FORT MYERS, Fla. — To listen to Christian Vazquez Thursday afternoon after his work on the back fields of JetBlue Park, Red Sox fans would feel confident in thinking their star young catcher has put his elbow issues in the past and will be back in time for the opening in Philadelphia April 6.

“I’m going to throw [Friday] but I don’t know if it’s going to be on the bases but I’m going to make my throwing program again [Friday],” the 24-year-old catcher said. “But it’s better every day and I’m happy with that. I’m going to ready to start the season, for sure. I feel better every day and I’m going to be fine.”

Was he nervous when the issue in his right elbow first presented itself earlier this month?

“I was a little bit nervous but it’s fine,” Vazquez said. “I trust my guy here and the medical staff here is great and I trust it.”

When will he back to games?

“Very soon, very soon, very soon. We have a great medical staff here and I’m going to be ready,” he said. “I threw to the bases today and I got to second base normal. I was fine and I’m going to be good.”

Then came the reality check from his manager John Farrell, who clearly appreciates the youthful enthusiasm but must err on the side of caution with such a golden arm to protect. Farrell repeated the message he delivered before the game that the team will perform more tests Friday before allowing Vazquez to progress to the next level.

“Encouraged by how he felt. To say that he’s game-ready, no, he’s not. But steps of progression are being had. Yeah, I was there when he threw. He’s going to go through a full work-up [Friday],” Farrell said. “I wouldn’t say he’s game-ready yet, but we’ll get further information upon the exam.”

And while Vazquez said he threw to second base Thursday with no issues, Farrell said it was not at 100 percent.

“No, not yet. And he was restricted by the intensity and that was the design of the throwing today,” Farrell said. “To turn him loose, we’re building up to that.”

Blog Author: 
Mike Petraglia

FORT MYERS, Fla.

FORT MYERS, Fla. — The sight of David Ortiz‘s maple bat exploding violently is not what captured the attention of Red Sox manager John Farrell in the slugger’s second at-bat Thursday at JetBlue Park. It was the sight of him legging out a fielder’s choice that drove in Mookie Betts from third base.

The ball dribbled far enough out to the right of second baseman Eduardo Escobar that he flipped onto the shortstop to put out Dustin Pedroia. But Danny Santana’s throw was not in time to get Ortiz at first.

Testing his “wheels” — as Ortiz put it afterward — was a big test for the designated hitter to pass after missing the last 10 days due to general soreness and dehydration that had zapped so much strength from his legs. Ortiz was cautiously optimistic that Thursday’s 5-4 10-inning win over the Twins at JetBlue Park as a step in the right direction for him.

“It felt all right,” Ortiz said after going 0-for-3 with a strikeout. “I’m just trying to get that feeling of running.”

“Good to see them back in the lineup, for one,” Farrell said. “I thought David took some good swings, but we’ve got 10 days remaining and they’re going to get ample at-bats before we break here. The fact is the next step back after a little bit of downtime for both, and I think it’ll be good to get some continuity in our lineup.”

Ortiz wasn’t the only player returning as Mike Napoli batted in a game for the first time since an ankle injury shut him down on Mar. 18. Napoli also struck out in his first at-bat in the second inning but responded with a single in the third. Napoli finished 1-for-2.

“He got down the line well, kept from being doubled up,” Farrell said of Ortiz. “I think it was an indication that the soreness he’s been dealing with, he’s feeling better, and that was the case with some baserunning the last couple of days. So a productive day for both.”

Ortiz’s timing looked understandably off at the plate in his first at-bat of the day against lefty Tommy Milone as he struck out swinging. He would later pop out to short to end his day without a hit.

“That’s what the game is all about. But I’m really not worried about that right now,” Ortiz said of his swing. “I’m worried about making sure the wheels are what I want them to be. Those are the kind of tests you want to get through. It’s all right.”

So how is his swing?

“Like usual, horse[bleep] by now,” Ortiz said of his annual spring training warmup.

Ortiz was asked if there was a stopwatch on his sprint to first base in the third.

“Hopefully not but those the the things I want to get going so I’m good for the season and of course, face live pitching.

What’s the next step?

“We’ll see how I feel [Friday] and go from there.”

Ortiz, who has been staying behind and taking BP in Fort Myers, will not be making the trip to Orlando for Friday’s game against the Braves. Saturday in Port Charlotte is still up in the air.

