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Monday, February 25, 2013
Aceves will start today vs. Rays

By Gordon Edes

PORT CHARLOTTE, Fla. -- Good morning from the Port, where most of the Red Sox regulars have assembled for a split-squad game against the Tampa Bay Rays.

Manager John Farrell, meanwhile, opted to make the 260-mile round-trip bus ride to Dunedin, where another Sox squad will be playing Farrell’s former team, the Toronto Blue Jays. Farrell said he wanted a look at two of his young pitchers, knuckleballer Steven Wright and Allen Webster, who may not throw 100 miles an hour like the other pitching prospect the Sox acquired from the Dodgers, Rubby De La Rosa, but has scouts raving about the late hard action of his sinker (think Kevin Brown) and his plus changeup.

Alfredo Aceves will be starting for Sox against the Rays, and despite the widespread assumption that the team will trade the right-hander, don’t be so sure. For one, the Sox don’t regard the widely discussed batting practice incident as an especially big deal, taken by itself. If it’s followed by more acting out this spring, especially in light of the blowups last season with Bobby Valentine, then sure, Aceves will be there for the taking.

But trading Aceves would be a disappointing outcome for the Red Sox, who see him as valuable insurance to a starting rotation that includes a pitcher returning from Tommy John surgery (John Lackey) and a pitcher with one good season in the big leagues who reported to camp in less than stellar shape and had a shoulder issue early on (Felix Doubront). Beyond Franklin Morales, the Sox are short on veteran inventory they could slip into the rotation, and ideally, would like to give kids like De la Rosa, Webster and Wright more time to develop.

Aceves is an unpredictable character, there is no denying. But from the time he was hired last winter, Farrell has signaled that he values Aceves for his versatility. As long as he does not become a truly disruptive presence, the Red Sox will try to make this work. Many scouts tracking the Sox are convinced the Sox will move him, but don’t be shocked if No. 91 makes an encore appearance in Boston in 2013.

Here are the lineups in the Port, where Mike Carp will be seeing his first game action at first base:

Red Sox
1. Jacoby Ellsbury, CF
2. Dustin Pedroia, 2B
3. Shane Victorino, RF
4. Jonny Gomes, LF
5. Stephen Drew, SS
6. Ryan Sweeney, DH
7. Drew Sutton, 3B
8. Mike Carp, 1B
9. David Ross, C
SP -- Alfredo Aceves, RHP

Rays
1. Ben Zobrist, RF
2. Desmond Jennings, CF
3. Matt Joyce, LF
4. Yunel Escobar, SS
5. Luke Scott, DH
6. Kelly Johnson, 2B
7. Jose Molina, C
8. James Loney, 1B
9. Ryan Roberts, 3B
SP -- Alex Cobb, RHP