Terry Francona is off today, in Virginia to attend his son Nick's graduation from the Marine Corps Officer Candidate School at Quantico. Bench coach Brad Mills is in charge today, and he posted what might be the best Red Sox lineup of the spring:
1. Jacoby Ellsbury, CF
2. Dustin Pedroia, 2B
3. David Ortiz, DH
4. Mike Lowell, 3B
5. J.D. Drew, RF
6. Jason Bay, LF
7. Jason Varitek, C
8. Jed Lowrie, SS
9. Paul McAnulty, 1B
-- Clay Buchholz, SP
You'll notice Pedroia at second. He'll get two at-bats today, max. There was discussion about Pedroia potentially getting some time at designated hitter before taking to the field in his return from a slightly strained abdominal muscle.
"I think Pedey wanted to play more than anything else," Mills said. "With not having the DH yesterday and not having the DH tomorrow" -- because the Red Sox were/are playing at National League teams -- "David could probably get those days off, and he needs to swing the bat."
Pedroia's injury really doesn't affect him in the field, anyway. "No, not really," Mills said. "It's more of a swing thing. He's pretty bright about that stuff, as far as getting loose and making sure he's ready. If he says, 'I felt something,' after the first at-bat, we'll make those adjustments, of course."
The other injured star back from the US World Baseball Classic team, Kevin Youkilis, is here, still walking around the clubhouse with a walking boot strapped to his left foot. Not much new on him today; he'll be examined by team physician Peter Asnis tomorrow.
"They're going to wait to see," Mills said. "He's still a little sensitive to the touch, so they have to wait until that kind of subsides a little bit before they do too much. They said he could probably play catch if he wanted to in a boot. How much you can get out of that, I don't know. I think we're going to have to wait until that sensitity subsides a little bit."
Also, there are small updates on two rehabbing pitchers, Brad Penny and John Smoltz. Penny is still on target for a Monday start against the Tigers, which would be his first of the spring against major leaguers. Smoltz is targeted to throw off of a mound for the first time Wednesday.
Finally, Mills offered a nice thought on Terry and Nick Francona.
"That's a pretty cool setup that Nick has gone through," Mills said. "It's a pretty hard few weeks that Nick has gone through. That's cool. I'm excited for him. Anytime your kids accomplish something like that, it's going to be cool."