JUPITER — Wade Miley got his work in and right-hander Matt Barnes continued to impress in an otherwise nondescript 3-0 victory over the Cardinals on Monday.

Wade Miley

Wade Miley

JUPITER — Wade Miley got his work in and right-hander Matt Barnes continued to impress in an otherwise nondescript 3-0 victory over the Cardinals on Monday.

Miley tossed three shutout innings, but he wasn’t exactly sharp, allowing three hits and two walks, along with two strikeouts.

“It’s still getting there,” Miley said of his arm strength. “It’s still early. We’ve got time. It’s close. Very close.”

The left-hander threw everything except his curveball and felt that he kept the ball down, for the most part. He saluted catcher Christian Vazquez for being a leader behind the plate.

“Vazquey, I can’t say enough good things about him,” Miley said. “He cares a lot about the staff. He’s been communicating with me since the day I got traded. He was one of the first guys I heard from. We’ve been in contact, and it’s been the same way when I got here. He wants to pick my brain and I want to pick his. The sooner you get on the same page, the better off you are.”

Otherwise, the standout performer was Barnes, the hard-throwing righty from UConn who struck out three in two shutout innings, allowing one hit, to earn the save.

Barnes was facing mostly minor leaguers by the end, but he still made effective use of his curveball for two strikeouts.

“I mean, how can you not like the stuff?” manager John Farrell said. “It’s premium stuff that he’s shown in two outings. He got his first taste of pitching out of the bullpen last September and that’s not to say we’re looking to change his role and how we view him. We’ll take it as it comes right now.”

Farrell reiterated that the Red Sox still consider Barnes a starter, and will continue stretching him out that way.

Blog Author: 
John Tomase

JUPITER, Fla. — Allen Craig was once an MVP candidate for the Cardinals. Now he’s little more than a fifth outfielder/trade bait for the Red Sox.

Allen Craig

Allen Craig

JUPITER, Fla. — Allen Craig was once an MVP candidate for the Cardinals. Now he’s little more than a fifth outfielder/trade bait for the Red Sox.

Finding him playing time — especially because he was once a regular — won’t be easy.

“It’€™ll be a challenge,” manager John Farrell said on Monday before the Red Sox visited the Cardinals. “We recognize it fully.”

But that doesn’t mean the Red Sox are writing off Craig. He can play the outfield and first base, and if his foot is healed, has the kind of bat that could demand playing time in the case of an injury to a starting outfielder. He received MVP votes in 2012 and 2013 with the Cardinals, making the All-Star the latter season while driving in a career-high 97.

““We’ve always felt that despite what he went through last year, there’s a productive hitter here, one that’s got a proven track record,” Farrell said. “Timing is better. He’s in good shape. The foot issue is behind him. We expect him to regain his ability to hit.”

The tricky part of the spring is the fact that Craig should be very much on the trade block. The Red Sox have a glut of outfielders — Hanley Ramirez, Shane Victorino, Mookie Betts, Rusney Castillo and maybe even Daniel Nava (because he hits left-handed) all reside ahead of him on the depth chart — and Craig is a player who could have some value if he proves healthy this spring.

“It’€™ll be a challenge to get him the number of at-bats he’€™s accustomed to,” Farrell said. “That being said, I’€™m putting myself in the wrong position if I’€™m worrying about trades or speculating who might be.”

So for now, Craig will back up Mike Napoli at first, as well as Ramirez in left.

“We fully expect him to be on this team,” Farrell said. “There’s nothing to expect otherwise. He’s the one in particular that we just said, ‘Let’s get the appropriate number of at-bats that spring training would provide,’ and we’ll go from there. His attitude has been great. He understands the situation that he’s in. He understands that, coming off last year, we had to make decisions to improve the team, and he’s got to compete for at-bats. He’s more than willing to embrace that.”

Blog Author: 
John Tomase

PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. – The biggest upgrade the Red Sox made this winter isn't left field (Hanley Ramirez) or third base (Pablo Sandoval). It's shortstop.



PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. — Rick Porcello is done talking about his contract.

Rick Porcello

Rick Porcello

PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. — Rick Porcello is done talking about his contract.

The right-hander may have just arrived from the Tigers this winter, but after throwing three scoreless innings against the Mets on Sunday, the free-agent-to-be said he plans to make baseball his only priority.

“I’m 100 percent focused on getting ready for the season,” Porcello said. “I said this a couple times. That’€™s my focus, getting prepared for the year. Whatever happens, happens. Right now that’€™s my focus and hoping to work hard and win another championship.”

