Notes: Off-day in name only
Red Sox relievers get in work against Minor Leaguers
FORT MYERS, Fla. -- After Friday's rainout in Vero Beach, and with starting pitchers going longer in games, the Red Sox used Monday's off-day -- the only scheduled day off this Spring Training -- to get some relievers work in Minor League games.
Hideki Okajima started the Triple-A game on Field 3 at the team's Minor League complex, followed by Devern Hansack, with Javier Lopez making the start in the Double-A game, followed by Craig Hansen.
Okajima pitched one inning, giving up two hits, striking out one. He threw 24 pitches, 16 for strikes. In two scoreless innings, Hansack threw 18 pitches, striking out three.
Lopez threw 27 pitches over two scoreless innings in his outing, with two strikeouts. Hansen pitched two innings, allowing one run on two hits, including a home run, while striking out two. He threw 29 pitches, 17 for strikes.
"I saw bits and pieces of everybody," Sox manager Terry Francona said. "I just hate for our guys to be throwing and not be here. I think [pitching coach] John Farrell probably felt the same way.
"[Lopez] had a couple of quick innings. He was only going to throw one, but he was so efficient he ended up throwing two.
"[Hansen] continues to work on things that he and [Farrell] are talking about. Sometimes it doesn't happen as fast as you want it to, but he'll continue to work on what they're talking about
"He's trying to get his two-seamer for strikes. I'll tell you one thing, his changeup is improving. I think a big thing with [Hansen] is his confidence. Same with a hitter. When you feel good about yourself, things seem to go right. Hard work is what he needs to do, and I don't think he'll back down from that."
In three Spring Training appearances spanning three innings, Hansen has allowed three earned runs on five hits, including one home run, and a walk, with one strikeout. He has one save and a 9.00 ERA.
While Francona said he is no more worried about Hansen than he is about any of his players, he would also give Hansen time.
"Well, we're concerned about everybody, because that's our job," Francona said. "Sometimes you have to be patient. It doesn't work if you're not patient. We ask the kids to be patient. So, if we're not, it doesn't work."
Timlin progressing: Mike Timlin, who threw Friday for the first time since being sidelined March 7 with a strained left oblique, threw again on Saturday. Francona said Timlin responded well to the back-to-back outings.
"He's in good shape," Francona said.
"We mapped out a program. We're going to sit and talk to him [Tuesday] with it. [Farrell] kind of mapped out the whole program. We got [general manager] Theo [Epstein] to sign off on it. We just got to explain it to Mike now and go forward."
Pedroia ready: Second baseman Dustin Pedroia, hit on the left hand by a pitch in Saturday's game, should be available on Tuesday.
Wake's and Pap's starts: Tim Wakefield and Jonathan Papelbon have been on the same pitching schedule -- starting on the same days, or with Papelbon following Wakefield to the mound. Francona must now find a way to split them up and get each of them enough starts.
"We're actually talking through that," Francona said. "We want them both pitching big-league games. We may piggyback. We're still contemplating how we want to handle that."
Tucker in camp: Outfielder Michael Tucker has been working out at the Sox's Minor league complex for the past few weeks. Tucker, 35, lives in nearby Lehigh Acres.
While outfield vacancies at the big-league level are virtually non-existent, Tucker has been a good influence on the younger players, said Red Sox director of player development Mike Hazen.
"He's been great," Hazen said. "He's out here working out every day. You never know. I don't know if he considers himself a Triple-A player, but I don't know if we really have a spot for him."
Tucker was cut by the Nationals at the end of Spring Training in 2006, then signed with the Mets in April, playing for the Triple-A Norfolk Tides before being called up on Aug. 9.
Offensive power: In the past five games, the Sox have managed just six runs and 29 hits. Francona isn't concerned and sees that more as a reflection of the big-league team not playing together yet.
"I think [the offense has] been off a lot," he said. "I also think that the team we took [Sunday to Fort Lauderdale to play the Orioles], that's not our team. I don't think you'll see the offense until ... you probably won't see it for the next couple days. We got two days off for a lot of those guys. I think, my guess, or I hope, that tomorrow they come out and they're sluggish, work through it a couple days. And then you see it. The guys start playing more and more and the last week of spring, hopefully, you'll see everybody playing together more, and we'll start swinging the bat. That's the whole idea."
Varitek's at-bats: Jason Varitek, catching Curt Schilling in a Minor League game Sunday, was able to get six at-bats in six innings.
"[That's] awesome," Francona said. "We tell guys all the time, if you need it, we can do it. They can come down here [to the Minor League complex] and lead off every inning if they want. Every spring a couple of guys do that and get seven or eight at-bats and it really goes a long way, especially with the catchers."
Crisp, Drew to start: Center fielder Coco Crisp and right fielder J.D. Drew have not played in a game since Wednesday. Francona said Drew would start Tuesday's game against the Twins, while he was still undecided about Crisp.
"J.D.'s going to play [Tuesday] for sure," Francona said. "I still want to talk to Coco. I might wait one more day with him. We'll see, because we have the off-day today. I haven't seen him. I'll see him tomorrow. They're throwing a left-hander. So we might wait one more day. We'll see."
Francona said Crisp's knuckle on his left index finger, which he fractured at the beginning of last season and then had operated on in September, was not the problem.
"No, not at all," he said. "I just think he's sore. We did a lot of throwing. I think it's more, I know right-handed [batting], it affects him more. Since this is Spring Training we're supposed to help him, not hurt him. We travel the next day [to Bradenton] anyway so he's going to play one or the other. So it makes sense."
Welcome home: Tickets for the Sox's Welcome Home Dinner on April 10 at the Boston Convention and Exhibition Center are now on sale. The dinner, which benefits the Red Sox Foundation, will feature six-time Grammy nominee Lonestar. Tickets are $500 for adults and $250 for children 12 and under. To purchase tickets or for information, call 617-226-6002 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org..
Impossible Dream at Cooperstown: The Hall of Fame will host a day-long salute to the 1967 Sox on April 14, featuring appearances by Jim Lonborg and Rico Petrocelli. Tickets are $14.50 for adults (13 and older), $9 for seniors (65 and over) and those holding current memberships in the VFW, Disabled American Veterans, American Legion, or AMV organizations, and $5 for juniors (ages 7-12). For information, visit baseballhalloffame.org or call 888-HALL-OF-FAME or 607-547-7200.
Coming up: The Red Sox host the Twins on Tuesday at City of Palms Park at 7:05 p.m. ET. Josh Beckett will make his fourth Grapefruit League start against left-hander Glen Perkins.
Maureen Mullen is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.