Red Sox notebook: first base options

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Red Sox notebook: first base options

FORT MYERS, Fla. -- There's not much competition for roster spots here in Red Sox camp, but one job battle that bears watching is the one for the backup first baseman.

That could be an important spot, since starting first baseman Mike Napoli is not a great defender and the Sox would like someone who could serve as a late-inning defensive replacement. Also, Napoli's well-documented hip issues mean he may not always be available.

In a perfect world, the Sox would like that candidate to hit lefthanded, to complement Napoli, who is righthanded. And, they'd prefer that the player be able to contribute in the outfield.

Involved in the mix are Lyle Overbay, Mitch Maier, Daniel Nava and Mark Hamilton. The Sox also had some discussions with outfielder Ryan Sweeney, for now, there are no plans to have Sweeney try the position and he remains exclusively an outfielder.

"It's important that we have another first baseman on the roster,'' said GM Ben Cherington. "We think we have a good chance to find the solution with the guys that are in here. It would be ideal (to have a person who could play both first and the outfield). It needs to be someone who can handle the position defensively and can hopefully produce against a righty (pitcher)."

Manager John Farrell said Nava "has shown decent actions around the bag and with each passing day and added reps, he's getting a little bit more comfortable, a little bit more fluid there.''

According to Farrell, Nava played about 20 games at first while in junior college.

Cherington said the Sox will most likely begin the year with 12 pitchers with 13 position players, leaving them four bench players -- a catcher, an infielder, and outfielder and another outfielder who could handle first.

"There have been times when we've carried 13 pitchers and it never feels optimal when you're doing it,'' said Cherington. "I think what we'd like to do is set up a team with 12 pitchers and make it work that way. But we'll see where we are at the end of the spring.

"Our team really works better with 12 pitchers. We've carried 13 before due to extenuating circumstances, so we'll see. We can't rule it out. But our preference would be to have another position player.''

The Sox plan to bring in Tim Wakefield later this week to work with fellow knuckleballer Steven Wright.

Wright was obtained last July from Cleveland in exchange for first baseman Lars Anderson.

"Understanding what worked well for Wake,'' said Farrell, "is not to say that it's going the same exact checkpoints for Steven. But that's such a tight-knit fraternity (pitchers who throw the knuckleball), to have Wake as a resource and have him in here...He's more than willing to share some of his thoughts and talk about it.''

David Ortiz likely will be held out of the first few exhibition games, which begin Thursday, but shouldn't be sidelined long.

He took live batting practice, but the Sox are carefully monitoring his right Achilles heel which kept him out of the final two months.

"He looks great,'' said Cherington. "He's in great shape. It doesn't seem like he'll be that long, but we're probably going to be cautious with him. We've got a fair amount of time in camp and we're much more concerned about the 162-game schedule than we are the spring training schedule.''

Taiwanese broadcaster had shocking call for Manny Ramirez's homer

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Taiwanese broadcaster had shocking call for Manny Ramirez's homer

A Taiwanese announcer's call outshined Hanley Ramirez's homer.

In a video that made rounds on the internet Sunday, the Taiwanese broadcaster delivered a laughable response to Ramirez's homer.

"This ball is long gone! Just like the ex-girlfriend who will never return! Home run!" the man yelled.

The hit took place a few years ago when he was in the Taiwanese league. He is now playing in Japan. But frankly, he many never have another home run as epic as that one. And he certainly won't get a call as epic as that one.

Watch the video in the tweet below.

Red Sox-Orioles series expected to begin with closest thing to warnings

Red Sox-Orioles series expected to begin with closest thing to warnings

If you're stupid, you're probably gone.

As standard operating procedure, umpiring crews no longer start series with warnings to either team. So when the Orioles and Red Sox kick off a four-game set at Fenway Park on Monday, technically, no official warning will be in place for the other side.

But the closest thing to a warning likely will be implemented. Umpires are expected to be made specifically aware of the recent history with Manny Machado, Dustin Pedroia and Matt Barnes, a baseball source told CSNNE — a sort of “heads up” that should create very little tolerance for any further drama.

In some situations, MLB reminds teams as well that the expectation is a game be played, not a repeat of past incidents. It’s unclear if that conversation will happen or has happened here.

The way the Red Sox and Orioles were talking after Barnes threw too close to Machado’s head, it sounded like a situation that’s wisely been put to bed. Not forgotten, but not something that requires action as it stands today.

Showalter a week ago Sunday praised his team for not retaliating. Machado, who started it all by spiking Pedroia, showed restraint when the pitch went behind him. Pedroia apologized publicly and dramatically, and Barnes apologized and dropped the appeal of his four-game suspension. (Barnes is to return Sunday.)

If indeed this chapter of the feud dies, Pedroia deserves some credit for that.

No Orioles player was hit by a pitch or hurt in the end. The only one injured was Pedroia. Despite the stupidity of where Barnes’ attempted retaliatory pitch went, it’d be hard for the Orioles to justify needing revenge at this point.

Zach Britton, who bizarrely questioned Pedroia’s leadership because he was unable to prevent Barnes’ pitch, told BaltimoreBaseball.com the Orioles were waiting to see how the Red Sox move forward. 

“That’s up to them. Well see what they do in Boston,” Britton told reporter Dan Connolly. “I think we’ve talked about it already, as a team, and we’ll see how they choose to act — whether or not they choose to act professionally or unprofessionally when we get to Boston.”

Pedro Martinez said he would have drilled Machado, not because he detected intent for Machado to harm, but because that's nonetheless what happens after you spike a guy like Pedroia.

"Barnesy did not mean to throw the ball at Machado’s head," Martinez said. "That’s another thing. But the results at the end were the right ones. If I was pitching, I was going to drill Machado as much as I love him. And it didn’t matter what happened, the only thing I would have done differently was probably [throw] the ball a little bit lower. But everything else was nature of baseball. I think it’s something that’s going to happen. It’s part of baseball. Hopefully it won’t linger around for too long, or nobody will make it personal.”