The Red Sox play the Phillies under the lights tonight in Fort Myers, and it’s a pretty good pitching matchup. John Lackey for the Sox, and Cole Hamels for Philly.
Look at the lineup manager John Farrell has posted for today, and it could be the same one you see on April 1 in New York.
Stephen Drew is on his way to visit the head of the University of Pittsburgh concussion program, Micky Collins, on Tuesday. Orioles second baseman Brian Roberts, who’s been hampered by a pair of concussions of his own, had some advice for the Red Sox shortstop.
“I’d say he’s going to see a great guy, I think that it’s a scary situation,” Roberts said. “And I would tell him to trust his instincts, to trust what he’s feeling. And know that there is an end in sight. But the in the midst of it it’s a really tough place to be.
“I think the hardest part of that injury is that people don’t have any idea what’s going on because they can’t see it.”
Told Drew’s concussion was suffered on a pitch that didn’t make the most direct impact possible with his helmet, Roberts said his second concussion was similar because he did not directly hit his head when he dove: “Oh I know, I got the same thing.”
“I hit myself in the head obviously and my second one I dove headfirst in Boston, I didn’t hit my head on the ground. But your brain it basically just sits in there. And all that needs to be done is juggled a little bit. Doesn’t have to be a helmet to helmet collision in football for it to happen.”
“I hurt for him, I feel for him because I know what it’s like. But I think the thing you got to realize you got to be careful it’s the rest of your life, it’s your brain, make sure that you’re right before you do anything. I think the biggest thing is he sees so many cases, he’s done a lot of research. He knows that everyone is different but they also have a way of understanding what part of the brain has been affected, and how to help rehab that.”
Roberts has only the highest praise for Collins and what Drew is about to go through in Pittsburgh.
“They do a battery of testing,” Roberts said. “They do the obviously one which is the ImPACT test on the computer, but then there’s a whole bunch of other things that they do there at the facility that most people don’t see or don’t know. A bunch of other testing to find out, like I said, what area of the brain has been affected and what needs to be looked at. What needs to be rehabbed.
“There’s a little bit of everything, they’ll do some ocular testing, some vision testing. So there’s numerous areas of the brain that can be affected.”
– Evan Drellich
Fourteen pitches, seven strikes and one inning thrown in a Double-A game Wednesday led Alfredo Aceves to some pitching ruminations.
There’s long been a belief in baseball that you can’t try to throw hard, that if you’re tense and trying to throw a ball 180 mph, you won’t even hit 90 mph. That may not be a revelation for anyone in the game or even for Aceves himself, but the Red Sox right-hander gave credit to that philosophy for his elevated velocity in 2012.
Aceves averaged 94.7 mph on his fastball last season, a jump from 93.4 mph, according to BrooksBaseball.
“It was more maña than fuerza when I get 98,” Aceves said after the backfield outing at Fenway South. “My mind tell me to relax my body and let my body do it. … Maña es mejor que fuerza.”
The rest of the Major League Red Sox were off on Wednesday.
Before Wednesday, Aceves had last pitched six days ago, going three innings for Team Mexico in the World Baseball Classic. He’s set to start Saturday on the road against the Rays, and he feels the Classic hasn’t set back his regular-season preparation.
“The only thing is we travelled four hours and a half to Phoenix,” Aceves said. “Everybody is doing the little things that we have to do to maintain ourselves.”
– Evan Drellich
Red Sox slugger David Ortiz is not putting on a happy face. Being shut down from baseball activities with three weeks before Opening Day is not his idea of a good time.
But the DH knows that his long-term outlook for 2013 is more important than a now unrealistic goal of trying to be ready for the first game.
“I’m going to be back as soon as I’m good to go,” Ortiz said. “Right now, I’m just going to try to work on getting the inflammation out of there and it will take a little bit of time.”
Everyone wants to play on Opening Day, but that’s not happening for Number 34. Not this year.
“Of course. Everybody wants to be there for Opening Day, but it is what it is,” Ortiz said.
Ortiz wasn’t surprised that the MRI revealed inflammation in his heels, instead of the Achilles tendon he injured last July. “I know it wasn’t the Achilles. We have an MRI in December and my Achilles looked pretty good. We have an MRI right now and my Achilles is not the issue. It’s just inflammation right behind it. We’re going to work on that now,” said Ortiz.
However, Ortiz did admit there is some peace of mind to getting the reading from the MRI. “Yeah, I knew it was something, it was not normal. I was getting pain four or five hours after I was finished with my workout and I know something wasn’t right. We had that communication between me and the doctors, the trainers. They agree with getting an MRI just to see what was going on. It’s not anything crazy, thanks God. But it’s going to take a couple of weeks to get fixed.”
