Notes: Manny to make debut Friday
Right-hander Beckett works on hook; Bernero out for the year
FORT MYERS, Fla. -- Manny Ramirez will break out his big bat on Friday afternoon when he makes his Grapefruit League debut against the Blue Jays at City of Palms Park.
Though he reported to camp six days after the rest of the position players, Ramirez made it clear upon arrival that he was in good enough shape to be on the same schedule as everyone else. Red Sox manager Terry Francona has seen enough from Ramirez in drills to be confident that the slugger is ready to return to left field.
With the Red Sox playing split-squad contests both Thursday and Friday, it was beneficial for Francona that Ramirez was up to playing so soon.
"You know what, I was sitting there doing the lineups yesterday getting dizzy, and I had a question mark by his name," Francona said. "We had a home game the next day. Rather than guess, I walked out and said, 'Hey, Papi, Friday?' He said, 'Yeah I'm fine.' I just didn't want to get him out there before he's ready. Even if it's one at-bat, I would imagine he'd get a couple, but just to go out there and get his feet under him [will be beneficial]."
Ramirez hasn't missed a drill since arriving in camp Monday. He has typically taken no time to get his swing on track during Spring Training.
Beckett works on curve: If there was one solid criticism of Josh Beckett in his first year with the Red Sox, it was that he was overly reliant on his fastball. The right-hander agreed with that assessment and has been spending much of Spring Training working on his breaking ball.
The work carried into Beckett's exhibition debut on Friday, as he struck out five batters over two shutout innings and snapped several effective curves.
"There's things that you want to work on every spring," said Beckett. "For me, it starts with throwing offspeed pitches for strikes, which I did pretty well today. I've been throwing curveballs for probably a little over a month now, even though it was all [on] flat ground. It was something I really wanted to work on this spring, and so far, mission accomplished."
However, as Francona noted, Beckett's best weapon remains his heater, especially when he puts it in the right spot.
"Still, he's a fastball pitcher," Francona said. "If he commands his fastball down and up when he wants to, it will be amazing how that breaking ball will be more effective also."
Ellsbury's learning curve: After getting his first look at highly-touted prospect Jacoby Ellsbury on Wednesday night, Francona noted both the good and the bad.
"Yeah, he's quick," said Francona. "And it also caught my eye that he's still learning. It's good. That's why we let guys run. He was guessing at a period in the game where we don't want somebody guessing. He probably should have been out."
Ellsbury might have been picked off, but the first baseman dropped the ball and he wound up stealing second. Still, Francona noted the pratfalls of the play.
"That's not what we're looking for," Francona said. "But it's good, that's the way you learn. Wherever he's played before, that's how they did it. They didn't have a David Ortiz or a Manny Ramirez at Oregon State."
Corey impresses Tito: With several relievers vying for one spot in the bullpen, Francona noted how well Bryan Corey prepared for camp.
"Bryan Corey came in [Wednesday] and threw middle-of-the-year changeups, not February," said Francona. "That was fun to see. It was Feb. 28. There's going to be rust on guys. Some guys are ahead of each other. Bryan Corey came into this camp, he's not a dumb kid. He knows what he's up against. He's ready to go. You can tell. Any time you can throw a changeup that crisp this early, [it's impressive]."
Bernero out for year: Non-roster invite Adam Bernero had his season end in a tough way. The right-hander spent Friday in Birmingham, Ala., undergoing Tommy John surgery on his right elbow from Dr. James Andrews.
Bernero has 150 games of Major League experience, going 11-27 with a 5.91 ERA.
Coming up: The Red Sox will host two games at City of Palms Park on Friday. The Blue Jays come to town for the 12:35 p.m. ET contest. Kyle Snyder takes the ball for Boston in that one. The 6:05 nightcap against Boston College will feature the highly anticipated debut of right-hander Daisuke Matsuzaka.
Ian Browne is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.