, and that’s something that really upset some of the Marlins’ higher-ups. According to Juan C. Rodriguez of the Sun-Sentinel, “The Marlins had no comment, but a source said team executives were ‘outraged’ and planned to contact the league office.” To read the whole article, visit here…http://boston.cbslocal.com/2014/03/06/report-marlins-executives-outraged-at-red-sox-for-lack-of-star-power-in-spring-training-lineup/

But, really, what does this say about the Marlins if they tied, essentially, a Triple-A team? It says that the Red Sox system is really good or the Marlins are really bad. I’ll take the first option.

Lineups aside, the two teams played to a 0-0 tie after seven innings. Mother nature pretty much wiped out every game in Florida. Only the Yankees and Phillies got their game in besides the Red Sox/Marlins tilt because of nasty storms. Even the first round of the World Golf Classic at Doral had it’s first round stopped short, good thing for Tiger Woods, who looked like he was putting with a shovel.

Regardless of who was there, who wasn’t and the poor weather, several Red Sox farm hands really shined on Thursday. One was Allen Webster. After a forgettable debut last week against Minnesota, Webster brought his “A-Game” to Jupiter.

He was economical (30 pitches in 3 innings). He allowed just one hit and struck out one while he did not walk a batter. Of the nine outs he recorded, seven were ground balls, perfect for a sinker-baller. A stark contrast from his first outing when he couldn’t get out of the second inning. Some of that had to do with what Webster did between starts. He had a film study with John Lackey and Jon Lester, at the urging of pitching coach Juan Nieves.

“They saw me drifting forward, and they pulled me aside and told me to stay back over the rubber and get more angle, get more downhill to the plate,” Webster said.

The result?

“I think what it does, it eliminates some of the over-rotating where he’ll misfire either to his arm side or yank some balls down and away,” John Farrell said. “It keeps him a little bit more north and south, kept the sinker on the plate, which was a pitch that he got a number of outs with.”

Keep it up Allen because the results were a ray of sunshine in what inevitably was a gloomy day.

Another stand out was shortstop Deven Marrero, who has seen extended playing time while the team has been on the east side of Florida. A day after committing an error against the Cardinals on a routine play, Marrero turned heads with his glove against the Marlins Thursday. So much so, that he got this reaction out of his manager, “My gosh, he put on a display defensively.”

A first round pick in 2012 out of Arizona State (Dustin Pedroia’s alma mater) and a kid who went to high school just 70 miles south of Palm Beach, there’s a reason why last spring they made him the first position player since Scott Hatteberg in 1992 to be invited to big league camp after just one year of pro ball. “Defense is my thing,” Marrero said. “I’m ready every pitch. Everything else just happens, it flows. Everything happens so quick, you just react.”

What’s truly remarkable about Marrero’s defense is that he made just 9 errors in 64 games in Lowell in 2012, his first year of pro ball. In 85 games with Salem in 2013, he made just 4. In his late season promotion to Portland, he made just 2 in 19 contests. The kid is a glove man. His bat is still a work in progress, but maybe strides have already been made as he is 4-for-8 at the plate so far this spring. He’ll more than likely start 2014 in Portland, but don’t be shocked if he ends up at McCoy Stadium a some point this summer.

More news and notes from Thursday:

Boston had seven hits in the seven innings including an Alex Hassan double and Marrero’s two knocks. Jackie Bradley Jr. had a hit and a walk. Ryan Lavarnway did too. Blake Swihart singled as did Bryce Brentz who played the whole game in right field.

The club was just 1-for-10 and stranded 11 men on base…

In what was the shocker of the day, Garin Cecchini was hitless in four at-bats with four strikeouts. He’d never taken the silver (or golden depending on who you talk to) sombrero in his ENTIRE career before Thursday. In fact, he’d only had THREE 3 strikeout games in his 279 game career spanning over 1,000 at-bats. Pretty sure he’ll be making more contact over the next few weeks of spring.

Drake Britton added a pair of scoreless innings, while pitching around a leadoff double and a walk in the 5th before inducing a double play to get out of trouble. Alex Wilson also fired a scoreless inning while walking one and Miguel Celestino (the 100 MPH man), pitched a clean final inning before the rains came.

