Papelbon unworried about latest spring struggle

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Papelbon unworried about latest spring struggle

By Sean McAdam
CSNNE.com

FORT MYERS, Fla. -- After he turned in a clean inning Friday against the Yankees, it appeared as though Jonathan Papelbon had turned the corner from his poor outing a week ago against Minnesota, when he walked three in one-third of an inning.

Then again, perhaps not.

Papelbon struggled again Thursday in the Red Sox' 8-5 win over the New York Mets, giving up two hits and two walks, leading to four runs. Papelbon couldn't finish the inning and even one of the two outs he recorded required a nice running catch by Juan Carlos Linares.

The Sox' closer has been either very bad or very good this spring. In four of his outings, he's had clean innings and hasn't allowed a baserunner. In his other two, however, Papelbon has walked five and given up seven runs on four hits.

Papelbon insisted that he wasn't concerned despite the two rocky outings in the last week.

"No . . . nope . . . not one bit," he said. "I'm just basically trying to find my delivery and iron out the kinks before the season rolls around. That's basically it.''

Ironically, only weeks ago, when the Red Sox were still based at the Player Development Complex, Papelbon said he already felt locked in with his delivery, and remarked how unusual it was to feel that so early in camp.

"I don't feel I've fallen out of it,'' he said of his delivery. "I still feel very locked in. Right now, I'm just a tick off my mechanics. I'm not searching. I know exactly what's going on. I can feel it in my delivery.

"For me, it's not a big deal at all because I know it's a minor little detail for me.''

Papelbon said the spring training atmosphere, with little context or adrenaline, was perhaps a factor ('no question,'' he said) and one talent evaluator agreed, noting that Papelbon looked "disinterested'' on the mound Thursday.

"I thought today he just got out in front and was a little quick in his delivery,'' said Terry Francona. "Everything flattened out a little bit and his fastball started wandering a little bit. I think everything was flat today and good hitters don't need help elevating the ball.

"You fall behind and the ball's flat. That's what it looked like to me.''

"It's spring training,'' said Papelbon, "and I'm trying to get my delivery where it's perfect every day and right now, it's just not. It's still spring. It is what it is.''

Francona said Papelbon's next outing will probably involve throwing two innings at the minor-league complex.

"I think that will be good for him,'' he said.

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

Farrell: Sandoval could possibly return to Red Sox for postseason

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Farrell: Sandoval could possibly return to Red Sox for postseason

Thought to be lost for the season after shoulder surgery this past spring, Pablo Sandoval could possibly return to the Red Sox for the postseason, Red Sox manager John Farrell told reporters Saturday.

Sandoval joined the team in St. Petersburg, where the Red Sox are playing the Tampa Bay Rays. Farrell said Sandoval had played in instructional league games in Florida and was "well ahead of schedule."

He could be an option to be activated if another player is injured. 

“One of the things I put in my mind that I have to work,” Sandoval told Boston Herald. “I learned a lot of things about this surgery so I had to work hard to be on the field as soon as possible.

“There are a lot of things I’ve been doing, working out, doing things so I can get better and better everyday.”

Sandoval, 30, is in the second year of a five-year, $95 contract. He lost his starting third base job to Travis Shaw in spring training and in April an MRI revealed he needed surgery on his left (non-throwing) shoulder, which was to have ended his season.

He appeared in only three games this season and hit .245 with 10 homers and 47 RBI in 126 games in 2015. 

Saturday's Red Sox-Rays lineups: Porcello goes for 22nd, Holt at 3B

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Saturday's Red Sox-Rays lineups: Porcello goes for 22nd, Holt at 3B

Closing in on the A.L. East title, the Red Sox look to make it 10 wins in a row tonight when they play the Tampa Bay Rays in St. Petersburg.

Right hander Rick Porcello (21-4, 3.08 ERA) goes for his 22nd win for the Red Sox, opposed by Rays right-hander Matt Andriese (8-7, 4.41). Porcello is coming off a complete game victory in Baltimore.

The Red Sox began the day with a magic number of four to clinch the A.L. East with eight games to play. They could clinch a wild-card spot tonight with a victory and a Baltimore Orioles loss. 

Brock Holt starts at third base and Chris Young is in left field for Boston.

The lineups:

RED SOX
Dustin Pedroia 2B
Xander Bogaerts SS
David Ortiz DH
Mookie Betts RF
Hanley Ramirez 1B
Brock Holt 3B
Chris Young LF
Jackie Bradley Jr. CF
Sandy Leon C
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Rick Porcello RHP 

RAYS
Logan Forsythe 2B
Kevin Kiermaier CF
Evan Longoria 3B
Brad Miller 1B
Corey Dickerson LF
Nick Franklin DH
Mikey Mahtook RF
Alexi Ramirez SS
Curt Casali C
---
Matt Andriese RHP