Red Sox Live Blog: Red Sox Take First of Two Grapefruit League Meetings with Yankees


Red Sox Live Blog: Red Sox Take First of Two Grapefruit League Meetings with Yankees

Postgame, Red Sox 5-3: We are going to focus some postgame coverage on a couple of the young guys, because that was the real story of the game.

However, a parting shot from Terry Francona on the atmosphere that Clay Buchholz faced tonight:

“I think we’d prefer not to face anyone in our division a lot, especially when he’s going to go deep into a game. The atmosphere here tonight was a little bit more than you’re used to for a spring training game. I thought it was good for him.”

Three innings against the Yankees was enough. Expect Buchholz to next face New York in the regular season, even though he is lined up to face them in 10 days. At that point, Buchholz would be at about five innings, or maybe even six, so why showcase him even more.

A long ride home to Fort Myers awaits, followed by a long ride back north to Sarasota in the morning. Very little sleep tonight, for a lot of us. Catch the live blog again Saturday when the Red Sox take on the Orioles, and follow the Florida game at home on NESN.

Final, Red Sox 5-3: Nice play by Oscar Tejeda to end it. Clay Buchholz throws three scoreless innings and the Red Sox bats break out late after a couple of games of inactivity.

Boston is 3-3 in Grapefruit League play. After tomorrow they will be 4-4. Or 5-3. Or 3-5.

Split squad day.

Off to hear from Terry Francona on the events of a long day in southwest Florida. Back in a moment.

10:03 p.m.: Pitching with his father watching from the other side, Tony Pena Jr. struggles in the bottom of the ninth. After walking a man with the bases loaded, it’s 5-3 Red Sox and Eammon Portice is now on in relief of Pena.

Mid 9th, Red Sox 5-1: Again, it’s Juan Carlos Linares and Oscar Tejeda teaming to bring in another run. They are a combined 8-for-14 this spring.

End 8th, Red Sox 4-1: Not much for Red Sox fans to see out there, but it’s nice to catch a good glimpse of Matt Albers, particularly in a situation in which he gets two innings.

Albers will be in the mix for a final bullpen spot. He throws pretty hard and knows the division, which can’t hurt.

Mid 8th, Red Sox 4-1: Good point by Jerry on Mark Prior. The righty at least deserves credit for sticking with baseball when it seemed as if staying healthy was an absolute impossibility for him.

For a year or two he was an absolute treat to watch. A lesson there about how to handle a young pitcher’s workload, perhaps.

Prior’s velocity is not what it once was but he looks to be in reasonably good shape and still gets it up to around 90 mph.

Prior walked Josh Reddick with one out in the eighth and then got Yamaico Navarro on a beautiful pitch. Lars Anderson flew to left to end it.

Hope anyone still watching is getting a kick out of the setup. It’s tough to track all the changes in these games so the fellas have been getting on me for not being able to keep up. Considering I can only see the very tip of center field, it’s not easy, but it’s been fun being in the booth with the guys.

End 7th, Red Sox 4-1: It doesn’t get much prettier than the play that Jose Iglesias made in the bottom of the seventh.

A diving stop to his glove side, a spin and than an off-balance throw right on the money. The best part of that may have been how far back Iglesias’s glove was when he came up with the ball, well behind his body.

We now get our first look of the spring at Mark Prior, the former Cubs standout who hasn’t pitched in the majors since 2006.

Mid 7th, Red Sox 4-1: Oscar Tejeda has looked a bit unsure of himself at second base a few times this spring, but he looks solid at the plate.

Tejeda is now 3-for-6 after a two-run triple into the gap in right-center with two down in the seventh.

Lars Anderson is at first. Che-Hsuan Lin is in right field. Matt Albers is the new pitcher.

9:08 p.m.: Jerry makes the point that Juan Carlos Linares has the look of a catcher, even though he can play a pretty good center field.

Linares certainly doesn’t look the part, but he is a very, very interesting player, not just because of his shape and size.

With Jose Iglesias on second and two outs, Linares improved to 3-for-5 this spring with a hot shot up the middle. Iglesias scored with ease and the Sox are back on top.

Boone Logan has been taken out of the game for New York. The new Yankees pitcher is Eric Wordekemper.

End 6th, 1-1: You had the sense that as long as the Yankees kept their big guns hitting and the Red Sox began to trot out their second-grade pitchers that some runs would come.

One does in the sixth as Mark Teixeira and Robinson Cano double around an Alex Rodriguez strikeout. Brandon Duckworth has given up three runs on four hits in his two innings of work this spring.

