Notes: Pimentel tosses two scoreless innings

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Notes: Pimentel tosses two scoreless innings

By SeanMcAdam and MaureenMullen
CSNNE.com

FORT MYERS, Fla. -- In the seven-inning afternoon game against Boston College, Stolmy Pimentel tossed two scoreless innings with two strikeouts on 13 pitches.

In addition to the three-run homer from Youkilis, the Sox got a run-scoring single from Ryan Kalish and sacrifice flies from Lars Anderson and Alex Hassan.

The game also featured an annual rite of spring: a plate appearance by staff member Ino Guerrero. Guerrero made a pinch-hit appearance in the sixth and drew a walk.

During Guerrero's at-bat, every player and coach in the home dugout was on the first step, watching intently.

"He's the first player now to get into a game in nine decades,'' cracked Francona. "We wanted him to swing, believe me. There was a lot of money riding on the fact that he was not going to get a hit.''

Dennys Reyes, who signed a deal with the Red Sox earlier this month, finally arrived in camp, delayed somewhat by visa issues in his native Mexico.

"He's had two or three long days trying to travel and obstacles in getting here,'' said Francona. "We'll just try and gauge where he is. He looks good. He tested his shoulder and that came out fine. We haven't even watched him throw yet. We'll see. Obviously, the sooner the better. But we don't want to do it too soon, because that doesn't help anybody. As soon as he gets ready, and not before, we'll throw him right into the mix.''

Said Reyes: "I've been pitching for a long time and I know what to do. I'm going to do my best every time out.''

Reyes said the battle for the final two spots in the bullpen will result in "a great competition. There's nothing you can do. I know most of the guys competing and I respect them. It's not going to be our decision; it's going to be the (team's) decision and you just have to do the best you can.''

Reyes has been in a spring training competition a few times before and the toughest part of the process is the mental aspect.

"Thinking about what if you're not (chosen for the roster),'' said Reyes, "that's the hardest part.''

Though he was held up in arriving in camp, Reyes has already thrown three bullpens and three simulated games in his native Mexico.''

A mechanical flaw resulted in Reyes being ineffective against lefties last year, but he thinks he corrected it at the end of last season.

"Throughout his career,'' said Francona, "he's gotten lefties out. That's what the hopes are.''

Felix Doubront, who was shut down last week with tenderness in his left elbow, said he felt "the normal tightness'' he usually feels at the start of spring training.

Doubront had an MRI, which showed no structural damage to the elbow.

"I feel it every year when I start throwing,'' he said. "When I threw my first live BP, there was something there. It wasn't right. I talked to the trainers. It's a little frustrating, but it could have been worse. It's nothing to worry about it. It's just minor.''

The Red Sox beat Northeastern in the nightcap, 13-2, after beating Boston College in the first game, 6-0. Northeastern had more errors, seven, than the Red Sox had hits, six. Milton, Mass., Rich Hill earned the win, going one inning giving up a run on hit with one strikeout.

Mike Cameron, who was limited to 48 games last season with a lower abdominal strain, served as the designated hitter against Northeastern, going 0-for-2. It was his first game activity since July 30, with season-ending surgery on Aug. 27.

It was good, Cameron said. You just never know how the game is going to transpire. It was good. I got a chance to get out there and get in the box. The jitters kind of went away. I dont know if it was the guy who was throwing or what, but I felt kind of comfortable out there. Well continue the work in progress.

Manager Terry Francona said the original plan had been for the infield to play in the first game of the doubleheader against Boston College, and the outfield play against Northeastern. But that was scuttled when left fielder Carl Crawford was excused from camp to return to his Houston home for personal reasons. Still, Francona was happy to see Ellsbury and Cameron return to the lineup healthy.

It was nice to see them both in action, he said.

Northeasterns Ryan Maguire, of Arlington, Mass., opened the game with a first-pitch home run off Kyle Weiland. In 128 13 innings over 25 starts for Double-A Portland last season, Weiland allowed just 13 home runs.

Flashy shortstop prospect Jose Iglesias with 2-for-3 with two runs scored and three RBI.

He took a nice swing, Francona said. The big thing for Jose will be not his swing. I think hes got a pretty swing. Its just swinging at strikes, trying to work counts, and learning that aspect of it because he can hit. He can get the barrel on the ball.

Peter Hissey and Che-Hsuan Lin also had two RBI each.

Adrian Gonzalez took 25 swings off the tee, then hit 25 flips early Saturday morning. "He had a real good morning. Everything went really well. He was really pleased with us . . . Among the players scheduled to play against Minnesota in the Grapefruit League opener tonight: Jarrod Saltalmacchia; Jed Lowrie; David Ortiz; Kevin Youkilis; Mike Cameron; Darnell McDonald; Jose Iglesias; and Ryan Kalish . . . Infielder Hector Luna scratched from the second game with a tight groin, which he has battled all spring...Francona said Saltalamacchia and Jason Varitek would alternate the catching duties over the first four Grapefruit League games. Four Red Sox pitchers threw an inning each in a simulated game on the back field: Jon Lester, John Lackey, Alfredo Aceves and Bobby Jenks. After Brent Dlugach drilled a pitch from Jenks off the wall, he got the next pitch in his backside . . . Francona explaining his decision to announce that Marco Scutaro would be his starting shortstop at the start of the season: "If I was a player and went through what Scutaro did (playing hurt last year) and then had to come to camp and base my playing time on 40 at-bats, I wouldn't want to play for a guy like me. I don't think that makes a lot of sense.''

