2/24/2014 4:22 P.M. ET
Venezuelan players impacted by political unrest
By Ian Browne / MLB.com
FORT MYERS, Fla. -- While Spring Training is generally a time when players are at their most relaxed, things are a little different right now for those who hail from Venezuela, a country going through political unrest.
Felix Doubront, Edward Mujica and Jonathan Herrera are among the Venezuelans who inhabit the Red Sox's clubhouse.
Doubront tweeted a picture with his Venezuelan teammates on Monday, showing support of their country.
For the past several weeks, citizens across Venezuela have been protesting against the government, citing a shortage of goods, poor security and lack of freedom of speech for the media. The movement gained the world's attention when three student demonstrators were killed in Caracas on Feb. 12, and it has impacted players in clubhouses in the Cactus and Grapefruit Leagues.
"There's nothing I can do, because I'm here," said Doubront. "I'm helping my family with money or whatever. That's my responsibility right now. Just call them and hear they're fine, that they went through their day with no problem. That made me be more here mentally."
Doubront and his Venezuelan teammates spend most of their time away from the ballpark these days worrying about their loved ones.
"Every day," Doubront said of his correspondence back home. "They're going to let me know if something happens. They text me and call me with what happened today, because every day is something different. In the afternoon, they text me -- my mom, my niece -- and told me what happened today."
Manager John Farrell informed the players who are affected that he is aware of their plight.
"We do have a good number of players that come from Venezuela," said Farrell. "And the pitchers we've already met with one on one, we're trying to get a feel if their families have been affected by it. It's unfortunate with what they're having to deal with there. But we're very sympathetic. And if there are ever any needs that we can help with there, we'll certainly take a look at those. It's unfortunate that their families have to contend with something that's out of their control."
Farrell, Red Sox preparing for rule changes
FORT MYERS, Fla. -- After spending time in Port Charlotte, Fla., on Sunday being instructed on the new rule banning home-plate collisions, manager John Farrell feels more up to speed. Therefore, he can start preparing his team to make adjustments.
Rule 7.13 was officially announced by Major League Baseball on Monday and will be used on an experimental basis this season.
The way Farrell understands it, the rule doesn't change the way his catchers do their job. They will still be able to block the plate like they have in the past.
It is the runners who are going to be challenged with adapting in that they can no longer initiate contact with the catcher.
"The runner obviously can't have any intent to run a catcher over, and that's defined by lowering the shoulder, extending the arms or elbows out in front of you," said Farrell. "They're may be some incidental contact if an errant throw takes a catcher up the line. The catcher also can't maliciously look to take the plate away or to block the plate that may be above and beyond the normal play or the normal aggressiveness in a play. Plays at the plate are reviewable. If you feel like the plate was blocked before the ball was had, that's a reviewable play."
How will Farrell and his staff instruct his players to handle the new rule?
"We're going to instruct them to slide," Farrell said. "The intent, which I agree with, is to protect catchers from getting injured. I think the common feel with this change or the adjustment to the rule is that there's much less protection for the baserunner. That's where a lot of the pushback is taking place right now. How do we protect the baserunner? If they have to slide feet first and they can't be aggressive, a catcher can be aggressive towards the baserunner. So that's where the interpretation and the intent on both sides, either by the baserunner or the catcher, is a reviewable play."
Nava sidelined with stiff neck
FORT MYERS, Fla. -- When the Red Sox start the exhibition season with Thursday's college doubleheader, there's a chance Daniel Nava won't be cleared to play.
Nava has been dealing with neck stiffness in recent days and is still trying to figure out exactly what the problem is.
"I've got problems with my neck. That's what I've got. That's a really good question. We're trying to get the bottom of that," Nava said. "I actually don't know. I just woke up one day and I'm having hard time looking at the pitcher, and even a harder time swinging. Those are two things I've got to do and I couldn't do them very well."
Nava is taking the positive out of the situation -- that it has happened early in Spring Training.
"It's just a minor little thing I'm working on," Nava said. "There's no point of going too fast and then all of a sudden we're set back two or three weeks. I've been out there for ground balls, throwing, shagging fly balls. The final step will be just getting swings down to make sure everything is good to go."
Nava's neck felt better Monday than it did a couple of days ago.
"He's making progress," said manager John Farrell. "We're hopeful he's going to be swinging a bat tomorrow. Whether or not he's going to be in the lineup on Thursday remains to be seen, but we're making progress."
• Center fielder Grady Sizemore, who hasn't played in the Major Leagues the past two seasons, will be in the starting lineup when the Sox play their first exhibition game against Northeastern University on Thursday afternoon.
• Jake Peavy appears to be back on schedule after missing time earlier in camp with a right ring finger issue. Peavy threw batting practice for the first time on Monday.
"I hope the finger issue's getting behind me," Peavy said. "I'm still getting treatment, but I feel very good using all my pitches and able to work toward getting all those sharp now. Really fastball command today. I threw a couple of changeups, but really it was fastball command and trying to nail that down. Once that's in place, everything else works off it."
Peavy will again throw batting practice on Wednesday, and he thinks he can be right on schedule with Jon Lester, John Lackey and Clay Buchholz during the Grapefruit League schedule.