Ellsbury continues torrid spring

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Ellsbury continues torrid spring

By Maureen Mullen
CSNNE.com

FORT MYERS, Fla. Saturday marked the third consecutive day on which Jacoby Ellsbury has played a game. Its the first time this spring hes played three straight days. Hes not scheduled to make the trip to Bradenton to play the Pirates on Sunday, but he may want to lobby manager Terry Francona to let him jump on the bus.

In his last two games hes gone a combined 5-for-6 at the plate, with three runs scored, three RBI, two doubles and his first home run of the spring.

I think he looks tremendous, said Francona. He looks real good. Sometimes that comes and goes in spring because of the sporadic play. But especially the last couple days, hes really looked good.

He hit that home run. That was a pretty swing. That ball jumped out in a hurry. So, I think its pretty safe to say he feels pretty good about himself at the plate.

Ellsbury opened Saturdays game against the Marlins at City of Palms, a 9-2 Sox win, with a double to right, scoring on Dustin Pedroias single.

After missing all but 18 games last season with fractured ribs, Ellsbury is just happy to be feeling healthy.

I felt good, day one, coming in to spring training, he said. So its nice to get out there and play.

He said he has no reservations about his health.

That was the plan when I came to spring training, to not have any, not think about it, he said. And thats where Im at right now.

Hes also growing into the role of being the leader of the outfield, directing his corner outfielders. Its a role hes had to grow into over the last few years, as a young center fielder with veterans J.D. Drew, Manny Ramirez, Jason Bay to his sides.

Ive always been comfortable out there playing center, but yeah, maybe, Ive been there a little bit longer and just communicating with the guys, which I did in the past but maybe just being a little bit more vocal, he said.

Look at the guys I had beside me, some pretty good names in there. So a lot of times you kind of let them, theyve been there, they know what theyre doing. But its nice to just get in and play center and communicating with everybody. We did that in the past but I think its just a little bit more noticeable now.

Its a role Francona has encouraged him to take on more.

We want our center fielder to run the show out there, Francona said. Everybody has to move off of him. If hes moving and nobody else is, were covering stuff we shouldnt. So, yeah, we really encouraged him to take charge out there.

And as he demonstrated Saturday scoring each time he got on base his role at the top of the lineup is just as vital.

We missed him a ton last season, Pedroia said. He brings a ton of speed to our team. He can create a run without getting a hit. He could get on with an error and steal two bases and a sac fly. He could do a ton to help us win. Plays great center field. So hes huge for our team.

Maureen Mullen is on Twitter at http:twitter.commaureenamullen

Does uncertainty for Carson Smith mean Red Sox need bullpen help?

Does uncertainty for Carson Smith mean Red Sox need bullpen help?

BOSTON — Tyler Thornburg’s gone for the season and there’s really no telling when the other set-up man the Sox expected to help in 2017, Carson Smith, will be back.

The Sox have already made inroads, if minor ones, in bolstering their third-base situation and rotation. Smith’s situation leaves a question of whether the Sox will need to pursue help in the bullpen as well.

There's not an easy answer to settle on at this point.

For one, the timetable with the right-hander Smith — whose shoulder has bothered him on the way back from Tommy John surgery — isn’t clear.

“He's in a no-throw [time] through the weekend,” Sox manager John Farrell said Friday afternoon at Fenway Park. “He'll be reevaluated on Monday to hopefully initiate a throwing program. He's responding favorably to the treatment. He continues to rehab as he's been. We have not closed the book in a sense on anything Carson can contribute this year.”

What does this year mean, though? Will they be able to know by July, by the trade deadline?

“Still too early to tell,” Farrell said. “We thought he was days from starting his rehab assignment after his last live BP session in New York [on June 6]. Unfortunately, that was put on hold for the time being. To get into any kind of timeframes, timetables, I don't know that any of us can predict that right now.”

The Sox relievers have done extraordinarily well without either Thornburg or Smith. Can that continue without reinforcements? The bullpen’s ERA entering Friday was 2.94, the second best mark in the majors. Its innings total, 217, was the second. lowest in the majors. 

So it’s not like the entire group is about to collapse from fatigue. But a guy like Joe Kelly, for example, isn’t someone the Sox want to use back to back.

It’s a young group and ultimately an inexperienced group. But Sox president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski has already fallen into the trap of trading for premium set-up men twice, and that’s a dangerous road to pursue again. Perhaps a smaller trade makes more sense.

“Well, at this point, we’re open minded to help,” Dombrowski said when asked if he was targeting either third-base or relief help. “I’m not going to get into specifics at this time on what else we’re looking for. Keep an open mind on a lot of ways on which we can improve. We have guys coming back and both the spots, I think Carson Smith is very important to us and our bullpen has pitched great. The other day, we struggled but that was one of the few times we really struggled all year. 

“I think Carson still has a chance to come back and help us this year.”

 

Pedroia returns

Dustin Pedroia (ribcage) was out of the initial Red Sox lineup on Friday but was later added. Farrell said in the afternoon that Pedroia would be available by emergency Fridayand expected to be back in the lineup Saturday, but clearly, something changed.

Red Sox claim right-hander Doug Fister off waivers

Red Sox claim right-hander Doug Fister off waivers

Right-handed starter Doug Fister, who opted out of his contract with the Angels, has been claimed off waivers by the Red Sox, CSN Red Sox Insider Evan Drellich has confirmed.

The news was first reported by Chris Cotillo of SB Nation, who writes that Fister, 33, will join the Red Sox immediately.

Fister opted out of with the Angels after three Triple-A starts in Salt Lake City, where he allowed seven runs on 16 hits with five walks and 10 strikeouts in 15 2/3 innings. 

With Eduardo Rodriguez and Brian Johnson on the DL, the Red Sox need immediate starting pitching help. Triple-A Pawtucket call-up Hector Velazquez made a spot start earlier this week in the fifth spot behind Chris Sale, Rick Porcello, David Price and Drew Pomeranz. 

Fister will receive $1.75 million in the majors from the Red Sox, with $1.2 million available in additional incentives, according to Cotillo. 

Fister has pitched eight seasons in the majors, including 2016 with the Astros, going 12-13 with 4.64 ERA in 180 1/3 innings. His best season was 2014 with the Nationals (16-6, 2.41 ERA).