Tag Archives: Spring Training

Twins 8, Red Sox 4: First game brings improvement, questions for Red Sox


By Tim Scott

LEE COUNTY, Florida—The sun may have shined over the Lee County Athletic complex, but it certainly didn’t bring a sign of optimism for the Boston Red Sox.

The Twins, led by 2-hit performances by minor leaguers Chris Parmelee and Jason Repko, as well as domination from the Twins bullpen, defeated the Red Sox in both team’s first Grapefruit League contest 8-4.

The Red Sox started Josh Beckett in the opener, hoping he would redeem himself from the horrors of last year (In 2010, Beckett had a career-worst season, going 6-6 with a 5.78 ERA in 21 starts). Instead, the 30-year old righty went two innings, allowing 1 run on 2 hits.

The second inning was Beckett’s folly. After retiring the first 5 batters he faced, Beckett was pinned face-to-face with Parmelee, a power hitter who split last season between Single-A Fort Myers and Double-A New Britain. Parmelee laced a fastball from Beckett into right field for a double.

Next batter was Repko, who crushed a shot to the left field wall. Leftfielder Darnell McDonald retrieved the ball of the wall, and relayed it to Kevin Youkilis, but the throw was too late, and Repko had himself an RBI triple to put the Twins up 1-0. Eventually, Alexi Casilla flied out to right to end the inning.

The Sox were held in check in the first three innings by pitchers Carl Pavano and Pat Neshek. In a routine scoring opportunity, Ryan Kalish grounded out to first in the 2nd inning, stranding Mike Cameron at 3rd. In the 3rd, Jed Lowrie grounded out to second, leaving McDonald at 1st.

After Beckett pitched his two innings, Clay Buchholz went to the mound in an unusual relief appearance. The starter pitched a masterful 2 innings, allowing no hits and striking out 1 batter (catcher Drew Butera).

After the Sox stranded Kalish at 3rd to end the top half of the 5th, the Sox inserted reliever Hideki Okajima into the game. When the 35-year old entered the game, the Twins bats rose to the surface, and erupted with power.

Parmelee led off the inning with a routine single to center. Repko moved Parmelee to second with a single of his own to left-center. The momentum built even more when Casila singled to right. After a Butera strikeout, minor league OF Joe Benson smashed a ball to deep right-center. Benson slid into 3rd safely, scoring in all runners for a 3-run triple. The score jumped up drastically to 4-0 in the Twins favor. Benson scored on an RBI single by new Japanese import Tsuyoshi Nishioka, building the score to 5-0. Okajima got out of the inning with two quick outs, but the damage was done, and would be the difference.

In the 6th, Rhode Island native and new acquisition Dan Wheeler entered the game. After getting an out, he went up against former longtime PawSox member, Jeff Bailey. Bailey smashed the ball over the leftfield wall, giving the Twins a 6-0 lead. Despite an error by Oscar Tejeda, Wheeler was able to get out of the jam.

Entering the 8th inning, the Sox only had 3 hits to their credit. Determined to change that was former #1 prospect Lars Anderson, who entered the day 0-2. Against Anthony Swarzak, he perfectly timed a blazing fastball, and gave fans hope (and a souvenir), as the ball glided over the right field wall, putting the Sox on the board, 6-1.

The Sox followed up on that home run by giving their young bats a chance to shine. Tejeda launched a single to right, and scored Daniel Nava by taking advantage of an error by former Sox farmhand Ray Chang. Immediately following was a Josh Reddick pinch hit single to drive in Tejeda. At the end of the frame, the Sox trailed 6-3.

Despite the new burst of momentum towards the Sox, the Twins scored two quick runs off of Brandon Duckworth, thanks to an RBI double by Brian Dinkleman and an RBI single by Chase Lambin.

Even though catcher Mark Wagner hit a homer off of Chuck James in the 9th, it still wasn’t enough to beat the Twins, and the Sox fell to their first loss of the Grapefruit League Season.

In the game, the Red Sox proved that hitting with runners on base was a thing that they should work on, as they left 12 men on base. They also went 1 for 7 with runners in scoring position, hurting their chances of scoring more runs. The main culprit of these costly LOBs was Kalish, who stranded 2 runners in 2 at bats.