The below is a brief excerpt from Gordon Edes article on ESPNBoston.com about Bryce Brentz and his relationship with his brother and how he is looking to make an impression this spring.

“My brother got all the size,” Bryce Brentz says. “I’m the runt of the family.”

Six-foot-four Jared Brentz has at least four inches over his twin brother, and a build that bears a greater resemblance to Charlie Brentz, their father who played football both ways for the Mississippi State Bulldogs.

The read the full article, use this link…http://espn.go.com/blog/boston/red-sox/post/_/id/34823/brentz-working-hard-to-make-an-impression

Today, the Atlanta Braves come to JetBlue Park for their 1:05 game with Boston. Felix Doubront will make his 2nd start of the spring for the Red Sox with a lineup that the Marlins would have been more pleased with.

Grady Sizemore CF
Dustin Pedroia 2B
David Ortiz DH
Mike Napoli 1B
Jonny Gomes LF
Daniel Nava RF
Xander Bogaerts SS
Will Middlebrooks 3B
David Ross C

Happy Friday and enjoy what is supposed to be warmer weather this weekend!

Jeff
@jlevering4
jlevering@pawsox.com

Spring Struggles Continue for Red Sox

Another day and another tough game for the Red Sox. The offense was quiet until late. The pitching was not sharp and the defense was poor (three errors) in an 8-6 loss against St. Louis.

As we talked about yesterday, wins and losses really don’t matter in spring training, but you’d like to see players moving towards their goals and improving as a team. Now, manager John Farrell has had his patience tested saying, “Tough day defensively. We’ve got a lot of work to do. We’re well into the game schedule but we have work to do as a team. It was a tough day for Will [Middlebrooks] defensively, but compounded by [pitchers] being behind on the count. We have to do much better pounding the strike zone than we have.”

The comment on Middlebrooks comes after he played a routine groundball off to the side rather than squaring it up, that resulted in an error that led to a couple of runs. He misplayed another ball later in the game that led to three more runs. Xander Bogaerts looked a “little slow” in trying to get to a ball to his left and one to his right.

Anthony Ranaudo battled his command throughout his outing. The 6’7″ starter lasted just an inning and a third allowing five runs, three earned on six hits with a pair of walks. He was behind in the count and could not find the strikezone with much consistency. Said Ranaudo, “Getting out of my delivery. I wasn’t hitting any spots. Overall not a good game. I need to do a better job of in-game adjustments. It’s still the first week in March and there’s plenty of time to straighten it out.”

After Ranaudo, the three other Red Sox hurlers were strong. Dalier Hinojosa went 2.1 innings allowing an unearned run on four hits and struck out four. Lefty Tommy Layne retired all four batter he faced, two on punchouts. And Noe Ramirez worked a clean frame.

As mentioned, the offense was held in check. After a lead-off solo homer by Daniel Nava on the second pitch of the game, Cardinals starter Shelby Miller retired the next eight batters he faced.

Trailing 7-1 in the 6th, Xander Bogaerts launched his first spring training homer, a no-doubter to left field. After a Mike Carp triple, Will Middlebrooks brought him home with a groundout.

Boston had a chance in the 9th on a rally ignited by a group of PawSox. Dan Butler drew a walk and future PawSox 3rd baseman Garin Cecchini singled before Heiker Meneses doubled into right center plating two. However, Meneses tried to stretch his double into a triple and was thrown out to end the game. Again, wins and losses aren’t everything in the spring, but it was good to see the “kids” do a good job of fighting ’til the end.

Christian Vazquez started behind the plate and collected a pair of hits in three AB’s. He also threw out a runner trying to steal second and got close to picking off two guys at first base on back-picks.

Bryce Brentz went 0-for-2 with a walk while starting in right field. He made the defensive play of the day gunning down a runner at third on a perfect, no-hop throw to end the 5th inning.

Ryan Lavarnway DH’d and played the whole game going 1-for-4. The Cardinals broadcast team had the telecast and the “Mad Hungarian” Al Hrabosky said, “What did Ryan do to be put in the dog house to play the whole game?” Nothing, Al…just getting his at-bats with a limited travel roster.

Deven Marrero doubled in his only plate appearance, but also committed and error at shortstop.

Boston would strikeout 14 times in the game.

