Red Sox

Notes: Ellsbury downplays success

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Notes: Ellsbury downplays success

By Maureen Mullen
CSNNE.com

DETROIT Jacoby Ellsburys speed led to the Sox' first run. His power gave them their second run, as they beat the Tigers, 6-3, Friday night.

He led off the game with a single to right, taking second on his league-leading 18th stolen base of the season. He went to third on Adrian Gonzalezs groundout, and scored on Rick Porcellos wild pitch.

He led off the third with his sixth home run of the season, to tie the game. It was his second home run in as many games. Ellsbury went 2-for-5 with two runs scored and an RBI, raising his average to .299. He is slugging .463 with a .365 on-base percentage.

I think hes a good player, manager Terry Francona said. He's good. Like always, we're thrilled when anybody hits a home run. But whatever he does powerwise is great but we don't want to talk about it. Hes a strong kid and those will come when he takes enough good swings. When he gets on base and disrupts the game that's whats important. Those home runs are going to come though.

After missing all but 18 games last season because of fractured ribs, Ellsbury is low-key about his solid start this season.

I go out there and try to help my team win every single night and prepare to play every day, he said. So its been nice to see and how well weve been playing as of late.

His teammates appreciate what he does, though.

Hes a great player, said Dustin Pedroia. We knew. We expect this of him. He can do anything. He hits homers. He steals bases. He plays great defense. Hes a special player man.

"Hes very important, said Tim Wakefield, who got the win Friday. He's our starting centerfielder. He provides not only offense but speed and defense. He's an all-around great player and he was missed last year."

Bobby Jenks pitched a scoreless inning, giving up a hit with one strikeout, in his rehab outing in Pawtucket Friday night. "Good velocity. Everything felt good. Bicep felt real good. Threw two-seamers and four-seamers and changeup. Sounded like everything positive, Francona said.

Jenks is expected to pitch an inning Sunday, with the possibility of being activated during the week.

J.D. Drew, who has been sidelined for the past three games with a hamstring strain, had said before the game he was optimistic about playing Sunday. But with left-hander Andy Oliver starting for the Tigers, Francona said Drew would likely not be in the starting lineup.

Carl Crawford went 1-for-3 with a two-run homer in the five-run third inning. In his last nine games, he is batting .429 (15-for-35) with 11 runs scored, and 11 RBI.

David Ortiz went 0-for-4, ending his eight-game hitting streak.

Adrian Gonzalez went 2-for-5 extending his hit streak to eight games.

Right-hander John Lackey, on the disabled listsince May 12 with an elbow strain, continues to progress. Fridayafternoon, he threw two innings of a simulated game, with about 40pitches.

Lackey, threw all his pitches, saying he thought hiscommand was pretty good while his velocity was close to what itshould be.

It was pretty good, he said. I felt like I waslocating my fastball pretty good today. Working on tightening up mycutter a little bit. Its gotten a little bit loose. Thats one of themain things I was working on.

I was pretty close to letting it go. Ill probably be a little sore tomorrow but it feels fine today.

Lackeyis scheduled to make a rehab start, with about 70 pitches, Tuesday inPawtucket. If everything goes well in that game, he should be ready tobe activated.

I think thats what we're thinking right now, hesaid. But definitely have to see how I feel after the real game. Idont see why I shouldnt be ready.

Shortstop Marco Scutaro hit off a tee for the thirdconsecutive day, as he makes his way back from the DL (since May 8)with a left oblique strain. He said he hasnt felt any pain in hisside, and could advance to hitting in the cage on Sunday.

Itsthe first time in his career hes been on the DL. How is he handlingit? Im bored, he said. Actually, I was bored a couple of weeks ago.

Talking about the collision at home plate that left Giants catcherBuster Posey injured and likely out for the season, Francona recalled asimilar play from his own career: Mike Scioscia got me once. He hurtme. We were facing Fernando Valenzuela, so the lefties played. BryanLittle led off with a double. I hit a ball to right center. They end upgiving me a double. They threw Bryan out at the plate. Scioscia chargedhim and just knocked him back towards third. I was standing on secondlaughing. Andre Dawson hits a base hit. The same thing happened tome. Neither one of us even got to the dirt. I slid, but he attacked me.

Maureen Mullen is on Twitter at http:twitter.commaureenamullen

Red Sox notebook: Velazquez, Elias getting shots at fifth spot

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USA TODAY Sports Photos

Red Sox notebook: Velazquez, Elias getting shots at fifth spot

FORT MYERS, Fla. - The starting pitchers for the Red Sox in the first two games of the Grapefruit League season, Hector Velazquez and Roenis Elias, are likely going to get major league opportunities in 2018 — and one of them very well might get a look in the first week of the season.

