Boston Red Sox: Grady Sizemore

Buch 'starting over'; Vic taking it slow

June, 20, 2014
OAKLAND, Calif. -- Right-hander Clay Buchholz doesn't know when he'll be activated from the disabled list and rejoin the rotation, but he joined the Boston Red Sox on Friday in Oakland, one day after an encouraging rehab star for Triple-A Pawtucket.

"I haven't been told anything, but obviously this is where I want to be," Buchholz said before the Red Sox's game against the Oakland Athletics. "I want to be here battling with the guys and I feel like whenever I'm right mechanically and everything's tuned in, I give the team a chance to win when I'm on the mound. All the numbers that I had from this year, from the beginning of the year to my last start, I'm going to just forget about them. I'm starting over."

Buchholz went 2-4 with a 7.02 ERA in 10 starts before going on the disabled list with a hyperextended left knee on May 28. In his second rehab start Thursday, he allowed two hits, struck out five, walked two and threw 87 pitches over six shutout innings.

"I felt good," Buchholz said. "Everything was good. I was able to carry over some of the stuff I've been working on as far as delivery and mechanics. It worked out well. I was throwing strikes down in the zone and threw all my pitches. That's sort of what I got away from. That's where I wanted to get back to so I felt it was a good step in the right direction.

"I could have thrown 87 the first time out. That was one of the things that I wasn't having to battle with. It wasn't an arm fatigue or arm strength issue. They just wanted me to take my time, to take a couple starts to get up and down, up to five or six innings and I was able to do that yesterday."

Red Sox manager John Farrell said he won't make a decision about Buchholz until the end of his team's four-game series against Oakland on Sunday. John Lackey is slated to pitch Monday at Seattle and Jake Peavy on Tuesday. Farrell said Wednesday's starter is TBA with "multiple options" to consider.

"I think the most important thing is we're getting guys back to us that are healthy and we do have a couple of important decisions coming up," Farrell said.

Jackie Bradley Jr. notched his eighth outfield assist Thursday night in the seventh inning when Oakland's speedy Coco Crisp was cut down at third base. He's tied for second in the major leagues, one behind A's left fielder Yoenis Cespedes.

The Red Sox rookie leads all major league center fielders in assists. He has the most assists by a Red Sox center fielder since Carl Everett (11) in 2000. Since 1954, only Ellis Burks (15 assists, 1987) and Fred Lynn (11 in 1975) had more assists from center field as rookies.

Bradley is batting just .205, but he said he hasn't let his troubles at the plate affect his defense.

"Two different sides of baseball," Bradley said. "You definitely got to be able to separate them. Me and [Shane] Victorino talk about it all the time. If I don't get hits that day, anybody who hits the ball out to me ain't going to get any hits, either. So that's the mindset you got to go into it with.

"You might not have a good day offensively at the plate, but as long as you can affect the game defensively to help out the team, you're helping."

Bradley went 1-for-2 and doubled off A's left-hander Scott Kazmir in Thursday night's 4-2 loss. That was his 13th double of the season and one of just five Red Sox hits in the game.

"I feel fine," Bradley said. "Just continuously working, trying to get better. I feel good right now. Like everyone says, when things are going good you don't really think about mechanics, and when things aren't going so well people are always trying to think about mechanics.

"It's not necessarily about that. It's about getting back to feeling good and seeing the ball and putting good swings on strikes."

• Outfielder Victorino was out of the lineup for the second straight day for Triple-A Pawtucket during his rehab assignment because of stiffness in his right hamstring and lower back.

"More treatment today," Farrell said. "We're going to get his activity built back up. Hopefully that's tomorrow but if not we'll go day to day with when he's next available. ... We feel that what he's dealing with is not going to keep him out too long. We'll get back out on the field and back to us as soon as we can."

• Outfielder Grady Sizemore, who was designated for assignment Tuesday, cleared waivers Friday, becoming a free agent. Sizemore hit just .216 with two home runs and 15 RBIs in 52 games with the Red Sox as he attempted to revive his injury-plagued career. He hit .133 in June. Now that he has cleared waivers, Sizemore could remain with the Red Sox at Triple-A, but he's free to sign with any team, and Farrell said it wouldn't surprise him if other teams were interested.

"He's a quality player that's still working his way back to regular play and normal strength," Farrell said.

Cherington: 'Still trying to find solutions'

June, 17, 2014
BOSTON -- With the designation of Grady Sizemore and Brock Holt’s debut in center field specifically in mind, Red Sox general manager Ben Cherington on Tuesday offered an assessment on his team’s current situation.

“It’s symbolic of the fact that things haven’t happened, particularly on the offensive side, the way we wanted or hoped. We’re still trying to find solutions,” Cherington said. “I still think we will and we can, but it’s an ongoing thing.”

The Red Sox entered Tuesday at 32-38, 8 games out of first in the AL East. A large reason for this has been the offense, which has scored the second-fewest number of runs in the American League.

“It’s always hard to find good bats,” Cherington said. “We think we have some of them here that will continue to be better than what they have been so far.”

“The more good hitters you have, the better chance you have to score runs. It’s up to us to always be searching for that and trying to fill the rosters with as many good hitters as possible. That’s an ongoing thing.

“That said -- it is unusual not to score runs at Fenway Park. Even in years where the Red Sox haven’t been very good that’s something that the team has done. It’s just been a combination of things. That area hasn’t clicked. We’ll keep trying to find solutions for it.”

In 37 games at Fenway, the Red Sox have averaged four runs per game, a run lower than their average in 2013 (5.2).

BOSTON -- For the better part of three months now, he has been wearing the same uniform, sitting in the same clubhouses and dugouts, riding on the same buses and planes, sweating in the same Florida heat and shivering in the same New England cold. His new teammates, he has said, could not have made him feel more welcome.

But let there be no doubt that Grady Sizemore crossed a threshold Tuesday night. With his 12th-inning single off the base of the Fenway Park wall in left-center field, Sizemore declared himself as more than a former All-Star trying to recapture some semblance of lost glory. At last, in the most tangible of ways -- a walk-off hit -- Sizemore let it be known that he, too, has something vital to offer this team.

That’s why Sizemore pulled up short even before reaching second base. This was one celebration that could not wait, and the Quiet Man was not going to be short-changed. He bumped chests with Mike Napoli, who was the runner on first base when Sizemore connected off Cincinnati reliever Logan Ondrusek, then turned to face the onslaught of teammates charging toward him from the dugout, those players joined by David Ortiz, who had crossed the plate with the winning run in Boston’s 4-3 victory over the Cincinnati Reds.

