FORT MYERS, Fla. — First there was the play on the field, one which saw Chris Sale fail to get over to cover first base on a ground ball during his spring training outing Thursday night at JetBlue Park.

The result was the pitcher whacking himself in the head.

Then came the postgame, after his four-inning outing in which he allowed three runs on seven hits to the Pirates. After a few questions, and generic answers regarding the outing, along came the topic of the mental miscue.

The result of that was a tone not normally found in March 16 spring training analysis.

“That’s stupid,” he said. “That’s what we’re here for. We’ve done that 400,000 times since we’ve been here, covering first base. A ball hit over there, cover first base. That’s just a stupid mistake on my part. I’ve got to be better than that, even here. There’s no excuse for that, at all.”

As for Sale’s takeaway from the 74-pitch outing, it wasn’t great, but good enough.

“I got some work in today,” Sale said. “I got great defensive plays behind me, honestly. I’m just trying to get through it and get some good work in and stay on top of things.”

He added, “I didn’t feel sharp today. I felt great, just not sharp. I wasn’t able to locate when I needed to. The second inning, I got two great defensive plays behind me, and CY [Chris Young] there in the third inning. Those are huge even on days like today where you’re just trying to piece it together. Those are added confidence boosters that helped me get back to where I needed to be.”

Blog Author: 
Rob Bradford

FORT MYERS, Fla. — Two weeks from Monday it all starts. So, with the Red Sox taking on the team they are opening the regular season with, Pittsburgh, Thursday night at JetBlue Park, it seemed like a good time to offer what’s what when it comes to the club’s roster.

Fernando Abad (Kim Klement/USA Today Sports)

Fernando Abad (Kim Klement/USA Today Sports)

FORT MYERS, Fla. — Two weeks from Monday it all starts. So, with the Red Sox taking on the team they are opening the regular season with, Pittsburgh, Thursday night at JetBlue Park, it seemed like a good time to offer what’s what when it comes to the club’s roster.

“Where is our left-handed relief going to shake out as, and how does our bench and the third-base combination thereof play out? There’s been nothing determined,” said Red Sox manager John Farrell. “The same situations exist — left-handed relief, the bench and third-base situation, who’s going to be in that tandem behind the plate. We’re starting to get a little more information on the rotation, just by virtue of the physical ailment to David Price, to who’s pitching currently.”

That lefty reliever spot would seem to be the one legitimate unknown, with Robby Scott, and maybe even Edgar Olmos, certainly making a strong case for unseating Fernando Abad.

While Abad has made two appearances for the Dominican Republic in the World Baseball Classic, giving up two hits in 1 1/3 innings, Scott has thrown in six innings, not allowing a run over six innings. Scott does, however, have options, which isn’t the case for Abad.

The Red Sox are clearly intrigued by what Abad can deliver, as is evident by their willingness to blow through the deadline (March 15, 2 p.m.) to cut the lefty and only be on the books for 1/6th of his salary. The next checkpoint will come March 29 at 2 p.m., with the Sox being on the hook for 1/4 of Abad’s $2 million deal if he is released. After that, the team will be forced to pay the reliever the whole ball of wax.

Olmos has become the wild card.

The 26-year-old lefty isn’t currently on the 40-man roster, and is working on a minor-league deal. But the fact he has struck out 11 in 7 2/3 innings thus far this spring suggests there might be something there.

“Edgar Olmos is throwing the ball very well,” Farrell said of the southpaw, who has pitched in 11 big league games. “One of the reasons we pursued him is the curveball. We feel like it’s a pitch that can have consistent success at the big league level. He’s starting to build some arm strength. We’re starting to see more power to his fastball to create greater separation between the two pitches. He’ll get on the mound hopefully tomorrow to hopefully throw long toss out to 120 feet today, so we’ll anticipate him getting back on the mound. The reason he came out of the game the other day was short-lived. He’s been a guy who has impressed so far.”

As for the extra infielder, it would be hard to see Josh Rutledge not having the inside edge.

Not only is Rutledge a Rule 5 draftee, meaning he has to stay on the major league roster or be returned to Colorado, but he hits right-handed. With Brock Holt serving as the left-handed-hitting option off the bench, Marco Hernandez would seem to be in an uphill battle despite a spring training that has seen him hit .355 with a 1.041 OPS.

It certainly would seem the two catchers who will break camp with the Red Sox will be Christian Vazquez and Sandy Leon, who are both without options. Blake Swihart has certainly made it a more difficult decision, hitting .309 with an .819 OPS. Conversely, Vazquez entered Thursday hitting just .179 while Leon is 2-for-14 (.143)

Still, as Farrell explained, offense won’t be the priority.

“Catching is the hardest thing to get a read on as far as their timing,” the manager said. “We’ve been in a situation where we have rotated three guys in a starting role, so guys have been getting two at-bats every third day. With games having started yesterday on the minor league side, we’ll start getting catchers over there to get three or four at-bats on days they aren’t catching here. The offensive evaluation can be a little unfair. Blake has swung the bat very well, no denying it. So if you start to look at batting average as the comparable, that’s something, personally, I don’t think you can do at that position.

