Takeaways: Roster ruminations

March, 20, 2014
Mar 20
11:33
PM ET
FORT MYERS, Fla. -- Takeaways from the Fort, where with nine days left before the Red Sox depart from Florida: Chris Capuano's three hitless innings of relief Thursday night against the Yankees reinforced his place on the team's roster, not an unhappy development for a free agent who was unsigned when camp began.

[+] EnlargeGrady Sizemore, Dustin Pedroia
AP Photo/Gerald HerbertGrady Sizemore, Boston's Opening Day center fielder? He looked the part again Thursday.
A full nine innings from Grady Sizemore in center field -- he had a single in four at-bats, scored a run and remained fully upright at the end of Boston's 3-2 loss to the New York Yankees -- continued the countdown to what now seems inevitable, that he will break camp as the team's Opening Day center fielder and leadoff man. The Yankees, meanwhile, announced Thursday that their intended center fielder and leadoff man, Jacoby Ellsbury, was administered an MRI on his right calf, though manager Joe Girardi termed the move precautionary.

Sizemore will be excused from game activity until Sunday, manager John Farrell said, then embark on a stretch in which he will play five games in a span of six days -- three in a row, off Wednesday, back-to-backers Thursday and Friday. Assuming he survives that gantlet intact, and without a dramatic dropoff in performance, Sizemore looks poised to play in his first opener since 2010, a season in which he lasted just 33 games with Cleveland before blowing out his left knee and requiring microfracture surgery in June.

Assuming Sizemore is on the team (likely relegating Jackie Bradley Jr. to Pawtucket), this is how the 25-man roster figures to take shape:

Starting rotation (5): Jon Lester, John Lackey, Felix Doubront, Jake Peavy, Clay Buchholz. That's the order in which John Farrell intends to keep them, at least at the outset.

Relievers (7): Koji Uehara, Junichi Tazawa, Andrew Miller, Edward Mujica, Burke Badenhop, Chris Capuano, Brandon Workman.

Catchers (2): A.J. Pierzynski, David Ross.

Infielders (5): Mike Napoli, Dustin Pedroia, Xander Bogaerts, Will Middlebrooks, Jonathan Herrera (The Sox optioned Brock Holt to Pawtucket on Thursday, clearing the way for Herrera to win the job as utility infielder).

Outfielders (5): Jonny Gomes, Shane Victorino, Daniel Nava, Grady Sizemore, Mike Carp.

Designated hitter (1): David Ortiz.

That's also assuming left-handed reliever Craig Breslow opens the season on the DL, a reasonable assumption given that he will be making his first appearance in a game this spring on Monday. With Farrell's assertion that he would prefer a pitcher who can give him multiple innings out of the pen if Breslow is unavailable, Workman is the logical choice, though not a mortal lock. Lefty Drake Britton, who threw a scoreless ninth Thursday, also is in the mix.

[+] EnlargeChris Capuano
AP Photo/Gerald HerbertChris Capuano looks like he'll earn a spot in the bullpen to begin the season.
Capuano cruises: The only base-runners allowed by Capuano came on walks to Mark Teixeira and Zelous Wheeler, a nonroster infielder who was No. 98 on your program. The 35-year-old lefty, who signed with the Sox after Ryan Dempster withdrew from playing, lowered his ERA to 2.45 and gave every indication of giving the Sox the rotation protection they were seeking. Given the usual surfeit of starting pitching around baseball, which increased this week with a rash of pitchers needing Tommy John surgery, GM Ben Cherington is likely hearing from plenty of teams looking for another starter, but the Sox don't appear inclined to part with him.

"He continues to throw the ball very well," Farrell said. "He uses all of his pitches. He's not afraid to throw in on right-handers with his fastball. He's got a good mix to throttle some hitters back and forth with fastballs and changeups. He continues to make quality pitches. He's been very good."

Capuano, a native of Springfield, Mass., and Duke graduate, has been used almost exclusively as a starter in his big league career, which has spanned stints with five teams: the Diamondbacks, Brewers, Mets, Dodgers and Sox. Of his 238 big league games, 209 have been starts, and the Sox intend to keep stretching him out.

"Probably the biggest thing is the shape he keeps himself in," Farrell said. "It was apparent he had thrown a number of bullpens prior to signing with us. And to have the command that he's shown, that's as impressive as anything we've seen with him. The assortment of pitches, the execution, reading swings, and the pitch selection has been very good. He's been a very good addition.

"We want to be sure that we get enough repetition, enough pitches thrown, in the event that he's got a spot start," Farrell said.

X files: Bogaerts went hitless in three at-bats and is hitting .176. He handled all four chances at short.

Dot, dot, dots: Buchholz threw 73 pitches in five innings, in which he gave up five hits and three runs, the first coming on a faux Monster-clearing home run by Francisco Cervelli. He'll have two more outings here, including a camp game a week from Sunday, Farrell said, after the team heads to Baltimore. He'll join the club there. ... Pedroia doubled in both of Boston's runs. ... Lester draws the start Friday in Clearwater against the Phillies, with Lackey following in Lake Buena Vista against the Braves. Middlebrooks, Pierzynski, Gomes, Jackie Bradley Jr., and Carp are among the regulars going to Clearwater. Nearly all of the starters, with the exception of Ortiz and Sizemore, are scheduled to face the Braves. Ortiz was hitless in two at-bats with a walk. He was thrown out from short right field on a ball hit sharply into the shift.

Gordon Edes

Red Sox reporter, ESPNBoston.com

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