Can you ever feel more wanted than in the moment when a teammate -- in this case, Jonny Gomes -- has hoisted you aloft?

“Nights like tonight,” manager John Farrell said, “go a long way toward rebuilding Grady.”

[+] EnlargeGrady Sizemore
Jared Wickerham/Getty ImagesA chest bump with Mike Napoli was just the start of Grady Sizemore's postgame celebration.
What had seemed such a feel-good story in the spring -- Sizemore returning after an absence of two full years and just a handful of games played in the past four seasons -- had given worrisome indications that it might not have legs.

The Sox determined early on that Sizemore could not play center field on a daily basis, and also was an unsatisfactory option to bat leadoff. The hits that had come in bunches early on -- five multihit games and two home runs in his first 10 games -- had grown scarce. In his next 13 games, Sizemore went 5-for-48, a .104 average, the kind of slump that can make a man doubt himself, and management to contemplate what it might do next.

“I knew I was going to go through ups and downs,” Sizemore said. “You’re not going to be gone as long as I have and expect to just have everything be smooth all year. You expect that, you just try to minimize it and try to find a way to get out of it as soon as possible.”

On Sunday, Sizemore began to find his way out. He had two hits, including a double, in a 3-2 loss to the Athletics. Tuesday night against the Reds, there would be three more hits -- an RBI single to score Dustin Pedroia in the third, a line single to lead off the eighth, and then the game-winner, a drive to the base of the wall on a low fastball over the heart of the plate from Ondrusek.

Ortiz, who in almost comical fashion had been looking into the dugout in anticipation of a pinch runner who never came, was able to jog home with the winning run. Sizemore, meanwhile, had his first walk-off hit in 2,825 days, when he had just turned 24 and had only recently been named an All-Star for the first time.

Aug. 11, 2006: That’s a lifetime ago for a player who feared the game had been taken away from him by the seven surgeries he endured in a span of 53 months, including microfracture surgery on both knees. Those were the procedures that left him lying on his back for eight hours a day for eight weeks, his knee attached to something called a passive motion machine, ensuring that his knee remained lubricated without bearing any weight. Sizemore went through that eight-week torture not once, but twice.

All with the idea that a night like Tuesday might be possible again, even at age 31, even if the splendid physical gifts of his youth had been ravaged by injury.

“I’ve got to think he feels like the game is coming back to him in a way,” Farrell said, “and he’s doing some things he hasn’t done in a while.

“But to walk things off? I’ve got to believe that tonight gives him even further the feeling that he’s contributing here, rather than somebody coming back from an injury.”

Grady Sizemore burned to show he could still play, and pushed himself beyond what would have been a point of tolerance for many of his peers. Imagine, then, how sweet it must have been, to be held aloft by Gomes while hearing the cheers resounding from every corner of this ancient ballpark. Sizemore, who prides himself on his self-control, let his heart have its way Tuesday.

“It was pretty telling,” he said. “It was a good feeling. I try not to be too emotional out there, try to keep it on the same level. Right there, I let it out a little bit.”

It remains to be seen, of course, where Sizemore takes it from here, though in the span of two games he raised his batting average from a season-low .205 to .242. More challenges surely lie ahead.

But now, after his biggest moment since the three-run homer he hit off CC Sabathia of the Yankees on April 11, he can take on those challenges knowing that he has made a difference.

Rapid Reaction: A's 3, Red Sox 2

May, 4, 2014
BOSTON -- The Oakland Athletics are a balanced and deep team, which gives them lots of options on how to go about things through the course of a three-game series and, therefore, makes them hard to sweep. The Boston Red Sox scratched and clawed toward that goal on Sunday but fell short, dropping a 3-2 decision in 10 innings.

Oakland pushed across a run in the 10th on an infield RBI single by Yoenis Cespedes, who barely beat the throw to first from Will Middlebrooks with the bases loaded and two outs. Boston falls to 15-17, missing a chance to get to .500 for the first time since it was 2-2.

John Lackey performed well for the Sox, allowing two runs in six innings. His ERA over the last three games is 2.05. Lackey’s batterymate, A.J. Pierzynski, slugged a solo homer that tied it in the seventh.

A big play came in the bottom of the 10th after Middlebrooks reached second on a single and an error to start off the frame. After Jackie Bradley Jr. was unable to get a bunt down, he chopped one to first baseman Daric Barton, who threw across the diamond to get Middlebrooks at third.

Middlebrooks appeared to hurt his left arm or shoulder on the play. We will seek updates in the clubhouse.

Pier-less: Pierzynski was brought aboard in large part to provide a veteran backstop with defensive capabilities, but his bat has been a constant throughout a long career. That has definitely been the case at Fenway Park. After his solo shot, Pierzynski had a .331 career average in 48 games at Fenway. However, the blast was his first in Boston.

Why me?: Already twice this year Lackey has thrown just one pitch before enduring a managerial challenge. It happened April 18 versus Baltimore, when leadoff man Nick Markakis hit a shot down the left-field line that was ruled a double despite John Farrell’s protests that the ball sailed foul.

In this one, Coco Crisp hit the first pitch off a drawn-in Middlebrooks, with the carom going straight to shortstop Xander Bogaerts. Crisp was called out on a close play at first, and A’s manager Bob Melvin wanted a second look. This time the call went in Lackey’s favor, but just like on April 18, the opponent eventually scored a run in the inning.

Lackey voiced his displeasure with the delay the first time. We will see if he has anything to say about it this time.

Try, try again: Melvin burned up his challenge but did convince the umpires to review a play at the plate in the top of the third. This one also went the way of the Red Sox.

With Josh Donaldson on first and two outs in the inning, Brandon Moss doubled into the left-field corner. Donaldson tried to complete the 270-foot dash from first to home and was ruled out after a relay through Bogaerts. Melvin questioned whether Pierzynski had illegally blocked the plate, which was a factor in Donaldson being out.

After a review of 1 minute 52 seconds, the call stood. We imagine Lackey, who was already in the dugout looking ahead to the fourth inning, would not have taken kindly to being told to go back out to the mound facing a 2-0 deficit.

One side note on the play: Bogaerts was quite casual with the relay. He lacked urgency in his motion and did not get a ton of zip on the ball. He had the look of an infielder throwing to first on a routine grounder with a slow runner.

Give the kid credit for making up for it with a very nice play to end the sixth, ranging to his left for a one-hop liner and spinning to get Derek Norris at first and save a run.

