April 2012

Cook could provide relief

The Red Sox are going to have a decision to make on Aaron Cook, who makes his final start at Triple-A Pawtucket tonight. The righty has an opt-out clause he can exercise if he’s not activated by the early portion of next week.

With no vacancies in the starting rotation, manager Bobby Valentine and pitching coach Bob McClure said that Cook might be an option out of the bullpen, something that didn’t seem feasible back in Spring Training.

“Bob McClure thinks that after talking with him that it’s feasible,” said Valentine. “Initially there was no [consideration]. I think I told you guys initially in Spring Training, that was a nonfactor. It was a non consideration. Reports are that he’s never felt better about his shoulder, or he hasn’t felt this good about his shoulder in a long time.”

Hill rejoins Red Sox

Lefty Rich Hill has made it back to the Red Sox less than a year after undergoing Tommy John Surgery. Hill, the pride of Milton, Mass., will be activated by the Red Sox for tonight’s game in Chicago.

Justin Thomas will be taken off the roster.

If Hill can pitch for the Red Sox like he did last year, it could be a big boost for a bullpen that has struggled much of the season. Before injuring his elbow in 2011, Hill pitched nine times for the Red Sox, striking out 12 and not allowing a run over eight inning.

Tito’s change of heart pleases players

For all Terry Francona did during his time as manager of the Red Sox, the one thing he never got was closure. He remains a popular figure among the fans, even after last September’s 7-20 collapse.

On Friday, during the celebration of the 100th anniversary of Fenway Park, the fans will get their chance to give Francona a standing ovation. Originally, Francona indicated he wouldn’t participate in the pre-game ceremony, in which several key figures of the team’s history will be in attendance.

“I think it’s great.,” said Dustin Pedroia. “I’m excited to see him. I’m sure everybody else is. I’m sure the fans will enjoy it. It’s a pretty big thing we’re doing here for the 100th year and he’s a huge part of this organization.”

The ovation will probably be one of the loudest of the day.

“I hope so,” Pedroia said. “There’s not a manager to do what he’s done here. He was pretty important to this organization for a long period of time so I’m sure the fans will be excited to see him.”

“I think that’s good.That’s a tough personal decision for him the way things ended here for him a few months ago. But he’s such a big part of the recent history of the team and the ballpark. I think it’s only appropriate that he’s here,” said Daniel Bard

Bobby V. backs Aceves

At least for now, Red Sox manager Bobby Valentine wants to stick with Alfredo Aceves in the ninth inning. Mark Melancon will also still be asked to get important outs.

“Everything happened so quickly,” Valentine said. “He thinks he’s making pretty good pitches. I do too. Mark was pretty close to finishing that out. The ball wasn’t that bad a pitch. It’s not like we say make up something to new and we have to come up with something different. We’ve got to have a little better results and I think we’ll have that.”

Valentine didn’t hide from the awkwardness of the Daniel Bard situation, knowing full well that there’s he public perception that he should be closing.

“We’ve talked and he gets it,” Valentine said. “Poor guy has been thrown into a situation that no one should have to be thrown into really before his first major league start of the season. Words aren’t going to do anything more than his performance will, that’s for sure.”

The lineup is back to what it was the first two games, except Adrian Gonzalez and David Ortiz won’t be back to back. Youkilis will hit cleanup, separating the lefty sluggers.

“I don’t think I really need to say why. There might be a little madness there though,” Valentine said.

Youkilis went hitless in his first two games, so this could be a way for him to get better pitches to hit.

Bobby V’s first pre-game session as Red Sox manager

What went into the decision to keep Ellsbury in the leadoff spot?  “Jacoby? Obviously we talk about the lineup as a group. It seems like in this grouping he looks really good being there and I also thought it would be apropos for you guys to write about the number one and number two in the MVP voting facing each other on a first pitch here in Detroit this year. And he liked it too. Talking to him, he kind of relished the idea.”

How can Ellsbury have another year like last year? “By taking it one pitch at a time. Obviously today, at the end of today, he’s not going to have the stats that he had at the end of last year. And, you know, the trap everyone always falls into is answering all those questions. How are you going to do better this year than you did last year? You start thinking that you have to hit a home run every time and a triple the next time and two doubles and steal bases, drive in the runs, all at once, and that’s not how it happens.”

Morning butterflies for the new manager? “Got up so long ago I can’t remember. To tell you the truth, I had the same feeling that I think most of the guys have. I talked to a lot of them at the hotel early and saw some of them here now. It’s opening day. There’s only one opening day. It’s a very special day. Start of something new.”

Nerves? “I hope so. You know, I knew it was time to stop playing when I got into the batters box and I couldn’t create a little adrenaline, you know? A little feel. I hope I have that today.”

Why lefties Gonzalez and Ortiz back to back with Youk hitting fifth? “That grouping today I think is just based on the starting pitcher that we’re facing today. And Youk has two home runs against him, so its not like I don’t like what Youk does against him.”

Finally a real game.“I’m very anxious to see guys in the real setting. In the practice setting is one thing, and in the real setting, things change. I’m anxious to see how the whole group works together. And obviously it’s kind of a short group on the bench now. The guys who are lined up on that card are going to be responsible for a lot of the action.”

The 13-man pitching staff? “You know I, when I sat in the chair next to Dan [Shulman] at the beginning of the season, I would always see who was the first and last to get everyone in a game. I think it’s important to try to get full participation early in the season to start building a team. I hope I don’t have to use all 13 today.”

Felix Doubront, Daniel Bard named fourth, fifth starters

Lefty Felix Doubront said he was told Sunday morning he has been named the Red Sox’s No. 4 starter. Daniel Bard is the No. 5.

“That’s for me what I was looking for all spring,” Doubront said. “Even when I start my offseason, to hear that news. That’s pretty amazing.”

Manager Bobby Valentine announced Bard had the fifth starter’s job in Valentine’s morning meeting with reporters. Alfredo Aceves was not happy with the news, Valentine said.

In three Grapefruit League starts and four appearances this spring, the 24-year-old Doubront has given up five runs on 18 hits in 16 2/3 innings (a 2.70 ERA), with a 1-0 record, 10 strikeouts and six walks.

— Evan Drellich