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

Maureen Mullen is on Twitter athttp:twitter.commaureenamullen

Are Red Sox entering spring training with fewer questions than ever?

Are Red Sox entering spring training with fewer questions than ever?

BOSTON -- Every year it seems like there are major issues or question marks to start spring training where the answers are up in the air.

In 2015, the Red Sox lacked an ace, had Hanley Ramirez moving to left field and Pablo Sandoval coming to town.

In 2016, Ramirez was moving back to the infield, but at a new position, and his bat was in question. Sandoval was coming off a year where he couldn’t hit his weight (he hit .245 and he last weighed in at 255 pounds). How would the starting rotation look after David Price?

This year, there seem to be three questions, but in a way, they’ve already been answered.

How will the Red Sox make up for David Ortiz’s absence?

Well, for one, the Red Sox have three Cy Young-caliber starting pitchers (Price, Chris Sale and Rick Porcello) in their rotation.

And two, Hanley Ramirez is coming off a career year with his highest career output in RBI (111) and second-highest home run total (30). And while Mitch Moreland isn’t the greatest hitter, he’s good for 20 or more home runs. Plus, it seems he’s holding a spot for a certain Red Sox prospect who’s bouncing back well from an injury.

 

Will Sandoval earn the starting third base job back?

The weight loss is a good sign, not only for the physical reasons, but it shows he’s mentally committed to being better.

However, that doesn’t guarantee he gets his job back.

“I’m not going to say [third base] resolved itself,” John Farrell told CSNNE.com, “but you know Panda’s done a very good job of committing to get himself in better shape and we’re looking forward to seeing that play to in spring training.”

Even if Panda can’t put it all together, Farrell told reporters before Thursday’s BBWAA dinner, both Brock Holt and Josh Rutledge would be competing for the job as well.

Holt as plan B -- in the infield? Who wouldn’t take that?

Who’s going to start at catcher?

Sandy Leon, Christian Vazquez and Blake Swihart each have their pros an cons.

Leon did it all last year, but went from hitting .383 in his first 39 games to .242 in his last 39.

Vazquez has Ivan Rodriguez-esque abilities behind the plate, but couldn’t keep the staff under control last year and cannot hit.

Swihart, who turns 25 April 3, is the youngest of the three, has the most potential at the plate, but is far and away the worst of the three defensively at the most important defensive position -- excluding pitcher -- on the field.

They all have their drawbacks, but they’ve all shown at some point why they can be the Red Sox starting catcher in the present and future.

Everywhere else, the Red Sox seem to be in a comfortable position as pitchers and catchers reporting to camp draws ever nearer.

“I think the fact that we’ve got veteran players that have done a great job in staying healthy [and] young players that are getting more establishing in their return, we’re in a pretty good place in terms of the overall status of our position player group,” Farrell told CSNNE.com.

And it seems some players are confident in the team’s options as they ready for camp.

“We’re looking good in a lot of areas,” shortstop Xander Bogaerts told CSNNE.com. “Especially the pitching staff, [since] we just got Chris Sale one of the best in the game.”

“Pablo’s definitely going to bounce back, especially with the weight he’s lost."

Francona, Epstein receive grand ovations at BBWAA dinner

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Francona, Epstein receive grand ovations at BBWAA dinner

BOSTON -- “I didn’t feel that love after I made a pitching change in the sixth inning,” Terry Francona said after a 45-second standing ovation from Boston fans upon receiving the MLB Manager of the Year award from the BBWAA Thursday.

It’s without question the love for Francona runs deep in the city. Why wouldn’t it? He was the leader in breaking the 86-year old curse, and wound up winning another World Series title for Boston three years later.

Actually, he was more of a co-leader, working alongside the same person who won the MLB Executive of the Year honors from the BBWAA for 2016.

Theo Epstein -- who received an ovation 17 seconds shorter than Francona, but who’s counting -- reminisced about the Red Sox ownership group that took a chance on a young kid who wasn’t necessarily the ideal candidate to take over as GM of a team, but now that’s helped him build the Chicago Cubs into a winning franchise and establish a great working environment.

This October marks 13 years since the ’04 championship, 10 years since ’07 and six years since the pair left Boston. Without question they’ve left their mark on the city and forever changed Red Sox baseball.

And while the fans showed their undying gratitude for Francona with an ovation almost as long as his acceptance speech, the Indians manager recognized the favor the current Red Sox brass has done for him.

“I’d like to thank Dave Dombrowski and the Red Sox for getting Chris Sale the hell out of the Central Division,” Francona said.