3/2/2014 6:30 P.M. ET
Middlebrooks takes Yaz's praise to heart
By Ian Browne / MLB.com
FORT MYERS, Fla. -- Count Hall of Famer Carl Yastrzemski among those who believe Will Middlebrooks will have a bounce-back season in 2014.
"I like the way Middlebrooks is swinging," said Yaz, who made his first appearance of the spring Sunday. "Talked to him a little bit and he said he's thinking up the middle more this year. I think he's going to have a great year. He's got a quick bat. There's no reason for him not to hit .300. If he doesn't think 'pulling the ball' and just lets his reactions take over, he's going to have a hell of a year."
Of hearing what Yaz said, Middlebrooks responded, "Of course it means a lot. I have a lot of respect for him and how he played the game and obviously his success and what he means to this organization. It means a lot. For him to come up and say he's coming to watch me take BP … and he has something to say. He wants to help out. It means a lot to me. I had a good talk with him."
When Middlebrooks was in the lower levels of Boston's farm system, he was one of the many players Yaz would work with in the batting cage.
"That was before I understood who he was and what he had done," Middlebrooks said. "I think it means a little more now."
As for the notion that Middlebrooks might have been too pull-happy last year?
"Not purposely," Middlebrooks said. "It's just something with my body, I don't know. Yeah [I was], but not purposely. I've never gone up there with the intent to just pull the ball."
Fishing-knife mishap delays Peavy's spring debut
FORT MYERS, Fla. -- Red Sox right-hander Jake Peavy suffered a laceration of his left index finger and will miss his scheduled start against the Pirates on Monday.
Peavy suffered the injury at home, cutting his finger on a fishing knife. Red Sox manager John Farrell said the righty was fortunate because it could have been a lot worse.
"This was a freak one," Farrell said. "Honestly, he avoided some serious injury with what took place. He was trying to cut through something and when it gave way, it almost cut through his left index finger."
In a baseball sense, Peavy was also highly fortunate that he cut his non-throwing hand.
"The fact is, we can pad that index finger too, when it's on his glove hand," Farrell said. "Nowhere near the impact had it been the other hand."
The Red Sox hope Peavy can still start the regular season on time.
"It probably depends on when he gets back to his throwing program and how fast we can get him back to the mound," Farrell said.
Peavy won't throw for three days, according to Farrell. The training staff will re-evaluate him after that.
"We can keep his arm in shape, but he's a scratch for [Monday]," said Farrell, who will send Brandon Workman to the mound in Peavy's place.
Earlier in Spring Training, Peavy had an injury to his right ring finger that cleared up after a few days. Monday would have been his first Grapefruit League start.
Napoli goes deep, off to healthy start at camp
FORT MYERS, Fla. -- Unlike a year ago, when Mike Napoli almost felt like he was wearing training wheels, he is off to a strong and productive start this Spring Training.
The right-handed slugger mashed a two-run homer in Sunday's 8-6 win over the Orioles and also made a strong leaping stab of a line drive.
After being diagnosed with a hip condition entering the 2013 season, the Red Sox put him on a conservative program at the start of camp. But Napoli proved that his hip wasn't an issue, and he is thrilled to be on a normal schedule this year.
"It's way different than last year, to not have restrictions on me," Napoli said. "I think I started running when we started playing games last year. This year I ran the whole offseason to get my lower body in shape. It's a lot different. Not that I really worried about my hips or anything last year, but … I'm free to do what I've been doing earlier in my career. My lower half feels better coming into this spring."
Napoli also has a full season under his belt as a full-time first baseman and has proven to be quite adept at that position.
It showed in the fourth inning when he snared that liner off the bat of Francisco Peguero.
"I thought I mistimed it at first," Napoli said. "From a right-hander coming that way, I thought it was harder than it was. I'm just trying to compete, play the game and get my body in shape."
Victorino playing it safe to stave off injuries
FORT MYERS, Fla. -- Though Shane Victorino proved long ago that he's the type of player who will go out there at less than 100 percent, he is on board with the medical staff's decision to be conservative this spring.
Victorino hasn't played in a Grapefruit League game yet, and it could be a bit before he does, as he tries to strengthen the areas (back, hamstring, etc.) that plagued him at various times last season.
"I want to get back out there," Victorino said. "We're just making sure we don't have the things that happened last year, and we're focusing on that. It's nothing more than just that. We don't want to deal with the same things we did last year."
The right fielder was limited to 122 games in 2013, his lowest total since his September callup in 2005.
"Just making sure we attack those things early and get them to the point where it's not going to act up," Victorino said. "Can it happen? Yes. But why not take the more precautionary route doing the little things now, to get prepared and be ready as quick as we can here? I want to get back out there and get into game mode and get some repetition under my belt."
If the Red Sox were in a pennant race, Victorino would probably be trying to push the envelope. But he knows March isn't the time for that.
"I'm on board," Victorino said. "They know better than me sometimes, when it comes to that kind of thing. For me, I want to go. But I understand they know what they're doing and they feel like this is the best plan to try to minimize what happened last year."
Doubront's offseason work impresses in first action
FORT MYERS, Fla. -- Lefty Felix Doubront looks determined to have a more consistent season in 2014. He has increased his offseason training routine and tuned up his mechanics.
The results were there on Sunday, as Doubront fired two shutout innings against the Orioles, allowing one hit while walking none and striking out three.
"He really put himself in a good position to execute pitches today," said manager John Farrell. "It was encouraging to see, the quality of the strikes he threw with his fastball in particular, a very good changeup, a really good start to build off of for his first outing in camp here."
Doubront's biggest mechanical adjustment has been to quicken his hands.
"Yeah, I'm just working in the offseason and obviously right here to try to shorten my arm a little bit more, and I think that helps to get more control," Doubront said. "I feel really good."
With Doubront's arsenal of pitches, it's not out of the realm of possibility that he could become a 15-game winner or thereabouts this season. Last year, he went 11-6 with a 4.32 ERA.
"My goal is to win as many games as possible. The first thing is to stay healthy," Doubront said. "I won 11 games [last year], so 15 is right there. It's really close."
• For all the talk about Grady Sizemore's comeback attempt, Jackie Bradley Jr. looks focused on making a strong push to be the starting center fielder. In Sunday's game, he lofted a double off the Green Monster and laced a single up the middle.
"I thought he picked his spots," manager John Farrell said. "Against left-handers, he looked first-pitch fastball. When he stays in the middle of the field like we saw last spring … there's an understanding of the strike zone. He got himself in a couple of hitter's counts today, and he's going to get regular ABs to get his timing down."
• Edward Mujica made his debut with the Red Sox on Sunday, firing a scoreless inning. He looks healthy again after losing his job as the Cardinals' closer late last season.
"He's going to throw the ball over the plate, he's a strike thrower, he's been fine," Farrell said. "He's responded well. Given what he went through last year, we've cut his bullpens to every third day. He's responded favorably to that. He's right on track.
• The Red Sox signed Bo Greenwell, the son of former left fielder Mike Greenwell, to a Minor League contract. Bo Greenwell was selected by the Indians in sixth round of the 2007 First-Year Player Draft. The 25-year-old lives in Fort Myers and is a.278 hitter over 1,962 career at-bats in the Minors.