Papelbon makes history in closer's role


Papelbon makes history in closer's role

By Maureen Mullen Follow @maureenamullen

BOSTON -- With his 30th save of the season in Fridays win over the Rays, Jonathan Papelbon became the first pitcher in baseball history to record 30 saves in his first six full big league seasons. A fact of which Francona was unaware.

I didnt even know that, Francona said. I didnt know it was 30 last night. My heart was in my throat hoping we would win.

Theres a lot of things to be impressed about. I think you guys have been around long enough to know I love sitting up here bragging about my guys. I think thats the way its supposed to be. The way hes come back. Hes always been good, but he set the bar so high his first couple of years, then when it wasnt quite the same, he came back this year with a vengeance. Hes been good, and hes been consistent and hes worked hard.

Hes carefree but hes a good kid. Everybody thats been around him knows he means well. When you give him that ball hes got one thing, he wants to beat the other team. Its kind of been nice, and especially nice when you see guys come through the organization and you see them grow up.

I can remember that time in Fort Lauderdale in spring training when he missed the bus, he thought the bus was going to swing by and pick him up. Now you look at a guy whos got 30 saves in six straight seasons. Its kind of funny.

There was a time, though, when Papelbon was set to join the rotation, before he decided in the middle of spring training his future would be as a closer.

It was difficult because organizationally I knew where we stood, Francona said. We had meetings and team-wise I was so uncomfortable going into the season without . . . I think I remember telling you guys the story former pitching coach John Farrell and I driving down Route 41 and talking about our staff. We both kept saying were not comfortable with where were at in the bullpen but organizationally were going to do whats right.

"Pap came up to me and it was just like time to, this is not an omen or a sign, but time to go to general manager Theo Epstein with this. Im glad we did.

Maureen Mullen is on Twitter at http:twitter.commaureenamullen.

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


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 "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:

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.