Red Sox Finalize 25-Man Roster, Dennys Reyes And Matt Albers Make The Cut

It's been over a week since the Red Sox pulled out a win. With Santo Luis allowing three runs in the eighth, things weren't about to change on Sunday. Read more at Over The Monster.

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Red Sox Name Starting Rotation For Regular Season

On Wednesday, Terry Francona name Jon Lester the pitcher for Opening Day. On Thursday, he announced the rest of the Red Sox starting rotation

Following Lester will be John Lackey, Clay Buchholz, Josh Beckett and Daisuke Matsuzaka, in that order. Francona said this will be the rotation for at least "two turns" once the regular season starts. With this rotation, it will be Lackey on the hill in the Sox home opener, against the Yankees. 

"Lackey has a way of matching up against whoever he's pitching against,'' Francona said, "whether it's a No. 1 or No. 5, you look up in the seventh inning you have a chance to win, which we really like.

"Buck did so good. I think we feel having Buck come out third just enhances our chance to win a little bit. Buck's numbers would say he could pitch anywhere. I just think Lack's a veteran, he's done it, spacing [Buchholz] and Lester out, there's something to be said for that, too.

While the rotation itself isn't too surprising -- especially Lester at the top -- Beckett getting dropped to the No. 4 spot does present some questions at Over The Monster

Beckett is the first giant question in the rotation. The Beckett of 2010 was a complete enigma--his peripherals were OK, but significantly worse than usual; his results were just terrible. Hopefully a return to health in 2011 will bring him closer to the Beckett of 2007. If he is as ineffective as he was in 2010, it is going to make life a lot harder for the Red Sox.


Jon Lester Named Red Sox' Opening Day Starter

Terry Francona has named Jon Lester the Red SoxOpening Day starter. He will take on the Texas Rangers on April 1.

Lester has arguably been the team’s ace ever since his breakout 2008, but Terry Francona has opted to give Josh Beckett the nod in 2009 and 2010. After Beckett’s struggles in 2010, though, Lester was the easy pick.

While Lester has typically struggled for the first month of the season, he’s been good in Arglington (1.93 ERA in 14 innings) and against the Texas Rangers in general (2.62 ERA, 44:11 K:BB in 44.2 innings) since 2008.

After being given the good news Wednesday, Lester wasn’t exactly ace-like in his spring training outing. He allowed three runs to the Braves on eight hits and two walks before being knocked out of the game in the fifth inning. He entered the game having thrown six shutout innings to start his spring.


Pirates 9, Red Sox 4: Josh Beckett Wilts In Fifth Inning

The Pirates defeated the Red Sox 9-4 thanks to a big fifth inning off of Josh Beckett and Scott Atchison.

The game started off promising, with the Red Sox taking a 3-1 lead in the fourth.

The offense had gotten going in the third inning, with a two run double from Mike Cameron, and stayed strong in the fourth with a Lars Anderson home run. Josh Beckett gave up a run in the second on a long ball to John Bowker, and had actually allowed the pitcher to reach base in the bottom of the third, but otherwise had kept the Pirates quiet.

But then things fell apart. With Josh Beckett scheduled to throw around 75 pitches on the day, he returned to work the fifth inning. It was clear he wasn’t ready to go this deep yet, however.

A leadoff homer to Ronny Cedeno cut the Sox’ lead down to one run, and things just got worse from there. Beckett walked Dusty Brown, allowed a double to Andy Marte, and hit Jose Tabata with a pitch to load the bases with zero outs before being yanked for Scott Atchison.

Unfortunately, he fared no better. The next four batters would reach base, scoring five more runs before the Sox could record an out. The Pirates sent twelve batters to the plate, and left with a 7-3 lead.

Only Daniel Bard and Andrew Miller managed to keep the Pirates off the board for an inning a piece. By the time all was said and done, Pittsburgh had scored nine runs and knocked off the visiting Sox.


Rays 8, Red Sox 6: Rays Hit Daisuke, Emerge Victorious After Wild Ninth Inning

The Red Sox fell to the Rays 8-6 Thursday thanks to a poor pitching performance from Daisuke Matsuzaka and a bizarre ninth inning.

The Red Sox were hoping from a bounce back start from Daisuke Matsuzaka after a mediocre beginning to spring. Unfortunately, Daisuke provided anything but.

It all started with Daisuke Matsuzaka being what we have sadly come to expect. The first batter of the game, Ben Zobrist? A walk. The second batter of the game, Johnny Damon? A walk. The third, Evan Longoria? An RBI single.

But wait! There’s more!

After a sacrifice fly brought in a second run in the first, Daisuke brought his talents to inning number two. There were no walks this time, and only one hit, but that one, coming off the bat of Jon Jaso, did not come back, making it 3-0 Tampa Bay.

