Red Sox notebook: Positive outlook on pitching

Red Sox notebook: Positive outlook on pitching
February 23, 2013, 10:45 am
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FORT MYERS, Fla. -- John Lackey gets the start Saturday afternoon against Tampa Bay as the Red Sox begin Grapefruit League play, making his first appearance in a major league game situation since the final week of the 2011 season.    

Lackey will go just one inning, but manager John Farrell is eager to see what Lackey -- who underwent Tommy John surgery in October 2011 -- has to offer, even as he attempts to keep Lackey's spring in perspective.

"There's going to be some mixed results that come along the way in spring training,'' said Farrell. "That's to be understood. But what stands out with John is the way he's reshaped himself and the confidence that's given him and his own off-season preparation and how he views himself, but he's going into this year with a much more positive outlook.''

  • Craig Breslow, who was handled carefully early in camp because of some shoulder weakness, is improving.

"He can potentially throw (on the side Saturday),'' said Farrell. "If not, he'll have just one more day of strengthening. He's making progress. The symptoms he was experiencing have cleared up. We want to make sure that his strength is an a minimum level before we put a ball in his hand.''

Asked how he intends to use his three lefties -- Breslow, Franklin Morales and Andrew Miller -- Farrell gave some hints to roles.

"Just by the arm slot,'' said Farrell, "to me, Miller would be that situation-type guy. Breslow has shown, while he's improved his overall performance against lefthanders, he's always been very good against righthanded hitters as well as a guy who can through that left-right-left-right combination and has shown the ability to do that.

"Morales isn't pinned into any one role. He did a hell of a job in the starting rotation last year. That's not to say we're looking at him as a long man or a multi-inning guy. But he's got weapons to get both out, so we haven't pinned him into anything yet.'' 

  • The Sox have made it clear that Mike Napoli's catching career has been put on the back burner.

"All his focus and attention is on playing first base,'' said Farrell. "I don't envision him getting back behind the plate. What we do know is the added stress that would put on the hip area. This is about making sure he stays on the field and in our lineup as much as possible.''

But Farrell then added that there could be one exception: as an emergency catcher, if something happens to both David Ross and Jarrod Saltalamacchia in a game.

"That's a different kind of circumstance,'' said Farrell. "If it's a situation where we need someone to finish out a game, we'd probably do that as opposing to throwing someone back there that's never been back there. But as far as a rotation (getting time behind the plate), it would (only) be an emergency sitaution.''