Notes: Timlin making progress

Notes: Timlin making progress

FORT MYERS, Fla. -- Mike Timlin, sidelined with a strained left oblique, threw Friday for the first time since a 40-pitch side session March 7. Before the outing, Timlin was examined and cleared to take the hill by Red Sox medical director Dr. Thomas Gill.

Timlin, who said he threw for about five to 10 minutes and got out to a distance of 90 to 100 feet, felt good during the brief session.

"We'll see how it feels today and go from there," he said on Saturday.

Manager Terry Francona was cautiously optimistic about his reliever's progress.

"He reported no stiffness, no soreness," Francona said. "It went well. He was examined and got the go ahead."

Francona also talked with Gill, who said the skipper shouldn't let Timlin get ahead of himself with Opening Day rapidly approaching.

"We all get caught up in shooting for Opening Day, which I understand, but it's a lot of games to play, and I would like to have him healthy," said Francona.

Matsuzaka receptive: Francona said Daisuke Matsuzaka, who saw his third Spring Training start on Friday against the Dodgers in Vero Beach called in the top of the third inning due to rain, has been receptive to adjusting his throwing regimen as he prepares to pitch in a five-man rotation.

"He's communicated very well," Francona said. "We don't want to completely redo this guy. We want to get to know him and see what works. There's some things that are going to be different. This guy has been doing it for a long time, and he's been good.

"We don't want to completely change him, but there's some things that have to change, because it's a five-man rotation. But there's going to be, I don't know if 'concessions' is the right word, but changes on both sides. He's already made some. So have we. We just want him to win as many games as he can, [and] be as strong a pitcher as he can for the duration."

An example of those changes, Francona said, is allowing Matsuzaka to stick to a throwing program with which he is familiar.

"He's thrown a little bit more than our [other starters] do," Francona said. "He went down and threw 50 pitches the other day after [his last start]. He wanted to get to a point where he was a little bit fatigued. That was his objective. I understand. He hadn't gotten there yet.

"He was throwing the day before he pitched. Now, he's backed off to where the other guys are. It's all learning. If I said it was a concern, I'd by lying. It's just learning. He is learning us and us learning him. ... We need to be smart enough to understand that and not get in the way of his success."

Lester looking good: Francona was pleased by Jon Lester's outing Friday in a Minor League game against the Twins' Triple-A affiliate. The southpaw, who spent the offseason undergoing chemotherapy treatments, allowed one hit and fanned two batters in two innings of work.

"All the reports were that he was very good," Francona said. "I think it's really encouraging. Nothing continues to be anything but encouraging. I heard he was real good."

When Lester first reported to camp, he was eager to get on a schedule similar to that for the other starters, but the team has tempered his work. Francona believes Lester has since come to accept the slower pace.

"I do think he trusts us," Francona said. "We sat down and spoke to him very honestly, and whether he liked it or not, I think he trusts us. We're not trying to take his competitiveness away, [we are] just trying to ensure that he builds back up to 100 percent strength. Eighty percent of Lester is pretty good, but it's not what we're shooting for. We want him to have a chance to pitch for a long time, being the best he can be. I think on this program we have is the best way to attain that. I think he does understand that, even if he doesn't always like it."

Lester is scheduled to pitch again Wednesday. Francona said leaving Lester in extended Spring Training is likely not an option at this point.

"I don't think so," Francona said. "That would not be one that would be high on my list, because I don't think it's high on his list."

Pedroia OK: Second baseman Dustin Pedroia left Saturday's game against the Reds after being hit below the knuckle of his left pinky finger. X-rays were negative, but, as a precaution, he will not travel with the team Sunday to Fort Lauderdale, Fla., to face the O's.

Green for Red: The Sox will wear the green jerseys and caps they wore in Saturday's St. Patrick's Day game again April 12, when they host the Mariners, as a tribute to legendary Celtics coach and executive Red Auerbach, who died Oct. 28.

Pitching lines: Tim Wakefield, J.C Romero and Brendan Donnelly all started Class A games for the Sox at the Minor League complex on Saturday. Wakefield threw 58 pitches, 47 for strikes, in five scoreless innings, giving up two hits and striking out four. He threw an additional 20 pitches in the bullpen.

Wakefield, who threw several curveballs along with his knuckler and fastball, was pleased with his outing.

"It's tough to read," he said. "Nothing against those kids down there, but it's tough to read, because they're hacking. It's tough to work a count, but you got to take it seriously and try to get your work in, and we accomplished that today by going down there and throwing to those guys."

Romero threw nine pitches in one inning, giving up one hit, striking out one. Donnelly's outing looked a little rougher, at least on paper: two-thirds of an inning, four hits, five runs and one home run over 24 pitches. Francona attributed Donnelly's line to several fielding errors.

Curt Schilling, who prefers to avoid American League East opponents in Grapefruit League games, will start for Pawtucket against Cincinnati's Triple-A club on Sunday at 1 p.m. ET at the Sox's Minor League complex. Kason Gabbard will start against the O's in Fort Lauderdale.

With Friday's rainout, several pitchers, including left-hander Hideki Okajima and righty Manny Delcarmen, are expected to pitch in Minor League games Monday, which was the Sox's only scheduled day off this spring.

Futures at Fenway: The second annual Futures at Fenway Minor League doubleheader is scheduled for Aug. 11 at Fenway Park.

The short-season Class A Lowell Spinners will host the Hudson Valley Renegades of the Devil Rays organization at 12:05 p.m. After that game, the Double-A Portland Sea Dogs will host the Harrisburg Senators, of the Nationals organization.

Tickets, ranging from $5 for upper bleachers to $30 for Green Monster seats, dugout seats, the EMC Club and the State Street Pavilion, go on sale March 24 at 10 a.m. on or by touch-tone phone at (617) 482-4SOX. Fans with disabilities may call (877) REDSOX-9 to purchase accessible seating (while supplies last). The Sox TTY number for hearing-impaired fans is (617) 226-6644.

Schedule correction: The club's Spring Training pocket schedule has the incorrect time for Wednesday's game at Bradenton against the Pirates. The correct start time is 1:05 p.m.

On the move: The Sox made their third round of cuts on Saturday, reducing their Major League Spring Training camp roster to 41 players. Left-hander Craig Breslow, right-hander Travis Hughes and outfielder Brandon Moss were optioned to Triple-A Pawtucket, while right-handers Travis Hughes and Runelvys Hernandez, and infielder Ed Rogers were assigned to Minor League camp.

Up next: The Sox travel to Fort Laurderdale to face the Orioles on Sunday at 1:05 p.m. ET. Gabbard (1-1, 3.86 ERA) is expected to make his fourth Grapefruit League appearance and will be opposed by Daniel Cabrera.

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