Ortiz did not get a shot, but he is taking anti-inflammatories. “Yeah, we started that up now after we saw the MRI, they started giving me some anti-inflammatories.”
At a time of spring when the other players are starting to ramp up for Opening Day, Ortiz will work under a modified time-table. “Yeah, it’s not a good feeling. I’ve been working really hard this offseason just to make sure I’m good to go for the season. It’s happened. It’s not me being me. I know you guys have noticed that. Like I said, it is what it is and things happen for a reason, right? The one thing that we’re really working on is that when I’m back, I’m back. It’s not just coming back for a couple of weeks and then going back and doing the same thing. They’re trying to fix the whole thing. That way when I get back in the lineup, it’s going to be there, and be there for the season.”
This injury for Ortiz has lingered in some form or fashion since July 16, 2012. “Well, we’re humans. Nobody wants to be injured. Me, I was going 120 percent this offseason working with this injury and the good news is it had nothing to do with my Achilles like it used to. That made me happy at least, knowing that my Achilles is doing fine.”
But perhaps the inflammation shouldn’t come as much of a surprise.
“It’s a process where when you’re going at it, you pretty much use everything. It’s not like you can get picky with the things you want to do. Not being formally doing things for like six, seven months, it’s like starting all over. It happens.
Ortiz is clearly dejected that he won’t start the season on time.
“Well, Opening Day was my goal. You guys heard me talking about it when I first got here. I was feeling good and pushing things the way I was being told. Right now, Opening Day seems like it’s not the case. The case is get me healthy for five or five and a half good months. That’s what we’re looking for now.”
If the Red Sox are to be the team they want to be this season, Ortiz’s injury — particularly if it’s short term — shouldn’t derail them too much.
“We have a good team,” Ortiz said. “We have good players. We’ve got some good players. I’ve been talking to a lot of them, and the one thing I keep on telling them is just try to do what you do at your best. Don’t try to do more than that. You’re going to bump into some tough times. Just learn how to deal with it, and everything will be taken care of.”
With David Ortiz not making the progress he had hoped with his right Achilles injury, the Red Sox sent the slugger out for a precautionary MRI on Saturday. The team should have the results later today. Interestingly, Ortiz had images on both heels.
He hasn’t been ruled out for Opening Day yet, but it wouldn’t be surprising if it eventually heads in that direction.
“He’s undergone an MRI on both his heels and that’s where he’s been feeling the discomfort,” said Red Sox manager John Farrell. “It hasn’t been in that right Achilles specifically, it’s been overall in both heels. Just to rule everything out, he’s undergone that imaging here today. I think the one thing that we still hold in all this is that while the timing might not be what was maybe initially expected, the bigger picture is he’s still making progress. He’s been able to run the bases – as we know – on the days that he has. He’s been taking BP every single day. There’s progress, yet, maybe not as fast as he might have anticipated or hoped. Like I said, we’re ruling everything out but at the same time we acknowledge that there’s progress being made.”
When would the Red Sox officially rule Ortiz out for Opening Day?
“Well, we’ll see how this week goes,” Farrell said. “We don’t have a date earmarked. Our goal is to have David in our lineup for the greatest number of games that we can throughout the course of the year. It’s not like April 1 is a drop-dead date for an entire season. We’re not going to rush to any decision where we’re saying, you know what, Opening Day is out.
The Red Sox will only start examining alternative plans for the lineup once they know for sure Ortiz will start the season late. Could there be an option in which Jackie Bradley, Jr. starts the season on the active roster, with an outfielder — say Jonny Gomes – serving as the DH?
“That discussion is yet to be had. Regardless of who would fill out the 25-man roster, you know what, I can’t sit here today and say that’s not an option that wouldn’t be discussed. Keep in mind that we fully expect Jackie to begin the season in the Minor Leagues. So we’ll see – we’ll work through the combinations that exist here in camp and, again, we haven’t ruled out David either.”
Jackie Bradley, Jr. has arguably been the best story in camp, making things happen whenever he takes the field. However, barring an injury to one of Boston’s main outfielders, Bradley is all but certain to open the season in the Minors.
“Likely,” said Red Sox manager John Farrell . “But you never want to put a limit on anyone, either. He’s making the best of the opportunity, and he’s making a very strong impression.”
Bradley, who is not in tonight’s starting lineup against Puerto Rico, is hitting .471 in 17 at-bats.
In other news, David Ortiz ran the bases today, marking the first time he’s done it in consecutive days. He is planning on running again tomorrow. If all goes well, Ortiz could be in Boston’s lineup by some point this weekend.
Daniel Bard, fresh off an encouraging inning in a simulated game on Monday, is scheduled to pitch in a game in Thursday, which would mark his first Grapefruit League appearance in 10 days.
Red Sox slugger David Ortiz took another encouraging step forward in his recovery on Monday, running the bases. Ortiz went home to first a few times, first to third a couple of times, and second to home.
