Boston Red Sox

Francona: Red Sox facing 'tough' decisions

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Francona: Red Sox facing 'tough' decisions

By Maureen Mullen
CSNNE.com

FORT MYERS, Fla. With just two weeks to go before Opening Day, Red Sox manager Terry Francona said his team will spend the remaining time in Fort Myers working on fundamentals, something his team has been able to focus on only sporadically recently because of scheduling.

Well, we still have some fundamentals that we need to cover, Francona said. We got to get through the next three or four days. We got three games in the next 24 hours. So, our travel schedule here is not real conducive to sometimes getting our work done. Its not a complaint. Its just stating the facts. We spend a lot of time on buses because of where were located. So we try to do our fundamentals periodically. When we have a couple home games well spend a little extra time doing stuff like that . . . Once we get through with this stretch, well probably pare the number in camp down a little bit more and well get in the last of our fundamentals.

After this stretch a split-squad, day-night, home-away doubleheader on Friday, and a game in Bradenton Saturday against the Pirates the Red Sox will make additional roster moves, paring the number from the current 43.

But, with every position on the roster just about set, there remain very few spots open one or possibly two spots in the bullpen. Who will fill those spots are the real decisions. Those in the mix include left-handers Andrew Miller, Randy Williams, Dennys Reyes, Hideki Okajima, and Rich Hill, and righties Matt Albers, Scott Atchison, Brandon Duckworth, Michael Bowden, Matt Fox, Alfredo Aceves, and Tim Wakefield.

Franconas decisions this spring are a little different than in past springs.

Just as difficult, but for different reasons.

In the past, I think weve had real tough decisions, he said. This year its a little different because I think we feel like we have good depth. Sometimes youre making a decision out of like, Uh-oh, somebodys got to emerge here where youre kind of scrambling. Last year we brought lefty reliever Scott Schoeneweis in late. This year we feel like weve got a lot of good decisions to make. Its going to be tough on some guys because they probably feel like they deserve to make the team.

Nobodys really separated themselves in a bad way. Everybodys kind of done what we hoped theyd do, were going to have some decisions to make. Its tough for guys, but its a good way to set up your team."

Dont expect any hints from Francona on who his picks will be.

I would never sit here and talk about somebody being on the team, he said. I cant do that. Thats so disrespectful to the players. I would never do that. Thatd be awful.

He did acknowledge, though, that Wakefield and Aceves, for example, could fill similar roles long relief, spot starts but with very different styles.

Reyes, who got to camp late from Mexico because of visa issues, has pitched five innings over five games, giving up one earned run. He is scheduled to pitch in Friday afternoons game against the Tigers.

I think hes a little bit behind, Francona said. We certainly have to make a decision with him. But hes got that two-seam, when the balls down and hes got the late-breaking slider. Just want to see how consistent he is.

Were going to have some interesting decisions to make here, Francona said.

Fortunately, guys have really shown well. Im sure pitching coach Curt Young and I and general manager Theo Epstein and assistant GM Ben Cherington will sit down, as we have been, and try to make the best decisions, not only for Opening Day but for the organization. Its going to be tough.

Maureen Mullen is on Twitter at http:twitter.commaureenamullen

Red Sox move closer to AL East title with 5-0 win over Reds

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Red Sox move closer to AL East title with 5-0 win over Reds

CINCINNATI - Mitch Moreland ended his long slump with a three-run homer, Eduardo Rodriguez pitched three-hit ball into the eighth inning, and the Boston Red Sox took another step toward a second straight AL East title, beating the Cincinnati Reds 5-0 on Saturday.

Boston has won 13 of 16, holding off the Yankees as it tries to win back-to-back East titles for the first time since divisional realignment in 1969. The Red Sox have their best record of the season at 90-64, reaching 90 wins for the second year in a row.

They remain four games in front of the Yankees, who beat Toronto 5-1.

Moreland was in an 0-for-19 slump when he connected off Robert Stephenson (5-6) in the sixth inning, his 20th homer of the season but only his second in September. The Red Sox are last in the AL with 160 homers.

Rodriguez (6-6) has given up two or fewer earned runs in each of his last four starts, the best stretch of his career. The left-hander gave up three singles and two walks in 7 2/3 innings, his longest outing since May 21.

The Red Sox have shutout victories in three of their last four games, including two at Baltimore. They are 7-1 on a trip that ends Sunday. Boston wraps up the regular season at Fenway Park with three games against Toronto and four against Houston.

Red Sox outfielder Andrew Benintendi, who grew up in suburban Madeira and had hundreds of relatives and friends in the stands for the series, singled home a run in the seventh at the ballpark where he regularly attended games as a youth.

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Betts (foot), Pedroia (knee) out of Red Sox lineup

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Betts (foot), Pedroia (knee) out of Red Sox lineup

Mookie Betts, who fouled a ball off his left foot Friday night, and Dustin Pedroia, who has been bothered by a knee injury almost all season, were out of the Red Sox lineup Saturday against the Reds in Cincinnati.

Chris Young started in right field for Betts and Brock Holt at second base for Pedroia.

Betts was scratched from the original lineup but was a late scratch. Pedroia, who had been getting intermittent days off to rest his knee was originally expected to play but needed treatement and hopes to be able to play Sunday, according to Scott Lauber of ESPN. 

Manager John Farrell told reporters, including Christopher Smith of MassLive.com, that Betts "was hindered by it last night in the second half of that game. [He] woke up a little bit more sore. Went through treatment. But felt it was best to give him a day to fully recover and get some additional treatment."

The manager added that Betts was available to pinch hit Saturday and did not have X-rays, but that step could be taken if there's no improvement in the next 24 hours.