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Wednesday, March 23, 2011
Ten from Tuesday ... none of 'em Manny

By Gordon Edes

FORT MYERS, Fla. -- As the Sox count down their final days this spring in Florida, and the last games in which they'll be the home team in City of Palms Park, here are 10 takeaways from Tuesday:

* First baseman Adrian Gonzalez's agent, John Boggs, had lunch with his client, then met with GM Theo Epstein, saying afterward that all systems are go for an April agreement on a contract extension for the first baseman.

* Closer Jonathan Papelbon, who has been knocked around a bit in his last two outings, threw a shadow session in the bullpen under the watchful eye of pitching coach Curt Young and couldn't have been happier with the results.

"I wanted him to see my delivery and what I want to start feeling as we break camp and going forward into the season, so it was good, man,'' Papelbon said. "He knew exactly what I was talking about. It was good.''

* Outfielder J.D. Drew came out of the game after going first-to-third on a third-inning base hit by Jason Varitek. After arriving at the bag, he stayed head down, hands on knees, for some time. He finished the inning, but was replaced in the top of the fourth by Ryan Kalish. Hamstring issues? No, Drew has been feeling "under the weather" the last couple of days, manager Terry Francona said.

* First-base coach Ron Johnson had a joyous reunion before the game with his wife, Daphane, and daughter Bridget, who was wearing a big smile and her new prosthetic leg. A number of Sox coaches and players, including David Ortiz and Varitek, came out to visit with Bridget, who has made a remarkable recovery after being struck by an automobile while riding her horse near her home in Tennessee.

* Reliever Bobby Jenks has gone six appearances this spring without allowing a run, pitching a scoreless inning (one hit, one walk) in Boston's 7-4 loss to the Tampa Bay Rays. "His stuff has been sharp all spring,'' Francona said. "We were told he was a notoriously late bloomer in spring, but we've been really impressed.''

* Outfielder Darnell McDonald, who jammed his surgically repaired right thumb Monday in Clearwater, was better Tuesday and could have played, Francona said. The team has a day off Wednesday, and McDonald is not on the list of players scheduled to travel to Jupiter to face the Marlins on Thursday.

* Gonzalez is going to skip the day off Wednesday and serve as DH at the minor-league complex. He'll take as many at-bats as he wants, said Francona, who like his player will bag the day off in order to watch.

* Phillies fans more loyal than Sox fans? Bite your tongue. But that's the contention of Maury Brown, who covers the business of baseball and lays out his case here.

* John Lackey got hit around Tuesday -- six hits, including two home runs, while giving up five runs in 5 1/3 innings -- but that didn't mean a negative review from Francona, who is happy to see Lackey nearing the end of spring healthy and stronger than he was last spring, when he erred on the side of caution in making sure he didn't start the season on the DL, as he had the previous two seasons. "I thought he followed the glove pretty well,'' Francona said, neglecting to mention that Lackey also did a good job hitting a few bats. "I thought his stuff was pretty crisp.''

* The Sox are on the road Monday (Dunedin) and break camp Tuesday, leaving for Houston, but Francona would not commit to when the Sox intend to finalize their Opening Day roster. A couple of bullpen jobs remain open, and the manager insisted he has yet to make up his mind. He did say that he, Epstein and Young will huddle soon to review their options. No later than Sunday would seem to be a logical timeframe to pare down, but Francona would not rule out waiting until the exhibition game in Houston before making a final decision.