Notes: Sox roll out possible Opening Day lineup

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Notes: Sox roll out possible Opening Day lineup

By Maureen Mullen
CSNNE.com

FORT MYERS, Fla. - As the Red Sox prepare for what should be their last home game ever at City of Palms Park, manager Terry Francona is starting a lineup of what could be an excellent representation of his Opening Day lineup Friday against the Rangers. But, Francona wasn't ready to call it that Tuesday morning.

"Nice try," he said when a reporter asked if that would be his Opening Day lineup.

The lineup is Jacoby Ellsbury CF, Dustin Pedroia 2B, Carl Crawford LF, Adrian Gonzalez 1B, Kevin Youkilis 3B, Davis Ortiz DH, J.D. Drew RP, Jason Varitek C, Marco Scutaro SS, Clay Buchholz P.

With left-hander C.J. Wilson expected to start Opening Day for the Rangers, Francona said his approach to a regular-season game might be different, saying if it was July he might consider resting some of his regulars.

In his career, Wilson has held left-handed hitters to a .181 average, .272 OBP, and .255 slugging. In 15 career games against the Red Sox to both right- and left-handed hitters, he has allowed just a .152 average (16-for-105) with 17 walks, no home runs, and four doubles for a .270 OBP and .190 slugging. "He's so tough on lefties, that gives me pause to think," Francona said.

Francona said his regulars would get two or three at-bats each Tuesday, with each of the bench players getting into the game rather than bringing up minor leaguers for the later innings.

Before the start of Tuesday's game just three players had reached triple digits for innings played this spring, with Nate Spears leading all players with 154 innings. He played six positions - second base (63 innings), first base (24), third base (23), left field (22), right field (12), and shortstop (10). Drew Sutton played 142 innings at all four infield positions and Ryan Kalish played 109 innings at all three outfield positions. Spears and Sutton will be traveling with the big league team to Houston. All three are expected to start the season with Triple-A Pawtucket. "Nate Spears had a great camp," Francona said. "There's no getting around it."

Spears is hitting .295 (18-for-61) with nine RBI.

"Every time I've seen him this spring, all he's done is hit the ball hard," said one scout of Spears.

Sutton is hitting .322 (19-for-59) with two home runs and nine RBI.

Along with Spears and Sutton, minor league pitchers Blake Maxwell and Jason Rice and catcher Daniel Butler will join the Sox on the trip to Houston.

Left-hander Felix Doubront is scheduled to pitch in a minor league game at the player development complex today.

Francona on Dan Wheeler, who has a 6.75 ERA and is scheduled to pitch today: "I think he's going to be a good pitcher for us...He's left some balls up that have been hit, but that won't happen all year."

Josh Beckett is scheduled to start the exhibition game Wednesday against the Astros at Minute Maid Park. He will be followed by Jonathan Papelbon, Dennys Reyes, Bobby Jenks, and Daniel Bard. The Astros are expected to start Nelson Figueroa, followed by Brandon Lyon, Wilton Lopez, Enerio Del Rosario, Aneury Rodriguez, Henry Villar, and Jose Valdez. Daisuke Matsuzaka is scheduled to pitch a simulated game Thursday morning in Houston.

The Red Sox first lineup at City of Palms Park, March 6, 1993: Bob Zupcic CF, Scott Cooper 3B, Mike Greenwell LF, Andre Dawson RFDH, Ivan Calderon RFDH, Carlos Quintana 1B, Tim Naehring 2B, Bob Melvin C, Luis Rivera SS, Roger Clemens P.

Maureen Mullen is on Twitter at http:twitter.commaureenamullen

Ortiz provides magical moment for young fan

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Ortiz provides magical moment for young fan

David Ortiz has hit 507 career homers during the regular season. Some of them have won games. Some have come in extra innings, sending the Red Sox to immediate victory.

But it's doubtful that Ortiz has hit a homer that's meant more to an individual fan than the one he hit Friday night against the New York Yankees.

Former teammate Kevin Millar told Ortiz about a young boy named Maverick who has been battling a life-threatening illness. The two sent Maverick a video before Friday's night game that closed with Ortiz pointing to the camera and saying: "I'm going to hit a home run for you!''

Then, in the eighth inning, with the Red Sox and Yankees tied 2-2, Ortiz did just that, driving a first-pitch curveball from New York reliever Dellin Betances into the Monster Seats in left field.

"I would say this is just God putting his hands on things like that,'' Ortiz said, "because we all know that it is not that easy to come through like that. I've been able to get things done like that on a few different occasions. I guess I've been lucky.

