Early notes: Francona shuffles lineup

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Early notes: Francona shuffles lineup

By Maureen Mullen
CSNNE.com

BOSTON With left-hander Brian Duensing (2-1, 2.91 ERA) starting for the Twins Saturday afternoon, Red Sox manager Terry Francona took the opportunity to shuffle his lineup and give a few players some rest.

David Ortiz gets the day off with Kevin Youkilis serving as the designated hitter. J.D. Drew is also sitting, with Mike Cameron playing right field. Jed Lowrie will play third and Marco Scutaro shortstop.

Duensing has held left-handed hitters to a .233 average (compared to .279 for righties) with just one extra-base hit, a triple.

This guys been pretty tough on lefties, Francona said. Were not going to see a lefty for a while. I think its a good time to get Cam in there and it gives Youk a chance to rest; day game after night game, being a little beat up, we use his bat and he won't have to play third. Get Scoot in there.

Left-handed hitting Adrian Gonzalez has appeared in all 32 of the Sox games. But he was not in consideration for serving as the DH today.

Gonzie wants no part of being a DH, Francona said. A lot of guys are like that.

Francona moved Carl Crawford down in the lineup, where he remains, hoping to get the left fielder out of his offensive morass. But with Dustin Pedroia, who is also struggling at the plate, Francona prefers to leave him at the top.

Ive been around him long enough to know that Pedroia will get every bit as hot as he got cold, Francona said. I think you guys probably all would agree. I know my job is to remain positive, but this is an easy one.

"With Carl being new, I thought he was feeling a little bit kind of pressured. I understand that. Its human nature. I thought it would help him. And Carls going to really get going. I know hes starting to show some signs already and then well get him up towards the top of the lineup. But I bounced him around enough early, so well try to let him stay put for a while and get going.

Figuring out Pedeys mechanics is hard. He does some things you wouldnt teach a lot of people, but hes a great player. He's chasing balls out of the zone, especially breaking balls and once you do that all of a sudden a fastball beats you because you're trying to play off the breaking ball. Its easy as a hitter to get caught in between and hes been doing it now for a little bit. Hell snap out of it. Weve all witnessed it: as cold as he is hell get every bit as hot. Its just the way he is.

Francona has yet not heard anything from Major League Baseball regarding his ejection in the second inning Friday night, as he attempted to get an explanation from home plate umpire Angel Hernandez on a balk call. Hes trying to put the incident behind him as quickly as possible. Hes learned from past experience that dwelling on such situations does him no good.

Theres probably two or three times a year where I dont, and it ends up bogging me down for a day or so, he said. I know its happened maybe with the media from time to time or something that happened on the field, and then maybe after the second day I kind of realize, 'Okay, better put this in the rear-view mirror because the only thing its hurting is you.' And I get over it. I think you have to. When you see the hitters throwing their helmets after the first at-bat, you know that theyre still thinking about the night before. It happens. Its human nature, but its a hard way to be productive.

Jason Varitek is scheduled to catch both Daisuke Matsuzaka on Sunday and Josh Beckett on Monday. Normally, the 39-year-old Varitek would not be catching on back-to-back days. But with a day game Sunday followed by a night game Monday, Franconas decisions becomes easier. Varitek caught the entire 13-inning game that began Wednesday night and ended at 2:45 Thursday morning in a loss to the Angels.

I think he felt like he caught a long day, Francona said. Hes doing okay. If things go according to plan, well catch him maybe tomorrow and Monday, day game and night game. As we go through the rotation again well split those guys up a little bit.

The Sox were scheduled to face left-hander Francisco Liriano in the series finale Monday. But Liriano, who no-hit the White Sox on Wednesday, has been pushed back. He threw 123 pitches in the no-hitter, well above his previous high of 97 on April 7, and also has a sore throat. The Sox are expected to face right-hander Nick Blackburn (2-4, 4.41) instead.

Maureen Mullen is on Twitter at http:twitter.commaureenamullen

Pedro Martinez to WEEI: Ortiz will make comeback this season

Pedro Martinez to WEEI: Ortiz will make comeback this season

Never say never?

While Red Sox officials said at the team's annual Winter Weekend at Foxwoods on Saturday that they'd be traveling to the Dominican Republic to talk to David Ortiz about a role with the team, Pedro Martinez told WEEI he sees Big Papi returning to his old role - designated hitter - this season.

CSN's Trenni Kusnierek and WEEI's John Tomase talked to Martinez on their show Saturday at Foxwoods and Martinez said his old teammate would be making a comeback despite the long, emotional farewell tour last season. 

For the full interview with Martinez, click here.

Red Sox executives Tom Werner, Sam Kennedy and Dave Dombrowski made no mention of Ortiz returning as a player when talking about their Dominican trip. Ortiz has repeatedly said he is going to stay retired. 

Chris Sale on leaving White Sox: 'Time for both sides to do something different, I guess'

Chris Sale on leaving White Sox: 'Time for both sides to do something different, I guess'

MASHANTUCKET, Conn. -- While there’s a deal of anticipation going into Spring training with the four Killer B’s, David Price and Pablo Sandoval’s shot at redemption and Rick Porcello looking to be something similar to his 2016 self, there’s one name that trumps them all.

Chris Sale.

The lankly lefty received an ovation from fans at the Friday night Town Hall, kicking off Red Sox Winter Weekend. With his consistent success, there’s reason to be excited.

But there’s also reason for apprehension given the way Sale’s departure from Chicago was depicted. But he’s made sure to clear the air.

“I wouldn’t say . . . ya know . . . I loved my time in Chicago,” Sale said when asked if it was time to leave the Windy City. “My best baseball memories are there [and] will be there forever. I love the city; I love the people in the organization.

“It was time for both sides to do something different, I guess. I talked to (White Sox Senior V.P.) Rick on the phone, I talked to (White Sox pitching coach Don) Coop (Cooper). We’re all cool, it’s fine. We understand where both of us are, it happens in baseball, but I thoroughly enjoyed my time in Chicago.”

He didn’t seem irritated discussing the issue, and certainly wasn’t timid -- we all know that’s not in his DNA.

He genuinely seems excited to deal with the large sum of Sox fans and to call a new place home -- in a city his wife’s fond of no less.

But ultimately, he’s focused on winning, nothing else.

“Every time I’m out there it’s gonna be all I got,” Sale said. "Every time, no matter what. Can promise you that.”