3/3/2013 5:15 P.M. ET
Farrell doesn't count Yankees out
By Ian Browne / MLB.com
FORT MYERS, Fla. -- For the first time in recent memory, there could be quite a few prognosticators who pick the Yankees for second or lower in the American League East.
But Red Sox manager John Farrell isn't going to make the mistake of downplaying Boston's top rival. The Yankees paid a visit to Fort Myers on Sunday for the first of two meetings against the Red Sox this spring.
"No one is ever going to count the New York Yankees out," said Farrell. "They're a very veteran team. They're going to score a lot of runs again, I'm sure. They're going to have a darn good team."
For many years, the Yankees and Red Sox were the American League East heavyweights, at least heading into the season. But the 2013 race is much harder to predict.
"Our division is very even when you look at it on paper, and it should be a strongly contested division race, start to finish," Farrell said. "But I don't think you're ever going to take away the rivalry between two cities and two storied franchises. That'll always be part of the underlying story to every series that gets played or every game that gets played. I don't think that's ever going to go away."
Pedroia 'absolutely' favors stiffer PED penalties
FORT MYERS, Fla. -- If Major League Baseball wants to continue to stiffen its policy on drug testing, Red Sox second baseman Dustin Pedroia will fully endorse it.
"Absolutely," Pedroia said. "This game, you want everyone to compete on the same playing field. It's all I'm asking, and [all] everyone else is asking. I'm sure we'll talk about it tomorrow when they come in. I haven't really given it too much thought. We're all trying to pay attention to what we're trying to do here right now."
Pedroia will get more information on Monday, when Michael Weiner, the executive director of the Major League Baseball Players Association, pays a visit to Red Sox camp.
"I'm all for the most [testing] possible," Pedroia said.
When Pedroia hears of players who fail performance-enhancing drug tests, he is a bit mystified.
"I know that we have one of the best drug-testing policies in sports," Pedroia said. "They give us packets on what supplements you can and can't take. You get an app on your cellphone, so we're educated on what supplements you can and can't take."
The way Pedroia looks at it, no supplement -- however trivial -- should be ingested without making sure it's legal in the world of Major League Baseball.
"I don't know if more tests would help, I don't know. I just know, we as players, you're responsible to know what you put in your body," Pedroia said. "We have strength coaches, trainers, everybody gives us information on everything you can take and what's good for you."
Ortiz to get key test in next few days
FORT MYERS, Fla. -- Red Sox designated hitter David Ortiz had been scheduled to run the bases for the second straight day on Sunday, but the training staff decided to have him hold off due to some soreness from the day before.
At this point, the Red Sox aren't viewing it as a setback, and the goal is still for the slugger to play in an exhibition game within the next week and be ready for Opening Day on April 1.
But to reach that target, Ortiz will have to soon be able to run on back-to-back days without experiencing discomfort.
Ortiz ran the bases on Wednesday before leaving camp for two days for a personal reason, and then running again on Saturday.
"Consecutive days -- that would be the ideal goal," said Red Sox manager John Farrell. "Physical testing on the field is going to give us the go-ahead to proceed forward. Today was just working off how he felt."
Ortiz seemed upbeat when asked how he was feeling.
"I'm doing [well]," Ortiz said. "Yesterday, I got a little sore afterwards, but they say that's part of the process. I'm moving forward. I went hard at it yesterday. We're pretty close [to playing]."
Hanrahan pleased with outing, if not results
FORT MYERS, Fla. -- In the Spring Training stat book, Sunday's performance will go down as a blown save for new Red Sox closer Joel Hanrahan.
But the fact that it came in the sixth inning of a Grapefruit League game -- and that it involved two errors, two unearned runs and a broken-bat hit -- makes it evident that there's not much for Hanrahan to be upset about.
