February 2011

Crawford-Ellsbury will be on display Monday

The first glimpse of Carl Crawford playing a baseball game in a Red Sox uniform will come Monday afternoon, when the $142 million left fielder makes his exhibition debut. He will be joined in the outfield by Jacoby Ellsbury, as the Red Sox can show off their new speed tandem. J.D. Drew will also play his first game of the spring, starting in right.

While Ellsbury and Crawford will get a lot of notice for their stolen-base totals, it should be just as enjoyable watching them play side-by-side in the outfield.

Manager Terry Francona doesn’t think it’s necessary to go out of his way to pair them up during exhibition games.

“They’re out there every day practicing,” Francona said. “Carl is going to catch what he can get. The whole idea is to cover as much outfield as you can so I don’t think you play somebody out of alignment but we will certainly remember that when we’re setting guys, because they’re so fast, might be able to move over a few more feet.”

Pedroia ready for games

When the exhibition games start on Saturday for the Red Sox, players who missed significant time with injuries will be back on the field.

Dustin Pedroia is most prominent among them. The second baseman will bat second in the 1 p.m. game against Boston College.

“I’m moving around good. I feel good and I’m just excited to be out there,” said Pedroia. “It’s going to be fun. it’s  been a long time. I’ve put a lot of hard work in getting back and it should be fun.”

Pedroia fractured the navicular bone in his left foot on June 25 in San Francisco, and had a two-game comeback in mid-August before going back on the shelf for good. Now, he’s back, and ready to be healthy for a full season.

“I’m just like everybody else right now,” Pedroia said. “Everybody pretty much goes every other day so I’m sure I’ll be on that plan for a little bit and I’ll just kind of ease it back in. I’ve felt great over here — there hasn’t been any problems.”

Here are Saturday’s lineups:

BC, 1 p.m:
Scutaro SS
Pedroia 2B
Ortiz DH
Youkilis 3B
McDonald LF
Kalish CF
Anderson 1B
Reddick RF
Lavarnway C

Pimentel SP

Northeastern, 6 p.m.
Ellsbury CF
Lowrie SS
Cameron DH
Nava LF
Exposito C
Luna 1B
Navarro 3B
Linares RF
Sutton 2B

Weiler SP

Gonzalez set for tee ball

Red Sox first baseman Adrian Gonzalez, who had right shoulder surgery over the winter, has been cleared to start swinging a bat.

Gonzalez hit off the tee on Monday, and will do again for the next two days, and the team will evaluate the next step after that.

The slugger will have no problem at all being ready for Opening Day and is, in fact, ahead of schedule.

Here was the statement issued by the Red Sox:

“Adrian reported to Spring Training in excellent condition after working with the team training staff this offseason.  He was evaluated on Friday (February 18) at the time of his Spring Training physical examination by the team’s medical staff.  At that time, he was noted to have full range of motion, no tenderness, and excellent strength.  Based upon this examination, Medical Director Dr. Tom Gill spoke with Dr. Altchek yesterday, who performed the surgery, and it was agreed that Adrian could begin hitting off of a tee. Adrian will continue to work with Head Athletic Trainer Mike Reinold and the team’s training staff to work on his shoulder rehabilitation program, while incorporating more baseball specific activity as his progression allows.”

Youk ready to tackle third

The first baseman, at least for the last five years, is now ready to get back to third.

“I mean, there’s some stuff — you have to charge the ball a little bit more,” Youkilis said. “You get used to that right away. I think that’s one of the things you recognize and work on. I think, for me, from playing there a little bit last year in a couple of games, it just comes to you naturally when you play that position, you can’t sit back. When that’s in your mind already, I think, when you’re playing first base, you kind of get a little lazy, whereas at third base, you prepare. I knew that coming into spring training that I’d have to go get balls more. Mentally that’s already put in and taking groundballs yesterday that’s already come in.”

Youkilis has gotten to know Adrian Gonzalez a little the last few days, and looks forward to more interaction throughout the spring.

Mainly Boston’s cleanup man since Manny Ramirez was traded on July 31, 2008, Youkilis isn’t sure where he’ll wind up in this loaded lineup. He doesn’t much care either. “Anywhere second through ninth.”

The thumb injury that ended his 2010 season on Aug. 2? It’s no longer an issue.

“I feel great, my body is feeling good, my hand is feeling good. Just got in good shape like normal and I’m ready to play third base this year,” said Youkilis.

The Red Sox are holding their first pitchers and catchers workout as we speak. Josh Beckett will hold a press conference after the workout.

Tito talks team

On the official day that pitchers and catchers reported, there was a scarce group at the park today. Nearly every key pitcher and catcher had already been at the complex this week, so there was no presence was required today. Many of the players spent part of the weekend in Miami at Mike Lowell’s retirement party, which is why there was such a small contingent today.