“There’s so much more to the position. There’s so much more to the organization depth needs. So it would be extremely short-sighted to say we are going to declare who is the catching tandem based on batting average.”

And, finally, the starting rotation?

Right now you’re looking at Rick Porcello, followed by Chris Sale, Eduardo Rodriguez, Steven Wright and Drew Pomeranz.

“Based on the calendar, it puts Steven and Drew in games back here that weekend that we depart and head north,” Farrell said. “That would be a best-case scenario. That means they’ve taken the ball every days and are building up to, at that point, roughly 85 pitches.”

Blog Author: 
Rob Bradford

PORT CHARLOTTE, Fla. — Eduardo Rodriguez could have joined the excitement in San Diego. He instead to focus on his real job.

Prior to his team’s game against the Rays Wednesday, Red Sox manager John Farrell said that Rodriguez had been asked by Team Venezuela to join its club for the next round at the World Baseball Classic, but the lefty declined the opportunity.

Eduardo Rodriguez (Jonathan Dyer/USA Today)

Eduardo Rodriguez (Jonathan Dyer/USA Today)

PORT CHARLOTTE, Fla. — Eduardo Rodriguez could have joined the excitement in San Diego. He instead to focus on his real job.

Prior to his team’s game against the Rays Wednesday, Red Sox manager John Farrell said that Rodriguez had been asked by Team Venezuela to join its club for the next round at the World Baseball Classic, but the lefty declined the opportunity.

Rodriguez was initially planning on playing in the tournament before hurting his knee while playing in the Venezuelan Winter League.

“They requested and he denied,” Farrell said. “He decided to stay here. Given all he has come off this winter, the treatment he currently goes through. He’s decided to stay here.”

Venezuela kicks off its Pool F play with a matchup against the United States Wednesday night, in which Felix Hernandez starts for his home country. The club has dealt with major run prevention issues throughout the tournament, giving up 11 runs to Mexico, 10 to Italy and 11 in its last game against Puerto Rico.

Rodriguez has put himself in a solid position to occupy the No. 3 spot in the Red Sox’ rotation, assuming David Price starts the year on the disabled list. He has made three Grapefruit League outings, giving up three runs in nine innings while striking out seven and walking two.

“In addition to showing good stuff and throwing strikes, the fact that his slider has become more of defined pitch, and when I say defined I mean the shape of it, the action to it, that’s become more of true weapon,” Farrell said. “Last year his slider would be more of a cutter and to a hitter there wasn’t a lot of separation between the pitches. There’s more of that this year. There’s more of put-away pitch for him at times, so that adjustment that he’s gone through has been a net-plus right now.”

Blog Author: 
Rob Bradford

PORT CHARLOTTE, Fla. — You win a Cy Young Award, the honors keep coming.

PORT CHARLOTTE, Fla. — You win a Cy Young Award, the honors keep coming.

Prior to the Red Sox’ game against the Rays Wednesday, John Farrell confirmed that Rick Porcello would be his Opening Day starter, going up against the Pirates at Fenway Park, April 3. The Sox manager also said if everything remains on the current track, Chris Sale would follow, with Eduardo Rodriguez showing enough to perhaps be slotted into that No. 3 spot.

It will be the first Opening Day start for Porcello, who Farrell informed him of his decision upon arriving at spring training.

Porcello is coming off a season in which he won 22 games while totaling a 3.15 and 223 innings on the way to claiming the American League Cy Young Award.

Blog Author: 
Rob Bradford

When Hanley Ramirez steps into the batter’s box, it’s difficult to ignore the long blond dreadlocks that seem to overtake his batting helmet. In a

Hanley Ramirez is slated to play a big role in the Red Sox lineup this season. (Kim Klement/USA Today Sports)

Hanley Ramirez is slated to play a big role in the Red Sox lineup this season. (Kim Klement/USA Today Sports)

When Hanley Ramirez steps into the batter’s box, it’s difficult to ignore the long blond dreadlocks that seem to overtake his batting helmet. In a Boston Globe profile, Ramirez reveals the secret behind them.

Ramirez, who is one of the players tasked with replacing David Ortiz in the middle of the lineup this season, says he hasn’t cut his hair in five years. He also explains the reason why he doesn’t wear new helmets, instead opting to smear pine tar on his old ones.

“I don’t like new helmets,” he says.

Simple enough.

At 33 years old, Ramirez is now an elder statesman on the Red Sox. He’s coming off an impressive bounce back season, in which he hit 30 home runs and knocked in 111 runs with an .866 OPS.

As a DH, Ramirez’s career track record is an even better than that. He’s batted .331 with a 1.014 OPS and 10 homers in 36 games at the position. If those numbers are an indication of how he’ll produce this season, Ramirez will only continue to win over Red Sox fans after a disastrous debut campaign in 2015.

If all goes according to plan, those blond dreads will take a lot of trips around the bases this summer.

Blog Author: 
Alex Reimer

FORT MYERS, Fla. — A blast from the past is looking for one more run with the Red Sox.

Manny Delcarmen, who last pitched in the major leagues in 2010, worked out for the Sox Tuesday morning at JetBlue Park in an attempt to latch out with his former organization as a minor-leaguer.