Notes: Miller impresses Francona with strong inning

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Notes: Miller impresses Francona with strong inning

By Sean McAdam and Maureen Mullen
CSNNE.com

FORT MYERS, Fla. -- Lefty Andrew Miller was impressive in an inning of relief for the Red Sox in Monday's 7-6 win over the Twins, retiring all three hitters he faced -- two by strikeout -- and appearing overpowering.

"That was extremely exciting," said Terry Francona. "That was really fun to watch and it was about as good an inning as you're going to see."

Miller lined up all the way to the third-base side of the pitching rubber, making for an unorthodox look and an uncomfortable at-bat for hitters.

"He's been moved, moved again," said Francona. "We just want to get him in a comfort zone and try to simplify it as much as we can. We want to let him throw out of the arm slot that he throws when he plays a natural catch in the outfield.

"But that was exciting to watch. That ball comes out of his hand about as pretty as you're ever going to see."

Jason Varitek caught knuckleballer Tim Wakefield in the third and fourth innings, something he's done very little of since a disastrous experience in the 2004 ALCS.

With Wakefield pitching exclusively out of the bullpen -- at least for now -- Varitek will have to be ready to catch Wakefield in the middle of a game. According to Varitek, the two weren't paired last season. Varitek said he thought the last time they worked as a battery during a game came in 2009.

"We're working on a stance and getting comfortable with it," said Varitek. "I thought some of it was good. Some of it, we've got to work. But all in all, it was pretty good. It's just about practicing."

Wakefield has a specially designed catcher's mitt to have his batterymates use to catch the knuckler, but it needs to be restrung and Varitek used his regular catcher's mitt to catch him Monday.

"We're settling into what we're going back there," said Varitek. "I almost tipped over a couple of times, trying to get my feet set up because I'm setting up different."

David Ortiz hit his first home run of the season, a third-inning, three-run shot to right field that scored Jacoby Ellsbury and Dustin Pedroia. Although its spring training, Francona liked what he saw.

I think it counts, he said. Id much rather see guys swing good than not good. The way they go through spring training, theres no way, you dont see it very often where guys get hot, because they dont play every day. Theyre not supposed to. If we played David a week in a row, he would probably find his swing, but hed find it in February. We need guys to grow into it or build into it. I was excited because he kept that ball fair. He kept his hands in and didnt hook it foul. It was a pretty swing. Id much rather see guys swing that well.

Bobby Jenks threw 26 pitches in a morning bullpen session and will throw an inning against Philadelphia Thursday . . . Utility man Brent Dlugach had an eventful afternoon -- and not in a good way. Dlugach made two errors at shortstop and grounded into two double plays before adding a double in his third trip to the plate . . . Josh Reddicks first home run of the spring, aseventh-inning home run off James Hoey, scored Ryan Kalish and was thedifference maker in the game . . . Flashy shortstop prospect Jose Iglesias made a nice catch on Rene Tosonis sharp line drive to end the game . . . Francona on the Red Sox' comeback win, whichevened the Mayor's Cup series at one game each: "It just makes tomorrowthat much bigger. Twins manager Ron Gardenhire can say whatever hewants, but I guarantee he's feeling the pressure. I can tell."

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

Maureen Mullen is on Twitter at http:twitter.commaureenamullen

Pedro Martinez tells WEEI Ortiz will make comeback this season

Pedro Martinez tells 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'

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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.”