Red Sox role reversal; Ellsbury close to return; Cook gets fried

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Red Sox role reversal; Ellsbury close to return; Cook gets fried

BALTIMORE - Almost exactly a year ago, the Red Sox closed out their season at Camden Yards, hoping to clinch a playoff spot against the last-place Baltimore Orioles.

This year, the situation has been completely reversed. It's the Orioles who are trying to secure a post-season bid and the Sox are trying to finish out of the cellar.

But as further evidence of how much everything has changed since last September, the lineup the Sox fielded for the opener of their weekend series here featured only two players who were in the starting lineup in Game 162 last year: second baseman Dustin Pedroia and catcher Ryan Lavarnway.

Four other starters in Friday's lineup -- Scott Podsednik, Pedro Ciriaco, Cody Ross and James Loney -- weren't in the Sox' organization at the end of 2011, and neither, for that matter, was starting pitcher Aaron Cook.

Two others -- Jarrod Saltalamacchia and Jose Iglesias -- were on the bench in September -- and another -- Daniel Nava - was in the system, but wasn't called up when rosters expanded in September.

Outfielder Jacoby Ellsbury, who has been out of the starting lineup for the last seven games, may return to action Saturday.

The Red Sox, acting on Ellsbury's request, have not disclosed what his ailment is. He missed the entire final five-game homestand at Fenway.

"He'll try everything (Friday),'' said manager Bobby Valentine. "We hope all goes well.''

With Ellsbury out, the Sox had Scott Podsednik in center field.

Alfredo Aceves relieved starter Aaron Cook in the second inning, his 68th appearance of the season.

Aceves has a 1.2 million contract, with incentive payouts of 25,000 for his 55th, 60th, 65th and 70th appearances.

The veteran righty has already earned his first three bonuses and will need two more appearances in the final five games.

Given his rocky relationship with Valentine, it will be interesting to see if he gets the final two appearances to qualify for the next bonus.

Red Sox place Pomeranz on DL, but he may not miss a start

Red Sox place Pomeranz on DL, but he may not miss a start

Roster flexibility, something of substance, or a combination of both?

The Red Sox on Thursday placed Drew Pomeranz on the brand new 10-day disabled list because of a left forearm flexor strain.

"It's become more and more clear he's not ready to begin the season," John Farrell told reporters, including The Providence Journal's Tim Britton, on Thursday morning.

The Sox don’t need a fifth starter, Pomeranz’s potential spot, until April 9. He can be activated before then. So, in effect, the trip to the DL frees up an extra roster spot.

Farrell said the team hopes Pomeranz will be able to make his scheduled start but "is certainly not guaranteeing it."

The situation could prove an interesting look at how MLB handles its new 10-day disabled list. If Pomeranz continues on his previously planned schedule, the Red Sox could be seen as simply be using the 10-day DL to their advantage. But Farrell spoke earlier this spring about how he expected MLB to highly scrutinize trips to the DL.

Pomeranz’s forearm is known not to be in the best of shape, considering he went for a stem-cell injection this offseason.

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

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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 RedSox.com. "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.