Don and Jerry reminding us of the odd career path of Andruw Jones, who was brought into the Yankees’ fold to give them some balance against left-handers. They have Brett Gardner and Curtis Granderson, both lefties, that will start in left and center, but Jones can spell either.

Mid 6th, Red Sox 1-0: It’s just March 4 but I already have the touch. A mere mention of the Red Sox scoreless streak in the live blog headline, and it is put to an end.

Daniel Nava, wearing the wrong jersey tonight due to a pregame situation (we think his No. 60 ripped) breaks up the scoreless streak at 22 innings with an RBI single, scoring Jed Lowrie, who had doubled.

Don and Jerry are correct. The subs will come fast and furious right now and it might be tough to keep track of. We know Oscar Tejada is at second, Drew Sutton moving over to first. Now playing center field is Juan Carlos Linares.  Now catching is Luis Exposito. Brandon Duckworth remains on the mound.

End 5th, 0-0: Two nice plays in the fifth by Yamaico Navarro, and it’s not a surprise. Navarro has looked extremely good at third base in camp, showing a strong arm and fantastic hands.

He was a shortstop at one point, but the organization has been wise to move him a bit to the right, even though their hand was somewhat forced by the presence of Jose Iglesias.

Anyway, Navarro has taken to the position. If he hits well at Triple-A Pawtucket this year he could become a very viable trade candidate.

Mid 5th, 0-0: Drew Sutton is 2-for-2, matching the same number of hits that the rest of the Red Sox have over the last two games.

Clay Buchholz just spoke with us downstairs. Pretty much business as usual for him, a positive second step. One notable aspect of his spring is that he is lined up to face the Yankees again on March 14, but Terry Francona may shuffle things just a bit to avoid that.

There’s no sense showing New York everything you have in the first half of March when you will have to face them 2-4 times during the season. Buchholz agrees with the move.

You may have heard that Don just said this was the largest crowd in Steinbrenner Field history. Happy to be a part of it, and I hope my dome isn’t blinding too many of you back in New England.

Brandon Duckworth is now on for the Red Sox.

8:07 p.m.: Off to hear from Clay Buchholz. Back soon.

Mid 4th, 0-0: The Yankees have some intriguing young arms. Manual Banuelos is one of them.

Banuelos just threw a 1-2-3 fourth, and because I can count the Red Sox scoring drought is now at 21 innings.

Randy Williams is the new Boston pitcher.

End 3rd, 0-0: Clay Buchholz is through the third inning having thrown over 40 pitches, usually a target at this stage.

Cole Hamels pitched four innings in his second spring training start Thursday at City of Palms, due entirely to his efficiency. Buchholz might’ve had a chance to do the same until he issued his first walk of the spring to Greg Golson and then his second to Derek Jeter, both with two outs.

We will probably see Brandon Duckworth in the fourth. If not, it won’t be Buchholz. He’s done enough work.

A handful of the balls that Buchholz threw in that inning were fastballs that sailed dramatically.

Good point by Jerry there about the stuff that goes on in Yankees camp, verbally that is. It seems as if everyone in New York was reluctant to keep quiet when they had something to say this offseason. Derek Jeter, Brian Cashman and Hank Steinbrenner were at the top of that list, although Cashman is that way anyway, if you follow him. He doesn’t shy from speaking his mind.

Still, the back-and-forths were notable.

Mid 3rd, 0-0: The Red Sox got one hit all day yesterday. They get two in the third, courtesy of Drew Sutton and Jose Iglesias, who showed some nice hustle beating out an infield hit.

Darnell McDonald was handcuffed by a breaking ball up and in for the second out. As Jerry pointed out, the curve was so bad that it seemed to fool McDonald, expecting more of a break to it.

The last out is made when Bartolo Colon beats Ryan Kalish to the bag on a grounder to first. Again, that’s Bartolo Colon beating Ryan Kalish to the bag. First, and last, time for everything.

The Red Sox scoreless streak is now at 20 innings. Make a trade, Theo!

End 2nd, 0-0: We may already have the highlight of the night with Josh Reddick laying out for a liner to left. 

Reddick is an interesting guy at this stage of his career. He has struggled a bit in about six or seven promotions to the big leagues over the last two years, but he’s still a young guy who has raked at various times.

Terry Francona discussed Reddick before the game:

“He’s got great hand-eye coordination. He’s stronger than he looks. The ball jumps off his bat. When you swing at pitches that aren’t pitches to hit, it makes it harder. He’s had to live through that. He’s gone through periods when he’s been tremendous. Last August in Triple-A, he just tore it up. You’ve seen, when he came up, the flip side.”