"I would say God is the one who takes over this stuff.''

Said manager John Farrell: "It's a storybook situation. You can say that the legend of David Ortiz is far-reaching. I don't know if players fully understand their impact and how far-reaching their impact can be. But to have it play out like that is really a cool thing.''

Ortiz recalled a similar situation from a few years ago, when he visited a young girl dealing with brain damage at Boston's Massachusetts General Hospital.

"When she got a little better,'' Ortiz recalled, "she came to Fenway and we celebrated her birthday here in the family room. We lit up some candles with the cake, sang Happy Birthday to her and that day I told her I was going to hit a home run for her. And I ended up doing it.''

Once the game began, Ortiz was focused on his at-bats. The fact that he was facing Betances in the eighth inning, against whom he was 0-for-7 lifetime with four strikeouts, didn't make it any easier.

"Everyone knows how good Betances has been through his career,'' Ortiz said. "When things like that happen, it makes you believe that there's something special out there that we should believe in.''

Ortiz said he wasn't focused on hitting the homer during the game.

"Listen, the promise is not a guarantee,'' he said. "This is baseball. This is not, 'I'm going to shoot a free throw' when no one's playing defense on you. Or 'I'm Steph Curry and I'm going to shoot a three-pointer.' You know that's going to happen regardless. This is baseball. What you're trying to do was make Maverick feel better, have that connection with him. And you throw that out there to make sure he has a friend that he can count on right here.

"But while the game is going on, I'm not thinking about it, to be honest with you. But I can get away with it because I'm a power hitter and if I put a good swing on it, it can happen. But everybody on planet earth understands that it's not that easy. But that when it happens, everyone understands. Me personally, I'm a huge believer in God and I think he had a lot to do with this.''

In fact, it wasn't until Ortiz rounded the bases, crossed home plate and was trotting back to the dugout that he saw Millar and Millar's own kids sitting right next to the dugout that he recounted his pre-game video to Maverick.

"That's when I started thinking about it,'' said Ortiz.

Maverick sent a video back to Ortiz -- via Millar -- after the game-winning homer.

"After the game,'' Ortiz recounted, "Millar came to me and he was crying when he showed me the video that Maverick sent. It was very touching. I started thinking about it right after. When I got home, I was like, 'I can't believe this really happened.' Millar told me that his parents haven't seen (Maverick) him that happy in a long time. He has been very sick. But I always say there's something special out there. I'm a huge believer in God.

"I'm crazy about kids. When you see a sick kid and see what he's going trough I can't imagine. I don't think I'm prepared to see my child struggle like that. It's good. It's a good thing when you can put a smile on a child."

Saturday's lineups: Red Sox vs. Yankees

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Saturday's lineups: Red Sox vs. Yankees

Christian Vazquez is behind the plate catching Rick Porcello (4-0, 3.51 ERA), who looks to remain unbeaten, as the Red Sox continue their three-game weekend series with the Yankees on Saturday night (7:10) at Fenway Park.

The Red Sox won the series opener 4-2 on Friday night with a rally from a 2-0 deficit capped by David Ortiz' two-run homer in the eighth inning.

The full lineups:

YANKEES
Jacoby Ellsbury CF
Brett Gardner LF
Carlos Beltran RF
Mark Teixeira 1B
Alex Rodriguez DH
Brian McCann C
Starlin Castro 2B
Didi Gregorius SS
Chase Headley 3B
--
Michael Pineda RHP

RED SOX
Mookie Betts RF
Dustin Pedroia 2B
Xander Bogaerts SS
David Ortiz DH
Hanley Ramirez 1B
Travis Shaw 3B
Brock Holt LF
Christian Vazquez C
Jackie Bradley Jr. CF
--
Rick Porcello RHP

Ortiz's winning HR fulfills his promise to young fan

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Ortiz's winning HR fulfills his promise to young fan

David Ortiz's exploits with the Red Sox over the years can easily be described as "Ruthian."

That description became more fitting and Big Papi's legend grew Friday night when Ortiz made like the Babe by promising and delivering a home run to young fan named Maverick. 

Ortiz connected with a two-run shot over the Green Monster in the eighth inning to break a 2-2 tie and give the Red Sox a 4-2 victory over the rival Yankees. 

Here's the video Ortiz and former Red Sox teammate Kevin Millar, now with the MLB Network, made for Maverick before the game.

And here's Maverick's response, via Millar: