Torey Lovullo

Torey Lovullo

FORT MYERS, Fla. — The Red Sox take on the Twins Thursday night in their Grapefruit League opener. (The game, which will be played at Minnesota’s newly-renovated/renamed spring training complex, CenturyLink Sports Complex, can be heard on the WEEI Sports Radio Network immediately following the Hot Stove Show: Spring Training Edition. It all starts at 6 p.m.)

For Joe Kelly, it will be an opportunity to take the mound for the first time this spring. For Jackie Bradley, the meeting allows for a chance to take advantage of not having to share time with Rusney Castillo while the Cuban outfielder recovers from a strained left oblique. And for Torey Lovullo, it is a reminder of what almost was.

Lovullo was the finalist for the Twins manager job, which ultimately went to Paul Molitor. By all accounts, it was a decision that came right down to the end of the process, with Molitor’s ties with the organization perhaps offering the ultimate advantage.

“I have nothing but the utmost respect for that whole group that’€™s in their front office. I had great interactions,” Lovullo said of the Twins’ decision-makers, which was led by general manager Terry Ryan. “I learned a lot. I learned a lot about them. I know they’€™re going to be pushing in the right direction.

“When it goes as far as it did and you’€™re one of the final two, you’€™re no longer a 10 percent chance because you’€™re one of 10. Now it’€™s 50-50. You start to feel a little bit better and allow yourself to say, ‘€˜You know what, I’€™ve done my job in executing my thoughts to them and it’€™s working so let’€™s keep going.’€™ There was a process that kept going all the way until Paul Molitor was named as manager that made me feel like I had a real legitimate chance.”

Lovullo flew out to Minnesota for his initial injury, but was then forced to conduct a follow-up get-together with the Twins’ brass — including owner Jim Pohlad — near his Southern California home after undergoing hip surgery.

“The common question is if I thought I really thought I had a chance because of Paul Molitor’€™s reputation and connection with the organization. Yeah, because I was told I did and I believed the front office and legitimately I felt like it was a very fair race that I just lost,” Lovullo explained.

The process wasn’t foreign for Lovullo, who has now interviewed for six managerial openings — Dodgers, Indians, Red Sox, Rangers, Astros, Twins. (Note: he would have undoubtedly interviewed with the Cubs prior to the 2014 season if not for an agreement made following Theo Epstein‘s departure preventing non-uniformed personnel moving from the Red Sox to Chicago.)

While Lovullo was considered one of the finalists for the Astros position, it was the Twins job he feels was the closest to becoming a reality.

“I think I’€™ll just continue to talk about the things that are important to me and be open and honest,” he said. “I feel at times that might work against me because I’€™m honest to a fault and when they ask me the question I don’€™t want to hide anything. I think that’€™s the right way to approach that.

“A lot of people have asked me if I would have done anything different. I wouldn’€™t have changed a thing over the course of those three interviews. I felt a lot of respect for all the people I sat down with last year. It just didn’€™t match. I’€™m not here to fast forward anything. I just want to enjoy where I’€™m at right now. When and if the time comes I do get that job I’€™ll be ready for that challenge.”

Blog Author: 
Rob Bradford

The Cole Hamels trade talk is actually motivating the Red Sox' starters, according to Ben Cherington. (Rob Foldy/Getty Images)FORT MYERS, Fla.

FORT MYERS, Fla. — The Red Sox were reminded Wednesday why it’s good to have too many instead of too few.

Rusney Castillo. (Getty Images)

Rusney Castillo. (Getty Images)

FORT MYERS, Fla. — The Red Sox were reminded Wednesday why it’s good to have too many instead of too few.

With the talk of excess outfielders circulating through camp for the past couple of weeks, the numbers were cut into for the foreseeable future thanks to Rusney Castillo’s strained left oblique.

Castillo hurt his oblique during his third at-bat against Boston College Tuesday. After undergoing an MRI, it was determined the outfielder would be “down for some time,” according to Red Sox manager John Farrell.

Both Farrell and Castillo confirmed the 27-year-old had never previously experienced such an injury. The manager surmised the ailment would keep his outfielder out for more than a week.

“It wasn’€™t any sort of different kind of swing or odd swing, it was just a pitch that was a little in,” Castillo said through translator Adrian Lorenzo. “I took a regular swing on it and felt something there right in the oblique area. That’€™s what it was.”

When asked if he believed the injury would negatively impact his chance to break spring training with the big league team, Castillo said, “I don’€™t think it impacts me in a negative way. We’€™re doing everything we can to recuperate as quickly as possible. I guess we’€™ll see how it goes.”

Castillo noted that there is no timetable for his return, and that the injury felt better than it did Tuesday night.

“It’€™s part of the process, I wouldn’€™t say it’€™s frustrating,” he noted. “I don’€™t know exactly how much time I’€™m going to be out yet but it’€™s all part of it.”

Farrell said Mookie Betts and Jackie Bradley will continue to rotate in center field. The manager also passed on that Shane Victorino was scheduled to play in the Red Sox’ Thursday night game against the Twins, but will be in the lineup for the following two games.

Blog Author: 
Rob Bradford

According to multiple reports, Jerry Remy’s Sports Bar and Grill, located just outside Fenway Park, has been closed.

The franchise’s other three locations — Logan Airport, the Seaport District and Fall River (Remy’s hometown) — remain open.

According to multiple reports, Jerry Remy’s Sports Bar and Grill, located just outside Fenway Park, has been closed.

The franchise’s other three locations — Logan Airport, the Seaport District and Fall River (Remy’s hometown) — remain open.

The blog Boston Restaurant Talk reports that the establishment is in bankruptcy and the landlord — the Red Sox — will not renew the lease due to the financial problems.

The restaurant, at 1265 Boylston Street, opened in March 2010. Its roof deck overlooks Fenway Park’s right-field wall.

Remy came under heavy criticism last year when a Boston Globe report detailed how he had enabled and protected his son Jared, who had a long history of violence toward women before pleading guilty to first-degree murder last year in the 2013 killing of his live-in girlfriend.

Remy, who also has battled cancer, took some time away from his job as NESN Red Sox color commentator before returning to the booth.

Blog Author: 
Jerry Spar

Hanley Ramirez is an impressive physical specimen who has bulked up in anticipation of a move to the outfield. (Brita Meng Outzen)FORT MYERS, Fla. – Bill Monbouquette was pitching coach at short season Oneonta in 2002 when he saw the future.

FORT MYERS, Fla. ‘€“ Observations from the first day of actual baseball this spring, a pair of close victories over Northeastern (2-1) and Boston College (1-0).

FORT MYERS, Fla. ‘€“ Observations from the first day of actual baseball this spring, a pair of close victories over Northeastern (2-1) and Boston College (1-0).

MOOKIE BETTS, FRONT AND CENTER: If you’re John Farrell, nothing would be better than Mookie Betts and Rusney Castillo each putting his best foot forward in the battle for the starting job in center.

That was certainly the case on Tuesday, when Betts went 1 for 2 while playing with the starters against Northeastern, and Castillo followed with a line single on the first pitch he saw playing with the reserves in the nightcap. We’d be talking about how neither player separated himself, except Castillo left the BC game with tightness in his left side and will be evaluated on Wednesday morning.

There’s no word yet on the severity of his injury. If he’s able to return quickly, the competition for the starting job in center is shaping up to be intense.

“The biggest thing, as you mentioned, is that they’re both skilled,” Farrell said. “They have a package of skills — they can run the bases, they can hit with some power, they can hit with some average. There’s maybe a little more aggressiveness on Rusney’s approach at the plate, but these are two very good players that we’re talking about. We’ll see how things go (Wednesday).”

PITCHERS EXCEL: Northeastern and BC may not have lineups rivaling the Yankees or Orioles, but it was still encouraging to see Red Sox hurlers post zero after zero.

Starters Clay Buchholz, Rick Porcello, and Wade Miley combined to toss five shutout innings, with Buchholz keeping the ball down, Porcello mixing his pitches, and Miley working quickly, as advertised.

“I thought, overall, it was a very good day from the mound,” Farrell said.

Buchholz incorporated a delivery tweak with his leg kick that has helped him direct his momentum towards the plate, and not the third base line. The result was a relatively effective changeup, a pitch he could barely throw in the first half last year.

“I missed a lot last year up and in to righties,” Buchholz said. “I was finally able to spot a couple of things that I can maintain my direction to home plate, I think that has a lot to do with the deception and the depth of my changeup. It’s a big key for me.”

Porcello suggested there’s only so much to take from the first spring outing.

“Location wasn’€™t quite where I wanted it, but for the first time out, my arm felt good and the ball was coming out of my hand well, so that’€™s the most important thing now,” he said.

Miley made good on a promise to work at a brisk tempo. He also credited Buchholz and Porcello for sticking around to watch him pitch, noting it’s a sign of a close-knit staff.

“That means a lot,” he said. “It’€™s a big part of getting to know each other as pitchers and people. It was good the first game to go out and watch Buck and Porcello throw, some of the other guys, and it’€™s cool when I came out to see those guys standing out there. That’€™s big support. We have to lean on each other throughout the year. Why not start now?”

NAVA WON’T BE LEFT BEHIND: Daniel Nava took his first hacks against a left-hander from the left side after shelving switch hitting for the time being. He struck out in his first at-bat.

“In live BP, the only pitchers I’ve seen have been lefties,” Nava said. “So it didn’t actually look that weird. I saw the ball well. I knew which pitch was a strike away. I knew which pitches were balls. I thought my pitch recognition was fine. We’ll come to see obviously, when they start throwing stuff in the zone that moves out of the zone, what happens from there. But at least today felt good.”

Nava noted that while he’s not ready to give up completely on hitting right-handed, he’s enjoying the challenge.

“There is something about it which is definitely like a fun challenge to try and embrace,” he said. “That’s exactly what it is. It’s a challenge. I’ve had my fair share, and hopefully it will just be another one. I still have the right-handed swing going, because I don’t know how it’s going to turn out. I’d be foolish to just can one side, not knowing what’s going to happen.”

CELEBRATING FRATES: In the BC game, every player on both teams wore No. 3 jerseys with the name “Frates” on the back in honor of Pete Frates, the former BC player who inspired the nation with the Ice Bucket Challenge to raise money for ALS research last summer.

Farrell was asked if he feels a connection to Frates, who was unable to travel and did not attend the game.

“I don’t know how you can’t,” he said. “You witness someone that has dealt with an unfortunate situation and challenge that he’s dealing with, that the family is dealing with, and to see the way they’re handling it with grace and a heightened awareness — it’s a shock to hear the amount of funds raised by their approach. Incredible. I don’t know how you can’t take inspiration from what their family and, certainly, directly, what Pete is going through and we’re fortunate that, in this case, to somehow get involved, and we’re happy to do so.

“When you see someone as healthy and vibrant, someone who is in their early 20s, and you see what a disease can do to someone, it makes you press pause and step back and, really, the one thing you’re most grateful for is health. Regardless of what path an individual chooses to go down for his life, his journey in life, health is first and foremost. In this case, they’re certainly making a positive out of an otherwise challenging time.”

Blog Author: 
John Tomase

FORT MYERS — As we noted earlier on Tuesday, it was hard not to notice Mookie Betts starting the Northeastern game with the rest of the regulars in place of Rusney Castillo.

But manager John Farrell cautioned against reading too much into the situation.