Red Sox notes: Prospects head to the farms

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Red Sox notes: Prospects head to the farms

By Sean McAdam
CSNNE.com

FORT MYERS, Fla. -- Both before and after their 8-5 defeat of the New York Mets, the Red Sox made five roster cuts, optioning shortstop Jose Iglesias, infielder Yamaico Navarro, catcher Luis Exposito, first baseman Lars Anderson to the Pawtucket roster and returning outfielder Juan Carlos Linares to the minor league camp.

Manager Terry Francona offered these brief scouting reports:

On Iglesias: "I don't think we saw the type of hitter we're going to eventually see. His mentality is, he was trying to show so much and make an impact. He gets in in the sixth inning and he wants to do too much. I think when he settles down and gets into a season, we'll find out what kind of hitter he can be. And we all know the defense is there. But I think the offense will continue to grow as he gets more grounded and gets some at-bats . . . He just needs to go play.''

On Navarro: "He's come a long way. The word we use with all the young guys is 'accountability.' When young kids come here, it's trust and accountability. It's not just how you swing the bat. It's 'Do you know all our plays?' Because every game is so important. And I think he's learning that and I think he continues to learn and mature. He's got such good bat speed. It's going to be fun to watch and see how much better he can get. He got a little taste of the big leagues last year and got beat up a little bit. It will be interesting to see how he reacts now.''

On Anderson: "Lars defensively is like night-and-day -- he's just come so far. And he just needs repetition, and that's what we told him. I think he's disappointed because he came into camp and hasn't really knocked the ball all over the ballpark (hitting .161 in Grapefruit League games). We tried to re-assure him that what he does during the season will show what kind of a hitter he is.''

On Linares: "Linares is really interesting. Obviously, the major league staff didn't know him very well. At first blush, you look at him and say, 'I don't know if this guy can play center field.' And then you see him run around out there. He can actually play all three outfield positions, he's very aggressive at the plate, and he hustles on every ball that's in play. He's a pretty exciting guy.''

That the five were also optioned to the Pawtucket roster does not, however, mean that they will all necessarily open the year at Triple A.

Navarro and Anderson will open the season at Triple A, and given his age (26), Linares probably will, too. But no decisions have been made on Exposito or Igliesias.

Iglesias missed several months with a hand injury last year, and could open the season either at Pawtucket or repeat Double A at least for a few weeks.

Exposito will probably go to Pawtucket, too, but the Sox could opt to keep Paul Hoover, who has brief major-league experience, and pair him with Mark Wagner for the catching duo at Triple A.

The moves bring the Sox to 43 players in camp, 18 over the limit for Opening Day with two weeks remaining.

The Red Sox' speed and aggressive style was on display in the third inning when Jacoby Ellsbury and Carl Crawford combined to put pressure on the Mets and combine for two runs, helping the Sox to an 8-5 victory.

With one out and Nate Spears on first, Ellsbury singled to right, sending Spears to second. Crawford then singled to shallow right, scoring Spears and sending Ellsbury to third. Right fielder Lucas Duda's throw was airmailed wild and Ellsbury, reacting quickly, scored.

Then, with Jed Lowrie batting, Crawford stole second and took third when catcher Josh Thole's throw down landed in center.

"That's what speed can do,'' said Francona. "Ellsbury kept his head up. Those are good things. If he doesn't keep his head up, he doesn't score. It's fun to watch that. We've seen Carl do that kind of thing against us. So with Jacoby and Carl doing that for us, let the other team have the headache.''

On Friday, the Sox have a split-squad, day-night schedule, with one team hosting Detroit in the afternoon and another traveling to Port Charlotte to face Tampa Bay at night. Clay Buchholz, Dennys Reyes, Hideki Okajima and Michael Bowden will pitch at home, with Tim Wakefield, Matt Fox, Matt Albers and Randy Williams set to throw in Port Charlotte.

Bobby Jenks will pitch two innings in a minor league game Friday. Francona wants every reliever to have a multi-inning appearance before the spring is over.

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

With trade rumors finally over, Sale shifts attention to dominating in Boston

With trade rumors finally over, Sale shifts attention to dominating in Boston

NATIONAL HARBOR, Md. -- Chris Sale had been the subject of so many trade rumors for the past year that he admitted feeling somewhat like "the monkey in the middle.”

On Tuesday, the rumors became reality when Sale learned he was being shipped to the Red Sox in exchange for a package of four prospects.
    
It meant leaving the Chicago White Sox, the only organization he'd known after being drafted 13th overall by Chicago in 2010. Leaving, he said, is "bittersweet.''
     
Now, he can finally move forward.
     
"Just to have the whole process out of the way and get back to some kind of normalcy will be nice,” said Sale Wednesday morning in a conference call with reporters.

Sale had been linked in trade talks to many clubs, most notably the Washington Nationals, who seemed poised to obtain him as recently as Monday night.

Instead, Sale has changed his Sox from White to Red.

"I'm excited,” he said. "You're talking about one of the greatest franchises ever. I'm excited as anybody. I don't know how you couldn't be. I've always loved going to Boston, pitching in Boston. (My wife and I) both really like the city and (Fenway Park) is a very special place.”
     
It helps that Sale lives in Naples, Fla., just 20 or so miles from Fort Myers, the Red Sox' spring training base. Sale played his college ball at Florida Gulf Coast University in Fort Myers.
     
"Being able to stay in our house a couple of (more) months,” gushed Sale, “it couldn't have worked out better personally or professionally for us.”
     
Sale joins a rotation with two Cy Young Award winners (David Price and reigning winner Rick Porcello), a talented core of mostly younger position players and an improved bullpen.

"There's no reason not to be excited right now,” said Sale. "You look at the talent on this team as a whole... you can't ask for much more.”

Sale was in contact with Price Tuesday, who was the first Red Sox player to reach out. He also spoke with some mutual friends of Porcello.

That three-headed monster will carry the rotation, and the internal competition could lift them all to new heights.
     
"The good thing in all of this,'' Sale said, "is that I can definitely see a competition (with) all of us pushing each others, trying to be better. No matter who's pitching on a (given) night, we have as good or better chance the next night. That relieves some of the pressure that might build on some guys (who feel the need to carry the team every start).”

But Sale isn't the least bit interested in being known as the ace of the talented trio.

"I don’t think that matters,” he said. "When you have a group of guys who come together and fight for the same purpose, nothing else really matters. We play for a trophy, not a tag.”

Sale predicted he would be able to transition from Chicago to Boston without much effort, and didn't seem overwhelmed by moving to a market where media coverage and fan interest will result in more scrutiny.

"It's fine, it's a part of it, it's reality,” he said. "I'm not a big media guy. I'm not on Twitter. I'm really focused on the in-between-the-lines stuff. That's what I love, playing the game of baseball. Everything else will shake out.”

After playing before small crowds and in the shadow of the  Cubs in Chicago, Sale is ready to pitch before sellout crowds at Fenway.

"I'm a firm believer that energy can be created in ballparks,” he said. "I don't think there’s any question about it. When you have a packed house and everyone's on their feet in the eighth inning, that gives every player a jolt.”