Notes: Who's on first for Red Sox?

Notes: Who's on first for Red Sox?

FORT MYERS, Fla. -- Don't look for Red Sox manager Terry Francona to go with a platoon at first base. Right-handed-hitting Kevin Youkilis will be the primary guy, and veteran left-hander J.T. Snow will be mixed in for certain games.

Youkilis, entering his first season as an everyday player, has looked ready for the added responsibility. He'll be out there at first base and batting eighth on Monday, when the Red Sox open their season in Texas.

Though he's hitting just .214 in 42 Grapefruit League at-bats, Youkilis has clubbed three homers and driven in nine runs.

"I think Youk's had a great spring swinging the bat," Francona said. "He's still commanding the strike zone, but his swing is getting more aggressive. That's what you want in a young player -- to continue to get better. But J.T. will certainly play. When you get into the season, we'll try to use common sense. Sometimes when a guy gets hot, he might play more."

How will Francona know when the right time is for Snow to start?

"I don't know that I can give you an answer on that," Francona said. "I certainly always have the numbers available. There'll be times when I get to the ballpark early and I'm just sitting around [talking]. I'll look at some video, see how guys look. Some of it is just talking to them. Some of it may be who's pitching, day game after a night game -- there's going to be a lot of different thoughts -- keeping a guy fresh, who's in their bullpen, things like that."

Youkilis also should get some starts at third base when Mike Lowell needs a day off. Snow figures to get plenty of action as a late-game defensive replacement.

Manny wows with glove: A hitting machine, Manny Ramirez sometimes fools people into thinking he isn't capable of pulling off spectacular feats with his mitt.

But there Ramirez was on Wednesday, making several nifty plays.

The most spectacular was a deep fly ball off the bat of Pirates slugger Jason Bay. On the crack of the bat, Ramirez raced back to the wall, lunged up and hauled it in. Earlier in the game, he reached over the railing in foul territory to make a catch.

"He's spent a lot of time working in the outfield," said Francona. "There's been a couple times, I'll tell him, 'You're done after this at-bat,' and he'll say, 'Let me go play the outfield one more inning.' That was a nice play."

Mohr than meets the eye: Dustan Mohr has an "out" in his contract that would allow him to be a free agent if he chooses. The reason for the clause was so Mohr could prevent having to go to the Minor Leagues.

But after getting acclimated to the Red Sox this spring and feeling comfortable, Mohr isn't sure if he'd be better off leaving the organization or starting the year at Triple-A Pawtucket.

"I have a good idea which way I'm going, but I don't want to make it official yet," said Mohr. "There's still a couple of days, so we'll see. It's a tough situation. I know that it's not anything I've done. I think the circumstances were just unfortunate for me. There's not much I can do. I've taken care of what I can control."

Mohr was a front-runner to be a backup outfielder before the trade on March 20 that brought Wily Mo Pena over from Cincinnati.

Holtz sharp: Though he won't make the team, left-hander Mike Holtz, a non-roster invitee, has had a solid camp. Holtz fired 1 1/3 innings on Wednesday, striking out three.

The Red Sox will open the season without a left-handed specialist, but Holtz is someone the club figures to keep a close eye on in Pawtucket.

"I think he's shown [that] at some point this year he might be able to help us out," said Francona. "I think we feel that way. He's got kind of a decent direction with lefties. I'm not sure I'd term him a left-on-left guy. He's faced only five or six or seven this spring just by the luck of the draw, but he can create a pretty good angle. He's got a nice little slider and changeup to righties."

Holtz has pitched 350 games in the Major Leagues, posting a 4.68 ERA. He pitched for the Yokohama Bay Stars of Japan last year.

Another clean outing for Foulke: Closer Keith Foulke wasn't as sharp as in previous outings, but he kept his Grapefruit League ERA at 0.00 by pitching a scoreless fifth inning.

"I thought he left a couple changeups up," Francona said. "I don't think he was quite as sharp as he has been. He'll bounce back and pitch [Thursday]. I don't think that's uncommon or out of the ordinary. It will be nice to see him come back tomorrow and be a little bit crisper."

Choi still sore: First baseman Hee-Seop Choi stayed indoors and worked with the trainers a day after tweaking his left hamstring. Choi hopes the injury only sets him back for a couple of days.

He thinks the reason for the injury is he didn't get into game shape as quickly this spring as in years past. One of the reasons for that is the fact he was used primarily as a designated hitter during the World Baseball Classic.

Coming up: The Red Sox will play their final exhibition game in Florida on Thursday, when they host the Reds at 1:05 p.m. ET. Tim Wakefield will face former teammate Bronson Arroyo. The Sox will have a late morning workout at City of Palms on Friday before boarding a plane for two exhibition games in Philadelphia this weekend.

Ian Browne is a reporter for This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.