Reddick’s catch was the first out of the inning. The last two were courtesy of Jose Iglesias, who turned a 6-3 double play with Alex Rodriguez running from first. Rodriguez is the first runner to reach against Buchholz this spring, although the righty has still faced the minimum, if that matters to you.

Mid 2nd, 0-0: It means nothing since the lineups are so different every day and game plans have yet to be structured as to how to attack a pitcher, but we will keep noting the Red Sox scoring drought as long as it is alive.

After Bartolo Colon has another 1-2-3 inning, Boston has now gone 19 straight innings without a run, amassing just six hits in that span. The last run came in on a David Ortiz RBI single in the first inning of Wednesday’s loss to Atlanta.

Great to have Peter Gammons in the booth with us now. It’s hard not to agree with him, but I do particularly side with his stance on the A.L. East. Sure, Boston is better, but I don’t think Tampa Bay and New York will be falling off a cliff anytime soon, and Toronto and Baltimore have a lot to look forward to.

End 1st, 0-0: The theme of the night seems to be grounders to shortstop. We saw one in the top of the first inning off the bat of Darnell McDonald, and Clay Buchholz gets one to begin the bottom half.

Buchholz also fans Mark Teixeira to end the inning on what looked like a changeup away. It was a pretty pitch, regardless. Buchholz has retired all nine men he has faced so far this spring.

For those of you interested in my very quick take on Buchholz, pan down below. The short end of it is that he will be just fine, despite what sabermetricians would have you believe.

Mid 1st, 0-0: Nice to hear the best pair of announcers in the game at it again. I’m sure it sounds nice to all of you back in New England.

Don and Jerry take us through a quick first frame for big righty Bartolo Colon. Darnell McDonald grounded to short, and Ryan Kalish followed by looking at a called third strike.

Jed Lowrie, your first baseman for the first time tonight, also goes down on strikes. Colon needed only 10 pitches.

As pointed out by the fellas, this does have a little bit of a late-August, early-September feel to it with guys named Nava, Kalish and McDonald in the outfield.

6:48 p.m.: Settled into the NESN booth a few minutes ago and we’re getting ready to go.

A few quick notes from Terry Francona’s meeting with reporters earlier today.

Francona discussed Josh Beckett’s simulated game, saying “the ball came out of his hand really well.”

“He felt good about it,” Francona said. “It’s not like we looked out there and thought he was coming back from anything. It was a regular day.”

Beckett is on track to pitch Tuesday. Before then, Jon Lester will have to make one of the longer trips of the spring when he goes to Port St. Lucie to take on the Mets.

Francona did not consider leaving Lester behind because he wants his guys to be facing major league hitters at this point.

Here is a quick Francona quote on Jed Lowrie at first:

“He played a couple of games there last year. That’s the least amount of experience he has. But he’s fine. He’s a shortstop by trade, so he’s certainly not going to have a tough time catching the ball. But just reacting off the play is still a little new to him. He looks fine out there.”

6:00 p.m.: Just a reminder, I will be blogging tonight from the NESN booth behind Don and Jerry. When possible, we’ll get some feedback from them in there, which should counteract my drivel quite nicely.

I even got a haircut, just in case they put me on camera.

A couple of things to look for in this one. Obviously, we will be watching Clay Buchholz take that next step. He figures to work three innings provided he is not knocked around too much.

We keep seeing stories based on sabermetrics that suggest that Buchholz was a fortunate pitcher last year, that his defense helped him out quite a bit. That might be the case, but I don’t believe it necessarily means his numbers will fall apart this season. Buchholz wasn’t even assured a spot in the starting rotation last spring. Now, he’s a confident, smart guy with a full season of experience under his belt, and he carries himself so well.

This is not a guy that will just level off after a 17-win season. He will be a better pitcher in 2011 than he was in 2010. Whether that means his ERA will be in the low 2’s is not important. Buchholz understands the process now, and will be better off for it.

Another item to keep an eye on is Jed Lowrie’s play at first base. Lowrie played in seven games at first last year, but never started a game. He only had 16 total innings at that spot.

Adrian Gonzalez almost never misses a game, but Lowrie will be the backup at first if everyone is healthy. Certainly, some fans will want to see Kevin Youkilis switch from third to first and Lowrie to play third if Gonzalez goes down, but the Sox have said they want to keep Youkilis put. Lowrie has to learn the position, and tonight is one step along the way.