Revenge factor: Donaldson had a measure of payback in the sixth, scoring from first on a double by Cespedes. This time, Donaldson went in head first and got his left hand across the plate as Pierzynski never had a chance to attempt a tag.

Working it: The 27 pitches Koji Uehara threw in the ninth inning (four batters) are the most he has thrown in 68 outings, including the postseason, dating to June 18. Cespedes took Uehara to a full count before striking out in a seven-pitch at-bat. Oakland's John Jaso had a nine-pitch at-bat before singling with a full count, Derek Norris had an eight-pitch at-bat before walking on a full count. Free-swinging Josh Reddick grounded into an inning-ending double play on the third pitch.

A mighty wind: Dustin Pedroia’s first at-bat leading off the bottom of the first resulted in what appeared to be a lazy fly to right. Reddick ended up catching it about 10 feet in front of the wall in the corner, our first indication of the power of the wind that was blowing in that direction.

Left fielder Grady Sizemore had an adventure with a ball in the fourth that kept drifting on him toward center. He ended up going into a slide on a ball that was nothing more than a pop to shallow left. Bogaerts caught a wind-whipped pop behind the mound to end the top of the fifth.

You would think Reddick, who has plenty of experience at Fenway, would have learned his lesson, but the only time the wind really hurt someone was when the former Red Sox outfielder misplayed Jonny Gomes’ fly to right in the seventh.

It went into the books as an error and gave the Sox runners at second and third with no outs. Alas, the old RISP issues reared their ugly head as Boston made three straight outs without plating what would have been the go-ahead run.

Speaking of Sizemore: After a slump took away some of the positive attention he had received during spring training, Sizemore has had some better swings of late with hits in five of his last seven games. Sunday marked Sizemore’s first multihit effort since April 13, with his RBI double in the fifth getting the Sox on the board.

Up next: After seven games in six days, the Sox get a much-needed day of rest Monday. They resume play at home against Cincinnati on Tuesday. Felix Doubront (1-3, 5.70 ERA) opposes Homer Bailey (2-2, 5.50) in a 7:10 p.m. start.

Sox recall 3B Holt, DFA Roberts

April, 18, 2014
BOSTON -- The Boston Red Sox designated infielder Ryan Roberts for assignment on Friday and have recalled Brock Holt from Triple-A Pawtucket.

Holt, in Friday’s lineup batting ninth and playing third, is making his second trip to Boston this season, after having been called up April 6 for one game. Holt did not appear during his first stint, but manager John Farrell hopes that this time around he can provide an offensive spark for the club.

“We felt like we needed to try to create a little bit of a jump-start to the offense,” Farrell said. “We’ve come through a stretch of seven left-handed starters against us over the past 10 and we’re kind of reversing that right now, going against primarily right-handers.”

Holt, a left-handed hitter, has been off to a hot start for Pawtucket, collecting a team-high 19 hits in his first 50 at-bats on his way to a .380 batting average. Thirteen of his hits have come against right-handers, making him a valuable piece for the team; the Red Sox are lined up to face three right-handed starters during their four-game series against the Baltimore Orioles.

“He’s clearly earned the promotion here,” Farrell said. “When he was sent out, even after one day of being here with the big league club, I think he was initially disappointed, but he’s channeled that the right way, gone down and played very well on the left side of the infield.”

Roberts collected two hits in his 19 at-bats with the team, striking out seven times. Farrell said the team would like for him to remain in the organization following being placed on waivers.

“He had about a nine-day layoff from the end of spring training until he joined us here,” Farrell said. “We feel like he needs at-bats to get things going.”

Holt’s second stint with the club may also be for a short period of time because third baseman Will Middlebrooks (calf) is on track to start his rehab assignment sometime in the middle of next week. After dealing with the flu earlier this week, Middlebrooks was in the clubhouse Friday and has improved, according to Farrell.

Meanwhile, outfielder Shane Victorino (hamstring) is also with the club and is participating in a full team workout Friday. Victorino is expected to begin his rehab assignment with Triple-A Pawtucket on Saturday.

Uehara update: After pitching Thursday night for the first time since April 9, closer Koji Uehara is available if needed Friday night. Uehara, who missed a week battling shoulder stiffness, threw a scoreless ninth inning Thursday to notch his third save of the season.

Sizemore in left: For the first time in his nine-year career, outfielder Grady Sizemore will play left field at Fenway Park on Friday night. Farrell said that despite Sizemore's unfamiliarity with the Green Monster, the decision was made based on Daniel Nava’s ability to play right field at Fenway.

After making his first seven starts in center field, Sizemore will be making his sixth straight appearance in left this season.

Rapid Reaction: Red Sox 4, Yankees 2

April, 11, 2014

NEW YORK -- Takeaways from the Bronx, where Jonny Gomes doesn't take kindly to having his name misspelled, Grady Sizemore reintroduced himself to former teammate CC Sabathia in a big way, Jon Lester rediscovered what it's like to pitch with a lead, and Junichi Tazawa prevented Derek Jeter from adding to the legend.

The result: The Red Sox beat the Yankees 4-2 before a crowd of 44,121 in Yankee Stadium, squaring the four-game series at a game apiece.

Spell check: Bill "Moose" Messina, a cameraman for Comcast Sports New England, approached Gomes before the game to show him a photo on his cellphone. The picture was of the Sox lineup posted on the clubhouse door, and in the No. 1 spot it showed "Johnny Gomez." Messina suspected he'd elicit a reaction, and he did.

Gomes shot out of the clubhouse to see for himself. "It's Jonny Gomes, not Gomez," he said to Luis, the longtime Yankee Stadium security guard stationed outside the visitors clubhouse. "That's winter-ball stuff."

The indignation was more feigned than real, but Gomes made sure the headline writers got it right when he led off the sixth inning with his first home run of the season, a line drive into the left-field seats that tied the score at 1 against Sabathia, who had taken a one-hit shutout into the sixth.

Hello, old friend: Sizemore and Sabathia had starred together for parts of five seasons in Cleveland. This was not the first time they'd faced each other. Sizemore came into the game 2-for-7 against CC, including a home run. That home run had come nearly five years ago, in a game in which Sizemore's Indians trailed CC's Yankees 8-2. It had been nearly three years since Sizemore had faced him.

This home run meant a bit more. Sizemore followed a checked-swing single by David Ortiz and a 3-and-0 base hit by Mike Napoli with a drive deep into the right-field seats, his three-run home run breaking a 1-all tie in the sixth.

