Notes: Lowrie happy to be healthy for spring training

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Notes: Lowrie happy to be healthy for spring training

By SeanMcAdam
CSNNE.com

BOSTON -- Of late, there has been talk that Jed Lowrie might be able to unseat incumbent shortstop Marco Scutaro with a strong showing in spring training.

General manager Theo Epstein said last week that competition is a good thing for a club. But prior to Thursday's Boston Baseball Writers' Award dinner, manager Terry Francona seemed to back Scutaro.

"Lowrie comes up and gets an opportunity last year because a lot of guys were beat up,'' said Francona, "and he hits the ball all over the ballpark. He has the ability to play four different infield positions.

"Rather than worry about an infield competition -- Scutaro is our shortstop -- this guy Lowrie gives us something that I don't know many teams can say they have. He's a switch-hitter that can play first, second, third and short -- and play it a lot. He can play first base. He can play second base, third, short. He can play it for a week. He can play it for a day. He can play it for two weeks.

"That, at some point, is probably going to save us . . . And he's a switch-hitter, to boot. There's a lot to really like. Jed is certainly an everyday player, in our opinion. It may not happen in April. But that's not really a bad thing."

If nothing else, Lowrie is happy to be heading into spring training finally healthy, having been hampered the last two offseasons with a hand injury, then battling through mononucleosis last spring training.

"The difference is the quality of work I've been able to do,'' said Lowrie, "just because I've had my health, so I can really tell a difference in the quality of work I've been able put in. It seems like it's been so long (since I was healthy).''

Francona had positive health updates for a number of players who suffered
injuries last season.

''Adrian Gonzalez will be behind everybody else for sure (after October shoulder surgery),'' said Francona, "and it will be important, when we get down to spring training, to get a gauge on where he is. We don't want to set him back. If he's a little slower than everybody else, that's not the end of the world.

"We certainly want him playing, but he want him playing healthy. We can handle missing a guy for a week; we don't want to be missing a guy for two months.''

Kevin Youkilis, who underwent thub surgery last August, was nearly 100 percent in October, shortly after the season ended.

"He's been fine,'' said Francona of Youkilis. "Dustin Pedroia is doing terrific and Jacoby Ellsbury has a clean bill of health.''

Also on hand Thursday night were former Red Sox minor-leaguer Anthony Rizzo;
Sox outfielders Ryan Kalish and Darnell McDonald; pitchers Clay Buchholz and Rich Hill; pitching coach Curt Young; Texas Rangers manager Ron Washington, and Detroit Tigers reliever Joaquin Benoit.

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

First impressions: Red Sox get to Yankees bullpen

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First impressions: Red Sox get to Yankees bullpen

First Impressions from the Red Sox' 8-7 victory over the Yankees.

 

All of a sudden, David Price is having issues at Fenway.

When the Sox signed Price last December, they cited his past

success in their home ballpark (1.95 ERA) as evidence that he could thrive here. But six starts into his Red Sox career, his three worst starts have come here. He's pitched 22 2/3 innings and allowed 21 earned runs.

Even stranger is that so much damage was done by Alex Rodriguez, who previously had compiled a .237 career average against Price with just one homer in 57 at-bats.

 

It's highly unusual for John Farrell to go to the mound and not take the starting pitcher out.

But that's what happened in the top of the seventh. David Price was in the mid-90s with his pitch count and Rodriguez -- who had homered and doubled off Price in his previous two at-bats -- was due. It seemed obvious that Price was coming out of the game.

Instead, Price was left in and grounded out to second to end the inning. It says something about Farrell's trust in Price - or Price's powers of persuasion -- that the lefty stayed in the game.

 

Credit Travis Shaw with making some in-game adjustments.

In his first two at-bats against New York starter Nathan Eovaldi, Shaw struck out twice. Both times, Eovaldi started him off with a curve ball.

But when Eovaldi tried it again in the fifth, Shaw hammered the pitch deep into the right field seats for a two-run homer.

 

The Red Sox bullpen far outshone that of the Yankees in this series.

In the three games just played, Boston relievers tossed seven shutout innings in the series, while Yankees' righthander Dellin Betances twice yielded two-run homers to cost the Yanks both games.

 

Dustin Pedroia insists he's not focusing on hitting the ball the other way, but the results suggest otherwise.

Pedroia banged out three singles Sunday night and all three were hit to right. On the current homestand, Pedroia has a total of eight hits; five were hit to right field.

 

Farrell on Sox rotation: 'We've got to get Clay going'

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Farrell on Sox rotation: 'We've got to get Clay going'

BOSTON - Maybe it wasn't a warning shot, but more of an idle observation. Maybe it wasn't a challenge at all.

But what John Farrell had to say Sunday afternoon about Clay Buchholz was, if nothing else, noteworthy.

In assessing his team's play in the just-completed first month of the season, Farrell noted that the starting rotation, after a particularly rough beginning, had stabilized of late.

With one exception, that is.

"We've got to get Clay going, particularly," Farrell said. "He's an important part of our rotation, an important part of this team. We've got to get him on track." Buchholz is winless in his five starts, with an 0-3 mark and an inflated ERA of 6.51. He's given up a minimum of five earned runs in each start and has yet to pitch through the seventh inning.

Farrell noted that the issue has been less about quality of stuff and more about his aggressiveness - or lack thereof.

"There are times,'' Farrell said, "when we've seen Clay execute pitches with, I think, a greater conviction to the pitch. There are other times where maybe he's pitched away from contact a little bit too much and not attacked the strike zone. To me, there comes an attitude on the mound that's got to be prevailing."

The Sox aren't far from welcoming back to starters. Eduardo Rodriguez, who tweaked his knee in early March, is set to make his second rehab start for Pawtucket Tuesday and could conceivably return five days after that. At most, Rodriguez will be ready with one more additional outing.

Next up is Joe Kelly, who is on the DL with a shoulder impingement. Kelly has thrown some bullpen sessions and could begin a rehab assignment later in the week.

That will lead to the Sox making some tough decisions in the coming weeks. It had been widely assumed that knuckleballer Steven Wright would be he most vulnerable starter, but Wright is 2-2 with a 1.37 ERA in four outings.

Asked to assess where the Sox within the context of the division, Farrell said: "We're probably searching to shore up areas that are in need, and that first starts with making the necessary adjustments with the guys that are on our roster now. Not that we're going to make wholesale changes. Like I said, we've got to get Clay going. That's a big improvement that we could make."