“I ran today better than the last time I ran,” Ortiz said. “Everybody was pretty happy about it. I’m happy about it because nothing bothers me when I was running. That’s a plus. That is telling me that I’m going in the right direction, you know what I’m saying?”
Ortiz is confident he will be in the lineup when the Red Sox open their season at Yankee Stadium on April 1.
“Oh, I want to play way before that, you know what I’m saying? Of course, that’s why we’re doing all this stuff so I’m good to go for Opening Day,” Ortiz said. “The main goal right now is to make sure I get to play down here. If I play down here, that means I’m good to go, you know what I’m saying?”
After leaving camp for a couple of days for a personal reason, slugger David Ortiz was back to work on Saturday. In fact, manager John Farrell said that today is the start of the next level in Ortiz’s rehab program — he will do all baseball activities. Ortiz, who is coming off a of a right Achilles injury, had been spending a lot of his time doing agility work.
Today will mark the second time Ortiz has run the bases. He also ran on Wednesday before his temporary leave from camp. Manager John Farrell estimates that the slugger will play in his first Grapefruit League game “at the end of this upcoming week”.
With Mike Napoli returning last night, that means the Red Sox can finally play with their full lineup, minus Shane Victorino, who will be at the World Baseball Classic.
In other news, Jarrod Saltalamacchia will sit out today with lower back stiffness. He seems to get that a couple of times a year — probably just the nature of being a catcher.
Daniel Bard will have a side day today, and then throw in a game on Monday.
Victorino will lead off today in a 1:05 p.m. road game against the Twins and then fly to Arizona tomorrow to join Team USA.
All eyes were on the new first baseman tonight. After weeks — in fact months — of hearing about Mike Napoli’s hips, he played a game for the Red Sox tonight against the Pirates.
And of course, he got tested on the very first pitch of the game. The Pirates’ Darren Ford dropped a hard bunt to first base. Napoli grabbed it and raced to the bag, where he beat Ford on a bang-bang play.
Then he got to bat in the first inning, and Napoli scalded a single off of the foot of Pirates pitcher Jeff Locke. Stephen Drew ripped a double, and Napoli looked comfortable going first to third. Napoli then scored on a wild pitch.
He was again tested on defense in the second. Pedro Alvarez hit a grounder to Napoli, and he made the flip to Jon Lester for the out. Napoli then made a catch on a foul ball by Brandon Inge just in front of the visitors’ dugout. Napoli made a few more routine plays on defense, and struck out in his second at-bat. When the Red Sox came out for defense to start the fifth inning, Napoli was replaced by Lyle Overbay at first.
It was a solid first impression.
The Red Sox had high hopes for Napoli when they originally agreed to terms on a three-year, $39-million pact back in December. Though the contract is now just for one year, the club remains confident that Napoli can be an impact bat in the middle of the lineup.
“Well he’s passed all the tests that we’ve put him through,” said manager John Farrell. “There’s been no restrictions. Even when he was taking BP in the offseason, it was apparent that his lower half was free and we’re looking forward to getting him into the flow of things starting tonight.”
Napoli maintains that he is symptom free from the hip condition — avascluar neucrosis — he was diagnosed with. And he vowed not to be thinking about it when he is on the field.
“Just play the game,” Napoli said. “That’s the best way to go at it. That’s the way I’ve always done it. I’m just going to play the game and let things happen. When you start worrying about things like, ‘I can’t slide, I shouldn’t slide,’ that’s when you get in between and hurt yourself.”
As for the transition to first base after serving as a primary catcher for all of his career until now?
“I feel a lot more comfortable over there, especially turning the double play, where my feet should be, where I should be taking the ball and receiving the ball,” said Napoli. “It’s been going [well].”
The Red Sox got the best news possible on Thursday morning. Will Middlebrooks was absolutely fine, a day after exiting the game with discomfort in his surgically repaired right wrist. In fact, Middlebooks could well be in the starting lineup for Friday night’s home game against the Cardinals.
“His exam this morning was benign,” said Red Sox manager John Farrell. “He didn’t feel any discomfort when he was put through a battery of tests and he’s actually been cleared for all baseball activities, but I’m sure he’s going to take the day to just let it rest. But given the way he came out after the swing, it was obviously very good news this morning.”
When will he play? “He’ll be day to day, until he takes BP, which should be tomorrow,” Farrell said. “Our plan right now is that he would be able to go tomorrow, but we’ll just be sure he comes through BP without any issue.”
Third base is one position the Red Sox don’t have much depth at. “Well at the time of the swing, it wasn’t real encouraging. Given what he came through with the fracture a year ago, I can understand that he was a little tentative and probably a little scared,” Farrell said. “Fortunately this morning things checked out OK.”