"I got some ground balls, broke some bats," Hanrahan said after his outing against the Yankees. "There were some positives to be taken out of it. I got my pitch count up. My arm felt good. I felt like I was throwing the ball pretty well and I got a couple of ground balls, that double-play ball where the guy broke his bat. It's still early."
Of all positions at Spring Training, closers are perhaps the toughest to evaluate because they hardly ever pitch with the same adrenaline or the same circumstances as in the regular season.
"Like I said, it's March 3 -- you're trying to get some work in," Hanrahan said. "Obviously we were winning 1-0 and I didn't want to give up a lead. The guys before me threw the ball well. You can still get work in. I think I struck out the first guy, then broken-bat hit and things kind of unfolded from there. I think I threw the ball all right and there's stuff to still work in. Some of the stuff I've been working on worked."
What is the main thing Hanrahan is working on at this stage?
"Just trying to get familiar with the catchers, for one," said Hanrahan. "[David] Ross and I, we had a talk the other day about some things, where he wanted the ball in. We accomplished that today. Besides that, just getting to know each other, what do we want to do on two strikes? I told him, 'I liked what you did, I just didn't execute my pitches.'"
Napoli: Mammoth homer was a 'nice one'
FORT MYERS, Fla. -- For all the talk about Mike Napoli's defensive adjustment this spring from catcher to first base, the reason the Red Sox got him was for his bat. And Napoli served a long reminder of that on Sunday afternoon, hitting a mammoth home run over the 420-foot sign in right-center.
"I thought it was awesome. Maybe like eight pitches later, when the section of fans started clapping, we figured that's when it landed," quipped Red Sox right-hander Ryan Dempster. "Wow. That ball was hit a long, long way. If you're going to give it up, at least it's not a wallscraper."
Napoli is just happy to be playing again after being on a more conservative schedule this spring because of his hip condition that was found in a physical over the winter.
"I'm just trying to drive the ball. I got a pitch I could drive," Napoli said. "I tried to put a good swing on it and hit it pretty well. That was a nice one. It feels good. I mean, my timing feels good. You work, hit your BPs, and when it carries over to the games, it's a good feeling."
This was Napoli's second game of Spring Training. He made his debut on Friday night, belting a single and making a plethora of plays at first base.
"On pitches he gets extended out over the plate, he's done it many times, and we hope he'll do it many times this year," said Red Sox manager John Farrell. "Just tremendous power, and to all fields. More than anything, he's gaining comfort at first base.
"I think the fact that he had a number of plays the other night has allowed him to settle in a little quicker than maybe otherwise would have been the case if he doesn't make any plays. For two games, four at-bats, we probably couldn't ask for a whole lot more right now."
Bard to throw about 20 pitches in simulated game
FORT MYERS, Fla. -- Red Sox right-hander Daniel Bard will pitch in a game-like setting for the first time in a week on Monday, but it won't be a Grapefruit League contest.
Bard has been working on some mechanical issues in recent days, and manager John Farrell felt it would be best to ease him back in with a simulated game, which will take place in the morning, a couple of hours before the Red Sox host the Tampa Bay Rays.
"Some of the work he did in his side session the other day, we're going to have him throw against hitters to look to reproduce and repeat the delivery with the slight adjustment of his stride direction," said Farrell. "That's the setting tomorrow for him."
Why a simulated game instead of the game against the Rays?
"A more controlled setting and to continue to focus on the stride direction," Farrell said. "We'll probably look to get 20 pitches in the setting tomorrow."
• Left fielder Jonny Gomes, who has been sidelined with stitches in his left knee, is expected to return to action on Tuesday night, when the Red Sox host Team Puerto Rico.
• In a nice touch, the Red Sox placed country-representative flags at the lockers of the players who have departed for the World Baseball Classic, including Shane Victorino (United States), Alfredo Aceves (Mexico) and top prospect Xander Bogaerts (Netherlands).
• Catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia, who hadn't played since Wednesday because of lower back stiffness, returned to the lineup as the designated hitter on Sunday.