The third inning was a lot like the first, except this time Zobrist and Damon doubled before being brought in by Matt Joyce’s singled. When all was said and done for Daisuke, there were two outs in the fourth inning, and five runs on the board.

The Red Sox offense responded, though, to come within one run by the sixth inning.

A few singles in the fifth inning had brought the first run in before the Sox turned on the power in the sixth. Carl Crawford led off the inning with a single, and moved to third on Kevin Youkilis’ double. Nate Spears kept the pattern going with a two-out triple, scoring both runners before coming home himself on Tim Federowicz’ base hit.

The teams traded scoreless frames in the seventh and eighth to set up a decisive ninth. What followed was one of the more bizarre frames in this year’s spring training.

On a 3-1 count, Brandon Gomes delivered a fastball down the middle. Tejeda took advantage, belting one deep to center field. Desmond Jennings fired back into the infield. The relay throw went to third, where Tejeda was looking for his third triple of the spring…and where no Rays were covering the bag. Hesitating at third as Gomes ran to grab the loose ball, Tejeda turned home, and was just barely caught at the plate.

Except none of that mattered. The second base umpire was pointing out to the stands. The ball was gone, and the score was tied at five-all. Drew Sutton quickly added another to the Sox’ total by blasting a rather more obvious home run of his own.

Entering the bottom of the inning with a 6-5 lead, the Sox just needed three more outs from Alfredo Aceves. They would only get one. Desmond Jennings quickly scored to tie the game after leading off the inning with a single and being doubled home by former Red Sox Casey Kotchman, who then scored the winning run on Robinson Chirinos’ walk-off bomb to left, leaving the final at 8-6, Rays.

For more on Thursday’s game and to follow the Sox throughout the year, visit Over The Monster.


Phillies 2, Red Sox 0: Bobby Jenks Impressive In Debut, But Boston Falls

Bobby Jenks allowed one hit and zero runs in his debut, but it wasn’t enough as the Philadelphia Phillies blanked the Boston Red Sox , 2-0, in a Spring Training affair at City of Palms Park in Fort Myers, Florida on Thursday afternoon.

“I made some really good pitches. I threw the ball for the most part exactly where I wanted to,” Jenks said. “All in all, it was a really good day.” (via WEEI)

Jenks tossed different variations of his fastball and change-up during Thursday’s game and hopes to have eight additional appearances for the Red Sox during Spring Training.

Boston (2-3) had only one hit in the game, a double from Mike Cameron (1-for-2). Stolmy Pimentel (0-1) started for the Red Sox, giving up three hits and two earned runs in two innings.

Dan Wheeler and Andrew Miller each pitched clean innings in the third and fourth, respectively, before Jenks entered in the fifth. Jason Rice, Rich Hill, Michael Bowden and Blake Maxwell combined to no-hit the Phillies in the final four innings.

Philadelphia (3-3) scored its two runs in the second inning on a two-run double from Phillies third baseman Jeff Larish (1-for-3). Cole Hamels (1-0) tossed four inning in his start for Philadelphia, giving up a hit and a walk while striking out three.

Boston faces the archrival New York Yankees at 7:05 p.m. EST on Friday afternoon in its first televised spring training game (TV: NESN/MLB Network).


Red Sox 5, Twins 0: Lester Leads Staff In Shutout Of Twins

The Red Sox have taken a 2-1 lead in the Mayor's Cup after shutting out the Twins en route to a 5-0 win Tuesday. 

It was a strong start to the season for Jon Lester, Jonathan Papelbon, and new Red Sox Alfredo Aceves, who took care of the first five scoreless innings:

Jon Lester got things started for the Sox, taking the mound for the first time this spring. While the team's ace wasn't exactly dominant, allowing a walk and a hit in his two innings, he got his outs and passed the ball of to Alfredo Aceves, who matched his performance.

 Jonathan Papelbon was the next pitcher in line to debut, mainitaining the 2-0 lead by inducing a pair of groundballs and a pop-up bunt.

Once again, the Sox received runs from all places, as both Major Leaguers and prospects contributed to the team's offense:

As has tended to be the case of late, the Sox' biggest offensive outburst came when the starters had been pulled. Drew Sutton drove in Juan Carlos Linares in the eighth before Linares paid it forward, bringing Yamaico Navarro home in the ninth and scoring again himself on a Nate Spears line drive.

The Red Sox did lose backup infielder Brent Dlugach to a dislocated shoulder, but that's really the only blemish on a strong all-around game. The Sox will finally say goodbye to the Twins on Wednesday, as they take on the Braves at home.


To read more on Tuesday's game and follow the Sox throughout spring training, visit Over The Monster.


