Farrell kicks off first full-squad workout

995975.jpg

Farrell kicks off first full-squad workout

FORT MYERS, Fla -- John Farrell, who labeled managing the Red Sox his "dream job'' last fall, took a big first step in that role Friday, addressing all 59 players in camp, shortly before the start of the Red Sox' first full-squad workout.

The meeting, which lasted about 50 minutes, is an annual rite of spring. But for Farrell, it was also a new start as he returns to manage the team he served as pitching coach from 2007 through 2010.

"There was a lot to mention,'' said Farrell. "More than anything, a lot of it was introductory for a number of new players, new people they're coming in contact with. They were able to hear from ownership, from Ben, from myself. It was pretty typical, I would think, for an opening of spring training.

"There's a good number of players there's no history with. I think more than anything, that first conversation, first talk, is a way to set the tone, which I think was clear. But the thing we wanted to emphasize is that it's a matter of what we do on the field and not what we're talking about.

"We're hopeful and with every intent that our actions speak certainly more volume than our words. To a man in that room, everyone associates the name Red Sox with winning. And that came out in conversation throughout the off-season. There's been an eagerness to get back down here and get started and re-write that script.

Following the meeting, the Sox then went through their paces on their first full-squad workout.

"It was good,'' reported Farrell. "I thought things flowed well, based on what we set out to accomplish. Understanding that baserunning is an emphasis, we were able to get into that right away. Fortunately, the weather held off and it was a good work day.''

The Sox are waiting on a recent MRI of Mike Napoli before clearing Napoli to begin some work at his new first base.

"We're hopeful we get the results or read of that later today. No update as of yet.''

Meanwhile, David Ortiz met with Dr. George Theodore to check on his strained right Achilles. He later ran around some cones and took part in some sprints.

"It's part of his current rehab,'' said Farrell. "He's not (yet) in the baserunning or conditioning drills that we do or are doing. They're specific to his protocol, so he feels not only getting stronger, but with each passing day, there's less hesitancy to be a little more agile, a little bit more explosive. ''

Felix Doubront, who was found to have some weakness in his left shoulder earlier in the week, is on schedule to throw off a mound next Wednesday. First, he'll throw long toss at a distance of about 135 feet Saturday.

Lefty reliever Craig Breslow played long toss from 75 feet Friday and according to Farrell, has made "steady progres.''

Finally, there's Clay Buchholz (hamstring), who played long toss at 120 feet. He needs to pass what Farrell termed "functional running tests'' before the Sox allow him to fully participate in his normal spring activity.

"It's likely he'll get back on the mound -- he has no ill effects throwing -- to keep his arm strength going, probably prior to keeping loose with all the agility, PFP training.''

Will Middlebrooks blossomed last year before being struck on the hand with a pitch in the first week of August, causing him to miss the remainder of the season.

Farrell is still in the process of getting to know him, but likes what he sees.

"We know that there is still room to improve defensively,'' said Farrell, "with consistency in his footwork and range to his glove side. As the book gets out on him around the league, theres going to be, Im sure that adjustment, counter-adjustment as the league reacts to him. Hes set himself up at least in the first two-thirds of a season, hes started his career on the right foot.''

Middlebrooks is fully healed from the broken hand which he suffered in Cleveland last August.

"Theres no limitations at all,'' said Farrell. "When you see him take BP, the sound off his bat is different than most guys, even in this camp. Hes fully healed from the fracture.''

A number of players in the clubhouse -- including Dustin Pedroia, David Ortiz and Jacoby Ellsbury -- know Farrell from his previous stint here. Still others, however, are just getting to know him.

"With many of the new players or guys I have no history with,'' said Farrell, "I have to earn my trust with them, earn my credibility. By virtue of the position, its not carte-blanche. Theres got to be trust established. Thats part of spring training. Thats one of the things from my end, in building a relationship with new players, well need every bit of these seven weeks.''

Porcello 'feels as good as I've felt all spring' in Red Sox' 5-3 loss

usatsi_9925997.jpg

Porcello 'feels as good as I've felt all spring' in Red Sox' 5-3 loss

Rick Porcello and Drew Pomeranz combined to allow all five of the Red Sox' runs in Boston's 5-3 loss to the Minnesota Twins.