Thursday’s game was won in the bottom of the tenth when Rusney Castillo, fighting with Shane Victorino and Daniel Nava for a spot in right field, homered with one out to end the contest. The ball barely cleared the red line atop the Monster and bounced back onto the field, tricking Castillo into sliding into the second base until the third base umpire circled his finger to end the game.

“Yeah, in fact, because that happened to me at the end of last season, where it was close and it ended up being a double,” Castillo said. “I actually slid in to second and it wasn’€™t until I got up from my slide that I noticed the guy had called it a homer.”

What impressed Farrell is that Castillo hit a breaking pitch to end the game.

“Even more exciting to see it was on a breaking ball where they expanded the zone on him with some sliders,” Farrell said. “But he was looking for that pitch on the first pitch of the at-bat, and it’s clear he’s got some power. Timely, nonetheless.”

“I’€™m glad I was able to make an adjustment,” Castillo said. “I had expanded a little bit and it felt good to be able to square up a breaking ball. I do like those situations. I’€™m always focused but it’€™s like I zone in a little more. I’€™ve always liked those situations. It’s definitely gratifying, especially given I came up a little short in the previous at-bat with the bases loaded. It was nice to kind of pick up my team and be able to have that at-bat be a home run, especially to decide the game.”

As for the battle with Nava and Victorino or an outfield spot of any kind, Farrell said Castillo’s impressive spring (.400/2 HRs in four games) won’t make his decision any more difficult.

“I don’t know that he’s making it a difficult decision,” Farrell said. “He’s a good player, we’ve got a number of good players, and we’ll take every day of spring training to settle on who our Opening Day roster is going to be.”

“I’€™ve been playing both center and right field in Cuba for a long time, so it’€™s not a new position to me,” said Castillo, who appeared to be a bit hung up on a fly to right field in the seventh that turned into a triple. “On that play, it was just one of those plays, I just didn’€™t grab it. But no, I’€™m not having any sort of difficulty adjusting to a new position or anything like that. at least not to this point.

“I think I’€™m pretty close to where I want to be, especially recently coming back from an [oblique] injury. What’€™s been helpful is to continue to have my disciplined routine and not just in the cages with the medical staff and everything. I feel pretty close to where I want to be.”

Other notes from Thursday:

  • John Farrell left the door open that Koji Uehara could possibly be back pitching in games as soon as this Monday if his training program and bullpen work goes well this weekend.

    “The plan is for him to get on the mound on Saturday,” Farrell said. “Today there was more intensity to his running, roughly 60-70 percent intensity. Following the off-day, today was a sizable step forward with Koji.”

  • One change to the rotation for this weekend: Rick Porcello will pitch Saturday in the minor league game in Fort Myers while, Steven Wright – a candidate to start the season as the fifth starter – will pitch on Saturday against the Rays in Port Charlotte.

    “To get one day removed from two others that are starting on Friday in Buchholz and Joe Kelly, and a chance to see Steven against another opponent in our division,” Farrell said.

  • Blog Author: 
    Mike Petraglia

    FORT MYERS, Fla. — No one needs to remind manager John Farrell just how important 24-year-old catcher Christian Vazquez is to the future plans of the Red Sox.

    Christian Vazquez

    Christian Vazquez

    FORT MYERS, Fla. — No one needs to remind manager John Farrell just how important Christian Vazquez is to the future plans of the Red Sox.

    After feeling discomfort in his right (throwing) elbow while throwing out a runner on March 20 against the Cardinals, the Red Sox decided to shut him down and rebuild his strength. Farrell said Thursday morning that program is continuing but added, there’s no guarantee he’ll be ready for the opener April 6 in Philadelphia.

    “He will continue to go through his throwing program,” Farrell said. “He’ll catch on the minor-league side likely [Friday]. He threw to bases the other day and was improved. He’s not 100 percent to turn him loose in an ‘A’ game yet.”

    “The last game in which he played, he felt something when he threw out a runner in his elbow. We backed him down. When he began to throw again, there was a little bit of a guarded approach on his behalf, and it affected his throwing mechanics where he’s starting to get sore in his tricep, so we altered his throwing program just to get back to his normal arm slot and natural way of throwing. We’re building that back up right now.”

    Farrell said if Vazquez comes through clean on another medical test of his elbow, then the chance exists he could throw to the bases to test it out on Friday.

    “That’s to be determined. He’s going to go through another exam [Friday] to determine that,” Farrell said, added that an MRI is a possibility. “We’re not going to rule that out. That’s a possibility for [Friday]. We’ll determine that after further internal exam.”

