Early notes: Francona shuffles lineup

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Early notes: Francona shuffles lineup

By Maureen Mullen
CSNNE.com

BOSTON With left-hander Brian Duensing (2-1, 2.91 ERA) starting for the Twins Saturday afternoon, Red Sox manager Terry Francona took the opportunity to shuffle his lineup and give a few players some rest.

David Ortiz gets the day off with Kevin Youkilis serving as the designated hitter. J.D. Drew is also sitting, with Mike Cameron playing right field. Jed Lowrie will play third and Marco Scutaro shortstop.

Duensing has held left-handed hitters to a .233 average (compared to .279 for righties) with just one extra-base hit, a triple.

This guys been pretty tough on lefties, Francona said. Were not going to see a lefty for a while. I think its a good time to get Cam in there and it gives Youk a chance to rest; day game after night game, being a little beat up, we use his bat and he won't have to play third. Get Scoot in there.

Left-handed hitting Adrian Gonzalez has appeared in all 32 of the Sox games. But he was not in consideration for serving as the DH today.

Gonzie wants no part of being a DH, Francona said. A lot of guys are like that.

Francona moved Carl Crawford down in the lineup, where he remains, hoping to get the left fielder out of his offensive morass. But with Dustin Pedroia, who is also struggling at the plate, Francona prefers to leave him at the top.

Ive been around him long enough to know that Pedroia will get every bit as hot as he got cold, Francona said. I think you guys probably all would agree. I know my job is to remain positive, but this is an easy one.

"With Carl being new, I thought he was feeling a little bit kind of pressured. I understand that. Its human nature. I thought it would help him. And Carls going to really get going. I know hes starting to show some signs already and then well get him up towards the top of the lineup. But I bounced him around enough early, so well try to let him stay put for a while and get going.

Figuring out Pedeys mechanics is hard. He does some things you wouldnt teach a lot of people, but hes a great player. He's chasing balls out of the zone, especially breaking balls and once you do that all of a sudden a fastball beats you because you're trying to play off the breaking ball. Its easy as a hitter to get caught in between and hes been doing it now for a little bit. Hell snap out of it. Weve all witnessed it: as cold as he is hell get every bit as hot. Its just the way he is.

Francona has yet not heard anything from Major League Baseball regarding his ejection in the second inning Friday night, as he attempted to get an explanation from home plate umpire Angel Hernandez on a balk call. Hes trying to put the incident behind him as quickly as possible. Hes learned from past experience that dwelling on such situations does him no good.

Theres probably two or three times a year where I dont, and it ends up bogging me down for a day or so, he said. I know its happened maybe with the media from time to time or something that happened on the field, and then maybe after the second day I kind of realize, 'Okay, better put this in the rear-view mirror because the only thing its hurting is you.' And I get over it. I think you have to. When you see the hitters throwing their helmets after the first at-bat, you know that theyre still thinking about the night before. It happens. Its human nature, but its a hard way to be productive.

Jason Varitek is scheduled to catch both Daisuke Matsuzaka on Sunday and Josh Beckett on Monday. Normally, the 39-year-old Varitek would not be catching on back-to-back days. But with a day game Sunday followed by a night game Monday, Franconas decisions becomes easier. Varitek caught the entire 13-inning game that began Wednesday night and ended at 2:45 Thursday morning in a loss to the Angels.

I think he felt like he caught a long day, Francona said. Hes doing okay. If things go according to plan, well catch him maybe tomorrow and Monday, day game and night game. As we go through the rotation again well split those guys up a little bit.

The Sox were scheduled to face left-hander Francisco Liriano in the series finale Monday. But Liriano, who no-hit the White Sox on Wednesday, has been pushed back. He threw 123 pitches in the no-hitter, well above his previous high of 97 on April 7, and also has a sore throat. The Sox are expected to face right-hander Nick Blackburn (2-4, 4.41) instead.

Maureen Mullen is on Twitter at http:twitter.commaureenamullen

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Farrell angered after Castillo fails to run out grounder

Farrell angered after Castillo fails to run out grounder

The Red Sox signed Cuban outfielder Rusney Castillo to a seven-year, $72.5 million contract bn August 2014. Over parts of three seasons, the 29-year-old has a .679 OPS across 337 plate appearances in the majors and spent the vast majority of the 2016 season at Triple-A Pawtucket.

Castillo had a chance to start things off on the right foot in 2017, but that ship has already sailed. On Thursday against Northeastern at JetBlue Park, Castillo didn’t run out a routine ground ball. He claims he lost track of the outs. Manager John Farrell isn’t happy about the situation. Via Evan Drellich of the Boston Herald:

“Disappointing for a couple of reasons,” Sox manager John Farrell said. “One, he has lost the number of outs. Still, regardless of another of outs, getting down the line is controllable. And for a player in his situation, every little aspect of the game is important. That’s something that was addressed in the moment. He needs to execute the game situation. And for that matter, every player. But that one obviously stood out.”

Everyone always makes far too big a deal about running out grounders. It’s a real nit to pick when it’s February 23 and your team just finished playing an exhibition game that is even more meaningless than the other exhibition games that will be played in the coming month.

That being said, Castillo has to prove himself to merit inclusion on the 25-man roster and that means dotting all his i’s and crossing all his t’s. Even if he went hitless all spring, Castillo could have at least said he couldn’t have done anything else better. But on day one, he already gave his team a reason to count him out.