Valentine unsure about left side of infield

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Valentine unsure about left side of infield

BOSTON On Thursday night, new Red Sox manager Bobby Valentine continued his offseason tour, which has taken him to all points throughout the United States, and destinations beyond. This time he was in Boston for a fundraiser to support Kevin Youkilis charitable organization.Valentine was happy with what he saw from his third baseman, whose season was cut short by injury.He looks good, Valentine said. And hes a very extensive, once, twice, and thrice over by our medical staff. He liked what they were doing and they liked what they saw. So thats good news.But, after the trade of shortstop Marco Scutaro to the Rockies, it's still uncertain who will be playing to Youkilis left on Opening Day. Nick Punto, one of Youkilis best friends, and Mike Aviles are contenders, along with Jose Iglesias.I have no idea how its shaping up, Valentine said of the left side of his infield. But I know how its going to be anchored. How Youkilis is going to be flanked, Im not sure yet. But Im confident itll all work out. I dont want to speculate on any of that stuff until I can get with my coaches, see what it is individually, collectively. Im confident it will be fine.But I never look at anything in a vacuum. I always look at how things work together. Lineups work together. Pitching and catching works together. Left side of the infield works together with the left fielder in how thats going to look. So its not an individual thing. But I think each individual position needs to be filled by a quality person at the major league level, in particular, on our team with the competition that were going to be facing.

First impressions: Owens improves, Scott scuffles

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First impressions: Owens improves, Scott scuffles

NEW YORK -- First impression from Red Sox' 5-1 loss to the Yankees:

* Henry Owens looked improved over earlier starts.

The lefty took the place of Drew Pomeranz Thursday night and pitched into the fifth inning, allowing two runs on four hits.

Talent evaluators believe that Owens has the stuff necessary to be a back-end starter in the big leagues if -- and that's a big qualifier -- he can command his pitches.

Alas, that's often been an issue for Owens, who averaged 3.4 walks per nine innings last season in Boston and, in four starts earlier this season, a bloated 9.3 walks per nine innings.

On Thursday night, Owens showed far better control, issuing just two walks. Further, he managed to pitch ahead in the count, giving him an advantage against the New York lineup. And mixing his changeup and fastball, he fanned six.

* Robby Scott had a bad night at a bad time.

Scott's in the mix to make the Red Sox post-season roster as a lefty specialist, competing against the likes of Fernando Abad.

He had been effective in most of his previous outings, with no runs allowed in six appearances with five strikeouts and a walk.

But brought in to face Brian McCann with runners on first and second and one out in the sixth, he yielded a single to center.

After getting Aaron Hicks on a flyout, he walked rookie Tyler Austin to force in a run, then heaved a wild pitch that scored another run before retiring Brett Gardner on a flyout.

Keeping in mind that Scott wouldn't be asked to face that many righthanders were he to make the post-season roster, Thursday's outing wasn't helpful in making his case.

* Yoan Moncada is gone for now.

The Red Sox announced that the rookie third baseman had traveled to Fort Myers to prepare for his upcoming assignment in the Arizona Fall League next month.

Expectations were high for Moncada when he joined the Red Sox on Labor Day weekend in Oakland and when he collected multiple hits in each of his first two starts, it appeared as though he would get most of the playing time at third for the remainder of the season.

But not long after, Moncada began chasing breaking balls out of the strike zone and looking very much overmatched at the plate. HE struck out in nine consecutive at-bats.

That doesn't mean that Moncada won't someday -- likely in the not-too-distant future -- be a very good major league player. But it is a reminder of how big a jump it is to go from Double A.

And, it served to point out how remarkable Andrew Benintendi has been in making that same jump.