Notes: Lackey skips trip, pitches camp game

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Notes: Lackey skips trip, pitches camp game

By Sean McAdam
CSNNE.com

DUNEDIN, Fla. -- Heavy rain up and down Florida's Gulf Coast wreaked havoc with the Red Sox' plans on their next-to-last day in the state.

John Lackey had been scheduled to start the team's final road game of the Grapefruit League season, but with torrential rain falling in Fort Myers shortly after 7 a.m. and heavy rain expected 125 or so miles away in Dunedin, the Sox pulled the plug on that plan.

The last thing the Sox wanted was to have Lackey (and starting catcherJarrod Saltalamachia) ride five hours round trip on the bus and not gettheir work in.

Instead, the Sox had Lackey pitch a five-inning simulated game at the team's minor-league complex, with hitters standing in -- but no fielders behind him.

Over five "innings," Lackey got his pitch count up to 74 pitches, 47 of them strikes.

Lackey is scheduled to start the second game of the season, Saturday in Arlington, Texas.

In the same complex, the Sox got an inning of relief work for both Daniel Bard (13 pitches, 10 strikes) and Jonathan Papelbon (21 pitches, 9 for strikes).

The Red Sox mercifully snapped their 10-game losing streak, the longest spring training skid in franchise history, with a 3-2 win over the Blue Jays.

Outfielder Jeremy Hazelbaker belted a two-run homer in the top of the seventh to propel the Sox to a victory that was cut short by rain in the middle of the seventh inning.

"It's funny, but I don't think most of the major league players knew about the streak because they play and leave before the game is over,'' said Francona.

Of Hazelbaker's homer, Francona said: "It looks like he's getting stronger. To see that swing, I'd take that long bus ride anyday. That ball came off his bat good."

Baltimore Orioles manager Buck Showalter, under fire for remarks he made about the Red Sox and GM Theo Epstein, called Epstein Sunday night and apologized.

In the April issue of Men's Journal, Showalter questioned whether Epstein would be as successful an executive without a big-market payroll and said he took particular pleasure beating the Red Sox with a smaller payroll last season.

"I just felt like I need to call him,'' Showalter told reporters Monday morning. "It just caused the Red Sox to sit around and answer questions or whatever, so I spoke to both Epstein and Terry Francona.''

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

Saturday's Red Sox-Twins lineups: Betts out with knee soreness

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Saturday's Red Sox-Twins lineups: Betts out with knee soreness

Mookie Betts is out of the lineup Saturday after leaving the game Friday night with knee soreness and Brock Holt moves into the leadoff spot for the Red Sox in Game 3 of their four-game series with the Minnesota Twins at Fenway Park.

Manager John Farrell said Betts is day-to-day after the right fielder left the Red Sox' 2-1 loss in the fifth inning with pain in his right knee. There is swelling, but an MRI showed no structural damage.Michael Martinez will start in right on Saturday night. Betts had started in 93 of Boston's 94 games this season. 

Aaron Hill gets the start at third base for the Red Sox in place of Travis Shaw.  

Left-hander David Price (9-7, 4.36 ERA) makes his second start of the second half for the Red Sox. Price took the loss in a 3-1 defeat against the Yankees on Sunday night, allowing 11 hits and three runs in 5 2/3 innnigs. 

Right-hander Ricky Nolasco (4-8, 5.02) is on the mound for the Twins.

The lineups:

TWINS
Eduardo Nunez SS
Robbie Grossman DH
Miguel Sano 3B
Brian Dozier 2B
Max Kepler RF
Kennys Vargas 1B
Eddie Rosario LF
Kurt Suzuki C
---
Ricky Nolasco RHP

RED SOX
Brock Holt LF
Dustin Pedroia 2B
Xander Bogaerts SS
David Ortiz DH
Hanley Ramirez 1B
Jackie Bradley Jr. CF
Aaron Hill 3B
Sandy Leon C
Michael Martinez RF
---
David Price LHP

Farrell: Betts ‘day to day’ with sore knee

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Farrell: Betts ‘day to day’ with sore knee

BOSTON — Red Sox right fielder Mookie Betts left the game against the Minnesota Twins in the fifth inning on Friday night with soreness in his right knee.