The Red Sox remain at Roger Dean Stadium to play the Marlins, and familiar face Jarrod Saltalamacchia, today. The lineup looks very similar to one that fans could seen in Pawtucket in the near future. Allen Webster will make his second start of the spring.

Jackie Bradley Jr., CF
Alex Hassan, LF
Garin Cecchini, 3B
Ryan Lavarnway, C
Travis Shaw, 1B
Brandon Snyder, DH
Bryce Brentz, RF
Deven Marrero, SS
Heiker Menses, 2B

The injury update for the day is that starter Matt Barnes is hoping to play catch today after being shut down earlier in the week with shoulder stiffness. He said he, “feels good”.

Jon Lester threw three simulated innings yesterday with strong reports and John Lackey will throw a two-inning simulated game today. Lester is slated to start Monday against Tampa Bay.

Minor league camp is up and running with games scheduled to begin on March 12th against Rochester (Twins affiliate). Yours truly will be camp bound on the 15th. I’m ready to renew my relationship with the warm sun!

Jeff
@jlevering4
jlevering@pawsox.com

Offense Quiet again for Red Sox Tuesday

In what has become a bit of a trend in the early going for the Red Sox, the offense once again was held in check in an 8-0 loss to Tampa Bay Tuesday afternoon in Ft. Myers.

Eight singles and four walks was all the offensive production against the Rays. Alex Hassan had the lone multi-hit effort going 2-for-3 as he made the start in right field. Dan Butler started behind the dish and had a single in two at-bats. And Brandon Snyder continues to have a strong spring collecting another hit. He’s hitting a cool .500 (3-for-6) with an RBI.

Corey Brown, who was hit by a pitch in his hand on Thursday last week, got back into action, but struck out in his lone at-bat. Brown is more than likely ticketed for Pawtucket to start the season.

As a team, Boston was 0-for-9 with runners in scoring position and hit into four double plays.

The story of Tuesday, though, was the return of Clay Buchholz to the mound. He hadn’t pitched in a game since the World Series and there was some rust. He only threw one inning allowing a run on three hits while walking one and striking out one. But the key to his outing was that he felt healthy. “Definitely, I feel good,” Buchholz said. “I don’t know if it’s because of the time off or whatever, but everything seems to be coming together pretty easily right now. It definitely feels completely different than the last month and a half, two months that I threw last year. That’s what I wanted to feel like coming into camp, and I just have to keep working day to day and getting out there every five days.”

He’ll be a huge key to the Red Sox rotation this year.

Meanwhile, Rubby De La Rosa, who celebrated his 25th birthday yesterday, did not fare well in his two innings. He allowed four runs on five hits, including a homer to James Loney, a pair of walks and one strikeout. It was not a great showing for Rubby after he was strong in his first appearance last week.

Reliever Brayan Villarreal didn’t not pitch well either in his lone inning. He allowed three runs on three hits (a pair of doubles and a homer) with two strikeouts.

Francisco Cordero, Jose Mijares and Chris Hernandez each added scoreless innings, but that damage had already been done for Tampa.

While spring training results are not the “be all, end all” with wins and losses, it certainly doesn’t hurt to tally a couple wins. So far, Boston is 1-4.

On the injury front, Jake Peavy threw a bullpen early this morning. He still cannot use his left hand to catch, due to his sliced up finger, so he solicited the help of a bullpen catcher to receive throws.

The catching duo of A.J. Pierzynski and David Ross both have left ankle issues. Pierzynski rolled his diving back to first on a pick off attempt and Ross has had lingering issues since the offseason. Ross said, “it’s one of those things where I can run straight, but I can’t really turn really good”. Ross will more than likely throw and hit today and Thursday and is hopeful to be back into a game Friday. With the team on the east side of Florida for two days, Pierzynski has two built in days off. He hopes to return Friday as well.

No update on Matt Barnes today. He was shut down yesterday due to shoulder stiffness, but the medical staff believes he’ll be fine. No structural damage has been reported.

As mentioned earlier, the Red Sox will be on the east side of the state for the next two days as they take on the Cardinals and Marlins today and tomorrow in Jupiter.

Chris Capuano will make his Red Sox debut today against St. Louis at Roger Dean Stadium.

