Jon Lester Hosts Astros, Felix Doubront Takes on Blue Jays in Red Sox Split Squad Games

In the hours after Daisuke Matsuzaka makes his first appearance in a live game over at the Red Sox’ minor league camp, the team will split up to host Houston at City of Palms Park and visit Toronto up in Dunedin.

Jon Lester will get his fourth start of the spring against the Astros. Felix Doubront, who was optioned to Triple-A Pawtucket on Saturday, will take the mound against the Blue Jays

WHEN AND WHERE

Astros vs. Red Sox
1:05 p.m. ET, March 21, 2010 (NESN)
City of Palms Park, Fort Myers, Fla.

Red Sox vs. Blue Jays
1:05 p.m. ET, March 21 2010
Dunedin Stadium, Dunedin, Fla.

RECORDS

Red Sox (9-8)
Astros (9-7)
Blue Jays (9-6)

HEAD TO HEAD

Roy Oswalt and five other Houston pitchers combined to blank the Red Sox on Tuesday, 3-0.

The Dunedin affair, which would be a great movie title for a thriller, marks the first of two spring training games between Boston and Toronto.

LINEUPS

Red Sox vs. Astros
Jacoby Ellsbury, LF
Dustin Pedroia, 2B
Kevin Youkilis, 1B
David Ortiz, DH
Jason Varitek, C
Mike Lowell, 3B
Mike Cameron, CF
Jeremy Hermida, RF
Marco Scutaro, SS

Red Sox at Blue Jays
Bill Hall, LF
Josh Reddick, CF
J.D. Drew, DH
Adrian Beltre, 3B
Tug Hulett, 2B
Jose Iglesias, SS
Aaron Bates, 1B
Mark Wagner, C
Che-Shuan Lin, RF

PITCHING MATCHUP

Houston vs. Boston
RHP Bud Norris (0-1, 5.40 ERA) vs. RHP Jon Lester (0-2, 5.87 ERA)

Boston vs. Toronto
LHP Felix Doubront (0-0, 0.00 ERA) vs. RHP Shaun Marcum (1-0, 0.00 ERA)

Lester is in search of that first really smooth start. He has given up eight hits and five walks in 7 2/3 innings and needs to get sharp soon.

Doubront has impressed Sox brass and will open the season at Triple-A Pawtucket. He has thrown seven scoreless innings in camp. The left hander shut down the Tampa Bay Rays regulars in a start Tuesday in Port Charlotte.

Marcum missed all of last season due to injury but is no stranger to Boston. He owns an impressive 4-2 record and an ERA of 3.67 in 11 career games against the Red Sox.

STAT SHEET

Red Sox
Dustin Pedroia added two more hits Saturday and is hitting .367 (11-for-30) this spring.

Adrian Beltre and Marco Scutaro, the new left side of the Boston infield, was a combined 6-for-41 with just one extra-base hit before Beltre singled and Scutaro homered in the seventh inning Saturday.

Tim Wakefield‘s win Saturday gives him three decisions. Only one other pitcher (Lester) has two.

The Sox have sold out 96 straight games at City of Palms Park, dating back to March 16, 2003.

Astros
Outfielder Hunter Pence has 14 RBI in 11 games. He is hitting .467.

New starter Brett Myers is 3-0 despite an unsightly 6.43 ERA.

Outfielder Jason Bourgeois has four steals in as many attempts in just nine games.

Blue Jays
Designated hitter Randy Ruiz is batting .424 with two homers and seven RBI.

Of catcher John Buck‘s six hits, two have been home runs and two have been doubles.

Projected Opening Day starter Ricky Romero is 3-0 with a 1.93 ERA

BLACK AND BLUE

Red Sox
Manny Delcarmen has apparently been the latest to contract whatever bug is moving through the locker room.

Matsuzaka is set to throw two innings as he works his way back from a neck strain.

Infielder Jed Lowrie has yet to resume baseball activities and, according to manager Terry Francona, has not been doing much of anything as he wrestles with mononucleosis.

Astros
Speedster Michael Bourn is day-to-day with an oblique strain.

First baseman Lance Berkman is still targeting Opening Day as he recovers from left knee surgery.

Shortstop Tommy Manzella hurt his right quadriceps Saturday against the New York Yankees.

Blue Jays
Third baseman Edwin Encarnacion took batting practice Friday as he comes back from left wrist surgery.

Reliever Jesse Carlson had a bullpen session canceled this week due to his sore left knee.

Starter Brandon Morrow had his start Friday scratched because of a sore shoulder

OVERHEARD

“It was one of those things where I gotta scratch the itch,”
–Red Sox reliever Alan Embree on why he came back to baseball rather than retire.

PRESS BOX

Red Sox
Boof Bonser lined up for critical Monday afternoon start.

Scutaro and Dustin Pedroia are feeling good together.

Another take on the Sox’ starting rotation and its vast potential.

Astros
Koby Clemens, Roger‘s son, is making another position change.

Oswalt tabbed for opening day start.

Blue Jays
Marcum and his fellow starters deal with life after Roy Halladay.

Blue Jays have their own Bill James.

MLB
A look at the rule changes proposed for the game.

National send Stephen Strasburg to minor league camp.

Rays catcher Dioner Navarro injures his left leg.

OUTLOOK

Sunday and Monday are all about just surviving for the Sox. With four games in two days and a handful of players feeling the effects of an illness, they want to get through this period and then see what they have to work with over the final week or so of spring training.

Astros manager Brad Mills, the former bench coach under Francona, will be returning to City of Palms Park.

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