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Split Red Sox Squads Split Monday Games — Defeat Jays, Fall to Rays

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Steven Wright (Al Messerschmidt/Getty Images)

Steven Wright (Al Messerschmidt/Getty Images)

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Red Sox-Blue Jays

By MARK DIDTLER,  Associated Press

DUNEDIN, Fla. (AP) _ The knuckleball fraternity was in full force for Monday’s game between the Toronto Blue Jays and Boston Red Sox.

NL Cy Young Award winner R.A. Dickey gave up two runs and four hits in his Toronto spring training debut while fellow knuckleballer Steven Wright pitched two scoreless innings for a Boston split squad in a 4-2 win over the Blue Jays.

“You don’t see that too often,” Toronto manager John Gibbons said of seeing two starters tossing knucklers.

Wright, a minor leaguer, gave up two hits and struck out three. Former Red Sox knuckleballer Tim Wakefield, who is working with Wright, was at the game.

“Just a little nervous because you want to do your best in general, but to have guys with the keen eye for the knuckleball (watching),” Wright said. “But once I got out there I felt pretty good.”

Wright and Dickey have communicated by phone and text in the past. Wright sent a message to Dickey when he arrived for Monday’s game.

“He texted me right before the game,” Dickey said. “There just wasn’t time to connect, so I’ll have to connect with him, hopefully, when he pitches in the big leagues for the Red Sox.”

Dickey was planning to text his Boston counterpart postgame.

“I think he pitched really well,” Dickey said. “I’m pulling for him, of course. I know how hard it is.”

Both pitchers seek advice from Wakefield. Dickey said he faced Wakefield a couple times as a reliever in games the former Red Sox standout started.

“He always has a good insight, so it’s good to get with him when I can, especially to see me pitch live,” Dickey said. “He can tell me if he sees something that’s out of whack or not.”

Red Sox manager John Farrell, who moved from Toronto to Boston during the offseason after managing the Blue Jays in 2011 and `12, was roundly booed by fans when his name was announced during the pregame starting lineup introductions. This was the first time Farrell has faced his former team.

“I appreciate that people might have differing opinions,” Farrell said. “All I can do is go about my work day in and day out. People are going to form their own impressions. I can’t control that. I thoroughly enjoyed the time there.”

The Red Sox scored twice in the first on Jarrod Saltalamacchia’s single and Dickey’s wild pitch. The right-hander gave up a second-inning single to Mitch Maier, but also induced an inning-ending double play from Pedro Ciriaco.

Wright retired Jose Bautista on a fly that reached deep center despite a stiff wind blowing, and Edwin Encarnacion on a grounder after Melky Cabrera hit a one-out double in the first. He struck three and allowed a single during the second.

“That’s the first time I feel like I’ve started against another knuckleballer, and we’re real similar as far as speed,” Dickey said. “I think he threw some really good ones today. And if he stays on that path, and continues to throw strikes with it, I think he has a bright future with it.”

Blue Jays right-hander Josh Johnson followed Dickey and gave up one hit in two shutout innings. Encarnacion hit a solo homer.

Boston’s Jackie Bradley Jr. had three hits and an RBI.
 
 NOTES: Boston RHP Clay Buchholz will pitch in a simulated game on Tuesday. 1B Mike Napoli (hip) will be one of the hitters against Buchholz, who is scheduled to start a spring training game Saturday. … Napoli could get at-bats in an exhibition game on Friday. … Gibbons said his team feels badly that Yankees OF Curtis Granderson, who was hit by a pitch in Sunday’s game between the teams, will be out up to 10 weeks with a broken right forearm. “He’s one of the good guys,” Gibbons said. “It’s unfortunate. He’ll be back better than ever.” … The Blue Jays claimed 1B Lars Anderson on waivers from the Chicago White Sox and transferred RHP Kyle Drabek from the 15- to the 60-day DL. The Red acquired Wright from Cleveland for Anderson last July.
 (© Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. )

Red Sox -Rays
By FRED GOODALL,  AP Sports Writer

PORT CHARLOTTE, Fla. (AP) _ Jamey Wright’s bid to make the Tampa Bay Rays his 10th major league team began with a perfect inning that hardly felt like one to the 38-year-old right-hander.