And the rest of the lineup is as follows:

Daniel Nava LF
Jackie Bradley Jr CF
Xander Bogaerts SS
Mike Carp 1B
Will Middlebrooks 3B
Ryan Lavarnway DH
Jonathan Herrera 2B
Bryce Brentz RF
Christian Vazquez C

Enjoy your Wednesday!

Jeff
@jlevering4
jlevering@pawsox.com

Monday News from the Fort

The Red Sox showed some of the comeback grit that made them 2013 World Series Champions in yesterday’s 7-6 defeat against the Pirates in Bradenton.

Starter Brandon Workman, who was filling in for Jake Peavy who cut his left index finger while fishing, did not fare well in his second outing of the the spring. He allowed a two-run homer in the 1st inning to Pedro Alvarez and Russell Martin slugged another two-run shot in the 3rd. It should be noted that the ballpark in Bradenton does have a pretty sizable jet stream making it favorable for hitters.

Manager John Farrell was not overly concerned with Workman’s outing. “I thought he showed good definition with three different pitches, but when he mislocated or elevated a couple times, they made him pay for it. But we got him out for the start of the third inning, and as we continue to stretch him out, we got him to 45 or so pitches, it was a solid work day, even though the results might not be what we anticipated.”

Red Sox bullpen regulars Koji Uehara (making his spring debut) tossed a scoreless inning as did Junichi Tazawa and Burke Badenhop. Henry Owens threw an inning out of the bullpen and allowed a run on a hit with a pair of strikeouts.

Boston was limited again on offense accounting for just six hits, but two of those knocks left the yard. Bryce Brentz slugged his second of the spring and Mike Carp added a two-run blast, his first.

Brock Holt started at shortstop and while he did not have a hit, he reached on a fielder’s choice and stole a pair of bases. Garin Cecchini started at third and drew two walks.

Starting catcher A.J. Pierzynski had the lone multi-hit effort going 2-for-3 with a double, but had to leave the game in the 7th inning after rolling his ankle in an attempt to get back to 1st base on a pickoff. Farrell on the Pierzynski ankle, “He rolled that ankle once again. He rolled it while it was in the dirt. It was a little discomfort, similar to earlier in camp when we had to pull him out for a couple days so it’€™s something he’€™s managing and trying to support it best he can.”

Pitcher Matt Barnes, in his first major league spring training, has been shut down for a few days due to shoulder stiffness. Farrell said, “we’re just being overly cautious”. He is more than likely slatted to be in the PawSox rotation.

As mentioned before, Cecchini has been raising lots of eyebrows to this point early in camp. But this is nothing new to the Louisiana native. Ian Browne of MLB.com caught up with the top prospect.

If Garin Cecchini plays like the son of a coach, it’s because he is actually the son of two coaches and proud of it.

From t-ball to his senior year of high school, Cecchini was drilled in the fundamentals of the game by his mom and dad, Raissa and Glenn.

When Garin — a left-handed-hitting third-base prospect for the Red Sox — reached Barbe High School in Louisiana, Glenn was the head coach and Raissa was not only the first-base coach, but also the de facto hitting coach.

To read the entire article, click here…http://mlb.mlb.com/news/article/bos/parents-influenced-red-sox-third-base-prospect-garin-cecchini?ymd=20140303&content_id=68614982&vkey=news_bos

Here is a great piece by Mike Berardino of twincities.com about Drake Britton and his best friend, and former Red Sox farmhand, Ryan Pressly who now pitches for Minnesota and their bond that will live forever. http://www.twincities.com/sports/ci_25260526/pitching-through-pain-twins-pressly-and-red-soxs

Clay Buchholz will make his spring debut today against Tampa Bay at JetBlue Park at 1:05; he’s scheduled to go just one inning. The birthday boy, Rubby De La Rosa, is scheduled to pitch a couple innings as well as Andrew Miller, Francisco Cordero and Jose Mijares.

The rest of the lineup:

Grady Sizemore CF
Dustin Pedroia 2B
David Ortiz DH
Mike Napoli 1B
Jonny Gomes LF
Xander Bogaerts SS
Will Middlebrooks 3B
Alex Hassan RF
Dan Butler C

Enjoy your Tuesday!