Boston 7, Minnesota 6: David Ortiz' Homer Powers Red Sox Comeback

The Red Sox evened up the Mayor’s Cup series at 1-1, coming back from a 4-0 deficit to down the Twins 7-6.

David Ortiz, who recently announced his intentions to avoid the April swoons that have plagued him in recent years, finished February on a strong note, hitting his first home run of spring and adding a line drive single. Jason Varitek also chipped in two hits.

The three runs Ortiz drove in weren’t enough to undo the damage that had already been done on the mound, however:

The early deficit was provided courtesy of Daisuke Matsuzaka and Tim Wakefield, who allowed four runs in the first four innings. Still, it’s hard to really fault either pitcher too much. Matsuzaka was really just hurt by one bad pitch, allowing a homer to Jason Kubel, while Wakefield was the victim of some shoddy defense from shortstop Brent Dlugach.

If there was one pitcher who was truly disappointing, it was Daniel Bard, really. The flamethrowing youngster allowed hard contact to multiple batters and gave up a walk, providing the Twins two more runs in the fifth inning.

Still, the Sox weren’t about to go down so easily:

After David Ortiz’ homer, it was mostly the backups that did the work. Sparked by a one-out single from J.D. Drew in the sixth, the Sox strung together some hits, capping the rally with a two-run single from Drew Sutton.

One inning later, it was Ryan Kalish providing the one-out single, and Josh Reddick quickly taking a 7-6 lead by launching a Jim Hoey offering over the wall in left field. Still, with two men in scoring position in the ninth, it took a leaping grab on a line drive by Jose Iglesias to save the Red Sox from a blown save courtesy of Matt Albers.

To read more on Monday’s game and follow the Sox throughout spring training, visit Over The Monster.


Red Sox 13, Northeastern 2: Jose Iglesias Leads Sox Past Huskies

Jose Iglesias went 2-for-3 with three RBI and two runs as the Boston Red Sox defeated Northeastern University, 13-2, in the second game of a doubleheader at City of Palms Park in Fort Myers, Florida.

Boston defeated Boston College, 6-0, in its first game since October 3rd earlier on Saturday. Kevin Youkilis hit a three-run home run in the win for the Red Sox.

Northeastern jumped out to a 1-0 lead in the first inning on Ryan Maguire’s (1-for-2) solo home run on the game’s first pitch from Red Sox starter Ryan Weiland (2 hits, 1 ER, 1 BB, 1 K). The Huskies added another run in the top of the fourth inning, but the Red Sox responded with a five-run outburst in the bottom of the inning. Boston added two runs in the fifth inning and six runs in the sixth to secure the victory.

Jacoby Ellsbury was 0-for-1 with a walk and both Mike Cameron and Jed Lowrie went 0-for-2 for the Red Sox. David Mailman (1-for-2, RBI, 1 run), Peter Hissey (1-for-2, 2 RBI), Luis Exposito (1-for-2) and Juan Carlos Linares (1-for-3, 1 run) all had solid outings for Boston.

Rich Hill secured the win for Boston, pitching one inning and giving up a run and a walk while striking out one. Blake Maxwell was credited with a hold after giving up one hit and striking out two in the fifth inning for the Sox.

Kevin Ferguson was the losing pitcher and was also credited with a blown save for Northeastern. In 1/3 of an inning, Ferguson gave up two hits, five runs (three earned runs) and four walks in the fourth. J.T. Ross was the Huskies’ starting pitcher, and he tossed two scoreless innings while allowing just one hit and one walk.


Red Sox 6, Boston College 0: Kevin Youkilis, Red Sox Blank Eagles

Kevin Youkilis (1-for-1) hit a three-run home run in the first inning and the Boston Red Sox defeated the Boston College Eagles, 6-0, in their first tune-up of the 2011 season at City of Palms Park in Fort Myers, Florida.

This was the first game for the Red Sox since October 3rd when they defeated the New York Yankees, 8-4. in their 2010 regular season finale.

Boston’s pitching staff gave up only one hit to Boston College, a single by Eagles’ catcher Jim Laufer (1-for-2) in the seventh inning, which came off of pitcher Randy Williams.

Stolmy Pimentel (1-0) pitched two perfect innings, striking out two, to earn the win for the Red Sox (1-0). Michael Bowden earned the hold, tossing a perfect third inning.

Jason Rice, Clevelan Santeliz and Matt Fox each pitched one inning a piece and combined for five strike outs and one walk for the Red Sox.

Boston had six hits in the game. Dustin Pedroia was 0-for-1 with a walk, David Ortiz went 0-for-2 and Marco Scutaro walked twice. Shortstop Brent Dlugach was a perfect 2-for-2 and second baseman Nate Spears (1-for-2), third baseman Will Middlebrooks (1-for-2) and outfielder Ryan Kalish (1-for-2) each had one hit for the Red Sox.

