Will Middlebrooks Trying Contact Lenses; Other Red Sox Spring Training Notes

Will MiddlebrooksThere’s something unsettling about a tie in baseball, even though it makes total sense during spring training.

The Boston Red Sox and Philadelphia Phillies played to a 2-2, 10-inning tie in Clearwater, Fla., on Friday. It marked Boston’s second tie of spring training, as the Red Sox and Miami Marlins played to a 0-0 tie on March 6 in a game shortened to seven innings because of rain.

Jon Lester and Cliff Lee both dazzled during Friday’s contest. The Red Sox now will shift their attention to the Atlanta Braves, but let’s scope out some leftover notes before doing anything drastic.

- Lester has been lights out this spring. Clearly, the decision to bring him along slowly is paying off.

Lester gave up four hits over 5 2/3 shutout innings Friday. He struck out five, walked one and now owns a 0.71 ERA in three spring training starts.

- The Red Sox actually asked the Phillies to use a designated hitter for Friday’s game. (It’s up to the NL manager during games in NL parks.) The request was denied, meaning the pitchers batted.

Lester went 0-for-2 with a strikeout and a failed bunt bid.

- David Ortiz is on the verge of signing a one-year, $15 million contract extension, according to reports. Lester also is optimistic about getting an extension done, although the left-hander said Friday the sides still are working toward a deal.

- Will Middlebrooks is experimenting with new contact lenses this week to correct some slight vision problems, according to CSNNE.com.

Middlebrooks reportedly wore the contacts Wednesday against the Pittsburgh Pirates and didn’t see much improvement. He didn’t wear them Friday, and — after dealing with the discomfort of wearing the lenses for the first time — is unsure if he’ll resume wearing them.

- Craig Breslow, who has been brought along very slowly because of last season’s heavy workload, threw 20 pitches during a live batting practice session in Fort Myers on Friday. He is scheduled to pitch in a game Monday, meaning he could get three appearances in before Opening Day.

Breslow said this week he expects to be ready for Opening Day, but manager John Farrell said Friday the club also is being realistic about the situation.

Brandon Workman, who played a big role in Boston’s bullpen last season, could be a candidate to replace Breslow if the left-hander isn’t ready for the start of the year. Drake Britton, Francisco Cordero and Rich Hill are among the other hurlers the Red Sox could consider.

- It’s looking more and more like Grady Sizemore will be the Red Sox’s starting center fielder.

Jackie Bradley Jr. went 0-for-4 in Friday’s tie, and is hitting .182 (8-for-44) in 14 games this spring.

- Clay Buchholz, currently penciled in as the No. 5 starter, has two starts left before Opening Day. One is expected to be Tuesday against the Tampa Bay Rays, while the other might be in a minor league game in Fort Myers on March 30.

Have a question for Ricky Doyle? Send it to him via Twitter at @TheRickyDoyle or send it here.

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