Jeff
@jlevering4
jlevering@pawsox.com

Weekend Review from the Fort; Oscars Recap

Well, spring training games are afoot. The weather has been warm and there have been some impressive performances and some not so much in the early going down in Ft. Myers.

On the good side, Anthony Ranaudo was sensational in his spring debut on Friday afternoon. He went six up, six down and struck out four. He was down in the zone and just flat out dominated the Twins for two innings. Said Ranaudo after his outing, “I was just going out there and trying to be aggressive. [I was] just trying to fill up the zone. Especially being a starting pitcher, get the flow of the game going, so I was trying to be aggressive with my fastball. I was able to go side-to-side. I wasn’t down in the zone as much as I’d like, but overall it went pretty well.”

The offense collected just five hits in Friday’s 8-2 loss to Minnesota, one of which was a solo homer by Bryce Brentz to straight away center field.

Saturday saw Allen Webster make his spring debut. Touted as the 4th best prospect in the system by Baseball America, fans in Pawtucket saw plenty of highlights from the right hander in 2013, but not too many while he was in Boston. The general run on Webster was if he got through the 1st inning cleanly, he was going to be poised for a good outing. Well, he retired the first batter he faced on Saturday against the Twins, but then he allowed a double, an RBI single, another double, a hit batter, a bases loaded walk and a sacrifice fly. Three runs on three hits with command issues. A trend he’ll have to clean up moving forward and one he knows he needs to work on.

Drake Britton shoved in his two clean innings allowing just a two out double in his second inning of work. He struck out four of the first five batters he faced.

Brayan Villarreal and Shunsuke Watanabe (he barely broke 80 MPH on the radar gun with his submarine style pitches) each contributed scoreless innings, both should be in Pawtucket in 2014.

On the offensive side, Garin Cecchini started at third and went 2-for-3 with a double and played a clean game defensively. Brock Holt had a single and a stolen base. And Daniel Nava, who hadn’t taken any swings from the right side of the plate until he came to the plate in the 1st inning, slugged a solo homer on the first pitch he saw.

Boston fell to the Twins 6-2. Webster, who is not long winded, commented on his outing, “I just got in there, got a little anxious, left a few balls up, fell behind, and they made good contact with it. It was my first outing so far, so I was definitely amped up.”

The Red Sox finally got into the win column (not that wins and losses matter much at all in spring training) on Sunday against the Orioles with an 8-6 victory.

Finally, the offense caught up to the pitching scoring eight runs on 12 hits. Xander Bogaerts and Jackie Bradley Jr each collected a pair of hits. Bogaerts scored a run on Bradley Jr’s RBI single in the 6th. Bryce Brentz tallied an RBI in the 5th with a single. Mike Napoli blasted his first homer of the spring, a two-run shot in the 1st, Brandon Snyder singled home a run and Travis Shaw plated a pair of runs with a double in the 8th inning.

The ever patient Alex Hassan drew a pair of walks in his two trips to the plate.

The pitching was better as well. Felix Doubront threw two scoreless innings allowing just a hit while striking out three. Edward Mujica made his Red Sox debut firing a scoreless frame. Alex Wilson, coming off of offseason thumb surgery, allowed a couple hits but did not allow a run. Newly acquired left Tommy Layne (probably headed to Pawtucket) threw a clean inning and Noe Ramirez added a 1-2-3 7th inning.

With Baltimore at JetBlue Park, the Red Sox saw a number of familiar faces including former PawSox reliever Brock Huntzinger who tossed a scoreless inning. He was signed by Orioles as a free agent in the offseason. Former Sox prospect Michael Almanzar, a Rule-5 Pick by the O’s, went 0-for-3. And the man who made the “mad dash home” in the PawSox North Division clincher, Quintin Berry went 0-for-1 and stranded two on base in his lone at-bat.

The “Tugging on the Heart Strings” moment of the spring also happened on Sunday as Red Sox icon Carl Yastrzemski was reunited with grandson Mike Yastrzemski, a prospect with the Orioles. The two are close to begin with as the elder of the two partaking in special Sunday lessons when Mike was was in high school at St. John’s Prep in Danvers, Mass.

