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Red Sox Spring Training Update (3/19-25): Lester to Start Opening Day, Jenks Charged with DUI

Dustin Pedroia reacts after getting hit by a pitch during Thursday's Spring Training game against the Yankees. X-Rays were negative, and Pedroia returned Saturday. (AP Photo/Charles Krupa)

Ladies and gentlemen, we have a new Spring Training Player of the Week! With a .571 batting average, three runs, four doubles and an RBI in four games, Mike Aviles takes over. Hopefully this award propels him to a fantastic season, finally giving the Red Sox some stability at shortstop.

In other Spring Training news, Bobby Valentine picked Jon Lester to start Opening Day for the second consecutive year. And in a moment of true stupidity, Bobby Jenks crashed his car after taking too many muscle relaxers early Friday morning. Lee County police officers arrested Jenks and charged him with DUI.

The Red Sox finally had a bad week, going 1-6-1, bringing their record back to .500. Sports of Boston’s weekly Spring Training Update fills you in on the rest.

Twins 8, Red Sox 4

Jacoby Ellsbury‘s RBI single in the third Monday capped a three-run inning, and he finished with two of Boston’s nine hits.

The Red Sox led 3-2 going into the sixth, but Mark Melancon gave up a bases-loaded double to Minnesota center fielder Joe Benson, earning a blown save and the loss. Another rough outing from Scott Atchison (4.91 ERA in five appearances) made it 8-3 heading into the bottom of the ninth.

Felix Doubront started and went 4.2 innings, giving up two earned runs on eight hits, a walk and three strikeouts. Andrew Bailey allowed just a walk in a scoreless seventh.

Blue Jays 9, Red Sox 2

Daniel Bard started, giving up three runs in the second inning Tuesday but limiting Toronto to just a hit and a walk through his other four. Bard’s ability to let the second inning go suggests he has the composure to start games.

The Red Sox got two runs back in the bottom of the second on Aviles’ double and Kelly Shoppach‘s first home run of the preseason, but otherwise Blue Jays pitchers dominated, limiting the Red Sox to just five hits and a walk Tuesday.

Bard took the loss, but the bullpen really failed, allowing six additional earned runs. Of the five relievers Boston used, only Andrew Miller didn’t allow a run, and only because he left after two pitches with a strained hamstring. It was Miller’s second injury this March.

Pirates 6, Red Sox 5

Lester rewarded Valentine by struggling badly in his first start since Valentine chose him, giving up four runs on eight hits, two walks and a strikeout in just three innings Wednesday.

The Red Sox overcame that, however, thanks in part to a double by Adrian Gonzalez followed by a home run from Jarrod Saltalamacchia in the third that made it 4-3. Gonzalez tied the game an inning later with an RBI double. Both he and Saltalamacchia finished 2-for-3.

Non-roster first baseman Mauro Gomez‘s home run gave Boston a 5-4 lead heading into the bottom of the seventh, but Bailey gave up a two-run shot to Pittsburgh center fielder Nate McLouth. The Red Sox had a man in scoring position in the bottom of the ninth, but Gomez flew out to end the game and hand Bailey his first loss.

Red Sox 4, Yankees 4

The Red Sox primarily used non-roster pitchers Thursday against the Yankees, with starter Aaron Cook giving up two earned runs on four hits and two strikeouts in four innings. Ross Ohlendorf gave up two more over the next three, giving the Yankees a 4-0 lead through seven.

Melancon’s perfect eighth may have inspired the Red Sox, because that’s when the bats finally came alive. The Red Sox strung together four consecutive hits, including three doubles. Lars Anderson‘s RBI double cut the Yankees’ lead to 4-3.

The Yankees sent minor leaguer George Kontos to the mound to close, but two hits including a double by Aviles put men on second and third. Jason Repko‘s sacrifice bunt tied the game. Does this mean Valentine’s Red Sox may actually play smallball?

Boston and New York will play each other 18 times this season. No wonder they opted to abandon this preseason game after nine innings.

Orioles 6, Red Sox 5

So far, the 2012 starting rotation doesn’t look any better than the 2011 rotation that derailed the team. Clay Buchholz started against Baltimore Friday, giving up five runs on seven hits including two homers. He walked one and struck out three.

Center fielder Adam Jones put the Orioles up 2-0 after one inning, but the Red Sox answered immediately. Repko’s single with two men on put the Red Sox on the board, and a passed ball tied the game 2-2 in the top of the second.

The Orioles went back up 4-2 in the bottom of the third on a two-run blast from Nick Markakis, then scored again in the fourth and sixth.

Boston nearly mounted a comeback, with Daniel Nava‘s single in the eighth cutting Baltimore’s lead to one, but Boston went 1-2-3 in the ninth, handing Buchholz his second loss of the season.

The Red Sox also optioned or reassigned six players Friday, headlined by Junichi Tazawa going to Triple A.

Phillies 10, Red Sox 5

Saturday’s game was over after four innings. Alfredo Aceves started and gave up nine earned runs on 10 hits – three for home runs – in three innings. Michael Bowden allowed another run, making it 10-2 Philadelphia.

The Red Sox never had a chance in this one, but they still managed a few note-worthy plays. Ellsbury’s triple cut the Phillies’ lead to 6-2 after two, and Peter Hissey‘s two-RBI double made it 10-5 after eight. Nick Punto also went 3-for-4.

Though Aceves and Bowden struggled on the mound, Franklin Morales and Vicente Padilla each pitched a perfect inning. Padilla’s inning was particularly encouraging, having strained a hamstring earlier in the week.

Saturday also marked the return of Dustin Pedroia, who’d suffered a bruised forearm after getting hit by a pitch against the Yankees. Results were negative, and Pedroia went 0-for-4 in his first game back.

Red Sox 4, Marlins 1

The Red Sox got a terrific start from Felix Doubront in their second game Saturday, with Doubront giving up just a (home) run on five hits, a walk and two strikeouts in six innings. The relief trio of Doug Mathis, Clayton Mortensen and Justin Thomas combined for three perfect innings with three strikeouts.

Boston’s hitters belted out 10 hits against Miami pitching, effectively winning the game with a three-run first. Pedro Ciriaco (2-for-3) put runners at the corners with a double, then three batters later Ryan Lavarnway (2-for-3) singled to put Boston up 3-0.

Blue Jays 6, Red Sox 5

Bard’s transition to the starting rotation just isn’t going very well. He gave up five runs in six innings Sunday, and unlike Tuesday allowed runs to score in four different innings. He also coughed up leads of 3-0 and 5-3, a very concerning problem for Bard this Spring Training.

The Red Sox scored first Sunday when Aviles led off with a double and Ellsbury drove him in with a triple. Gonzalez then scored Ellsbury with a sacrifice fly to center for a 2-0 lead.

The Red Sox went up 3-0 in the second on an RBI double from Aviles (3-4, two doubles, two runs, RBI) before Bard let the Blue Jays back in the game. The Red Sox re-took the lead when Darnell McDonald‘s triple scored both Aviles and Gonzalez, but the Blue Jays tied it again in the bottom of the sixth.

Boston’s next three relievers held Toronto to just one hit, but Toronto’s pitchers also dominated, leading to a 5-5 tie entering extra innings. Mathis loaded the bases with none out in the bottom of the 10th, and Ricardo Nanita‘s single gave Toronto the walk-off win.

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