    Naturally, the question came up as to whether Vazquez would be ready for Opening Day against the Phillies.

    “Probably by the weekend we’ll have a more clear read on just that,” Farrell said. “We caught some guys back-to-back — no more than five innings when we did have a guy behind the plate on consecutive days. I don’t think it was workload-related. It was one throw that he felt it on.

    “He’s improving. Anytime a player misses time, there’s some level of concern because of the talents that they are, and a player’s health is first and foremost. But there’s still some steps to accomplish.”

    In the meantime, Vazquez’s backups will keep getting more work. Humberto Quintero was a late replacement for Ryan Hanigan on Thursday. Blake Swihart will catch Friday in Orlando against the Braves while Hanigan gets the call Saturday against his former Tampa Bay teammates in Port Charlotte.

    Here are some other takeaways from Thursday morning with Farrell:

    On the return of David Ortiz and Mike Napoli, both of whom have been out for over a week:

    “Both in the lineup. We anticipated that today was likely the day they’d return to the lineup. It’s good to have, if not all of our regulars, in the lineup today.”

    Ortiz has been out since March 16 with general soreness and dehydration while Napoli has been out since March 18 with a sore ankle.

    “He’s run the bases the last couple of days,” Farrell said of Ortiz. “He’s been obviously taking BP here. He feels good, ready to go.”

    On the status of closer Koji Uehara, out since March 14 with a hamstring injury:

    “Nothing new. We’re hopeful he’ll get onto some flat-ground work today with a bullpen hopefully in the coming days, by the weekend. By the end of this weekend, we’ll have a lot of valuable information regarding a couple of situations with the guys in camp, particularly some injury situations.”

    On the big boost Alexi Ogando has given the bullpen:

    “I don’€™t see any difference in his attack method or approach. It’€™s been health related in the past. Right now, he’€™s answered the health question to date. And as we do with all of our pitchers and relievers, we monitor their frequency of use. He’€™s been very good.”

    Farrell was also asked about the continuing whirlwind around his outfield, including the status of Shane Victorino, who Farrell has declared his starting right fielder if healthy.

    “It’s just trying to get our arms around the durability and endurance, the number of reps on a consecutive basis. We’ll have more information, but to say by next Friday he’ll play ‘X’ number of games per week, I can’t today sit here and tell you that.”

    Farrell also came to the defense of Victorino, agreeing with the outfielder that the speculation regarding his comments about wanting Cole Hamels were taken completely out of context.

    “I’m familiar with the story. It’s really, in my mind, not a story. There are going to be things that are said outside of our camp that really have no bearing on the work that we’re getting accomplished here and the things we have to do to make the necessary decisions and be prepared for Opening Day. That’s my view of it. There’s no issues between he or Mookie or Shane or anybody on our team.”

    On Xander Bogaerts working with hitting coach Chili Davis on settling down more in the batter’s box:

    “€œHe’€™s still working on it. he was still jumpy the other day over in Jupiter. He’€™s working at it right now with Chili.”

    Blog Author: 
    Mike Petraglia

    FORT MYERS, Fla. — The Red Sox continue to make moves to round their Opening Day roster into form.

    Before Thursday’s game against the Twins, the team made a series of transactions to trim the roster down.

    FORT MYERS, Fla. — The Red Sox continue to make moves to round their opening day roster into form.

    Before Thursday’s game against the Twins, the team made a series of transactions that trim the roster down.

    Outfielder Bryce Brentz and third baseman/outfielder Garin Cecchini were among four players optioned to Triple-A Pawtucket. Also optioned to the PawSox were right-handed pitchers Heath Hembree and Zeke Spruill.

    The team also reassigned lefty Henry Ownens to minor league camp.

    Finally, the team released right-handed pitcher Mitchell Boggs.

    With these moves, the Red Sox now have 43 players in big league camp, including 32 players from the 40-man roster, and 11 non-roster invitees.

    Blog Author: 
    Mike Petraglia

    FORT MYERS, Fla. — Over the past few days much has been made of Shane Victorino and Cole Hamels, with the Red Sox potentially giving up prospects (most notably Mookie Betts and Blake Swihart) to get a number one starter.

    Victorino has taken exception to the matter and spoke to WEEI.com’s Rob Bradford Thursday morning calling out the critics.

