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Christian Vazquez insists he’ll be ready for opener

The Red Sox will determine Friday whether Christian Vazquez needs an MRI.Tony Gutierrez/AP

FORT MYERS, Fla. — Red Sox starting catcher Christian Vazquez has a sore right elbow/triceps and has played in only one major league spring training game since March 13. When the Sox played the Twins Thursday at JetBlue Park, Vazquez was the only “regular” not penciled into the Boston lineup.

Humberto Quintero did the catching against Minnesota and Blake Swihart will don the shin guards Friday when the Sox play the Braves in Orlando.

According to manager John Farrell, Vazquez is “progressing,’’ but the Sox are still trying to gauge whether he’ll be healthy enough for the start of the season April 6. Vazquez plans to catch in a minor league game Friday.


Vazquez has been limited since suffering elbow soreness in mid-March. The elbow soreness led to alterations in his throwing mechanics, which in turn led to soreness in the triceps. He has caught in minor league games, but according to Farrell, Vazquez is “not 100 percent to turn him loose in an ‘A’ game. We’re building up to that.”

But in a brief interview Thursday, Vazquez said he’ll be ready for the season opener in Philadelphia “for sure.’’

“I have a little pain in my tricep, but it’s better every day and I’m happy for that,’’ he said. “I’ll be in a game soon.

“I don’t know what happened, but the amount of throwing I did this spring was normal. Part of my job. It’s the first time I’d have this.

“I’m going to be ready.’’

Vazquez has not undergone an MRI, but he’ll be examined Friday to determine whether one is necessary. That exam, in concert with how Vazquez is able to handle games, will give the Sox some clarity as to whether he’s likely to open the year on the roster or disabled list.

Castillo connects

Rusney Castillo’s first-pitch, walkoff homer in the 10th delivered the Red Sox a 5-4 victory over the Twins Thursday. On a day when David Ortiz (RBI), Shane Victorino (single), and Mike Napoli returned to the lineup, the Sox banged out 12 hits and sent the crowd of 10,003 home happy. “I think I’m pretty close to where I want to be,” said Castillo via interpreter Adrian Lorenzo, “especially recently coming back from an injury. What’s been helpful is to continue to have my disciplined routine and not just in the cages with the medical staff and everything. I feel pretty close to where I want to be.” . . . Wade Miley became the first Sox pitcher to go six innings in a game, and Junichi Tazawa picked up the win with a scoreless 10th.


A step for Uehara

Koji Uehara (hamstring) threw 60 pitches on flat ground and plans to throw off a mound Saturday. Farrell said Uehara might be ready for a minor league game by Monday. “Today was a sizable step forward with Koji,” said Farrell . . . While the Sox are still trying to get a read on how often Victorino can play this year, Farrell said he is not expected to require a season-opening stint on the DL. “We’re not thinking along those lines right now,” Farrell said. “It’s just trying to get our arms around the durability and endurance, the number of reps on a consecutive basis. We’ll have more information, but to say by next Friday he’ll play X number of games per week, I can’t today sit here and tell you that.”


Calm down

Farrell said that Xander Bogaerts has been “jumpy” at the plate. The shortstop was 3 for 21 in his last 11 games before Thursday, but changed his luck with a soft double and a popup single. He’s working with hitting coach Chili Davis to restore calm to his approach . . . Rick Porcello will pitch in a minor league game Saturday while Steven Wright gets the nod against the Rays in Port Charlotte.

Roster paring

The Red Sox made a round of cuts, optioning four members of the 40-man roster to Pawtucket — infielder Garin Cecchini, outfielder Bryce Brentz, and relievers Zeke Spruill and Heath Hembree — reassigning lefthander Henry Owens to minor league camp, and releasing reliever Mitchell Boggs. While Owens showed progress in some respects, particularly in adding more power to his curveball, inconsistent command led to an 8.74 ERA and uneven performances in 11⅓ innings. “He himself was able to gain valuable experience against more seasoned hitters,” said Farrell. “There’s still work to be done, obviously, particularly with command to the glove side of the plate. He showed an improved breaking ball with added tightness and sharpness to the pitch. There’s still work to be done.”

Owens described his second big league camp as having been productive, affording him greater comfort with his teammates and the big league coaching staff. He noted that he’s been working on his delivery with an eye toward the remaining work that Farrell outlined.


“Probably 75 percent [of what the team asked him to do in camp] was fulfilled, and now the last 25 percent is getting ready, getting innings under my belt, opening the gate and flying into the season,” said Owens. “I’m close. I’m comfortable on the mound. I just need to get used to these mechanical adjustments.

“I made strides with my delivery. As of late, I kind of strayed from that, but I’ve just got to develop more repetition, get more muscle memory. But in the whole camp, I was supposed to progress with my curveball and add power to that. I can check that off the list, take that into the season and continue to roll with that.”

Cecchini, who spent all of spring training at third base (where he showed progress), will also play first base and left field with Pawtucket to offer more potential pathways to the big leagues. Cecchini hit .282 with a .282 OBP and .333 slugging mark this spring.

“With the configuration of our big league roster and certainly with Pablo [Sandoval] entrenched at third, we’re going to look to create some defensive versatility with Garin,” said Farrell. “The way he’s swung the bat when he came up last September and the way he’s swung the bat this spring, it looks like his bat will be ready before a defensive opening at third base is going to present itself.

“He’s embraced it, and I think he’s seen a number of players go before him that the versatility has created, it can allow them to break through and land a spot on the big league club, whether it’s [Daniel] Nava adding first base, whether it’s Mookie [Betts] going to the outfield, Brock Holt. That list is growing by pretty tangible examples.


“You create some versatility, you make yourself that much more valuable.”

Dan Shaughnessy is a Globe columnist. He can be reached at Follow him on Twitter @dan_shaughnessy. Follow Alex Speier on Twitter at@alexspeier.