Ahead of the game: The Red Sox had scored a total of one run in Lester's first two starts, both losses, even though he gave up a total of just four earned runs. The Sox had not led at any time in the first 19 1/3 innings in which Lester pitched, until they unloaded on Sabathia in the sixth. Lester gave up a one-out single to Jacoby Ellsbury in the home sixth but struck out Carlos Beltran before facing Alfonso Soriano, who had hooked a home run inside the left-field foul pole in the second inning for the Yankees' first run. This time, Soriano tapped back to the mound to end the inning.

Lester got two quick outs in the seventh but gave up a single to Ichiro Suzuki, walked Brian Roberts on a full count and gave up a full-count base hit to Kelly Johnson that put the tying runs on the corners.

Taz Time: Farrell went to the bullpen for Junichi Tazawa, who had not allowed a run in his first five appearances this season, to face Jeter. Jeter, who is retiring after the season, took a strike, then flied out to right to end the threat. Tazawa gave up a two-out single to Soriano in the eighth, but struck out pinch hitter Brian McCann, who chased a wicked splitter.

Last call for Mujica: Edward Mujica, who had not pitched since Sunday, when he allowed an inherited runner to score and gave up a hit and walk in a third of an inning, pitched the ninth and registered his first save for the Red Sox with a 1-2-3 inning, striking out pinch hitter Brett Gardner to end it.

No word on why Koji Uehara, who last pitched on Wednesday and threw just 11 pitches, did not pitch. He played catch with Tazawa before the game.
NEW YORK -- A few quick hits from the Bronx, where Shane Victorino was running what looked like "out" patterns on the outfield grass before the game, an indication that his recovery from a strained right hamstring is making progress.

• Manager John Farrell said that when the team travels to Chicago next week, the Sox should have a better idea of the next step for both Victorino and Will Middlebrooks (right calf), who are on the disabled list. Farrell has said that Victorino will be sent out on a rehab assignment; at the moment, he said, the right fielder is a bit ahead of Middlebrooks in his recovery.

Victorino is eligible to come off the DL on Tuesday. Middlebrooks is eligible to come off the DL on April 20, when the Sox are home to play Baltimore.

Jonny Gomes was back at the top of the order Friday night against a left-hander, CC Sabathia of the Yankees. Gomes, who is batting .174, will be making his fourth start in the leadoff spot, one fewer than Daniel Nava. Grady Sizemore has batted leadoff twice, including Thursday night, when he went 0 for 4.

Asked if he'd given any consideration to changing things at the top, Farrell said:

"We want to be careful that we don't make too many changes. The focus is on those three guys. I still like where we are 2 through 5, 2 through 6 with Xander [Bogaerts]. That's where we are, for the time being."

Jon Lester did not allow a home run to the Yankees in four starts last season, the only AL East team that did not take him deep last season. He went 1-1 with a 4.19 ERA in three starts last season in Yankee Stadium.

Xander Bogaerts's 11 hits through the first 10 games are the most by a Sox player 21 years or younger since Tony Conigliaro had 15 hits through the first 10 games of the '65 season, his second with the Sox.

• Grady Sizemore, who went 0 for 4 while batting leadoff Thursday against the Yankees, did not fare well against the Bombers in his years with the Cleveland Indians. Sizemore is batting .216 (33 for 153) against the Yanks, with four home runs and 12 RBIs. AL East teams across the board gave him trouble: He hit .218 against the Red Sox, .226 against the Orioles, .231 against the Rays, and .232 against the Blue Jays.

• Farrell said he was shown a still photo after the fourth inning of pitcher Michael Pineda's pitching hand, which showed a substance on the palm.

"When he came out to warm up in the fifth inning, it was very clear from the dugout that the hand was clean," Farrell said. That's why he did not bring it to the attention of the umpiring crew.

Farrell reiterated that it's not uncommon for a pitcher to use some form of additive to improve his grip on a cool night. Asked if he'd ever used anything when he pitched, Farrell said, deadpan: "Never."

"You'd like to think he'd be more discreet," Farrell said of Pineda, who won his first game as a Yankee Thursday night after missing all of 2012 with a torn labrum in his pitching shoulder.

Yankees GM Brian Cashman said he spoke Friday with Joe Torre, MLB's executive director of baseball operations, and that the matter was "resolved." Cashman said he did not intend to speak with Pineda about it.

Sizemore makes first start in LF; JBJ in CF

April, 10, 2014
NEW YORK -- Some quick hits from the Bronx, where Jacoby Ellsbury will be facing his roommate from Lowell Spinner days, Grady Sizemore is making his first-ever start in left field, Jackie Bradley Jr. tries to further his case that he's more than a stop-gap solution, and Ryan Roberts recalls being up close and personal to Stephen Drew's worst day in baseball.

• Sizemore, who has never played a day anywhere but in center field, draws the start in left here, with Bradley -- who was Boston's Opening Day left fielder in Yankee Stadium last season -- stationed in center.

"It's an alignment we've talked about internally," manager John Farrell said. "We felt like it was best-fitting here, with the ground covered [on the left side]. Whether or not it's something we'll do more, I'm not going to say on a permanent basis, we've shown that we're going to rotate Jonny Gomes through there and he's going to get ample time in left field as well. This is the way we're going to go at it tonight. This isn't something we're looking to pencil in every day going forward."

How often the Sox deploy that alignment could well depend on whether Bradley Jr. can sustain the level of play he has shown since an injury to Shane Victorino on the eve of the season opened a spot for the 23-year-old rookie, after he'd already been optioned to Triple-A Pawtucket. Bradley takes a slash line of .400/.478/.500/.978 into Thursday night's game against the Yankees, and in his last four games, he is 6 for 12 with 2 doubles, 4 runs, 4 RBIs, and 3 walks. He also has played superbly in the outfield, while Sizemore has had recent difficulties, most notably when he broke the wrong way on a shallow fly ball that fell for a double against Felix Doubront.

There's little question that when Victorino returns, the best defensive outfield the Sox could field would have Bradley in center, flanked by Sizemore and Victorino, but that raises questions about where that leaves Daniel Nava, who is off to a slow start this season (.125/.200/.156/.356) but was one of the team's most reliable hitters last season, batting .303 with a .385 on-base percentage.

Nava, who has served as the Sox leadoff man in five of the team's nine games this season, was dropped to fifth Thursday, with Sizemore batting at the top of the order. Sizemore went 0 for 4 with a walk in his only start leading off.

Farrell said of Nava, "He's had some at-bats where he's hit into some tough luck, he's also had some at-bats where he's tried to maybe do a little too much at times, where he's lifted the ball into the air. I think we've come to know Daniel more as a line-drive hitter that has the capability to hit the ball out of the ballpark. I think more than anything, we're looking for Daniel to get on a little roll and gaining the confidence that he had last year."