The first four starters the Red Sox will carry are obvious, assuming health: Chris Sale, David Price, Drew Pomeranz, Rick Porcello. Alex Cora on Saturday declined to name an Opening Day starter, but Sale is the obvious choice after finishing second in American League Cy Young voting to Corey Kluber. Cora said too that he likely would insert Porcello somewhere in the middle of the rotation, considering the other three aforementioned starters are lefties.

Where the Sox go beyond those four, though, could be to some relatively unknown quantities. 

Steven Wright is rehabbing from knee surgery and awaiting potential discipline from the league office following an offseason arrest on a domestic assault charge. Wright could well be suspended to begin the season, and may not be physically ready to start on the active roster anyway. Eduardo Rodriguez’s own knee surgery has him slated to come back perhaps in late April. 

That puts righty Velazquez and lefty Elias in prime position for at least temporary contributions. Both are on the 40-man roster and have big league time. In a 4-3 victory over the Tampa Bay Ray on Saturday, Elias pitched two scoreless innings on Saturday, just as Velazquez did Friday against the Minnesota Twins.

In past seasons, the Red Sox would often have an off-day after their very first game of the regular season, thereby allowing for a fifth starter to be skipped if desired. That’s not the case for this year, with six straight games for the Sox — three vs. the Rays, three vs. the Marlins — before an off-day. Come April 2, then, the Sox will need a fifth starter. 

(Whether the Sox even use off-days this year to skip pitchers or just to rest their guys is to be seen. Sale, for example, historically has pitched often on extra rest, and the Sox want to keep him fresh.)

Lefty Brian Johnson could wind up a reliever, but he’s certainly capable of starting. Lefty Jalen Beeks, who is not on the 40-man roster but likely will be at some point this year, is depth as well, just like righty Chandler Shepherd.

***

• The Sox did say long ago they wanted to add lefty reliever this winter. Now they’ve done it. As depth, anyway. Tommy Layne, last with the Sox in 2016, is back — in minor league camp without an invite to major league spring training. He was a free agent who participated in the camp the Players Association set up for unsigned players in Florida. Don't be surprised if Layne sees some time in big league games anyway.

***

One area of the Red Sox spring complex has four practice fields aligned, with each field’s home plate positioned at nearly the same point, angled 90 degrees differently. In the past, the Sox more frequently used all four fields at once for the same set of drills. Now, they’ve cut back. The reason is so that coaches can see players better. This way, a coach could catch 50 percent of one pitcher’s live batting-practice and 50 percent of another. Attention is spread too thin if three or four fields are going simultaneously. That was Tony La Russa’s suggestion.

• Rafael Devers has shown some very quick feet in the early going, making a great diving stop to his right on Thursday. On Saturday, he made another smooth play but then threw away a throw to second base.

“Just get one out,” Cora said. “He was trying to get two which is great. This level you’ve got to turn double plays but there there’s certain plays you cant force.”

• Players union head Tony Clark visited camp on Saturday, part of his annual tour to meet different teams. Clark defended the collective bargaining agreement, which has been criticized because it helped create the environment that led to many unsigned free agents.

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Sox bringing Nunez along slowly at camp

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File photo

Sox bringing Nunez along slowly at camp

FORT MYERS, Fla. — Eduardo Nunez isn’t a starting pitcher, but the Red Sox are going to build him up slowly too.

The infielder (and assumed second baseman in place of the still-recovering Dustin Pedroia) hasn’t seen Grapefruit League action yet.

“Everything he did in the simulated game, he did a lot,” manager Alex Cora said Saturday after a 4-3 win over the Rays at JetBlue Park. “Stole bases..he had to dive [in the field]. I don’t want to push him. Today was a great day for him to just to, instead of being with the guys taking ground balls, we put him aside, just taking it easy, right at him, work on your footwork. Building up. So we’ve got to be fair with him too." 

Nunez, 30, a trade deadline acquisition last season from the San Francisco Giants, injured his knee and had to be carried off the field four pitches into the A.L. Division Series loss to the Houston Astros. 

“Over the course of the offseason it was more rehabbing for him and getting his strength back," Cora said. "We’ll take it easy with him. He’ll probably DH before he plays second or third or short or the outfield. But today I saw him taking ground balls before the live BP, and he did a good job moving his feet and working at third base too.”

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