Friday, February 28, 2014
Quick hits: Ellsbury said thanks
By Gordon Edes
FORT MYERS, Fla. -- A few quick hits from John Farrell’s media session Friday morning:
* Yes, he has spoken with Jacoby Ellsbury since the former Sox center fielder signed his seven-year, $153 million deal with the Yankees.
“He called after the deal was agreed upon," Farrell said. “To his credit, he called to say thanks. I got the sense he was a little surprised it happened so fast, and the magnitude [of the deal]. I wished him well. We’ll certainly miss him, but now he’s on the other side.
“He handled it with a lot of class. He was grateful for his time here and gave thanks to the way things unfolded last year."
* Grady Sizemore came out of his spring debut fine and is scheduled to start in center field Saturday against the Twins.
“He feels great," Farrell said. “I’m sure he was eager to get going."
* Daniel Nava (pinched nerve in neck) is expected to start Saturday in left field.
* Left-hander Craig Breslow is on his own throwing program. He’s out to 90 feet in long toss and is ahead of the program he was on last season, when he opened the season on the DL with tendinitis in his left shoulder. Breslow returned to make 61 appearances and posted a career-best 1.81 ERA.
* Jonny Gomes will bat leadoff. Grady Sizemore led off in Thursday’s first game, Brock Holt in the second. With Nava still out and Shane Victorino still some time away from playing in games, you can expect to see a number of hitters in that spot. “Availability has something to do with it," Farrell said of Gomes in the 1-spot. “He puts up quality at-bats whether it’s a lefty or righty, as you saw last year. It’s a look at an alignment you may see later in the year."
* Farrell on the offensive improvement of strong-armed catching prospect Christian Vazquez, who homered against Boston College: “He took a big step forward last year. An improved average, but more than anything when you see the walks and strikeouts even out, that shows increased confidence in the box, to be comfortable or remain calm in two-strike situations. He’s an exciting-looking player who took a solid step forward last year.’’
Vazquez posted a .289/.376/.395/.761 slash line with 47 walks and 44 strikeouts in Double-A Portland, and figures to share time in Pawtucket with some combination of Daniel Butler and Ryan Lavarnway.
The 2014 Baseball Prospectus gave him a rave: “Blake Swihart deservedly gets the attention, but Vazquez has a real chance to be much better as a major-league backstop than as a prospect. Vazquez’s pop times are off-the-charts ridiculous, scouts and his coaches laud him for his precocious handling of the pitching staff, and the Brothers Molina think enough of him to include him in their offseason training in Puerto Rico. While Vazquez could thrive as an all-defense backup, he has real offensive skills."
* Added note: The two players listed as the top two prospects in the game are here. Twins outfielder Byron Buxton is ranked No. 1 by both Baseball America and Baseball Prospectus, with both sites also listing Sox shortstop Xander Bogaerts No. 2. Buxton, 20, finished last season at Class A and is at least a year away from the big leagues.
Here's the Prospectus on Buxton: "The premier talent in the minor leagues, Buxton has the type of impact tools to develop into a franchise player at the major league level. With elite speed, well above-average potential with the glove in center, a plus arm, a plus-plus potential hit tool complemented by an advanced approach, and power potential that he only scratching the surface of, Buxton has the highest tool-based ceiling of any player in the minors. If everything comes together, he could change the Twins' fortunes."