Geoff Oxley, who had Tommy John surgery last May, was charged with the loss after giving up three runs, including the home run to Youkilis, in the first inning for Boston College. Oxley walked two batters and had one strikeout.


Red Sox Spring Training: Pitchers And Catchers Report

Today is a special day. No, it's got nothing to do with cards or chocolates. It's all about the pitchers and catchers, who were required to report to Red Sox training camp on Monday.

If the impact of the day is lessened this year, it's not for lack of excitement for the team, but because, well, there weren't many pitchers and catchers who weren't already there. Those few who hadn't shown up over the previous week-Alfredo Aceves and Jason Varitek, to name a couple-did so today. But it's kind of hard to mark today as the beginning of the year when we already had our first Pedroia quotes and have already seen Adrian Gonzalez working out in Red Sox gear.

Still, even if the Sox got a head start, there was news to be had. And as Jeff Sullivan tells us, that's the whole point.

  • Daniel Bard, who has already mentioned some interest in starting later in the season, will now have yet another decision to make according to Rob Bradford: Is he the future Red Sox closer, or a Grammy Award winning musician?
  • Peter Abraham says the Red Sox are getting interest on Robert Coello, who was designated for assignment to make room for Alfredo Aceves. Any trade would have predictably minimal returns.
  • Jon Lester will participate in Major League Baseball's Honorary Bat Girl Contest as a judge, helping to select winning submissions. The contest is part of the league's ongoing campaign against breast cancer.
  • John Lackey feels that the negative reaction to his first season with the Sox was a bit over the top.
  • And if this is him in Brian MacPherson's photo, then that estimate of 10-15 pounds lost might be an understatement.
  • Speaking of guys in good shape, Terry Francona says that Mike Cameron "feels terrific." According to Alex Speier, Francona expects him to get plenty of time in right field, especially against lefties. Cameron has a career .885 OPS against southpaws.

Overall, there just seems to be a more positive atmosphere surrounding this year's spring training than in recent years. There aren't many doubts about the team's composition, for obvious reasons. We're not seeing embarrassing photos of an overweight Josh Beckett or Daisuke Matsuzaka-quite to the contrary, actually-and all we're hearing about is how guys are looking healthy or ahead of schedule.

Sure, there's always going to be some worry when it comes to the players that suffered injuries recently. But everyone from the most maintstream of the media to the most critical of the "statheads" is feeling good about this year's Red Sox team. The players seem excited, and the fans are hyped up. It's very nearly a perfect storm of positivity.

Let's hope they can keep the good feelings rolling through Opening Day.


Red Sox Spring Training: Starters, Kevin Youkilis Arrive Early; Theo Epstein Talks Health

Even though there's still four days to go before pitchers and catchers report, it's starting to look like a pretty full house down in Fort Myers, as more and more Red Sox find their way into spring training early.

Today, the rotation both filled out and thinned down, as John LackeyJosh Beckett, and Daisuke Matsuzaka all made appearances. With Jon Lester already in camp, that makes four of the starting five arriving early. And the good news is that they're in shape, which had not been a given the past couple of years. Rob Bradford even has Lackey weighing in fifteen pounds lighter.

Kevin Youkilis, too, is back on the field after missing the end of last season due to an injury to his thumb. And while Dustin Pedroia hasn't made his way to the field, yet, Sean McAdam hears that he's in town.

Perhaps the biggest news dump of the day came when Theo Epstein addressed the media (via Alex Speier) on the health of the recovering Red Sox. For the most part, said news is good:

  • Both Kevin Youkilis and Alfredo Aceves are fully ready to go. Youkilis has actually been swinging a bat for about four months now.
  • Adrian Gonzalez wasn't originally scheduled to get into a game until mid-late March, but that could be moved up given how he's looked in camp so far.
  • When it came to Dustin Pedroia, Theo was more cautious. The team doesn't intend to rush Pedroia back into action, but are focused on having him ready for opening day.
  • The least optimistic outlook is for Junichi Tazawa, who could miss a couple more months recovering from his Tommy John Surgery.

Other notes:

  • Speaking of Tommy John Surgery, one player who knows all about that process is Drake Britton, who told Alex Speier that his innings limit is a thing of the past. That's good news for prospect-watchers who want a better, longer look at the Sox' exciting lefty prospect.
  • Daniel Bard is also in camp, and would be interested in starting at some point in the future, according to Rob Bradford.
  • Bradford also has some video to share, including a trim-looking Daisuke and Ryan Westmoreland...kicking a soccer ball? 
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