Valentine pleased with youngsters' progress

799408.jpg

Valentine pleased with youngsters' progress

BOSTON -- Red Sox manager Bobby Valentine said before Friday night's game at Fenway Park against the Atlanta Braves that he was going with the hot hand and keeping Will Middlebrooks in the lineup at third base.

In reality, he's going with three hot hands on Friday night.

Middlebrooks starts at third and hits seventh, but also, Ryan Kalish starts in center field and hits eighth, while Daniel Nava starts in left field and hits leadoff.

It wasn't long ago that all three were in the minors. Now, they're in Boston. And they're not just on the team. They're major contributors.

"I think each guy on the team knows that when the game starts, they have a responsibility, that, they have to do their job," said Valentine before Friday's game. And the young guys, to the man, and the older guys, to the man, have done what it's taken to win some games.

"The rookies' contributions, if you will -- and I don't know who really qualifies -- but the guys that I think of as rookies have really stepped up to the plate. And I look forward to watching them play."

All three played major roles in leading the Red Sox to their fifth straight win on Thursday night, against the Miami Marlins at Fenway.

Middlebrooks went 3-for-4 with a home run and four RBI in Boston's 6-5 win on Thursday.

"Today I'm riding the hot hand," said Valentine on his decision to keep Middlebrooks in the lineup after a big night on Thursday. "Tomorrow might not be the case. And I always reserve the right to change my mind."

Kalish went 1-for-3 with a walk on Thursday and scored the winning run. It was his fourth run scored in four games since returning from an injury. Nava went 2-for-4 with a walk on Thursday, and drove in that winning run.

Valentine says he had no expectations from Nava because Nava wasn't even on his radar to begin the season. But Kalish? Valentine knew the report on him, and now that he gets to see it on the field, he's enjoying what he sees.

"I'm still watching Kalish, but every day I see a little something different," said Valentine. "What's there not to like? He hasn't given away an at-bat yet."

Farrell: Loss of Ortiz can be made up for with pitching

Farrell: Loss of Ortiz can be made up for with pitching

Lou Merloni, Trenni Kusnierek and John Farrell talk about life without David Ortiz.

Red Sox rally for 8-7 spring training victory over Twins

Red Sox rally for 8-7 spring training victory over Twins

Brian Bogusevic's RBI single in the eighth inning gave the Red Sox a come-from-behind, 8-7, spring training victory over the Minnesota Twins on Saturday in Fort Myers, Fla.

Bogusevic, 32, an outfielder signed to a minor league deal this winter, played in Japan last season and hasn't been in the major leagues since 2015 with the Phillies.

Reliever Tyler Thornburg, acquired in the offseason trade that sent Travis Shaw to the Milwaukee Brewers, had a rough outing in his Red Sox debut. He allowed five runs (four earned), four hits and a walk in 2/3 of an inning as the Red Sox fell behind 7-3 by the fourth inning.

Left-hander Roenis Elias started for Boston and allowed a first-inning home run to Byungho Park. He struck out three in two innings.

Mookie Betts went 2-for-3 with a double and first base prospect Sam Travis, hitting .500 this spring, tied it at 7 with an RBI double in the sixth.

Red Sox manager John Farrell said earlier Saturday that Eduardo Rodriguez is scheduled to make his first start on Thursday against the Tampa Bay Rays in Fort Myers and Chris Sale will make his first start March 6 against the Houston Astros in West Palm Beach. Rodriguez injured his knee in winter ball in Venezuela and threw his first batting practice session on Saturday.

The Red Sox next travel to Port Charlotte to play the Rays Sunday at 1:05 p.m.