Clay, meet Jacoby: Ellsbury, in a pregame media session set up in observance of his first game on the pinstriped side of this rivalry, noted he was roommates in Class A Lowell with Clay Buchholz back in 2005, when both players were drafted by the Sox, Ellsbury in the first round, Buchholz with a first-round sandwich pick. With Buchholz scheduled to start Thursday, Ellsbury said this will be the first time he has ever set foot in the batter's box against the first roomie he ever had in pro ball.

"A lot of great memories, relationships, he'll be a friend of mine for life, regardless of what jersey he has on, or I have on. You never know, these are guys you might play with down the road, too, who knows, in a couple of years? We have three guys here from last year's team (Matt Thornton, Andrew Bailey, Ellsbury). You never know who you're going to play with. But he's a guy I built a strong relationship with. Yeah, it'll be exciting to face him."

• Roberts not only was teammates with Stephen Drew in Arizona, he was the on-deck hitter who signaled for Drew to slide into the plate on the play he fractured his right ankle on July 20, 2011. "I looked at him, and his right foot was pointed this way," Roberts said. "The amazing thing is, he forced it back into place. I don't know if it was the adrenaline or what, but that's when I started signaling for help."

• Farrell said he and GM Ben Cherington, who accompanied the team on the trip here, plan to give Ellsbury and Thornton their rings on Friday.

Rapid Reaction: Orioles 2, Red Sox 1

March, 31, 2014

BALTIMORE -- Even with a Roy Hobbs-like moment from Grady Sizemore, who homered for the first time in almost three years, the Red Sox are not going to go wire-to-wire in defense of their 2013 World Series title.

The result: The Baltimore Orioles beat the Red Sox 2-1 on a tiebreaking home run by Nelson Cruz, who did not sign with the Orioles as a free agent until after the start of spring training. Cruz, who is batting .459 lifetime (11-for-24) against Jon Lester, hit the left-hander’s first pitch in the seventh inning to break a 1-1 tie before a sellout crowd of 46,685 at Camden Yards.

Hunter holds on: Tommy Hunter, who is replacing Jim Johnson as the Orioles' closer, hit Will Middlebrooks with a pitch and gave up a two-strike single to Dustin Pedroia with one out, but retired David Ortiz on a fly ball to left and struck out rookie Jackie Bradley Jr., who had entered the game as a pinch runner for Mike Napoli in the eighth.

The crux of the matter: The Red Sox left 12 men on base, including five in the first three innings and two in the ninth, and were 0-for-10 with runners in scoring position.

Sizemore shines: Sizemore singled in his first at-bat in the second inning, his first hit in 921 days (previous hit: Sept. 22, 2011). He then homered to lead off the fourth against Orioles right-hander Chris Tillman, the ball hitting the top of the video board in right.

Lester takes the loss: Lester, making his fourth straight Opening Day start, was sharp, allowing just six hits and two earned runs while walking one and striking out eight.

Missing in action: Shane Victorino went on the DL before the game with a strained right hamstring.

Baltimore blues: The Sox have not won an opener in Baltimore since a 2-0 win in Memorial Stadium in 1982.

Cherington talks Sizemore-Bradley debate

March, 29, 2014
FORT MYERS, Fla. -- General manager Ben Cherington talked Saturday about the decision to go with Grady Sizemore in center field and send Jackie Bradley Jr. back to the minor leagues.

"He passed every test that was given to him this spring," Cherington said of Sizemore. "Soon, he will have more tests to pass. In the time we had in spring training, the performance, combined with that, we just felt like that the best team we could put out there Monday has him on it.

"I think we felt all along that definitely for the Red Sox, over the course of this season, is to have both Grady and Jackie in the organization and at some point on the team. There were questions as to how to do that.

"Grady has done everything he could have done during spring training. He has been able to perform while passing the physical tests. I'm excited for him. He has worked his tail off. For a guy who has been unable to do what he always has done, it's a lot of fun watching him out there."

Sizemore hit .333(13-for-39) this spring training and Bradley Jr. hit just .158 (9-for-57) with a team-high 17 strikeouts.

Cherington said that also factored into the decision.

"I think it's one thing to be on the roster and be an active major league player," Cherington said of Bradley. "It's another thing entirely to be a guy that the team can count on to play a lot and to play a meaningful role. That's probably what we learned this spring. This is not someone that we envision as a bench player. This is someone we envision as a regular contributor who can play a lot. That's probably what we needed to learn in spring training.

"Jackie has had two short moments in time in his career when he hasn't performed. One of them was last year during the season and one was this spring. We obviously have seen a lot more moment from him in which he has performed. We're very confident he will do that. He wants to play. It was a difficult conversation, but he handled it very well and understands."

Takeaways: Lackey sharp, Sizemore sizzlin'

March, 27, 2014
FORT MYERS, Fla. -- Takeaways from the Fort, where John Lackey had what manager John Farrell called his "sharpest start of the spring," center fielder Grady Sizemore hit another spring training milestone, and left-handed reliever Craig Breslow showed progress coming back from a shoulder strain.

[+] EnlargeGrady Sizemore
AP Photo/Gerald HerbertGrady Sizemore has answered every test so far on his comeback quest.
The result: The Red Sox defeated the Minnesota Twins 4-1. Will Middlebrooks went 2-for-3 with a double and a triple, boosting his spring training average to .362. Mike Napoli singled and then scored on an A.J. Pierzynski double in the second inning. Xander Bogaerts doubled to left field in the seventh inning. Mike McCoy replaced Bogaerts as a pinch runner and then scored on a Middlebrooks double. McCoy and David Ross each hit RBI doubles in the eighth inning.

Lackey not lacking: Lackey struck out six over 6 1/3 innings, lowering his spring training ERA from 9.49 to 6.27 in his fourth appearance.

"It was his sharpest start of the spring," Farrell said. "He goes into the start of the season in very good shape. He had good power tonight. He had good action to his breaking ball, to his cutter and his curveball. We got him to throw 90-plus pitches. I think overall, a very productive spring for John."

Farrell said he has had no concerns with Lackey.

"His arm strength has increased," Farrell said. "He's always had the ability to throw the breaking ball for strikes. I think most importantly, he came off the last outing where he may have been going through a little bit of a dead-arm phase, which is common for everyone. But he was as sharp tonight as you probably saw midseason of last year."

Lackey said working with Pierzynski so far has gone well.

