Pedroia excited to return to game action


Pedroia excited to return to game action

By Sean McAdam

FORT MYERS, Fla. -- After suffering a broken bone in his foot last June, Dustin Pedroia played only two more games for the rest of the 2010 season.

Saturday, Pedroia will return to competition as the Red Sox begin their exhibition schedule and the fact the opponent will be a college team -- Boston College -- surely won't take away any of his enthusiasm.

"I'm excited," said Pedroia. "My biggest thing is to get out there and just get in the flow of the game and make sure I'm healthy and feel good -- and just see pitches, just like any normal game, the first game I'm out there. Just see pitches, get used to everything and that's it. I just can't wait. It's going to be fun."

Pedroia is one of a handful of players who had their 2010 interrupted by injuries. Teammates Jacoby Ellsbury, Mike Cameron and Kevin Youkilis all missed significant time.

But because there is at least the potential for post-surgery complications on Pedroia's foot, there will be more attention paid to his return.

"I'm moving around good," said Pedroia. "I feel good and I'm just excited to be out there. It's going to be fun. It's been a long time. I've put a lot of hard work in getting back and it should be fun. I'm just like everybody else right now."

Two key off-season acquisitions will have their debuts pushed back some.

Carl Crawford will not take part in either of the two seven-inning games the Red Sox have scheduled -- the first against BC and the nightcap against Northeastern.

Crawford has been given permission to return home to Houston Saturday to take care of a personal business matter. Crawford will return to southwest Florida Sunday, but likely won't play Sunday night in the first Grapefruit League match against Minnesota. It's expected that he will play Monday, also against the Twins.

"He's going to get enough reps,'' said bench coach DeMarlo Hale, who ran the final workout while manager Terry Francona attended to a personal matter. "As we get further into spring training, the workload gets heavier for the starters.''

Meanwhile, first baseman Adrian Gonzalez is still about two weeks away from seeing game action.

Gonzalez hit off a tee for the third time this week, taking 45 swings off the tee.

Saturday morning, Gonzalez will hit "flips'' or, soft tosses from close-by. He'll repeat that a few times before graduating to regular batting practice, live batting practice, and eventually, games.

The Sox announced some further pitching assignments for the first few games.

Stolmy Pimentel will start against BC, followed to the mound by Michael Bowden, Jason Rice, Clevelan Santeliz, Matt Fox and Randy Williams.

Saturday night, the Sox will start Kyle Weiland, followed by Alex Wilson, Rich Hill, Tony Pena Jr. and Matt Albers.

On Sunday, the Sox plan to start Josh Beckett, Others slated for work: Clay Buchholz, Brandon Duckworth, Hideki Okajima, Scott Achison and Dan Wheeler.

The Twins play the Sox once again Monday, when Boston will send Daisuke Matsuzaka, Tim Wakefield, Andrew Miller and Daniel Bard to the mound.

Finally, when the Sox and Twins play for a third straight day Tuesday, the pitchers will include Jon Lester and Alfredo Aceves.

Sean McAdam can be reached at Follow Sean on Twitter at http:twitter.comsean_mcadam

Red Sox secure playoff with 6-4 win over Rays


Red Sox secure playoff with 6-4 win over Rays

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. - Dustin Pedroia hit his fourth career grand slam to help Rick Porcello get his major league-leading 22nd win, and the Boston Red Sox clinched a playoff berth by beating the Tampa Bay Rays 6-4 Saturday night for their 10th consecutive win.

Boston maintained a 5 1/2-game lead over Toronto for the division title and ensured no worse than the AL's second wild card. While the Red Sox technically have a magic number of one, the Blue Jays and Baltimore Orioles play each other three times in the season's final week - meaning only one of them can win match Boston's 91 wins.

Among the other wild-card contenders, only Detroit can reach 91 victories.

Pedroia stopped an 0-for-17 skid with a single in the sixth and gave Boston a 6-3 lead with a seventh-inning drive off Danny Farquhar.

Porcello (22-4) gave up three runs, eight hits and struck out nine over 6 1/3 innings. He just missed getting his 12th consecutive start of seven or more innings and three runs or fewer, which would have moved him past Cy Young (1904) and Pedro Martinez (2000) for the longest stretch during the same season in franchise history.

Craig Kimbrel, the fifth Boston reliever, reached 30 saves for the sixth straight season despite allowing Logan Forsythe's solo homer in the ninth.

Brad Miller hit a two-run double in a three-run second that put Tampa Bay up 3-1 and gave him 80 RBIs.

Tampa Bay threatened in the second but failed to score due to two nice defensive plays. Pedroia made a throw from just in front of the outfield grass at second base on Mikie Mahtook's grounder to get Corey Dickerson at the plate. Third baseman Brock Holt made a solid play along the line on Alexei Ramirez's grounder and threw him out at first to end the inning.

Farrell: Sandoval could possibly return to Red Sox for postseason


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.