Morning report: Seeing stars tonight

February, 27, 2013
2/27/13
9:51
AM ET
FORT MYERS, Fla. -- Good morning from the Fort, where the Red Sox are sending their “A” team to Sarasota on Wednesday night to play the Baltimore Orioles.

Franklin Morales is scheduled to make his first spring start. Also scheduled to throw are Drake Britton, Junichi Tazawa, Joel Hanrahan, Koji Uehara, Andrew Bailey and Andrew Miller. Britton projects to be one of the anchors of the Pawtucket rotation, while the latter five should claim spots in the bullpen.

Regulars scheduled to make the trip include Jacoby Ellsbury, Jonny Gomes, Shane Victorino, Jarrod Saltalamacchia, Will Middlebrooks, Dustin Pedroia and Stephen Drew.

Back in the Fort, left-hander Felix Doubront is scheduled to throw a session of live BP Wednesday morning.

Here’s how the starting pitching lines up the next few days:

* Thursday vs. Pirates at Bradenton: John Lackey
* Friday vs. Pirates at the Fort: Jon Lester (Doubront is scheduled for a light throwing/flat ground session)
* Saturday vs. Twins at Hammond Stadium: Clay Buchholz (with Alfredo Aceves to follow)
* Sunday vs. Yankees at the Fort: Ryan Dempster
* Monday vs. Rays at the Fort: Doubront (assuming all goes well between now and then).

Terry Francona, who used to hold off on announcing his Opening Day pitcher for as long as he could when he was here, startled the Boston media corps when it was learned that he had announced Justin Masterson would pitch the Indians’ first game of the season. Farrell wouldn’t go there, but it’s obvious by the way the rotation is set up that Lester is on track to pitch the April 1 opener against the Yankees.

Farrell figures there’s no need to announce anything now, since a health issue could crop up that could require some shuffling. But as it stands, the rotation looks like this: Lester, Buchholz, Dempster, Doubront, Lackey. That would put Buchholz on track to pitch the home opener April 8 against the Orioles.

Rookie to watch: No, we’re not talking Jackie Bradley Jr. here; he’s already on your radar. And Xander Bogaerts is in Taiwan training with Team Netherlands. Keep an eye on catcher Christian Vazquez, the 22-year-old from Puerto Rico we told you about the other day, and mentioned again Monday after he made a spectacular throw to gun down Tampa Bay’s Mike Fontenot attempting to steal. I talked to a big-league scout who mentioned how impressed he was with the way Vazquez handled two popups in a tricky wind that day, in addition to the great throw. “He’s legit,’’ the scout said. “Reminds me of Carlos Ruiz of the Phillies. He’ll play in the big leagues.’’

Vazquez figures to begin 2013 in Double-A Portland.

Gordon Edes

Red Sox reporter, ESPNBoston.com

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