Porcello, who is entering his sixth season, can become a free agent at age 26 after the season. He signed a one-year, $12.5 million deal this winter, avoiding arbitration, and if he authors a 2015 anywhere close to his breakout 2014 (15-13, 3.43), he’ll be in high demand.

Asked if the Red Sox had reached out to talk about an extension, Porcello said no.

“And honestly, this could be the last time I answer this question,” he said. “The focus should be on baseball and our team, what we’€™re going to do moving forward.”

Porcello’s potential foray into free agency will be made easier by the trade that shipped him from Detroit this winter for outfielder Yoenis Cespedes. After spending his entire career with the Tigers, Porcello had an inkling he might get moved.

“Knowing I had one year left and knowing the depth they already have, I didn’€™t expect to get traded, but at the same time, I wasn’€™t going to be surprised if I got traded,” Porcello said. “I’€™ve said this countless times I’€™m very fortunate I got traded to this team, this organization and had a chance to win this year again. That’€™s the most important thing to me this year, going into the season on a team that’€™s going to compete and win. That’€™s all you can ask for.”

Porcello got used to trade talks in Detroit.

“Every offseason, there were always rumors surrounding me,” he said. “There’€™s nothing you can do about it except go about your business, work hard, and hopefully you’€™re fortunate enough to be playing in the big leagues and wearing a jersey next season, wherever that is. The preparation and focus on that doesn’€™t change. I was involved in a lot of talks but did the best I could to not pay attention to any of it.

“At the end of the day, thinking about it, worrying about it is nothing I can control but it’€™s just wasted energy.”

Blog Author: 
John Tomase

PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. — Observations from the Red Sox‘ 6-3 victory over the Mets . . .

Xander Bogaerts

Xander Bogaerts

PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. — Observations from the Red Sox‘ 6-3 victory over the Mets . . .

XANDER TIME: The story of this one was definitely Xander Bogaerts. The shortstop continued his torrid spring by going 2 for 3 with an opposite-field single and three-run homer down the left field line.

Read what you will into a handful of spring training games, but Bogaerts looks like a different hitter than he did for much of last season. He’s hitting .375 with a pair of homers and six RBIs and has returned to the all-fields approach that had him flying through the minors.

He got fooled by a slider on his home run, but kept his hands back and his front side closed, enabling him to launch it over the left field fence basically with one hand.

“I was out in front a bit, but I didn’t open up,” Bogaerts said. “It wasn’t that bat of a swing. It’s just staying closed was what I did. The whole time, I’m thinking of hitting the ball up the middle and other way.”

That approach was on display in the third, when Bogaerts waited on a 1-2 fastball away from Jon Niese and ripped it to right field for a single. Add a lineout to short that required a diving catch in the first, and Bogaerts was right on the ball all day.

“I liked the one going to right field,” Bogaerts said. “I was behind in the count. I’m just not getting too overaggressive. I’m just letting the ball get deep and putting the ball in play. It’s something I really want to do more this year — put the ball in play. If you put the ball in play, stuff can happen.”

PORCELLO POUNDS ZONE: Right-hander Rick Porcello got off to a slow start that included a first inning of loud contact, but once he ended the first with a 5-4-3 double play on Michael Cuddyer, he cruised.

Porcello limited the Mets to four hits and an unearned run in three innings, striking out two and walking none.
Porcello fed the Mets a diet of sinkers and induced soft contact after a Kirk Nieuwenhuis double leading off the second.

“I was pleased with the amount of strikes I threw,” Porcello said. “I don’€™t know what I ended up at, but most of my misses were around the plate. Everything as far as fastball, curveball, four-seamer, sinker were working really well. Changeup was a little iffy. I started to feel a lot better with that in the third inning when I threw two pretty good ones. Overall I felt pretty good.”

WEEKS STEPS IN: With prospect Sean Coyle KO’d by a grounder to the face in BP that required stitches, veteran Jemile Weeks stepped in and played third base for the first time, starting a 5-4-3 double play and going 1 for 2 withtwo steals and two runs.

“He hasn’t played over there a whole lot, so there’s going to be some different timing and reads on groundballs, but he’s doing everything we’ve asked,” manager John Farrell said. “He’s swinging the bat well. He’s running the bases aggressively and making good decisions. He’s an interesting guy because of the versatility and the overall athleticism.”

Weeks’ path to the big leagues appears blocked by Brock Holt at the moment, but his speed and ability to play infield and outfield make him an intriguing utility candidate. Adding third base to the resume can’t hurt.

“Coming into camp, it primarily was going to be second, short and center field,” Farrell said. “He’s here. He takes advantage of an opportunity.”

Blog Author: 
John Tomase
Joe and John talked to the Worcester native and special assistant to the Mets GM during today's spring training game in Port St. Lucie.

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