Notes: Lester among first round of cuts

Notes: Lester among first round of roster cuts

FORT MYERS, Fla. -- The Red Sox made their first round of roster cuts Monday, sending down 13 players, including top-rated pitching prospect Jon Lester.

After starting against Team Australia on March 5, when he gave up three hits in two scoreless innings, Lester faced big-league hitters for the first time Saturday against the Pirates, getting roughed up in two innings of relief -- giving up four runs on three hits and two walks, while striking out two.

Despite being sent down to the Minors, Lester is expected to get two more big-league starts this spring, including Thursday against the Devil Rays.

"We talked to him [Monday] morning," manager Terry Francona said. "He pitched real well in the [Australia] game and then he faced the Pirates, and that was his first Major League game. ... He said the atmosphere is different. So, that was good. He got a taste of it. But I watched him. He sits in the dugout and he watches, he learns. He's a very smart kid. His stuff is very good.

"I told him, 'Even though you're pitching the next two times out and you've been sent down, this is an opportunity for you. This isn't a send-down. You were in camp for a reason -- let everybody get a look at you.' Let him kind of soak it in and learn. He's got a bright future. I just want to make sure that he understands working your way toward that bright future should be fun."

In addition to Lester, pitchers Abe Alvarez, Edgar Martinez, David Pauley and Jermaine Van Buren, as well as outfielders Brandon Moss and David Murphy were optioned to Triple-A Pawtucket.

Pitchers Tim Bausher and Franklin Nunez, infielders Luis A. Jimenez, Rodney Nye and Josh Pressley, and outfielder Tyler Minges were reassigned to Minor League camp.

The Red Sox roster now stands at 47 players.

Clement shines: Making his first Grapefruit League start, Matt Clement pitched four scoreless innings against the Dodgers on Monday, scattering two hits while fanning three batters without issuing a walk.

"I thought Clement was very good," Francona said.

Clement was 10-2 with a 3.85 ERA before the All-Star break, but the right-hander struggled after the Midsummer Classic, going 3-4 with a 5.72 ERA. In Game ! of the American League Division Series against the White Sox, the right-hander allowed eight runs in 3 1/3 innings of work.

Despite being the subject of trade rumors during the offseason, Clement, who was hit in the head by a line drive off Carl Crawford's bat on July 26, is just concentrating on getting ready for the upcoming season.

"If they trade me, they're going to trade me," he told The Associated Press. "There's nothing I can do about it."

Little returns: The Dodgers' Grady Little returned as a visiting manager to City of Palms Park for the first time Monday. For the former Red Sox skipper, it was no big deal.

"It's no more special than any other game we're playing in Spring Training," said Little, who exchanged pregame greetings with Trot Nixon, Gabe Kapler, hitting coach Ron Jackson and general manager Theo Epstein. "I get to see a lot of friends that I haven't seen in a long time. Other than that, it's no big deal."

Asked how he thought Sox fans would remember his tenure at the team's helm, Little replied: "I'm sure that anything that's happened in the past, if someone wants to remember it, they're welcome to. They've got that right to remember stuff and have their own opinion of what's happened in the past. But as far as I'm concerned, I'm just going forward."

Former Sox coach and scout Dave Jauss, now Little's bench coach in Los Angeles, also made the trip. No other Sox-turned-Dodgers, including Derek Lowe, Bill Mueller and Nomar Garciaparra, made the trip from the Dodgers' Vero Beach spring home.

Ramon Martinez was the only player with more than a year of Major League service in the Dodgers' starting lineup.

Schilling on Duffy dust-up: Pitcher Curt Schilling did not want to respond to comments made by Pittsburgh center fielder Chris Duffy, who was hit in the helmet by a Schilling fastball on Saturday in Bradenton, leaving the Pirate with a mild concussion.

Told that Schilling thought Duffy should have been able to get out of the way of the pitch, the center fielder told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, "I didn't see that I could have gotten out of the way. I understand it's part of the game -- trying to establish the inside part of the plate -- but it's a Spring Training game. For as long as he's been around, he should understand there are certain things you don't say. If you want to get a point across [by pitching inside], you should have enough control not to hit somebody in the head. I heard he hit a Minor League kid in the head a few days ago. Maybe it was the Minor League kid's fault he got hit, you know?

"Sometimes you just have to take responsibility for your own actions and go about it in a classy way. I felt he didn't do it that way. But no hard feelings. It's part of the game, and I know he didn't hit me on purpose. But what he said, to me, it just wasn't right."

Schilling did not go into great detail on Duffy's comments.

"I'm not going to elaborate on it, because [the media] won't be able to translate it," he said. "I'm not going to elaborate on it, because it's not going to come out right. I can understand how he could take that to be what I didn't want it to be. I'll handle it."

Asked if he would give Duffy a phone call, Schilling quipped: "I already gave him a ring."

Who's on first? Francona must decide how to split up time at first base between two talented players, Kevin Youkilis and J.T. Snow.

"I'd like both of them to hit so good, it's hard to make a decision," the skipper said. "We try to find the right guy where we could have Youkilis play enough, because we think he's ready, but at the same time, take a load off of him and, a guy that can really catch the ball, be a professional, handle that responsibility. We think we got the right guy."

Snow played first Monday against the Dodgers, while Youkilis was at third base.

"I think he'll get better," Francona said of Youkilis. "I think he's the kind of hitter where he will improve as he goes. As long as you keep the line moving, we're going to have success.

"Youkilis, for a young hitter, I think is better than anybody I've seen. He gets [mad] when he swings at a bad pitch. He commands the strike zone, and as he plays more, he's going to walk more, because the umpires are going to give him those pitches."

Francona said he thought Youkilis was adjusting well to the switch to first.

"I didn't think there would be any problems," said Francona, who added that Youkilis is improving his reaction skills.

Pitching in: Schilling and Tim Wakefield will oppose each other in a game at the Minor League complex on Wednesday. Josh Bard will catch for Wakefield. David Wells, who threw 10 minutes of batting practice Saturday, will pitch in a game at the Minor League complex on Thursday.

Coming up: The Red Sox host the Reds on Tuesday at City of Palms Park. Right-hander Bronson Arroyo gets the start, and he will be opposed by Cincinnati's Aaron Harang. Game time is 1:05 p.m. ET.

Maureen Mullen is a contributor to This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.