Notes: Gomes gets crack at leadoff spot for Sox

Notes: Gomes gets crack at leadoff spot for Sox
February 28, 2014, 11:00 am
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FORT MYERS, Fla. -- With Shane Victorino being brought along slowly while he improves his core strength and Daniel Nava still out of action one more day because of a stiff neck, John Farrell's options to hit leadoff Friday in the Grapefruit League opener against the Minnesota Twins were rather limited.
     
Jonny Gomes got the call.
     
"Availability has something to do with it,'' said Farrell. "He puts up a quality at-bat, regardless of (whether he's facing a lefty or right) and we saw that repeatedly last year. This is a look maybe at an alignment we'll see during the year, too."
     
Farrell said two characeristics the Sox look for in the leadoff spot are "the ability to get on base and the ability to be disruptive when they do get there. If you don't have a player who has that type of skill set, the on-base (ability) becomes more important. And I think if you look at the overall lineup, there's certain characteristics for every spot in the lineup.
     
"But the guys at the top, you want them to get to the plate one more time during the game to hopefully get on base. That's our overall approach, is to get on base first-and-foremost. What we do from that point on is dependent on the guys that fill out the lineup."
    
* On Thursday, Matt Barnes, Henry Owens, Brandson Workman and Rubby De La Rosa were on display for the Red Sox.
     
Friday, when the Sox begin their Grapefruit League play, it's Anthony Ranaudo's turn. He'll get two innings against the Minnesota Twins.
     
"I think with every first-year camp, you're just looking to see them attack the strike zone," said  Farrell. "That's what we're looking for in a first outing."
     
Ranaudo had some physical issues in his final year at LSU and first full year with the Red Sox, but was healthier last year and between Portland and Pawtucket, went 11-5, 2.96.
     
"I think the health was first and foremost," said Farrell. "But he's also made an adjustment in his delivery where he's quickened the tempo inside of his delivery, giving him more of a 'attack' mentality. It's given him a little bit more of a presence on the mound physically and it's worked well for him.
     
"More than anything, last year was a major step forward for him."

* According to Farrell, outfielder Grady Sizemore, who played in the first game of Thursday's doubleheader, "felt great" Friday morning.
     
"He came out of yesterday's three innings and two at-bats feeling good," said Farrell. "I'm sure he was eager to get going. First time in a couple of years in a live game and he responded well."
     
Farrell said the Sox won't green-light Sizemore to steal bases this early in camp, preferring to wait.
     
"We would probably be a little hesitant, this early in camp, to turn that loose completely," said Farrell. "We're just going on what he's capable of physically right now."
     
Sizemore is scheduled to play again, in center field, Saturday against the Twins.

* Reliever Craig Breslow, another veteran pitcher being brought along slowly this spring, has been slowly making progress.
     
"He's been out to 90 feet (with his throws)," said Farrell. "He's in more of a structured progression to advance the distance he throws. The one thing about Brez, and he stated this last year, it's not about the number of appearances in spring training. He knows when his arm is feeling right, he can get ready for the season through bullpens and even if it's limited appearances.
     
"Every pitcher has individual needs as they ramp up the volume and we have discovered through last year's experience that this pace and this program have worked well for him and that's what we'll continue to do.

* Outfielder Corey Brown, who was struck on the hand as he fouled off a pitch in one of the games Thursday, "is a little swollen today," Farrell said.
     
"He'll go through normal activity," said Farrell, "but we're going to hold him out of the game and re-evalaute him (Saturday)."