The veteran of 17 seasons is well versed in spring training routine and said Monday that he doesn’t remembering ever feeling comfortable on the mound in his first outing.

Nevertheless, Wright retired the only batters he faced during a 6-3 victory over a Boston split-squad. He struck out Dustin Pedroia and Shane Victorino, then escaped without allowing a hit when third baseman Ryan Roberts made a diving stop on Jonny Gomes’ hard grounder and scrambled to his feet to throw to first to end the third inning.

“It’s the first time out. It feels like you’re throwing left-handed for some reason,” Wright said. “It’s awful.”

Still, it was difficult to argue with the results. Wright, who has an inside track on landing a job in the bullpen, threw seven pitches _ all for strikes.

“That’s what you hope for. You hope you get out of there unscathed, and that’s what I did. I was lucky. Felt strong for February,” said Wright, who’s played for nine different teams _ two of them twice _ during his career. He appeared in 66 games in relief for the Los Angeles Dodgers last season, going 5-3 with a 3.72 ERA.

“I can’t recall a time when I was just like: `Man, start the season right now.’ I think it’s more the adrenalin thing than anything,” Wright said, reflecting on previous springs. “Running out from the bullpen that first time, or a starter running out from the dugout the first time and getting it going, trying to remember your whole pregame routine from the year before. But that’s why you have spring training.”

Pedroia homered in the first inning off right-hander Alex Cobb and newly acquired Mike Carp had a RBI double off the Tampa Bay starter in his debut for the Red Sox.

Alfredo Aceves started and worked two innings for Boston, allowing a two-run double to Yunel Escobar. He was the Red Sox primary closer in 2012 and expects to get one more outing this spring before leaving camp to represent Mexico in the World Baseball Classic.

“I’m feeling pretty strong,” Aceves said after throwing 29 pitches. “I missed a couple of pitches and walked two, but I felt good out there.”

Carp was obtained in a trade from Seattle last week. He doubled off Cobb to drive in a run in the second inning, then took a third called strike against Cesar Ramos in the fifth.

The first baseman/outfielder was injured trying make a diving catch for the Mariners on opening night last season and wound up appearing in just 59 games while batting .213 with five homers and 20 RBI. He’s excited to have an opportunity to rebound with the Red Sox.

“I’m ready to go,” said Carp, who turns 27 in June. “It’s a fresh start, a new beginning.”

Wright is just as enthusiastic about being in camp with the Rays, who’ve made the playoffs in three of the past five seasons.

Despite being in the majors for nearly two decades, the 1993 first-round draft pick of the Colorado Rockies has never played on a team that advanced to the postseason. The last two major leaguers to play at least 17 years without appearing in the playoffs were Damion Easley (1992-2008) and Danny Darwin (1978-98).

The Rays signed Wright to a minor league contract with an invitation to spring training.

“I thought Jamie was really sharp,” manager Joe Maddon said.

“I felt healthy,” Wright added. “My arm feels great for a young guy, so it’s good.”

 NOTES: With Boston playing a split-squad game, bench coach Torey Lovullo filled in for Red Sox manager John Farrell. Farrell made a much longer trip from Fort Myers to Dunedin, where the rest of the Red Sox faced Toronto _ Farrell’s old team. … When Aceves finished his two-inning stint, he didn’t bother to ice down his pitching arm. Instead, he returned from the clubhouse to the bench to watch the rest of the game. … Maddon said he expects Rays 3B Evan Longoria, who left camp for several days to be with his girlfriend for the birth of their baby, likely will make his spring debut Tuesday.

(© Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. )

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