Bobby Jenks, Jonathan Papelbon, Clay Buchholz, Daisuke Matsuzaka, Jarrod Saltalamacchia and Hideki Okaima were among those who did workout.

And Terry Francona had his first media session of camp. Here are some bullet points from Tito’s session.

Is J.D. Drew’s hamstring going to be an issue this spring?
” We’re going to try not to let it be,” Francona said. “It’s something that he has voiced some concern about. He went to Dr. Andrews, he came up to Boston. I don’t think he’s real concerned about it, but it’s been there. I don’t think we want it to be a concern, so we’ll certainly monitor it.”

Will Beckett and Lackey bounce back?
“If I wasn’t [expecting that], I would be a horrible manager,” Francona said. “What a thing to do, to sit here and go, ‘Nah, I don’t think our guys can do well.’ Lack looks like he really worked. He’s thin, even in his face. Beckett looks strong. I was really pleased. Regardless of who you are, there’s a lot of pride that comes in with this. Both guys obviously went home and kind of got after it. Hopefully it’ll pay dividends with their ERA or their won-loss record. But they obviously both worked really hard.”

What will the plan be for Tim Wakefield this spring?
“For Wake, we’ll stretch him out just because that will serve him best, build his innings and arm strength, then if need be, that availability is there.”

Full House in the Fort

The Red Sox must not have gotten the memo about reporting date. Either that, or they didn’t much care. The complex was full of players on Thursday, some 72 hours before they are required to be in town.

Jon Lester, Josh Beckett, John Lackey, Daisuke Matsuzaka, Jarrod Saltalamacchia, Kevin Youkilis and Adrian Gonzalez are just some of the players who have already worked out.

The rest of them will be filtering in over these next several days, as another baseball season gets ready to start.

MLB.com will keep you up to date on all things Red Sox throughout the spring and, of course, all summer long.

Here is a synopsis of what you can find on redsox.com today.

Daniel Bard was a bit of a lone ranger last year in setting up Jonathan Papelbon. The hard-throwing righty is thrilled to be surrounded by quality options this year.

As Theo Epstein surveyed the scene, he noted that health — last year’s main annoyance — needs to hold up.

The GM also discussed recent signings, both the conventional and unconventional ones.

Truck is headed for the Fort

It is real. Baseball is starting. The truck hauled out of Fenway just after noon time on Tuesday and will arrive in Fort Myers on Thursday afternoon. The equipment will be unloaded on Friday, and pitchers and catchers are all due to report by Sunday.

redsoxtruck.JPG

Even on another dreary day weather-wise, quite a few fans came out just to watch the truck leave. It is one of those hokey Boston traditions.

redsoxtruck2.JPG

Who is ready for Fort Sunshine?

As I get ready to snowblow my driveway and sidewalk for the 900th time this winter, I thought all of you might be in the mood for some Red Sox fodder.

Theo Epstein and Terry Francona both provided updates on several areas of the team at Monday night’s town hall event.

How is Dustin Pedroia doing? “Pretty good,” Epstein said. “He went through a period where he was having some pain in a slightly different part of his foot, and doctors determined it was basically a result of having the foot immobile for so long. That was reassuring. It didn’t have anything to do with the fracture or the surgery.  He’s healing really well, working out. He’s not wearing cleats yet, but we’re going to be smart about it. We don’t expect him to be limited by the time the season starts.”

The reports on Beckett have been positive: “Very positive,” Epstein said. “He’s been attacking the offseason, working really hard, getting in good shape, doing workouts. He has a personal trainer that he hired. The trainer and Mike Reinold have been in very frequent contact. Mike made a visit recently to see him, as he does with some of the other pitchers. He’s raring to go.”

On the Rays after adding two guys you might have heard of — Manny and Damon. ” Good moves,” Epstein said. “Those are guys that can probably still hit a little bit, to say the least. It makes for some interesting head-to-head matchups. But those guys, the demise of the Rays has been greatly exaggerated. Even before those moves, we never erased them at all from our radar. They’re uniquely positioned to lose some really good players and stay and keep their status as one of the best teams in baseball given the strength of their farm system. They lose Garza, they have Hellickson ready to step in. They lose Crawford, they have Jennings and Joyce ready to step in. They’re going to be really tough.”

Tito on whether Saltalamacchia is finished with boot camp with catching instructor extraordinaire Gary  Tuck:

“I think it’s the other way around. Camp Tuck may have finished him. DeMarlo said he went down to check on him, say hi to the Tuckster, wanted to see Salty. He thought it would be running through the motions, but after two hours, he felt bad for Salty. They’ve done a terrific job. I’m really proud of them, both of them. How many guys do you see do that? It’ll be interesting to see where he’s at because obviously it’s an important position for us. We’re showing an awful lot of confidence in him. At the same time, I think it’s kind of neat that Tek’s worked to be at the point he is where we feel good about this. Tek’s probably going to catch more than an average backup catcher does.”

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