Papelbon unworried about latest spring struggle

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Papelbon unworried about latest spring struggle

By Sean McAdam
CSNNE.com

FORT MYERS, Fla. -- After he turned in a clean inning Friday against the Yankees, it appeared as though Jonathan Papelbon had turned the corner from his poor outing a week ago against Minnesota, when he walked three in one-third of an inning.

Then again, perhaps not.

Papelbon struggled again Thursday in the Red Sox' 8-5 win over the New York Mets, giving up two hits and two walks, leading to four runs. Papelbon couldn't finish the inning and even one of the two outs he recorded required a nice running catch by Juan Carlos Linares.

The Sox' closer has been either very bad or very good this spring. In four of his outings, he's had clean innings and hasn't allowed a baserunner. In his other two, however, Papelbon has walked five and given up seven runs on four hits.

Papelbon insisted that he wasn't concerned despite the two rocky outings in the last week.

"No . . . nope . . . not one bit," he said. "I'm just basically trying to find my delivery and iron out the kinks before the season rolls around. That's basically it.''

Ironically, only weeks ago, when the Red Sox were still based at the Player Development Complex, Papelbon said he already felt locked in with his delivery, and remarked how unusual it was to feel that so early in camp.

"I don't feel I've fallen out of it,'' he said of his delivery. "I still feel very locked in. Right now, I'm just a tick off my mechanics. I'm not searching. I know exactly what's going on. I can feel it in my delivery.

"For me, it's not a big deal at all because I know it's a minor little detail for me.''

Papelbon said the spring training atmosphere, with little context or adrenaline, was perhaps a factor ('no question,'' he said) and one talent evaluator agreed, noting that Papelbon looked "disinterested'' on the mound Thursday.

"I thought today he just got out in front and was a little quick in his delivery,'' said Terry Francona. "Everything flattened out a little bit and his fastball started wandering a little bit. I think everything was flat today and good hitters don't need help elevating the ball.

"You fall behind and the ball's flat. That's what it looked like to me.''

"It's spring training,'' said Papelbon, "and I'm trying to get my delivery where it's perfect every day and right now, it's just not. It's still spring. It is what it is.''

Francona said Papelbon's next outing will probably involve throwing two innings at the minor-league complex.

"I think that will be good for him,'' he said.

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

Three-run HR from Sandoval (.353) leads Red Sox split squad past Rays, 7-5

Three-run HR from Sandoval (.353) leads Red Sox split squad past Rays, 7-5

Pablo Sandoval hit his fourth home run of the spring and Rusney Castillo had three hits to lead a Red Sox split squad to a 7-5 victory over the Tampa Bay Rays on Saturday in Port Charlotte, Fla. 

Sandoval, who has won back his third base job after missing nearly all of last season following surgery on his left shoulder, connected for a three-run shot, batting right-handed, against Rays starter Ian Snell in the fifth inning. The switch-hitting Sandoval had abandoned hitting right-handed in 2015, his last full season with the Red Sox.

He's hitting .353 this spring with a 1.051 OPS and 19 RBI.

Castillo, the Cuban outfielder signed to a seven-year, $72 million deal late in 2014 but again likely headed for Triple-A Pawtucket, went 3-for-4 and is hitting .368 this spring. Catcher Blake Swihart, also probably Pawtucket-bound, had two hits and is hitting .325.


 

Another strong start for Kendrick in Red Sox split squad's 3-3 tie with Phillies

Another strong start for Kendrick in Red Sox split squad's 3-3 tie with Phillies

Kyle Kendrick strengthened his bid for a spot in the rotation by allowing two runs in six innings and striking out six and Jackie Bradley homered as a Red Sox split squad played to a 3-3 tie with the Philadelphia Phillies on Saturday in Fort Myers, Fla.

Kendrick, 32, a non-roster invitee to spring training, allowed eight hits and a walk in his sixth start this spring. He's been the Red Sox best starter with an ERA of 2.17. 

With David Price out until May and lefty Drew Pomeranz still a question mark, Kendrick could find his way into the rotation behind Chris Sale, Rick Porcello, Steven Wright and Eduardo Rodriguez.

Bradley went 2-for-3 with his third homer of the spring. He's hitting .244 in spring training games. 

The Phillies pushed across the tying run in the ninth off lefty reliever Robby Scott, the first run he's allowed this spring in 10 innings. 

The Minnesota Twins host the Red Sox on Sunday at 1:05 at Hammond Stadium in Fort Myers.