Also, some pitchers shined, while some didn’t. Buchholz, Beckett, and Scott Atchison enjoyed nice, simplistic performances, while Okajima, Duckworth, and Wheeler got blasted. It is safe to say that the latter three need to get some more work done during the spring to satisfy the hungry fan base.

The next game for the Sox is on Monday at City of Palms Park in a rematch against the Twins at 1:05 pm. Carl Crawford is expected to make his anticipated Red Sox debut, and will play alongside JD Drew and Jason Varitek in their debuts. Daisuke Matsuzaka will make the start for the Red Sox, and Nick Blackburn will counter for the Twins.

Tim Scott is a writer for Boston Sports U18.com. He can be reached at [email protected]

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Sox announce line-ups for Saturday’s college doubleheader

by Joshua Kummins

The Boston Red Sox announced the starting line-ups for the split-squad doubleheader against Boston College and Northeastern tomorrow at City of Palms Park in Fort Myers, Fla. Each year, the Sox reach out to their college friends (who are usually opening the season in the Sunshine State anyway) and play exhibition games before their seasons kick off for real.

BC has already opened their season, posting a 2-2 record with wins over Indiana and Tennessee Tech, while Northeastern will open the season tonight against Sacred Heart.

For those that will be staying in Boston for one of the special days of Spring Training, you can tune into WRKO 680 for the first game and WEEI 850 for the second. Remember BASEBALL IS BACK and if you are lucky enough to be in Florida in the near future, please send back some warmth and sunshine.

Without further adieu, here are the first Red Sox line-ups of the 2011 season:

BOSTON COLLEGE (1:05 p.m.)
16 Marco Scutaro SS
15 Dustin Pedroia 2B
34 David Ortiz DH
20 Kevin Youkilis 3B
54 Darnell McDonald LF
55 Ryan Kalish CF
78 Lars Anderson 1B
68 Josh Reddick RF
83 Ryan Lavarnway C

Pitchers:
74 Stolmy Pimentel
64 Michael Bowden
90 Jarrod Rice
79 Clevelan Santeliz
73 Matt Fox
43 Randy Williams (L)

NORTHEASTERN (6:05 p.m.)
2 Jacoby Ellsbury CF
12 Jed Lowrie SS
23 Mike Cameron DH
60 Daniel Nava LF
92 Luis Exposito C
17 Hector Luna 1B
72 Yamaico Navarro 3B
86 Juan Carlos Linares RF
70 Drew Sutton 2B

Pitchers:
87 Kyle Weiland
89 Alex Wilson
53 Rich Hill (L)
46 Tony Pena Jr. (L)
32 Matt Albers

Following Saturday’s doubleheader, the Sox will open a three-game series with Lee County rival Minnesota on Sunday night at Hammond Stadium. The teams face-off at City of Palms on Monday, before returning to the Twins complex on Tuesday.

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Some Concerns Face The Red Sox As Spring Training Begins

By: Alex Reimer

It’s early February, arguably the most desolate time of year in the great city of Boston. So desolate, that a handful of U-Haul trucks driving down to Florida actually excites some people.

But the trucks leaving Fenway Park signifies that Spring Training is right around the corner, and baseball is not all that far away. Sure, actual games that count won’t arrive until April, but in just a matter of days, Jon Lester will be playing catch!

The Red Sox had a terrific offseason, highlighted by the blockbuster acquisitions of Adrian Gonzalez and Carl Crawford. Though Gonzalez coming to Boston seemed to be a fait accompli ever since Mark Teixeira signed with the Yankees in 2008, it was still sweet to finally see all of the rumors become a reality.

Crawford was the top outfielder on the free agent market, and the Red Sox acted aggressively, outbidding everybody with a 7-year 142 million dollar offer. Is Crawford overpaid? Sure. But teams like the Red Sox can afford to overpay dynamic players, and Crawford is certainly that.

With an improved bullpen too, the Red Sox have a stacked roster. It is certainly “playoffs or bust,” and the only bridge this club should be building is one that spans from April all the way to the end of October.

But that’s not to say that there aren’t questions about the Red Sox. These following paragraphs aren’t meant to represent negativity, but more cautious optimism. Every team has some issues heading into the year, and the Red Sox are no different.