[+] EnlargeLackey
AP Photo/Gerald HerbertJohn Lackey's last outing of spring training was his best.
"He called a good game," Lackey said. "We were on the same page. "With it being a night game, I went through my pregame routine, that sort of thing. I felt good."

Sizemore sizzle: Sizemore went 2-for-3 with a double and a walk. He is hitting .333 this spring. After leading the team with 10 leadoff appearances in spring training, he hit from the No. 5 spot in the lineup on Thursday. Farrell said he likely would use Sizemore in the fifth or sixth spot when the season begins.

"He looks very good physically," Farrell said. "He was looking to steal a base as well. We shut that down. Left-handed and right-handed pitching, he had a good swing. He's in a good place."

Sizemore said he had no problem with where he hit in the lineup.

"I'm happy to be in the lineup, no matter where I'm at," he said. "I'm not going to change my approach, whether it's leadoff or fifth or wherever."

Sizemore played for the fourth consecutive day, which he had yet to do this spring. He is projected to get his fifth consecutive start on Friday against the Twins.

"It's good to get the reps," Sizemore said. "It's good to get to start on consecutive days. It gives you a better feel as far as the timing.

"It's a lot more action than I've had in a long time. You're going to have some bumps and bruises just as you would in any season or in any week. It's just baseball. But there are milestones there. I still feel good. I've got one more this week. I'm hoping to be able to continue to build off it."

Roster moves: The Red Sox placed Breslow on the 15-day disabled list (retroactive to March 21) with a mild left shoulder strain. Right-handed pitcher Steven Wright was placed on the 15-day disabled list (retroactive to March 21) while recovering from a right sports hernia. Farrell said he did not anticipate Breslow to be out of action for long. Farrell said he would announce more roster moves by the end of Friday. The team has 33 players in camp, including 28 players on the 40-man roster.

Sizemore bats fifth in Lackey's final tuneup

March, 27, 2014
FORT MYERS, Fla. -- Good evening from the Fort, where talk of Opening Day has intensified and where the first of a three-game spring training series against the crosstown Minnesota Twins is underway at JetBlue Park.

The team's first of two truckloads of supplies and luggage departed Fort Myers on Thursday, with the second one set to follow after Saturday's spring finale.

Outfielder Shane Victorino started in a minor league game earlier today and went 3-for-6 with a stolen base. He is slated to play in a Grapefruit League game at 1:05 p.m. Friday at Hammond Stadium against the Twins, facing right-handed pitcher Phil Hughes.

The Red Sox are facing Twins right-hander Kevin Correia tonight. Daniel Nava is leading off. Grady Sizemore, who leads the Red Sox with 10 leadoff appearances this spring training, is batting fifth, which is the more likely spot for him when the regular season begins, manager John Farrell clarified today.

Nava ranks second in leadoff appearances this spring with eight, including tonight, and likely will be in that role Monday in Baltimore. Jackie Bradley Jr. (seven times) and Jonny Gomes (three times) also have hit leadoff this spring training.

"I think we'll probably see him in the five to six range in the lineup, initially," Farrell said of Sizemore. "Again, we want to take advantage of Nava's on-base ability. I'm not going to say that Grady is never going to lead off."

Nava has a career on-base percentage of .369, including a career-best .385 last season. Nava hit from the leadoff spot just eight times last season. Jacoby Ellsbury's departure to the New York Yankees forced Farrell to find a new option.

"When you look at those top spots in the lineup, we believe on-base percentage is important," Farrell said. "And we also factor in if it were to be Grady, to have the potential of having one more at-bat every single night, how that accumulating effect would affect him."

Farrell has yet to name Sizemore to the 25-man roster. That might happen Friday. Should Sizemore make the team, Victorino also would see playing time in center field, Farrell said.

Nava played six innings in center field for Triple-A Pawtucket on Wednesday and went 3-for-6 with a home run and three RBIs.

John Lackey is making his final spring start Thursday night. He enters with a 1-1 record and 9.49 ERA in three starts.

The Red Sox have 35 players in camp, including five non-roster invitees. That number will change after tonight's game, but not to the final 25 just yet, Farrell said.

"There will be an announcement a little bit later today," Farrell said. "We've had a number of things going on today, so we're not completely done with all of the individual meetings with some players. By the end of today, we should have some moves announced."

Farrell also revealed the worst-kept secret the team has had in that Jon Lester will start on Opening Day against the Baltimore Orioles.

"Oh yes," Farrell said. "Jon Lester is starting. And the world is round. So he starts Monday."

Farrell said he first noticed Lester's potential to be a front-line starter in 2005. That season, Lester went 11-6 with a 2.61 ERA in 26 starts for Double-A Portland. Farrell was working for the Cleveland Indians as their minor league director.

"I think he was 20 years old," Farrell said of Lester, who was actually 21. "He had size and stuff. With a one-game look, you don't know what's going on inside with the work ethic or all of those types of things. But that was my first time seeing him."

Here are tonight's starting lineups:


1. 2B Brian Dozier
2. 1B Joe Mauer
3. RF Oswaldo Arcia
4. DH Josh Willingham
5. LF Jason Kubel
6. 3B Trevor Plouffe
7. C Kurt Suzuki
8. CF Aaron Hicks
9. SS Pedro Florimon

RHP Kevin Correia


1. LF Daniel Nava
2. 2B Dustin Pedroia
3. DH David Ortiz
4. 1B Mike Napoli
5. CF Grady Sizemore
6. SS Xander Bogaerts
7. C A.J. Pierzynski
8. 3B Will Middlebrooks
9. RF Jackie Bradley Jr.

RHP John Lackey

Takeaways from Fort: Sizemore lets loose

March, 26, 2014
FORT MYERS, Fla. -- Takeaways from the Fort, where Grady Sizemore is playing with increasing abandon and no one is holding his breath, Xander Bogaerts and Will Middlebrooks hit back-to-back home runs in a display of power sure to be repeated when the games count, and Jon Lester said he was told some time ago that he is starting the regular-season opener but Farrell pledged to wait one more day to make it official.

The result: The Red Sox fell 5-4 to the Baltimore Orioles, who scored all of their runs and collected all 11 of their hits off rookie Allen Webster, who started the big-league exhibition while Lester worked a Class A minor-league game, allowing a run on three hits while pitching for Salem. Left-hander Chris Capuano, meanwhile, pitched five innings of no-hit ball for Class A Greenville, striking out 10.

