Notes: Lackey allows five runs but feels good

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Notes: Lackey allows five runs but feels good

By SeanMcAdam
CSNNE.com

FORT MYERS, Fla. -- John Lackey's second-to-last spring start was a mixed bag.

He allowed five runs on six hits -- two of them homers -- while walking two and striking out four in 5 13 innings.

"I felt good, physically,'' said Lackey. "I was really happy with the way my arm felt. Stuff-wise, I feel like I'm ready to go. I would have liked to get up seven times (get into the seventh inning). I wouldn't care if I finished the seventh inning. I didn't quite get there. But my arm feels good. That's all that really matters, I guess.''

Lackey paced himself last spring because the previous two springs were cut short by arm injuries, but worked with more purpose this spring.

"I still have to execute pitches,'' said Lackey, "but as far as strength and stuff-wise, I'm definitely further along than last year. I was definitely being more careful last year, to make it through spring training health-wise. I pushed it a little bit with more long toss and more effort level in my starts this spring.''

Lackey added this his changeup is advanced for this time of the year.

With less than a week to go before they leave Florida, the Sox were still unsure of the final two spots in the bullpen, though a scheduled staff meeting following Tuesday's 8-4 loss to Tampa Bay may have gone a long way toward clarifying the picture.

Francona was unsure when the Sox would get down to their final cutdown and couldn't guarantee that it would be done prior to the team heading to Houston Tuesday afternoon.

"I'd rather do it right than have to set an arbitrary deadline,'' said Francona. "It's certainly better for the pitchers in question to learn of their fate as soon as possible because I know they're on pins and needles.''

There are about eight pitchers competing for the two spots, thought it's fairly clear that Andrew Miller (whom the Sox want to work with at Pawtucket to get his control straightened out) and Randy Williams aren't really in the mix.

That leaves lefties Dennys Reyes, Rich Hill and Hideki Okajima and righties Matt Albers, Scott Atchison and Alfredo Aceves.

Albers is the only pitcher of the six out of options and has pitched well this spring. An industry source said as many as five teams had called the Sox inquiring on Albers, but are said to be not offering much in return.

Reyes, meanwhile, has an out in his contract which allows him to go elsewhere if his minor-league contract isn't purchased by Friday. GM Theo Epstein, however, said earlier this week that Reyes's deadline is somewhat "flexible.''

Boston's loss was its sixth in a row, dropping them to 12-15-1 in Grapefruit League play.

Aaron Bates hit a three-run homer in the bottom of the eighth. Otherwise, Dustin Pedroia added two doubles and Jason Varitek added two hits of his own.

Darnell McDonald, who left Tuesday's game in Clearwater when his surgically-repaired right thumb began to swell, was improved. Francona said McDonald could have played Tuesday night, but the Sox decided to give him another day off . . . The Sox have their only scheduled day off of the spring Wednesday. Adrian Gonzalez will serve as a DH in a minor-league game, getting some extra at-bats. It will also serve as the first time that Gonzalez has played on back-to-back days since making his spring debut on March 12 . . . Clay Buchholz will start Thursday in Jupiter against Florida, followed by Andrew Miller, Rich Hill and Scott Atchison . . . Outfielder J.D. Drew came out of Tuesday night's game in the third inning, but the Red Sox said there was no injury issue.

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

Ramirez, Leon homer, Red Sox beat Angels 9-4 on Papi's night

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Ramirez, Leon homer, Red Sox beat Angels 9-4 on Papi's night

BOSTON - Hanley Ramirez and Sandy Leon hit two-run homers and the Boston Red Sox beat the Los Angeles Angels 9-4 on Friday to cap a night in which David Ortiz's number became the latest retired at Fenway Park.

It was the 250th career home run for Ramirez, a good friend of Ortiz who was also born in the Dominican Republic. Leon finished with three hits and four RBIs.

The homers helped provide a nice cushion for Rick Porcello (4-9), who gave up four runs and struck out eight in 6 1/3 innings to earn the victory. It was the 13th straight start Porcello has gone at least six innings.

Alex Meyer (3-4) allowed five runs and five hits in 3 1/3 innings.