Scheduled to follow Buchholz is this group: Brandon Duckworth, Randy Williams, Matt Albers and Tony Pena Jr. A few other low-level minor leaguers made the trip for depth purposes. Kyle Fernandes, a lefty, is one of them but Daniel Nava was seen wearing his No. 95 jersey, apparently after Nava’s jersey was messed up in some way.

5:38 p.m.: Indeed, I did hit traffic, and it was plentiful. But we are tucked in now and ready to bring you the first Red Sox-Yankees meeting of the spring.

While the Sox kept many of their regulars behind, the Yankees have loaded up against Clay Buccholz. Here is New York’s batting order:

Derek Jeter, SS
Russell Martin, C
Mark Teixeira, 1B
Alex Rodriguez, 3B
Robinson Cano, 2B
Jorge Posada, DH
Andruw Jones, LF
Melky Mesa, CF
Greg Golson, RF

1:55 p.m.: Change of plans. Sensing that I’ll hit rush hour square in the mouth, I’m going to get going. Here are a few words from Josh Beckett:

“I think I’m right there. I wouldn’t have thrown that many pitches yesterday [in my scheduled start]. I would’ve thrown less than that, unless I would’ve ran into a long inning, but even then they probably wouldn’t let me go so many pitches in one inning. As far as workload, yes.”

Beckett added that he felt a little winded warming up for each inning, but likes that feeling at this time of the year.

He also said he went to lunch a day and a half after the incident and needed to lie down. He knew then it was serious. Beckett also didn’t get to lift this week, so he’s a tad behind in conditioning.

He is still expected to go Tuesday on three day’s rest.

As for Gonzalez, here is a quick quote from him on taking it slow:

“I know I’ve got plenty of time and I know I’m going to get into plenty of games. It’s not something I’m, you would say itching to do, because I know I’m not going to force myself into something I shouldn’t do. I’ve been saying all along, just take it one day at a time.”

There will be a few more days of soft toss cuts and live pitching cuts, and then it will transition to full batting practice.

OK, see you in Tampa. Look for the live blog tonight coming to you from Don and Jerry’s booth.

1:39 p.m.: Josh Beckett used just about everything in his three-inning simulated game, throwing to hitters on both sides of the plate.

He felt good, a bit winded at times, but otherwise just fine. Look for a more complete rundown of his day and some quotes in a separate story.

Also, we heard from Adrian Gonzalez, who took 80 cuts today, 10 off of a machine, so he is beginning to simulate real pitching. He will do this for a few days and then progress to taking some batting practice, and then we can start talking of a debut. More on him in a moment as well.

Here is the Red Sox lineup for Friday night in Tampa:

Darnell McDonald, RF
Ryan Kalish, CF
Jed Lowrie, 1B
Jason Varitek, C
Daniel Nava, DH
Josh Reddick, LF
Yamaico Navarro, 3B
Drew Sutton, 2B
Jose Iglesias, SS

We will probably have the Yanks batting order after the 2.5 hour trip north, during which point I will obviously be offline.

One thing to note in the lineup for the Sox is Jed Lowrie at first base. He figures to get plenty of looks there this spring.

12:03 p.m.: Josh Beckett is currently throwing along the warning track at City of Palms Park. He is scheduled to begin a three-inning simulated game at 12:30. 

We will provide you with a report on that, as well as the starting lineup against the Yankees. Then it’s on to I-75 for the trip north to Tampa.

8:00 a.m.: The rivalry is renewed once again, even if it won’t count for much, when the Red Sox visit the New York Yankees on Friday night in Tampa.

It will be the first of two meetings this spring, followed by the standard 18 in the regular season.

For Sox fans itching to see their favorites under the lights at George M. Steinbrenner Field, they may want to temper their expectations. With a split-squad day set up the following afternoon (1:05 p.m. starts in both Fort Myers and Sarasota) a handful of regulars are expected to stay home.

Still, Boston will start Clay Buchholz, who is expected to throw three innings to Jason Varitek. Ryan Kalish, Darnell McDonald, Jose Iglesias and Daniel Nava are among those also slated to make the trip.

The Red Sox enter 2-3 after losing to Philadelphia at home on Thursday. New York, which starts former Red Sox righty Bartolo Colon, is 2-3-1 after a 1-1 tie with Tampa Bay.

Also expected to appear for the Yanks is Mark Prior and Manny Banuelos, a highly rated, 155-pound, 19-year-old lefty who is turning heads in camp.

First pitch is 7:05 p.m. and we will be blogging for you from the NESN booth, where Don Orsillo and Jerry Remy are expected to contribute a few thoughts of their own.

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