The highlight: The back-to-back home runs struck by Bogaerts and Middlebrooks in the fourth inning off Orioles starter Miguel Gonzalez, both of which cleared the faux Monster in left. The home run was a team-leading fourth of the spring for Middlebrooks, who also singled and is batting .341.

[+] EnlargeSizemore
Steve Mitchell/USA TODAY SportsGrady Sizemore was out trying to stretch a single, but his aggressive baserunning was another good sign of his readiness for the season.
The Sizemore sizzle: The center fielder singled in his first at-bat, then tried to hustle his way into an extra base, taking a head-first slide into second as he was cut down on a close play by right fielder Henry Urrutia. Next time up Sizemore walked and came around to score on a single by Mike Carp, sliding into home. He lined out to left in the fourth and reached on a force play in the seventh. Farrell said the Sox were looking for Sizemore to steal, but pitcher Ryan Webb didn’t give him a chance.

“We’ve talked about it as we progressed in camp,’’ Farrell said when asked if he was taking the wraps off Sizemore, who played in what is scheduled to be the second of three straight games. “Early on we didn’t want any added attempts, and then once he was coming out of games feeling good physically, we started to loosen the reins on that and today that aggressiveness has become a little more evident.

“He was more engaged in the game situation and nothing physically was keeping him from trying to advance 90 feet.’’

The X files: Bogaerts narrowly missed a home run in his first at-bat, a strong cross breeze knocking the ball down, but then hit one over the faux Monster in the fourth, his second home run of the spring. He is ending camp making consistently hard contact, his average now up to .234.

JBJ report: Like Dustin Pedroia, Jackie Bradley Jr. was scheduled for just two at-bats. He grounded out and struck out. His average is down to .167 which, it should be noted, places him at a near midpoint between Jonny Gomes (.159) and Mike Napoli (.188).

Opening Day “secret”: In fairness to the Red Sox manager, Farrell repeatedly has said the rotation was set up this spring the way he intends to deploy it once the season begins, but until he has a chance to visit with Lester on Thursday, the day after he went six innings in a Class A game and allowed a run on three hits, he will hold off on making it official.

This is no different from the way Farrell proceeded in 2013, though Lester admitted Wednesday that Farrell told him earlier in camp that he’d be facing the Orioles on March 31 in Baltimore. The message was delivered in a more conventional fashion -- the two sitting in the manager’s office -- than when Lester was sitting in a deer stand and received a text message from Terry Francona that he’d be pitching the opener in 2011, the first of what will now be four straight Opening Day assignments.

“When the manager sits down and tells you face to face, that’s a good feeling to have,’’ Lester said. “Tito has his own way of doing things, which was cool that day. That was a great story I’ll always remember, but at the same time it’s nice to sit in that office.

“It was one of those things he sat down with me, we were BS-ing about something, he just told me that. I don’t remember the exact date.’’

Lester threw 95 pitches in the Class A game. “I feel like I’m in a good place right now,’’ he said, though he indicated that he felt his curveball had “dragged for me’’ this spring.

“I don’t know if it’s arm strength, repetition, but it will come,’’ he said. “I’ll keep throwing it. It’ll be there.’’

Lester spoke about the eagerness some players have to begin the regular season, so they can begin to feel intensity that has been absent since they won the World Series.

“I live in an area [Atlanta] where people don’t care,’’ he said. “If you’re not a Brave, they don’t know who you are. It’s weird to go to Publix and walk around the grocery store and not worry about anything, go out to dinner.

“You go off that high from the duck boats, where everybody is screaming at you, to now you get just your 3-year-old screaming. It’s a little different.’’

You’ve never seen Lester in a grocery store? “I’m an awesome shopper,’’ he said.

Dot, dot, dots: Despite Wednesday’s result, Farrell said Webster is “much further along” than he was at this point in camp last spring. “Further along in areas where he’s more understanding of the type of pitcher he is, a better understanding of how to use his two-seamer particularly, even if location may have been a little bit less than it was in a couple of starts he made here, but I see him much further along. Last year, he was the talk of camp, coming in late in a game, pitching a couple of innings, but the ability to make adjustments more readily and the overall use of his stuff is much more refined to attack a hitter.’’ ... The Sox are expected to make final roster cuts Thursday. The only decision they may hold off on announcing is center field, waiting to see how Sizemore comes through Thursday night’s game against the Twins. The Sox still have 35 players in camp, including five nonroster invitees.

Takeaways from the Port: Grady does deep

March, 25, 2014
PORT CHARLOTTE, Fla. -- Takeaways from the Port, where there are some things a ballplayer does not forget, even if it’s something he may not have done in nearly a thousand days.

So when Grady Sizemore broke out his home run trot for the first time this spring -- and the first time in 984 days, his last home run having come on July 15, 2011 -- he didn’t need any remedial instruction. He knew what to do.

The result: With Clay Buchholz going six innings for the first time this spring, the Sox defeated the Tampa Bay Rays, 4-2, their second win in the last 10 games. The Rays had entered the game with a 15-5-3 record, the best in the majors, and had gone 10-2-1 in their previous 13 games. The last two times the Rays finished with the majors’ best record in spring, they won the AL East. The Sox are 9-15-2.

[+] EnlargeGrady Sizemore
Leon Halip/Getty ImagesGrady Sizemore hit his first home run in 984 days, a sixth-inning shot off lefty Cesar Ramos.
The Sizemore report: “It felt good,’’ Sizemore said after hitting a first-pitch fastball from Tampa Bay left-handed reliever Cesar Ramos over the boardwalk beyond the right-field fence in the sixth inning, breaking a 2-2 tie.

As he circled the bases, Sizemore had to know he was one step closer to being named the team’s Opening Day center fielder in Baltimore’s Camden Yards, the place he hit his last home run in a game that counted, a two-run home run off right-hander Jake Arrieta of the Orioles.

But Sizemore said he has not yet allowed himself to think in those terms, even though he answered in the affirmative when asked if he thought he was ready to play in the regular season.

“Honestly, I’m just trying look to the next day and not get ahead of myself,’’ Sizemore said.

“I feel good. I’m happy with how everything has gone in a short period. I didn’t expect to feel this good or this good so soon. I’m happy with that aspect. But we’re all professionals. We all want to be better.’’

The home run was Sizemore’s only hit in four at-bats Tuesday. He hit in the fifth spot in the lineup after leading off in his previous appearances. In his last at-bat, he went down swinging against the 96 mph offerings of Rays lefty Jake McGee, but only after a good at-bat in which he fouled off a couple of pitches.

“Even against McGee when he strikes out, there’s a lot of balance at the plate,’’ manager John Farrell said. “We’ve talked a number of times about timing at the plate, and he continues to show it.’’

