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Sunday, March 10, 2013
Takeaways: Sox 6, Rays 2; Lackey solid

By Chris Girandola, Special to ESPNBoston.com

PORT CHARLOTTE, Fla. -- Here are some of the highlights from manager John Farrell’s media session following Sunday’s 6-2 Grapefruit League win over the Tampa Bay Rays:

* Farrell said Red Sox starter John Lackey continues to throw the ball well after the 6-foot-6 right-hander allowed two runs on four hits over 3 2/3 innings against the Rays.

“He threw some good changeups to left-handers and not a lot of solid contact,” Farrell said. “The best part was he was able to respond after giving up the runs by coming out and pitching well.”

In the third, Lackey allowed a run on a softly hit ball to shallow left by Yunel Escobar and another run on a sacrifice fly by Evan Longoria that was set up by Lackey’s throwing error to second base on a pickoff attempt. The Red Sox responded with three runs in the fourth on a three-run homer by David Ross.

“The biggest key today was having that long delay in between the last two innings,” said Lackey, who struck out two and walked one during his 64-pitch outing. “That was a good test. I had to sit down for a while and rest and I was able to come out and do fine.”

Lackey surrendered a single to James Loney, but retired Chris Gimenez on a fly out before striking out Jack Cust on his final pitch of the day.

“My slider-cutter thing was a little flat today, but I had a good (two-seam fastball) and the outing was a good step moving forward,” Lackey said.

David Ross
David Ross made his first hit of the spring count, ripping a three-run homer against the Rays.
* Ross broke through his 0-fer after beginning the spring hitless in nine at-bats.

“It felt good,” said Ross, who went 1-for-3 with a homer and one strikeout.

Ross, who was signed to a two-year deal in the offseason, said he has spent a considerable amount of time getting on the same page with the pitching staff, which has caused a dip in his offensive production this spring.

“The process of spring training,” Ross said. “There’s definitely a learning curve (with the new pitchers). But you have to put your work in the cage when you can, but it’s always a constant work for me to get good at-bats. Unfortunately, I got off to a slow start to the spring, but things are starting to come around now.”

Before hitting the three-run homer to center off Rays starter Matt Moore, Ross swung on a check swing and felt a little soreness in his wrist. Farrell visited Ross at the plate for a second, but then quickly returned to the dugout.

“I’m OK, no worries,” Ross said. “He asked me how I was doing and I said, ‘Hey man, I’ll be 36 in a couple weeks. It’s just the bones getting loose in there, breaking in some of that old man cartilage.’”

* Daniel Bard's solid spring continued; he tossed a scoreless inning of relief with one hit and one strikeout.

“Daniel once again repeated the delivery mechanics he’s been working on,” Farrell said. “His fastball is more true. He’s staying behind the ball more consistently. Another positive day for him. There’s no wondering where the ball is coming out. He’s pitching consistently.”

* Catching prospect Christian Vazquez continues to impress Farrell. The 22-year-old threw out his fourth runner in as many attempts when he caught Brandon Guyer trying to steal second.

“He’s been impressive behind the plate,” Farrell said. “He stands out.”

Vazquez, who was selected in the ninth round of the 2008 first-year player draft, made several highlight reels on Friday after nailing the Twins’ Trevor Plouffe in a time of 1.82 seconds, about as quick as a catch-and-throw attempt can be, according to Farrell.

“Outstanding feet and a quick release,” Farrell said. “Pretty impressive.”

* Farrell said Alfredo Aceves probably will return to the Red Sox camp toward the latter part of the week.

The Red Sox reliever took a considerable amount of punishment during the brawl in Saturday’s contest between Mexico and Canada in the World Baseball Classic. Aceves left the field with several welts on the right side of his head, despite not having anything to do with the start of the fight.

“I didn’t talk to him personally, but our trainer did and he is fine,” Farrell said.

The brawl occurred with Mexico trailing 9-3 in the ninth when reliever Arnold Leon hit Canada’s Rene Tosoni in the back, causing the benches to clear. After Aceves was thrown to the ground by Phillies prospect Tyson Gillies during the melee, he attempted to defend himself before several members from Team Canada swarmed on top of him.