Health:
A lot of the injuries players sustained last year would be categorized as potentially “nagging injuries,” which is why health is the number one story to watch as Spring Training begins.

Dustin Pedroia and Kevin Youkilis both underwent successful surgery last fall. But it has been reported that Pedroia’s foot still ails him. If Youkilis fouls a ball off of his thumb, that problem could flare up again as well.

Adrian Gonzalez has reported to camp, but due to his shoulder, he may not be able to swing a bat until March 1st.

Marco Scutaro’s agent told the media that Scutaro progressed “very well” this offseason, but that he “may have to manage neck pains for the rest of his life.” Even though Scutaro has been named the starting shortstop by Terry Francona, he will not be out there 6 or 7 days per week.

J.D. Drew’s hamstrings have already become a quasi-controversy, with Drew saying that they still bother him. Jacoby Ellsbury hasn’t spoken yet, but remember, he missed virtually all of 2010 due to broken ribs.

Jed Lowrie and Mike Cameron could prove to be vital to the Red Sox this season, as they should be expected to regularly spell the starting positional players early in the year. Because of course, nobody wants to repeat last summer when everybody was going down with seemingly a snap of the fingers.

Starting Rotation:
Jon Lester is a bona fide ace. It was once thought that both Josh Beckett and John Lackey were too, but alas that was proven to be false last year. Beckett and Lackey have to pitch better in 2011 than they did in 2010.

With a 5.78 ERA, Beckett was simply not competitive on the mound most of the year. John Lackey was kind of competitive, but with 233 hits allowed in 215 innings, he was far too hittable.

As a 5th starter, you can do far worse than Daisuke Matsuzaka. But wouldn’t it be nice if he pitched a little more consistently?

And if you want to be really pessimistic, you can point to Clay Buchholz pitching 79 1/3rd more major league innings in 2010 than he did in 2009 and whether that increased workload will affect him at all.

Catching:
It is unfathomable as to how one could be confident in the catching tandem of Jarrod Saltalamacchia and Jason Varitek.

This is Saltalamacchia’s job, because even if Varitek plays more often at the start of the year, he will have to be weeded out of the lineup eventually. At this stage in his career, Jason Varitek cannot be counted on to be an everyday catcher.

Last year at this time, Saltalamacchia was suffering from a case of the “yips,” a condition where a catcher finds himself incapable of throwing the ball back to the pitcher. Defense has never been Saltalamacchia’s strong suit anyway.

Luckily, Varitek’s knowledge of the pitching staff and of the AL East should ease Salty into pitch-calling duties, but when a pitcher needs to make a pitch, is he going to listen to the unproven 25 year-old?

The Red Sox will be very good in 2011. But there are flaws here. Flaws that will hopefully prove to just be “worries” opposed to “realities” if the Red Sox are to be that 100-win juggernaut that everyone has them penciled in to be.

Alex Reimer is the host of the Red Sox podcast, “Without a Curse.” “Without a Curse” is available on both www.thesportsstuff.com and in the iTunes store. Alex is also the host of “The Alex Reimer Show,” which airs Saturday’s from 3-5 PM EST on 1120 AM WBNW Boston and www.moneymattersradio.net. Alex can be reached at, [email protected]

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Red Sox Notebook: The frenzy begins as pitchers and catchers report to Spring Training in Fort Myers, FL

Boston pitcher Clay Buchholz smiles during early work outs at the Red Sox spring training facilities in Fort Myers, FL. Pitchers and catchers reported to camp on Thursday, marking the start of spring training nationwide. (Steve Silva/Boston.com Photo)

By Gethin Coolbaugh

Alas, it begins again.

After 130 long days without baseball, America’s pastime is back in Boston.

Well, technically, it’s back in Fort Myers, Florida.

Nonetheless, the vivacious atmosphere that accompanies the start of the Red Sox season is flowing through Beantown.

Pitchers and catchers officially reported to the Red Sox facilities today in Fort Myers, as well as for every other Major League Baseball team, marking the start of spring training.

Not only does it mark the start of baseball’s preseason, but it represents the unofficial start of spring for baseball fans nationwide.

You know that feeling that you get when that first spring-like day rolls around? The one where you step outside, smell that sweet aroma of flowers and that cool fresh breeze? Today is the equivalent of that highly-anticipated day for every single baseball fan in America.