    FORT MYERS, Fla. — Over the past few days much has been made of Shane Victorino and Cole Hamels, with the Red Sox potentially giving up prospects (most notably Mookie Betts and Blake Swihart) to get a number one starter.

    Victorino has taken exception to the matter and spoke to WEEI.com’s Rob Bradford Thursday morning calling out the critics.

    “Of course. I wouldn’t use the word surprised,” he said. “I think it’s just the understanding of what was being construed and these guys are obviously going to assume because those are the names that were attached. There is no reason why I would want anybody out of here. That’s not the basis of the conversation. The conversation was if you could go get a number one, would you give up pieces of the future to go get them? That was the question. It wasn’t this name specifically, that name just because those guys have been attached to these kinds of players or in trades that’s the people they assume I am talking about. I never mentioned any names in general — it could be a hitter, it could be a pitcher. Could be any team. I’m not talking about even just here.

    “These guys, individuals that want to speak up and say certain things and put me out there like I am calling my teammates out — hey, come show up. Let me discuss this and talk to you in person rather than you make an assumption and that is the stuff as an athlete that upsets me. People who make comments and they don’t come in and justify the situation. You’re going to say on talk radio and you’re going to make those kinds of comments, don’t think that I don’t hear it, or somebody is not going to send me a message, or it’s not going to get back to me. Of course it is. Before you make that assumption, Mazz, and whoever you are, let’s get the situation of what I was trying to say. I never said anybody’s name. Trust me, if there is one guy I am an advocate of and I have been a believer in since day one, that’s him [Betts].

    “I am not worried about the pitching aspect. I’ve played this game long enough. I was just saying in the scheme of things, anything, not even just here, that is the part they centered in on this team or Cole Hamels and the situation that was going on. Yes, Cole is a big guy, but at the end of the day I am just talking about in the scheme of things. When you talk about prospects, when you talk about these guys. If you got a guy to me, in my opinion that has been there and has done it, rather than ‘OK this guy is a prospect and he has a lot in the future or this guy can be compared to that player. Hey, why not go get the guy now and hey, if this guy turns out tip your cap and he turns out to be that player.’

    “That for me, never being a prospect and understanding that situation and having guys ahead of me that were considered that prospect or this prospect, that is the part where I justify that question. That is what I look at. I am not looking at it any other way, no other speculation and like I said, these guys are going to take the headline, or take whatever is being talked about and go make it into a bigger fish. It’s a small fish.

    “I’m just asked a question — the question to me was, do you think Cole Hamels will be in a Boston Red Sox uniform? I said I would love for him to be here. If it doesn’t happen, we’ll be fine. We’re good. Any time you make your team better in any opinion. Hey, if it is moving me somewhere else to make our team better, it is what it is. I’ve always been that way. I’ve never been that kind of guy like, ‘Hey, this is my home. This is where I belong.’ Whatever the role or situation, that is what I look at.

    “For me as an athlete and you get put out on blast, you get on situations — how about you show up so I can discuss with you. Don’t just go on a talk radio show and make a situation. Hide behind a microphone and make this situation this big when it’s really not. If you want to make it that big then come into the clubhouse and I will discuss it with you what I was trying to say. That is the part as an athlete that frustrates me. You hold no accountability but on a talk radio show and putting everybody on blast, how about you want into the clubhouse and discuss what I was trying to say before you take a story and make it into a big situation.

    “There is no need to question chemistry. If there is a chemistry guy in this clubhouse I’ve always been that guy. I’ve always been a chemistry guy. I’ve always been a part of that and I am just reading an article of what was being said. I don’t know what was being said on radio, I don’t know what was being talked about, but reading about that situation that was sent to me by a family member saying, ‘What are you doing here?’ No, no. Come and show up. I would love to discuss it with you on what my situation is. The last thing I want to do is to throw any of my teammates, anybody under the bus in regards to that situation.

    “All I said was if you can go get it — it doesn’t even have to be those pieces — it could be other guys, go get that piece. But people are to assume, Mazz and whatever this other guy’s name is, is quick to assume I said go get Cole Hamels and give up this prospect. ‘It’s for Mookie. It’s for Blake Swihart.’ Who said the Red Sox wanted to give up those guys? It could be some other guys the Red Sox wanted to move on from.”

    Blog Author: 
    WEEI

    After being questioned for taking time off at spring training due to dehydration, David Ortiz detailed his health situation to WEEI.com’s Rob B