Porcello finished his start by fanning four, allowing four hits and earning two runs over four innings. Pomeranz followed in the next four innings with four strikeouts, five hits allowed and three earned runs. Pomeranz allowed ByungHo Park's eighth-inning, two-run homer, which ended up being the game-winner.

Porcello, however, was optimistic after the loss.

"The buildup was good," Porcello told reporters, via RedSox.com. "Today I felt as good as I've felt all spring. At this point, I'm ready to go. I'm looking forward to the start of the season."

While the Sox offense was able to get three runs off Ervin Santana in his 4 2/3 innings, they struggled against the Twins' next five pitchers. Xander Bogaerts (2 of 3) and Pablo Sandoval (1 of 3) managed homers. Hanley (3 of 3) Ramirez had a double, and Dustin Pedroia (2 of 3) had two singles.

Kyle Kendrick will start Thursday in the Sox' final Spring Training series against the Washington Nationals. First pitch is at 1:05 p.m. ET.

Who's on first for Red Sox? It may be not someone you'd expect

Who's on first for Red Sox? It may be not someone you'd expect

Who’s on first? A middle infielder, maybe.

Hanley Ramirez, Josh Rutledge and Mitch Moreland aren't fully healthy. So the 25th man on the Red Sox has become a matter of corner-infield triage.

Rutledge was gearing up to play some first base with Ramirez restricted to DH because of his throwing shoulder. But Rutledge is hurt now too, likely headed to the disabled list with a left hamstring strain, Sox manager John Farrell said Wednesday morning in Florida.

Here’s the easiest way to think about who takes Rutledge's place: Who would the Red Sox like to see less against left handed pitching, third baseman Pablo Sandoval or first baseman Mitch Moreland? 

If it’s Sandoval, then you carry Marco Hernandez, who can play third base.

“He’s a very strong candidate,” manager John Farrell told reporters in Florida on Wednesday. “He’s one of a few that are being considered strongly right now.” 

If it’s Moreland, than you carry Steve Selsky, who has a history playing first base.

“He’s a guy we’re having discussions on,” Farrell said. “Any guy in our camp that we feel is going to make us a more complete or balanced roster, Deven Marrero, they’re all in consideration.”

The additional wrench here is that Moreland has the flu. If he's not available at all for a few days to begin the season, then the Sox probably have to carry Hernandez.

Why? Because Brock Holt can play some first base if Moreland is out. But then, you’d need another back-up middle infielder, and Hernandez gives you that. 

Hernandez is also hitting .379 in 58 at-bats this spring entering Wednesday.

Moreland isn’t the only one who has the flu.

"It’s running through our clubhouse," Sox manager John Farrell told reporters in Florida on Wednesday, including the Providence Journal’s Tim Britton. "Probably be held out for three days for a quarantine.” (LINK:http://www.providencejournal.com/sports/20170329/with-josh-rutledge-and-mitch-moreland-ailing-first-base-depth-compromised-for-red-sox)

That means the Red Sox won't have Moreland for their exhibitions against the Nationals on Friday and Saturday in Washington D.C. and Annapolis, Md. Moreland could still be ready for the regular season, but would likely be at less than full strength.

Having Ramirez available would sure make things a lot simpler for the Sox.

Both Sandoval at third base and Moreland could use right-handed bats to complement them. Or more specifically, they could use people who can hit left-handed pitching to complement them.

Hernandez is a left-handed hitter who might actually be able to hit lefties. But the Sox haven't used him at first base, and there's no indication they will.

“As we look at the upcoming games, there is the potential for two left-handed starters in Detroit,” Farrell said. “So there’s a number of things being factored right now.”

Early in spring training, Farrell was asked what player had started to catch his eye.

The guy he mentioned was Selsky, an outfielder and first baseman the Red Sox feel fortunate to have picked up off waivers because he still has minor league options remaining.

Now Selsky, who has already technically been cut from major league spring training, has a chance at making the opening day roster. He's 27 and hit .356 in 45 Grapefruit League at-bats.

Chris Young isn't going to have an easy time finding at-bats as it stands now, but the Sox aren't considering moving him to first base.