Red Sox notes: Prospects head to the farms

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Red Sox notes: Prospects head to the farms

By Sean McAdam
CSNNE.com

FORT MYERS, Fla. -- Both before and after their 8-5 defeat of the New York Mets, the Red Sox made five roster cuts, optioning shortstop Jose Iglesias, infielder Yamaico Navarro, catcher Luis Exposito, first baseman Lars Anderson to the Pawtucket roster and returning outfielder Juan Carlos Linares to the minor league camp.

Manager Terry Francona offered these brief scouting reports:

On Iglesias: "I don't think we saw the type of hitter we're going to eventually see. His mentality is, he was trying to show so much and make an impact. He gets in in the sixth inning and he wants to do too much. I think when he settles down and gets into a season, we'll find out what kind of hitter he can be. And we all know the defense is there. But I think the offense will continue to grow as he gets more grounded and gets some at-bats . . . He just needs to go play.''

On Navarro: "He's come a long way. The word we use with all the young guys is 'accountability.' When young kids come here, it's trust and accountability. It's not just how you swing the bat. It's 'Do you know all our plays?' Because every game is so important. And I think he's learning that and I think he continues to learn and mature. He's got such good bat speed. It's going to be fun to watch and see how much better he can get. He got a little taste of the big leagues last year and got beat up a little bit. It will be interesting to see how he reacts now.''

On Anderson: "Lars defensively is like night-and-day -- he's just come so far. And he just needs repetition, and that's what we told him. I think he's disappointed because he came into camp and hasn't really knocked the ball all over the ballpark (hitting .161 in Grapefruit League games). We tried to re-assure him that what he does during the season will show what kind of a hitter he is.''

On Linares: "Linares is really interesting. Obviously, the major league staff didn't know him very well. At first blush, you look at him and say, 'I don't know if this guy can play center field.' And then you see him run around out there. He can actually play all three outfield positions, he's very aggressive at the plate, and he hustles on every ball that's in play. He's a pretty exciting guy.''

That the five were also optioned to the Pawtucket roster does not, however, mean that they will all necessarily open the year at Triple A.

Navarro and Anderson will open the season at Triple A, and given his age (26), Linares probably will, too. But no decisions have been made on Exposito or Igliesias.

Iglesias missed several months with a hand injury last year, and could open the season either at Pawtucket or repeat Double A at least for a few weeks.

Exposito will probably go to Pawtucket, too, but the Sox could opt to keep Paul Hoover, who has brief major-league experience, and pair him with Mark Wagner for the catching duo at Triple A.

The moves bring the Sox to 43 players in camp, 18 over the limit for Opening Day with two weeks remaining.

The Red Sox' speed and aggressive style was on display in the third inning when Jacoby Ellsbury and Carl Crawford combined to put pressure on the Mets and combine for two runs, helping the Sox to an 8-5 victory.

With one out and Nate Spears on first, Ellsbury singled to right, sending Spears to second. Crawford then singled to shallow right, scoring Spears and sending Ellsbury to third. Right fielder Lucas Duda's throw was airmailed wild and Ellsbury, reacting quickly, scored.

Then, with Jed Lowrie batting, Crawford stole second and took third when catcher Josh Thole's throw down landed in center.

"That's what speed can do,'' said Francona. "Ellsbury kept his head up. Those are good things. If he doesn't keep his head up, he doesn't score. It's fun to watch that. We've seen Carl do that kind of thing against us. So with Jacoby and Carl doing that for us, let the other team have the headache.''

On Friday, the Sox have a split-squad, day-night schedule, with one team hosting Detroit in the afternoon and another traveling to Port Charlotte to face Tampa Bay at night. Clay Buchholz, Dennys Reyes, Hideki Okajima and Michael Bowden will pitch at home, with Tim Wakefield, Matt Fox, Matt Albers and Randy Williams set to throw in Port Charlotte.

Bobby Jenks will pitch two innings in a minor league game Friday. Francona wants every reliever to have a multi-inning appearance before the spring is over.

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

As expected, Red Sox send Swihart to Pawtucket

As expected, Red Sox send Swihart to Pawtucket

Blake Swihart wasn't going to win a job. Monday merely made that official.

Swihart was optioned out as the Red Sox made further cuts, sending a player who could still be the Red Sox catcher of the future -- well, one of them anyway -- to Triple-A Pawtucket, where he's expected to work on his receiving.

Swihart hit .325 in 40 Grapefruit League at-bats.

"Had a very strong camp and showed improvements defensively. Swung the bat very well," manager John Farrell told reporters in Florida.  "For the player that he is and the person that he is, you love him as a person. He's a hell of a talented player.

"He made some subtle adjustments with his setup [defensively]. That gave him a different look to pitchers on the mound. Pitchers talked positively about the look that they got from him behind the plate. I think it softened his hands somewhat to receive the ball better. And there were a number of occasions where he was able to get a pitchers' pitch called for a strike, so the presentation of the umpire was a little bit more subtle and consistent then maybe years' past."

Sandy Leon's hot hitting in 2016 earned him an automatic crack at the lead catching spot for this year. Combined with the fact that Christian Vazquez looks great defensively, went deep on Sunday and is out of options, Swihart was the obvious odd man out.

He had options, the others didn't.

Deven Marrero was also optioned to Pawtucket. Sam Travis -- who, like Swihart, could break camp with the 2018 team -- was reassigned to minor-league camp, as was catcher Dan Butler.

The Sox have 38 players left in camp, 32 from the 40-man roster.

Red Sox reliever Tyler Thornburg likely headed to disabled list

Red Sox reliever Tyler Thornburg likely headed to disabled list

Righty Tyler Thornburg seems a guarantee to join David Price on the disabled list to start the season.

Thornburg, the biggest acquisition Red Sox president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski made for the bullpen this winter, was scratched Monday because of a spasm in his upper right trapezius — not a great sign for a pitcher who already had throwing shoulder issues this spring.

Sox manager John Farrell told reporters in Florida the spasm was “not shoulder related.”  But the trap, a large muscle along the neck and back, does extend to the shoulder blade.

Dombrowski told reporters it is most likely that Thornburg starts the year on the disabled list. More is expected to be known Tuesday, possibly after an MRI.

Robby Scott could be a replacement for Thornburg. If so, the Sox would likely have three lefties in the bullpen, along with Fernando Abad and Robbie Ross Jr.

"Possibly. Possibly," Dombrowski said of Scott. “We still have to make those decisions. But possibly.”

Dombrowski didn’t indicate a desire to go outside the organization for now.

Thornburg had barely enough time to get ready for Opening Day prior to Monday’s setback. If he indeed starts the season on the DL, Joe Kelly would be the eighth-inning reliever for the Sox — a role Kelly was headed for anyway given Thornburg’s shaky spring.

Thornburg, 28, had a 2.15 ERA last season for the Brewers. The Sox picked him up at the winter meetings in a deal that sent Travis Shaw and prospects to the Milwaukee Brewers.