Manager John Farrell said after game that Betts' had recently had "some treatment" for the knee and it has been something the team has monitored since the All-Star break. The Red Sox announced after Betts left the game that he was considered day-to-day. 

Betts, who led off the game with a home run for the second consecutive night, was replaced in right field by Michael Martinez in the top of the fifth. 

Betts, an All-Star Game starter, leads the Red Sox with 127 hits and is second on the team with 20 home runs and 63 RBI.

Associated Press material included in this story.

Three things we learned from the Red Sox' 2-1 loss to the Twins

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Three things we learned from the Red Sox' 2-1 loss to the Twins

Three Things we learned from the Boston Red Sox' 2-1 loss to the Minnesota Twins:

1) It only seems like David Ortiz can come through every time.

When Ortiz comes to the plate as he did Friday night -- bases loaded, no out, bottom of the ninth, Red Sox trailing by a run -- it seems like a win is a fait accompli.

"I think everybody in the ballpark just assumed this one might have a chance to be ended right there,'' said John Farrell. "He's been so big for us that everybody in the dugout felt the same way -- confident that the stage was set for him to come through with another dramatic moment.''

Instead, Ortiz rolled over a ground ball to second, and with the Twins infield drawn in, it was enough to turn a 4-2-3 double play that took the starch out of the inning for the Sox.

If anything, though, the inning revealed how remarkable Ortiz has been so often. It's not easy to come through even most times, and it's certainly far from automatic.

"The pitcher (closer Brandon Kintzler) made good pitches,'' said Ortiz. "That's the name of the game. I'm always looking forward to something happening. It just doesn't work out all the time.''

2) Eduardo Rodriguez has his slider back.

When Rodriguez endured a rough stretch in late May and June, he seemed to all but abandon his slider, relying almost exclusively on his two-seam fastball and changeup.

But since returning from a stint in Pawtucket, Rodriguez has flashed the slider that made him so effective as a rookie last season.

"Since he's come back,'' said Farrell, "he's added much more depth. He's able to get to the back foot of some righthanders for some swing-and-miss. He was on the plate with three quality pitches for strikes tonight.''

"I feel like I can locate it better, where I want it,'' confirmed Rodriguez. "Outside, inside corner...I'm getting more confident in it. I think I got out of my mind the tipping (pitches) stuff and all that stuff and I'm just working to throw the ball right where I want it.''

It's almost impossible for a starter in the big leagues to survive with just two pitches, as Rodriguez was attempting to do earlier this season. And it seems foolish to even try, given that Rodriguez's slider can be a plus-pitch for him at times.

3) If Mookie Betts has to miss some time, the Red Sox have options in right field.

Farrell said Betts has been dealing with soreness and stiffness in his right knee since after the All-Star break and has been undergoing treatment.

There's no evidence that this is serious, and he's considered day-to-day. But even if Betts needs some time off, or in a worse-case scenario, has to go on the DL, the Sox can do some things with their outfield.

Michael Martinez's best outfield position is right, as he demonstrated Friday night after taking over for Betts in the top of the fifth. Martinez ran a long way to grab a ball in foul territory for the final out in the sixth, then turned in a fine, tumbling catch in the eighth to take extra bases away from Adam Grossman.

Bryce Brentz, who's been in a platoon of sorts in left with Brock Holt, has played a lot of right field in the minors and has the arm strength to play there.

Finally, there's the matter of Andrew Benintendi. The Sox raised some eyebrows with the news that they were having Benintendi move over to left field at Double A Portland, perhaps in anticipation of playing the position for Boston at some point later this year.

Benintendi is a natural center fielder and even though he doesn't much experience in right, if you're athletic enough to play center, you can usually move to either corner spot.