BRADENTON, Fla. — Good morning from McKechnie Field, where if you need a respite from college basketball Saturday afternoon, NESN and WEEI are giving you that option with broadcasts of the Red Sox's game against the Pittsburgh Pirates, Buster Olney’s pick to win the World Series.
Interestingly, my esteemed ESPN colleague has the Sox missing the playoffs. His picks in the American League are the Orioles, Indians, Tigers, Mariners and Yankees, with the Mariners going to the World Series. OK, then.
Neither the Sox nor Pirates will be fielding squads Saturday you’ll likely be seeing in October. Rusney Castillo, who homered in a pinch-hit appearance on Friday, makes his first Grapefruit League start, playing center field and batting leadoff.
Here are the lineups:
Rusney Castillo, CF
Daniel Nava, 1B
Allen Craig, LF
Garin Cecchini, DH
Jemile Weeks, 3B
Deven Marrero, SS
Jeff Bianchi, 2B
Wade Miley, LHP
Jose Tabata, RF
Neil Walker, 2B
Starling Marte, CF
Corey Hart, 1B
Sean Rodriguez, 3B
Gorkys Hernandez, LF
Gustavo Nunez, SS
Francisco Liriano, LHP
There were a few tidbits worth noting from manager John Farrell Saturday morning.
Shane Victorino will be hitting exclusively from the right side, Farrell said. He has been taking swings from the left side all spring with the intention of returning to switch-hitting, but has discovered that it’s taking too much of a toll physically, which is why he abandoned the practice in August 2013. Victorino is scheduled to play in back-to-back games for the first time this spring Sunday and Monday. “You want the most productive at-bats, regardless of which side they come from,’’ Farrell said. “In Vic’s case, it was starting to take its toll, just the reps he was going through, to try to get the left-handed swing productive. In terms of the work, it was starting to be counterproductive, the way he felt physically. That’s the rationale for hitting right-handed.''
Right-hander Joe Kelly’s next start, scheduled for Sunday against the Phillies, is being skipped. Instead, Kelly, who last week reported some biceps tendinitis, will throw an extended bullpen session Sunday and will be in line to make his next start on Friday. Farrell termed the move “not a setback.’' Knuckleballer Steven Wright will draw the start against the Phillies—he is a certain call-up if the Sox need another starting pitcher. Rick Porcello is scheduled to face the Cardinals on Monday with rookie Henry Owens making another start Tuesday against the Marlins in Jupiter.
First baseman Mike Napoli (ankle inflammation) should be back either Sunday or Monday, Farrell said.
David Ortiz, who has not appeared in a game since last Monday because of dehydration issues and also a touch of the flu, probably will not play again in a game until Thursday, Farrell said. After home games Sunday and Monday, the Sox travel to Jupiter on Tuesday and have a scheduled off-day Wednesday. Ortiz has had 15 at-bats so far this spring, and would easily have time for another 20 at-bats or so if he plays just in games in Fort Myers (JetBlue Park or Hammond Stadium) the rest of the way. “If he’s back in the lineup Thursday, he’ll have ample at-bats to get ready for the year,’’ Farrell said.
Closer Koji Uehara (hamstring) played long-toss from 150 feet away Saturday and did some light running. The target is for Uehara to return to the mound for a bullpen session by midweek, Farrell said.
Catcher Christian Vazquez (elbow) was scheduled to catch Edward Mujica and Junichi Tazawa in a minor league game Saturday, and will catch Clay Buchholz on Sunday. The Sox have tentatively scheduled to him throw all the bases Tuesday.