Mike was added to the Orioles travel roster for Sunday’s tilt in Ft. Myers and entered the game as a pinch runner in the 6th inning before playing in right field (opposite of his grandfather). The former 14th round pick out of Vanderbilt in 2013 drew a walk and scored a run during the contest. Afterward he said, “To play at a replica of Fenway in Spring Training, and my first time being at a big league camp, [that's] real special.”

What if the Red Sox would have drafted him? Talk about tough shoes to fill. He was originally back in 2009 out of high school, but did not sign. None the less, Mike is certainly happy the way things ended up. “My thought at the time was that college was the right decision for me, and I’m happy where I am now,” Mike said. “I’m still getting to play down here at the Red Sox Spring Training.”

Carl knows that his shadow could have made life tough for Mike as a Boston farm hand.

“Without any doubt,” Yaz said. “I think if he would have signed with the Red Sox, it would have been too much pressure. He likes the Baltimore organization. They are a great organization, Dan Duquette [is there], so he’s very happy there.”

A very cool moment for both as Carl had just arrived in camp earlier in the day.

The Oscars

I’m a big movie guy, so the Oscars are fun to watch. Ellen was good, not great. Her pizza delivery bit was funny, but it dragged. Her “celeb selfie” was hilarious, but she didn’t need to say she broke Twitter. I was one of the million plus people to retweet the photo though…How long to we have to wait for Paws and Sox to make a photo bomb appearance in that photo?!

As for the awards, nothing earth shattering. Gravity won all the technical, sound and directing/cinematography awards. It was a brilliant movie visually. Jared Leto (remember him from My So Called Life) and Matthew McConaughey (alright, alright, alright) won the Male Acting awards for their roles in Dallas Buyers Club, supporting and leading role, respectively. Cate Blanchette won Best Actress for her role in Blue Jasmine…she was outstanding as a neurotic divorcee on the verge of a mental break down (a perfect Woody Allen female lead). And Lupita Nyong’o won best Supporting Actress for her role in 12 Years a Slave (Best Picture winner too). She had the best acceptance speech, I thought. Genuine, real and so heartfelt. The best line…“No matter where you’re from, your dreams are valid.”

McConaughey’s was great too. For a guy who gets a bad rap for being a “chick-flick/rom-com” guy, he really is a strong actor. In his speech he talked about never being happy with were he is in his career. He talked about having a constant drive to better himself, a quality that surely helped him step out of his comfort zone.

“When I was 15 years old I had a very important person in my life come and ask me ‘Who’s your hero’. I said, “I thought about it and it’s me in ten years. So I turned 25 ten years later and that same person comes to me and goes, ‘Are you a hero?’ I said, ‘Not even close!’ ‘She said why and I said, ‘My hero is me at 35.’ You see, every day, and every week, and every month, and every year of my life my hero is always ten years away. I’m never going to be my hero. I’m not going to obtain that and that’s fine with me because it keeps me with somebody to keep on chasing. So to any of us, whatever those things are and whatever it is we look up to, whatever it is we look forward to and whoever it is we’re chasing, to that I say alright, alright, alright. And just keep living.”

Good for him…and well said. Always strive to better yourself in life.

And lastly, John Travolta….really? Somehow the singer of the Best Original Song “Let It Go” from Frozen, Idina Menzel, turning into Adela Dazeem…I mean, get in the ball park. That’s not even close. Maybe too much Botox to the forehead. Yikes. Pulp Fiction was a long time ago, John!

I digress.

Well done ABC. Fun show. Great performances especially by Pink (belting out a gorgeous rendition of “Somewhere over the Rainbow” as the Wizard of Oz celebrates its 75th anniversary) and Bette Midler, who always tugs on my heart strings with “Wind Beneath My Wings”.

Take your selfies, grab a slice of pizza and enjoy the movies.

Back to the baseball side, the Sox are back at work today in Bradenton against the Pirates.

Brandon Workman is the scheduled starter and the lineup behind him is as follows.

Daniel Nava LF
Jonathan Herrera 2B
Mike Carp DH
Ryan Lavarnway 1B
A.J. Pierzynski C
Jackie Bradley Jr. CF
Bryce Brentz RF
Garin Cecchini 3B
Brock Holt SS

Happy Monday everyone….exactly ONE month from Opening Night at McCoy!!

Jeff
@jlevering4
jlevering@pawsox.com

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