And by baseball fan, I mean true blue baseball fans. Pink hats are excluded.

With the media in full force at the Fort, the endless analysis and wild expectations have begun. And I shall do the same.

After finishing second in the AL East at 95-67, and having been swept by the Los Angeles Angels in three games in the ALDS, Boston is hungry to get back into contention.

Theo Epstein demonstrated that desire in the off-season through the signings of ace pitcher John Lackey, Mike Cameron, Adrian Beltre and Bill Hall.

While many criticize the Red Sox for letting fan favorite left fielder Jason Bay slip through the cracks (and into the hands of the New York Mets), Epstein did enough to keep the Red Sox within the league’s top tier of teams.

Clearly, Epstein’s focus this off-season was to improve Boston’s pitching and defense.

Mission accomplished.

the Red Sox starting rotation is projected to consist of the following five: Josh Beckett, Lackey, Jon Lester, Clay Buchholz and Daisuke Matsuzaka.

When a former 18-game winner in Matsuzaka is you’re fifth starter, it is safe to say that your pitching staff is stacked.

Another notable pitching addition is former Twins starter Boof Bonser. Bonser debuted with Minnesota in 2006, and went 18-25 in three seasons with the Twins.

He has a lifetime 5.12 ERA and has 312 career strikeouts.

No, Bonser is not a flashy starter in the least, but he is a solid option to turn to when Boston is in need of a spot start.

While Boston lost relievers Billy Wagner and Takashi Saito, it maintained the core structure of its bullpen.

Red Sox veteran knuckleballer Tim Wakefield may make the move to the bullpen this season, pending his performance in spring training, and will be Boston’s premier long reliever.

With a core of Manny Delcarmen, Josh Bard, Ramon Ramirez and HidekI Okajima, topped off with Jonathan Paplebon, the Red Sox bullpen is as strong as ever.

A feature of this season’s Red Sox roster that is widely overlooked is their bench. In my opinion, Boston may have the deepest bench in baseball.

The acquisition of Bill Hall just might be Boston’s most underrated off-season move.

Hall hit .201 last season with eight home runs and 26 RBI in 110 games last season, but is only three seasons removed from hitting a career-best 35 home runs and driving in 85 runs.

While Hall will serve as a utility player, his impact on this team may prove to be crucial. Hall is a versatile player, capable of playing the infield and outfield, similar to Seattle’s Chone Figgins.

It’s not reasonable to expect Hall to hit 30 home runs and drive in 100 runs, but his contributions off the bench make him a valuable chip for the Red Sox.

Other reserves of impact include former Marlin Jeremy Hermida (57 home runs, 210 RBI, .265 career average) and team captain Jason Varitek.

While Varitek is essentially incapable of producing offensively, his knowledge of the game and baseball intelligence makes him a venerable back-up catcher.

And then, there’s the main concern of Red Sox nation: the offense.

The thought heading into the off-season was that Boston would resign Jason Bay and add another bat to help the Red Sox offensive production.

Neither of those actions occurred.

Epstein curiously replaced Bay’s production with Cameron (.250 AVG, 24 HR, 70 RBI in 2009) and Adrian Beltre (.265 AVG, 8 HR, 44 RBI in 2009).

Not exactly the fix that Red Sox Nation was looking for, and it will certainly be interesting to see if either of those moves pan out.

True, Cameron is a better defender than Bay, yet Bay is in his early thirties while Cameron is approaching 40.

Boston’s lineup heading into this season reminds me of the 1998 New York Yankees lineup, in the sense that there does not appear to be player that will hit more than 30 home runs.

Instead, the Red Sox should receive a balanced contribution all throughout the lineup.

As for a prediction, I’m not going to share mine yet. Over the month of march, I will unveil my predictions for the entire 2010 MLB season, right down to my World Series prediction.

Yet one thing’s for sure: the Red Sox are in for another wild ride in 2010.

Gethin Coolbaugh is the Associate Editor of Boston Sports U18. He can be reached at 774-279-1995 or at [email protected] You can also visit Gethin Coolbaugh’s official website and follow Gethin Coolbaugh on Twitter as well as his official NBA Twitter account.

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