Aceves a versatile option for Red Sox

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Aceves a versatile option for Red Sox

By SeanMcAdam
CSNNE.com

FORT MYERS, Fla. -- A group of reporters were speaking with Red Sox pitcher Alfredo Aceves Tuesday following his two-inning stint against the Minnesota Twins when someone posed a question and used the word "versatile,'' bringing a look of puzzlement to the pitcher's face.

Aceves, who is from Mexico, generally has good command of English, but this one had him stumped until another reporter translated the word to him in his native Spanish.

The irony, of course, was obvious: Aceves may not understand "versatile,'' but, as a pitcher, he's the very definition of the word.

That was one of the reasons the Red Sox were attracted to him over the winter. They were intrigued by his 12-1 career mark, his proven ability to pitch in the meat grinder that is the American League East, and, naturally, his adaptability.

In another month, he could be in Boston or in Pawtucket. He could be in the bullpen, or he could be in the rotation.

Either way, he's most certainly in the Red Sox' plans.

"That's the eitheror,'' said Terry Francona. "We certainly like the idea of his being stretched out. But he's proven he can do both.''

Aceves, who battled back and collarbone issues last season, was not tendered a contract by the New York Yankees last year, resulting in free agency.

He has a manic likability to him, not unlike Julian Tavarez, who pitched for the Red Sox from 2006-2008 and, like Aceves, could fill a variety of roles on a staff.

Aceves can often be found running around the warning track early in the morning and he approaches his workout routine with zest. Ultimately, however, it will be what he does on the mound that determined where he begins the season, and in what capacity.

"He's a pretty interesting guy,'' said Francona. "Fastball, changeup, breaking ball -- he's got all three pitches and he really loves to compete. He's an interesting guy.''

He pitched scoreless two innings in the Red Sox' 5-0 win over the Minnesota Twins, allowing a hit and a walk and emphasized that neither the lower back injury, not the collarbone injury he battled last fall were factors.

"I'm 100 percent -- that's all I've got,'' said Aceves.

Aceves's preferred role is that of a starter, but he'd be happy to contribute in any way possible if meant sticking with the Red Sox when they open the season April 1. He's among seven or so pitchers battling for the final two spots in the bullpen, and, along with Tim Wakefield, one of their primary insurance policies for the rotation should a starter be felled by injury or ineffectiveness.

"I always keep in mind,'' said Aceves, "that I should throw 'potatoes,' -- zeroes on the scoreboard. If I'm behind in the count, if I have the bases loaded -- I still have zeroes on my mind.''

Aceves has options remaining, meaning he could be sent to Pawtucket to open the season in the Triple A rotation, then be ready should the parent club need re-inforcements.

A more likely scenario, however, would be for Aceves to start the year as a middle- or long reliever in the Boston bullpen, with the ability to pitch multiple innings and still able to be stretched out enough to supply spot starts, or fill-in should injuries or ineffectiveness arise.

"Some of those decisions depend on the makeup of our ballclub,'' said Francona, "not just now, but moving forward.''

That decision will come in the final weeks of spring training. But Tuesday, the Red Sox had to like what they saw from Aceves, however he might be utilized.

Sean McAdam can be reached at smcadam@comcastsportsnet.com.Follow Sean on Twitter at http:twitter.comsean_mcadam

Cardinals pull away late for 7-2 victory over Red Sox

Cardinals pull away late for 7-2 victory over Red Sox

The Cardinals broke open a close game with four runs in the last two innings against Red Sox relief prospect Chandler Shepherd and went on to a 7-2 exhibition victory over Boston yesterday at JetBlue Park in Fort Myers.

Red Sox-Cardinals box score

The loss dropped the Sox to 1-3 for the exhibition season.

Boston had jumped on top, 1-0, on an RBI single by Mitch Moreland in the bottom of the first, but St. Louis countered with two runs in the second and one in the third, all against starter Brian Johnson. It remained 3-1 until the Cards touched Shepherd for two runs in the eighth and two in the ninth. The Red Sox added their final run in the bottom of the ninth when catcher Jordan Procyshen, who spent last season at Single-A Salem, hit a sacrifice fly.

Moreland, Xander Bogaerts and Chris Young each had two hits for the Red Sox. who also got scoreless relief from Teddy Stankiewicz, Noe Ramirez, Robby Scott, Kyle Martin and Brandon Workman. It was Bogaerts' last game before leaving to compete for The Netherlands in the World Baseball Classic.

The Sox host the Yankees on Tuesday at 1:05 p.m.

Dustin Pedroia taking cues from Tom Brady to extend his career

Dustin Pedroia taking cues from Tom Brady to extend his career

Dustin Pedroia is no stranger to injuries. That's a big reason why he's no longer a stranger to the sometimes peculiar practices of New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady.

In an interview on WEEI's "Bradfo Show," Pedroia told Rob Bradford that he's been taking cues from the five-time Super Bowl-winning QB to help extend his playing career and make his body healthier and more durable.

“I understand what he does and know what he does. I think it’s awesome,” Pedroia told Bradford. “There’s a reason why he’s successful at his age (39), and he looks better now than he did when he first came to the league. You have to be smarter as you get older and learn different styles -- the way to train and the way you take care of your body to be able to perform and stay on the field. It doesn’t matter what sport you’re playing. He’s definitely got that figured out.”

Pedroia, of course, played the entire 2013 World Series-winning season with a torn ligament in his thumb. He's battled through various other lower body and hand injuries over the past few seasons, as well. But in 2016, he had his best season in recent memory, posting his highest OPS since 2011, as WEEI notes.

Part of that is with his own take on the Brady approach -- which focuses more on pliability and resistance training than extensive, heavy weight lifting -- and a healthier overall lifestyle, something Brady is notoriously infamous for having.

"There’s tons of ways to take care of your body. It’s not just get in the weight room and throw weights around,” Pedroia explained. “As you get older, the human body can’t take the pounding if you’re going in there and power lifting. When you’re younger, you can handle some of that. But as you get older, you got to be smarter. Sometimes less is more -- whether that’s weight or reps or whatever. You’ve just got to be smart. And eating wise, that’s a big part of recovery. If you put the right foods in your body, you’ll heal faster if you’re injured or recover faster. It’s like a car, man. Put bad gas in, bro. It’s not going to be the same as good gas.”

He hopes the approach can, at the very least, keep him moving for quite some time.

“I plan on living until I’m 100," he said. "So we’re not even halfway home."