March 2010

A clean bill of health

FORT MYERS, Fla. — The weather was crisp, the sun was beaming and the crowds were healthy. It was a good day at Red Sox camp on Monday — and the injury report reflected that.

Here are some camp tidbits on the ailing Daisuke Matsuzaka, Mike Lowell and Mike Cameron, plus some other stuff …
* Red Sox manager Terry Francona was pretty giddy about Matsuzaka’s progress on returning from tightness in his upper back, saying the Japanese right-hander “had a great day.” Matsuzaka, who threw from 150 feet on Sunday, increased the distance to 180-200 feet — Francona said he got “real aggressive” — and finished up throwing a bit off the mound, with the catcher standing up. 
Matsuzaka said through his interpreter that he threw about 25-30 pitches off the mound and would ideally like to throw his bullpen on Thursday. 
“That was about as good a day, I think, as you could have,” Francona said. “I don’t think you can throw the ball like that and not be totally healthy. So, probably start thinking about towards the end of the week, getting him some real mound work where he’s throwing some sides and throwing to hitters and going through that progression. But that was a real, real good day.”
* Lowell (right thumb) hit some actual pitches in the batting cage, taking in three rounds of about 15 pitches each. Lowell said, “It went OK,” and Francona said he’ll take batting practice on the field on Tuesday. “Sounds like it went real well,” Francona added. There’s still no timetable as to when Lowell — pictured below by Brita Meng Outzen with Adrian Beltre — will actually play in a Spring Training game.

* Cameron  didn’t do any of the outfield drills, but he took batting practice, as pictured below. “He has improved,” Francona said.
cameronhacks.JPG
* Utility man Bill Hall took some grounders at shortstop today. If Lowell isn’t traded before Opening Day, they’ll need him to be able to play the position because Jed Lowrie likely wouldn’t find a place on the 25-man roster. If Lowell stays with the team, the bench would likely be composed of Jason Varitek, Hall, Jeremy Hermida (more on him later) and Lowell. 
Hall is obviously the only one with shortstop experience in that group, having played 261 career games there but none since 2006. So, can he work out at shortstop again?
“I hope so,” Francona said. “That’s something we’ll find out this spring.”
* Jonathan Papelbon’s first game action will come Thursday, in the Grapefruit League opener against the nearby Twins. 
– Alden Gonzalez

Opening Day lineups set (in a way)

FORT MYERS, Fla. — OK, so it’s not really Opening Day, per se, but it is the first game of the 2010 season (never mind the fact that it doesn’t count, and it’s a doubleheader against two college programs). Anyway, the Red Sox finalized the lineup for that Wednesday exhibition-opening doubleheader at City of Palms Park. Victor Martinez will bat third in the opener, and captain Jason Varitek will make his spring debut in the nightcap.
vicandtek.JPG

Here it is …
Against Northeastern (1:05 p.m. ET)
Jacoby Ellsbury, LF
Bill Hall, 3B
Victor Martinez, C
David Ortiz, DH
Jed Lowrie, SS
Lars Anderson, 1B
Darnell McDonald, RF
Che-Hsuan Lin, CF
Gil Velazquez, 2B
SP: Casey Kelly
Against Boston College (6:05 p.m.)
Marco Scutaro, SS
Dustin Pedroia, 2B
Kevin Youkilis, 1B
Adrian Beltre, 3B
Jason Varitek, C
Jeremy Hermida, LF
Tug Hulett, DH
Josh Reddick, CF
Ryan Kalish, CF
SP: Boof Bonser
By the way, I’m filling in for Ian Browne on Red Sox duty today. Follow along if you’re on Twitter (@Alden_Gonzalez), and feel free to drop me a line via e-mail (Alden.Gonzalez@mlb.com).
– Alden Gonzalez
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