Los Angeles scored three runs in the seventh, but cooled off after Porcello left.

Boston got out to a 3-0 lead in the first inning, scoring on an RBI double by Xander Bogaerts and then getting two more runs off wild pitches by Meyer.

Ramirez gave Porcello a 5-1 lead in the fourth with his two-run shot to right field.

This could serve as a needed confidence boost for Porcello, who had been 0-4 with a 7.92 ERA in his previous five starts, allowing 47 hits and 27 earned runs.

He had command of his pitches early, holding the Angels scoreless until the fourth, when a catching error by Leon at home allowed Albert Pujols to cross the plate.

Ortiz: 'A super honor' to have number retired by Red Sox

Ortiz: 'A super honor' to have number retired by Red Sox

BOSTON —  The Red Sox have become well known for their ceremonies, for their pull-out-all-the-stops approach to pomp. The retirement of David Ortiz’s No. 34 on Friday evening was in one way, then, typical.

A red banner covered up Ortiz’s No. 34 in right field, on the facade of the grandstand, until it was dropped down as Ortiz, his family, Red Sox ownership and others who have been immortalized in Fenway lore looked on. Carl Yazstremski and Jim Rice, Wade Boggs and Pedro Martinez. 

The half-hour long tribute further guaranteed permanence to a baseball icon whose permanence in the city and the sport was never in doubt. But the moments that made Friday actually feel special, rather than expected, were stripped down and quick. 

Dustin Pedroia’s not one to belabor many points, never been the most effusive guy around. (He’d probably do well on a newspaper deadline.) The second baseman spoke right before Ortiz took to the podium behind the mound.

“We want to thank you for not the clutch hits, the 500 home runs, we want to thank you for how you made us feel and it’s love,” Pedroia said, with No. 34 painted into both on-deck circles and cut into the grass in center field. “And you’re not our teammate, you’re not our friend, you’re our family. … Thank you, we love you.”

Those words were enough for Ortiz to have tears in his eyes.

“Little guy made me cry,” Ortiz said, wiping his hands across his face. “I feel so grateful. I thank God every day for giving me the opportunity to have the career that I have. But I thank God even more for giving me the family and what I came from, who teach me how to try to do everything the right way. Nothing — not money — nothing is better than socializing with the people that are around you, get familiar with, show them love, every single day. It’s honor to get to see my number …. I remember hitting batting practice on this field, I always was trying to hit those numbers.”

Now that’s a poignant image for a left-handed slugger at Fenway Park.

He did it once, he said — hit the numbers. He wasn’t sure when. Somewhere in 2011-13, he estimated — but he said he hit Bobby Doerr’s No. 1.

“It was a good day to hit during batting practice,” Ortiz remembered afterward in a press conference. “But to be honest with you, I never thought I’d have a chance to hit the ball out there. It’s pretty far. My comment based on those numbers was, like, I started just getting behind the history of this organization. Those guys, those numbers have a lot of good baseball in them. It takes special people to do special things and at the end of the day have their number retired up there, so that happening to me today, it’s a super honor to be up there, hanging with those guys.”

The day was all about his number, ultimately, and his number took inspiration from the late Kirby Puckett. Ortiz’s major league career began with the Twins in 1997. Puckett passed away in 2006, but the Red Sox brought his children to Fenway Park. They did not speak at the podium or throw a ceremonial first pitch, but their presence likely meant more than, say, Jason Varitek’s or Tim Wakefield’s.

“Oh man, that was very emotional,” Ortiz said. “I’m not going to lie to you, like, when I saw them coming toward me, I thought about Kirby. A lot. That was my man, you know. It was super nice to see his kids. Because I remember, when they were little guys, little kids. Once I got to join the Minnesota Twins, Kirby was already working in the front office. So they were, they used to come in and out. I used to get to see them. But their dad was a very special person for me and that’s why you saw me carry the No. 34 when I got here. It was very special to get to see them, to get kind of connected with Kirby somehow someway.”

Ortiz’s place in the row of 11 retired numbers comes in between Boggs’ No. 26 and Jackie Robinson’s No. 42.