Earlier in the day, Farrell indicated the Sox would leave camp with either Sizemore or Jackie Bradley Jr., not both.

This was the first of three consecutive games in which Sizemore is scheduled to play. He is batting .303 this spring.

“The way we’re seeing the ball coming off his bat almost week at a time, starting the week before camp, opening up to game action, you’re seeing more and more good days for him,’’ Farrell said.

“It was a good day overall. To see the at-bats Will [Middlebrooks] had today, Bogie [Xander Bogaerts], the guys that came to the mound, those are our guys.’’

Will watching: Middlebrooks homered off Rays starter Jake Odorizzi, singled and drove a ball deep to right on which Rays right fielder Wil Myers made an excellent catch. The Sox third baseman, who also drew a walk, is batting .317 this spring and has struck out just three times in 44 spring at-bats, a trend the Sox would love to see continue in the regular season.

Clay feat: Buchholz gave up all three hits he allowed in the third inning, when he also walked a batter and the Rays scored twice, then retired eight straight before issuing a two-out walk in the sixth to Ben Zobrist. He finished off his outing by inducing Evan Longoria to ground out to Middlebrooks, one of seven ground-ball outs he recorded to go with five strikeouts. He threw 84 pitches, 50 for strikes.

This was Buchholz’s last exhibition appearance. He’ll remain behind to throw in a camp game Sunday, then fly to Baltmore to join the team before Monday’s opener. Jon Lester, John Lackey and Felix Doubront are lined up to pitch the three games in Baltimore. Jake Peavy is in line to draw the assignment in the April 4 home opener against the Brewers, with Buchholz going the next day. All of that is subject to weather, of course, and everyone remaining upright, one reason why Farrell has refrained from officially announcing Lester will pitch the opener.

“Clay made a good adjustment after the third inning,’’ Farrell said. “The first couple of innings he tended to drift a little bit. The fourth, fifth and sixth, he threw a lot of good curveballs and was down in the zone. The thing that stands out over the course of spring training is he looks very comfortable on the mound. He used all of his pitches. He had a little more feel for his curveball today than in previous outings.’’

Buchholz said he also broke out his changeup in a game for the first time this spring, with positive results. He said he is comfortable maintaining his velocity at around 91-92 mph, in part because he believes it gives him better command and more movement on his two-seamer. “But when I needed a little extra,’’ he said, “I was able to reach back for it.’’

JBJ report: The rookie played alongside Sizemore in right field because Shane Victorino stayed back in Fort Myers with some soreness on his left side, which Farrell described as minor. “He had a full workday,’’ Farrell said of Victorino, “and came out of it fine.’’

Bradley, meanwhile, went 0-for-4 and struck out twice. He’s now batting .173 this spring, with a team-high 16 strikeouts, three more than Mike Carp.

“He’s missing some pitches in the strike zone,’’ Farrell said of Bradley. “I can’t say he’s trying to do too much. Sometimes there’s a good compact swing, and then the swing is a little long at times. Nothing drastic. A little timing right now.’’

Farrell discusses Sizemore's progress

March, 21, 2014
CLEARWATER, Fla. -- Good afternoon from Bright House Field where the Red Sox are playing under National League rules and another sold-out crowd crammed into a stadium to see the 2013 World Champions play and the Budweiser Clydesdales rounded the warning track in pre-game celebrations.

While the was a buzz Thursday surrounding David Ortiz and the possibility a new contract might materialize Friday, John Farrell did not discuss that on Friday. Instead, Farrell spent a majority of his media session before the contest against the Philadelphia Phillies discussing the emergence of Grady Sizemore.

Could he break camp with the team? “Yes,” Farrell said.

If he does, could he be an everyday player? “We have everything to believe at this point he is a likely candidate to become an everyday player with durability on his side at some point.”

Okay, so what about being the leadoff hitter? “The lineup that we had last night (with Sizemore in the top spot) is one scenario, one version. There are right handed, left handed matchups that are there. The rest requirements that might be needed. It's going to be, we know who are guys are and roughly the spots in the lineup, but I think we showed early in the season that and again late in the season that we would make changes based on either matchups or who's swinging the bat a little bit better at a given time.”

While Farrell continually danced around a definite answers on Sizemore’s status, he did not, and has not, avoided talking about how impressive the former All-Star has been this spring.

When asked if he agreed with scouts who have repeatedly said Sizemore resembles the same player he was in Cleveland, where between 2005 and 2008 he played in 639 of 648 regular season games, Farrell opined: "Totally. It's pretty amazing given the time missed. It just speaks to his athleticism and the low maintenance swing."

Farrell will use this last week as a barometer, though, even if it won't fully determine how Sizemore will respond throughout the season.

"We look at the way he's playing the game," Farrell said when asked how the team evaluates Sizemore. "Everything is reactionary at this point. There's no measured steps. He's playing instinctually, so we don't see him favoring anything in the knees or otherwise. He's got some good times down the line. He's consistently in the 4.3 range. We've gotten him to the 4.2s down the line. That's getting close to his speed when he was fully healthy. His reads in the outfield, the timing at the plate, all those things factored into it."

How the team maintains Sizemore throughout the season -- if and when the Sox announce he's made the club -- will be based in a scheduled manner to protect his body.

"There would be a recommended number of games played per week," Farrell said. "How we adjust that based on matchups that will certainly be factored in, so we're looking to put the best team on the field every night with the intent of trying to win every game, so if rest is built into the scenario, we'll factor in everything at our disposal. There's a progression we're still following to get to everyday play. The most encouraging thing is he hasn't hit the proverbial wall where we're bumped up against the limit and now we have to pull back."

Farrell plans on having playing Sizemore in three consecutive games starting Sunday. How he holds up through the next week will help determine his status on the team.

"There's measured tests that we're building up with at bats, innings played, back to back days," Farrell said when asked how and when the team makes a decision on Sizemore. "There's a detailed plan mapped out that we're following. We need to get through the coming days."

Notes: Craig Breslow tossed 20 pitches in live batting practice with a plan to pitch in his first exhibition game on Monday … The Phillies requested to have both teams use the NL rule having pitchers bat so Jon Lester is getting his first action of the spring at the plate. He stood and watched three strikes from Phillies lefthanded starter Cliff Lee in his first at bat and then bunted to the third-baseman on his next plate appearance … Farrell plans on using his starters in contests against minor leaguers over this next week when the Red Sox face AL East rivals, the Tampa Bay Rays and Baltimore Orioles, in four straight contests.