Ciriaco vying for roster spot

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Ciriaco vying for roster spot

FORT MYERS, Fla. After five moves were made on Tuesday morning, the Red Sox' 25-man roster is becoming clearer. But there are still questions. One of the most interesting: Who will get the final spot?

Among those vying to make the team are catcher Ryan Lavarnway, outfielder Jason Repko, and infielders Nate Spears and Pedro Ciriaco. Of those, Ciriaco entered the spring as one of the least familiar to observers.

Originally signed with the Diamondbacks in 2003 before being traded to the Pirates at the 2010 deadline, Ciriaco joined the Sox as a minor league free agent this offseason.

He has appeared in just 31 major league games in his career, over the last two seasons with the Pirates, going 13-for-39 (.333) at the plate while playing 47 23 innings at shortstop, third base, and left field.

In seven minor league seasons, he has hit .270 with 24 home runs, 298 RBI, and 401 runs scored, playing shortstop, second base, left field, and third base.

This spring, though, he has opened some eyes with his fielding and his bat, including two consecutive games earlier this month when he delivered the winning hits. On March 12 he delivered a two-run, 10th-inning walk-off home run to beat the Marlins. The next day against the Yankees in Tampa, he bolted around the bases to score as his ninth-inning single, compounded with two errors, accounted for the only run of the game.

After going 0-for-1 Tuesday, entering as a pinch runner in the sixth inning for third baseman Kevin Youkilis, Ciriacos Grapefruit League average dropped to .429. Ciriaco, though, is satisfied with his spring. He has appeared in 20 of the team's 25 games.

Everything is pretty good so far right now, said Ciriaco, who turned 26 in September. I just feel good the way Ive been working and playing this spring. Just keep doing the work.

Every day when you get a chance to play and do the right thing and stay on the field and help your team so they can see what you can do is a good thing for me.

The Red Sox offered Ciriaco no hints when he signed as to their expectations for him, other than to show what he could do this spring.

Nothing really, just come here and compete like everybody else, he said. They didnt tell me youre going to do this or youre going to make the team or anything like that. Just have fun and play the game, like Ive been doing my whole life.

Ciriaco has played 80 innings this spring, appearing at shortstop (40 innings), second base (32), third base (6), and center field (2). Playing different positions can only help him, he believes.

Yeah, I think its good if you can help the team in different positions, he said. Because thats more opportunity for me.

But hes taking nothing for granted. With a little more than a week before the start of the regular season, Ciriaco just wants to keep doing what hes been doing this spring.

Just keep having fun, do the right thing and play the game the right way, he said. And just keep moving forward.

Rask: Last season 'something to rebound from' personally

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Rask: Last season 'something to rebound from' personally

BRIGHTON, Mass. – While David Pastrnak, Tuukka Rask and David Backes are back from competing in the World Cup of Hockey in Toronto, that doesn’t mean you’ll see those players on the ice over the next couple of days. Perhaps the trio will practice on Monday in the fourth on-ice session at main training camp, but Bruins GM Don Sweeney confirmed that none of those returning players will suit up against the Columbus Blue Jackets in the B’s preseason debut at TD Garden on Monday night.

“Yeah…absolutely,” said Sweeney when asked if those three players have been ruled out for Monday night. “They’re going to get through the weekend here. Next week, we’ll evaluate [them] when they get on the ice. But, all those guys will not be on the ice until next week.

“It might be case-by-case for each guy. Those guys have been playing for a while at a high level. It’s unique for David Backes coming into the organization, so he’d like to integrate himself. I talked yesterday with all three of them just to get a read of where they’re at. But, sometime first of next week, they’ll be on [the ice].”

Both Pastrnak and Rask have checked in with the Bruins media over the last couple of days after returning from Toronto, and the Bruins goaltender, in particular, has plenty of motivation coming off a down statistical season. The 2.56 goals against average and .915 save percentage were well below his career numbers, and people like B’s President Cam Neely have pointed to Rask as somebody that needs to have a better season for Boston to rebound back into the playoffs this year.

“There were a couple of years where the standards pretty high, so obviously when they go down there’s something to rebound from. You kind of know where you can be. That’s where I try to be every year and I’m working on being there this year, and taking us to the playoffs and moving forward,” said Rask. “But every year is a new year where you’ve got to work hard, and set your goals to be at your best. More often than not you hope [being at your best] is going to happen, and I hope this year is going to be a great year for us.”

Clearly Rask wasn’t alone in his struggles last season behind a mistake-prone defense that allowed plenty of Grade chances, and that could be a repeating phenomenon again this season for the Bruins unless the defense is substantially upgraded along the way.

As far as the other three B’s players still taking part in the World Cup, it could be a while for Patrice and Brad Marchand as Team Canada has advanced to the final best-of-three series that could also feature Zdeno Chara if Team Europe is victorious. 

Red Sox secure playoff with 6-4 win over Rays

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Red Sox secure playoff with 6-4 win over Rays

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. - Dustin Pedroia hit his fourth career grand slam to help Rick Porcello get his major league-leading 22nd win, and the AL East-leading Boston Red Sox beat the Tampa Bay Rays 6-4 Saturday night for their 10th consecutive win.

The win secures them a spot in the postseason

Pedroia stopped an 0-for-17 skid with a single in the sixth and gave Boston a 6-3 lead with a seventh-inning drive off Danny Farquhar.

Porcello (22-4) gave up three runs, eight hits and struck out nine over 6 1/3 innings. He just missed getting his 12th consecutive start of seven or more innings and three runs or fewer, which would have moved him past Cy Young (1904) and Pedro Martinez (2000) for the longest stretch during the same season in franchise history.

Craig Kimbrel, the fifth Boston reliever, reached 30 saves for the sixth straight season despite allowing Logan Forsythe's solo homer in the ninth.

Brad Miller hit a two-run double in a three-run second that put Tampa Bay up 3-1 and gave him 80 RBIs.

Tampa Bay threatened in the second but failed to score due to two nice defensive plays. Pedroia made a throw from just in front of the outfield grass at second base on Mikie Mahtook's grounder to get Corey Dickerson at the plate. Third baseman Brock Holt made a solid play along the line on Alexei Ramirez's grounder and threw him out at first to end the inning.