Notes: Peace of mind sparks Pedroia's surge

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Notes: Peace of mind sparks Pedroia's surge

By Sean McAdam
CSNNE.com Red Sox Insider Follow @sean_mcadam
TORONTO -- Since finding out that nothing is structurally wrong with his right knee, Dustin Pedroia has been a different player.

Pedroia missed the final game of the series in New York to have a scope procedure, and rejoined the club Friday here. He was 3-for-4 with a walk Friday and Saturday, was 3-for-5 with another walk.

In the last two days, Pedroia has bumped his average 16 points from .247 to .263.

Secure in the knowledge that he can't do any more damage to the knee, Pedroia has made some adjustments at the plate the last two days.

Of course, it helped that, as Pedroia disclosed for the first time Saturday, he received a shot of Synvisc, a lubricating gel, for his knee, easing the discomfort he felt from the bruised kneecap.

And knowing that he can put shift some weight to his back (right) knee at the plate has allowed Pedroia to break some bad habits he had developed over the last month.

"I actually feel better,'' said Pedroia. "If I feel better, I can use my back side more and that helps me out a lot because I can get pretty out there on my front stride. This helps me stay back and I'm able to let the ball come to me.''

"We all know Pedey can deal with pain or hurting,'' said Terry Francona. "But I think the idea that he's not hurting himself really cleared his head a lot.''

Exactly a month after he was shelled here for nine runs and later uttered that "everything in my life sucks right now,'' John Lackey returned to the Rogers Centre with a much healthier right elbow and, it would seem, a better frame of mind.

It showed on the mound, too, as Lackey picked up his second win in as many starts since going on the DL with elbow inflammation. He allowed four runs over six innings to improve to 4-5.

"It felt like it was a step forward,'' he said. "I'm still building some arm strength, but the guys swung the bats pretty good and made it pretty easy for me.''

Lackey said his slider is much better since his DL stint.

The runs off him came bunched together, with a two-run double from Rajai Davis in the fourth and a two-run homer from Edward Encarnacion in the sixth, his final inning.

Otherwise, Lackey had a stretch where he retired 10 of 11 hitters so that when the team provided him with run support, he got them back into the dugout quickly to go for some more.

"I'll sit there all day if they want to keep scoring runs,'' said Lackey. "That's not something I'm ever going to complain about.''

He entered the game with a career ERA of 5.07 of Toronto, but made some adjustments Saturday.

"I'm definitely trying to change some patterns and some sequences,'' he acknowledged. "There were definitely some adjustments.''

In a lineup that bashed out 18 hits, shortstop Marco Scutaro -- getting a start with Jed Lowrie shifting to third in place of Kevin Youkilis -- had the most of anyone, recording his first four-hit game of the season.

Scutaro missed several weeks because of a strained oblique, but almost from the beginning of a brief three-game rehab assignment in the minors, has been swinging a strong bat.

"I'm swinging the bat pretty good right now,'' ackmnowledged Scutaro. "Everything's kind of settled down for me. My timing is back. That's pretty much the difference. Even before I got hurt, I was feeling a little better at the plate. You know how hitting is -- sometimes you lose the feeling and it takes a while to get it back.''

"It's huge for us,'' said Francona of the contributions of Scutaro and what it means for depth. "It's hard to go through the whole season and not have guys get nicked up or miss some time. This will really help us.''

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

Hanley Ramirez's shoulder already a concern for Red Sox heading into WBC

Hanley Ramirez's shoulder already a concern for Red Sox heading into WBC

Another year, another injury concern for Hanley Ramirez. This time, though, it's a bit more complicated.

Boston Red Sox manager John Farrell told the media Monday that Ramirez hadn't played any first base during spring training yet due to discomfort in his right throwing shoulder.

“Well, we’re working through ramping up his throwing program,” Farrell said, via WEEI.com's Rob Bradford. “That has taken a little bit more time than anticipated coming in so we’ve got to kind of take that day to day how much we can increase the intensity with the throwing. He’s just working through some soreness with the throwing.”

As Bradford points out, Ramirez and the Red Sox went through the same process last year. Where it differs this time around is Ramirez's scheduled participation in the World Baseball Classic: He's expected to report to Team Domincan Republic on Friday, which means the Red Sox won't be monitoring his every move on the field (though the two training staffs will be communicating daily, also per Bradford).

Ramirez isn't the only first baseman on the roster, with the Cleveland Indians' Carlos Santana there as well. So will Ramirez be jumping into game action anytime soon?

“I don’t know what I’m going to do. They haven’t told me anything,” Ramirez told WEEI.com “I’m just going to go there and see.”

Boston pitchers strike out 14, but Red Sox still fall to Rays, 7-3

Boston pitchers strike out 14, but Red Sox still fall to Rays, 7-3

The appearance of Tampa Bay Rays lefty Ryan Yarbrough almost got the Boston Red Sox back in their spring training exhibition game. The Sox managed to score all three of their runs against the 25-year-old in their 7-3 loss to the Tampa Bay Rays at Charlotte Sports Park in Port Charlotte, Florida on Sunday.

But the Rays, who scored runs in five different innings, managed to widen their lead in the eighth inning by beating up on Sox lefty Luis Isla, a 24-year-old who spent last season with Portland and Pawtucket. In the eighth, Rays' Joe McCarthy homered and Luke Maile managed an RBI single, which cappped off the scoring in the contest. Sox starter Hector Velazquez allowed three hits and an earned run in his two innnings. The 28-year-old, who spent 2016 in the Mexican League, still managed to amass four strikeouts.

"I was a little nervous at the start, being in the United States for the first time and playing for a big league club for the first time," Velazquez told RedSox.com through an interpreter. "But once I got the first out, all the nerves went away, and I was able to bear down."

Despite allowing two homers, Boston pitchers combined for 14 strikeouts.

With the exception of the Sox' inning against Yarbrough, Boston's veterans and prospects struggled mighltily against the Rays pitching staff. Chris Archer started for Tampa, and set the tone in the first two innings, where he threw two strikeouts, one walk and allowed one hit and no runs. Andrew Benintendi (0-for-3), Sam Travis (0-for-2) and Bryce Brentz (0-for-3) went hitless on the day. Travis, however, reached base on balls.

"I felt good. I accomplished what I wanted to accomplish," Archer said, via the Red Sox' team website. "Just out there having fun, it was really fun to be out there in the spectrum with the umpire, the fans, the batter. It was fun."

Marco Hernandez's triple got the Sox' eighth-inning off to a strong start, and singles from Matt Dominguez, Deven Marrero, Rusney Castillo and Cole Sturgeon followed. The Sox' eighth inning scoring ended after Castillo got thrown out by left fielder McCarthy at third. Six Red Sox finished with one-hit outings, including Brock Holt and Blake Swihart.

The Sox will next host the St. Louis Cardinals in Fort Myers on Monday at 1:05 p.m. ET.