FORT MYERS, Fla. -- Whatever rust Jacoby Ellsbury might have had initially after playing just 18 games last season seems to have disappeared. The center fielder is off to a red-hot start this spring, continuing with Saturday's 3-for-3 performance that included two doubles and a home run.
Ellsbury is hitting .444 in 25 at-bats.
If you are surprised how swiftly Ellsbury is reacclimating to the game after last season's rib woes, he isn't.
"I knew a while ago, coming into Spring Training, that I was ready to go," Ellsbury said. "It's no surprise to me."
The leadoff man wasted no time beginning his offseason routine.
"Yeah, I did quite a bit," Ellsbury said. "Got a lot of work in. My main thing was just to be ready Day 1 of Spring Training."
Ellsbury is a big difference-maker in Boston's lineup when he's making things happen at the top of the order.
"I think it's pretty safe to say he feels good about himself at the plate," said Red Sox manager Terry Francona. "He looks real good. And again, sometimes that comes and goes in the spring because of the sporadic play. But especially the last couple of days, he's really looked good."
Lackey getting closer to regular-season ready
FORT MYERS, Fla. -- John Lackey still has a few starts left in Spring Training, but he looks like he's just about ready to pitch in games that count.
The veteran righty continued his steady Grapefruit League groove, firing 4 1/3 innings against the Marlins on Saturday, allowing six hits and a run. He walked none and struck out three.
Why did he come back to face one hitter in the fifth?
"They just wanted me to get up five times," Lackey said. "I did the fifth inning in the bullpen last time. It's just different. Live bullets are a little bit different than in the bullpen."
In three spring outings, Lackey has a 1.74 ERA. He hasn't given up more than one run in any of his outings.
Lackey stretched out to 75 pitches.
"I feel good about location right now," said Lackey. "Today I pitched more like I would during the season. I incorporated a lot more pitches today as opposed to the first two times, I was pretty fastball-heavy. Today was more like a regular-season start and I was able to throw some offspeed pitches behind in the count and do some things that I need to do in the season."
Young players part of first round of Sox cuts
FORT MYERS, Fla. -- With just one split-squad day left in the Grapefruit League schedule, the Red Sox made their first round of cuts on Saturday morning.
Right-hander Stolmy Pimentel and infielder Oscar Tejeda were optioned to Double-A Portland.
The club re-assigned the following players to Minor League camp: Right-handers Tony Pena Jr., Jason Rice, Clevelan Santeliz, Kyle Wilson and Alex Wilson; catchers Tim Federowicz and Ryan Lavarnway; infielders Brent Dlugach and Hector Luna; and outfielder Che-Hsuan Lin.
"They're basically the younger guys," said Red Sox manager Terry Francona. "Kind of a blanket statement is, you get to a point in the spring where we're really pleased with the amount of reps that everyone has gotten. But from this point forward, it would start being more scarce, which is unfair to them.
"The first group is always the younger guys, and they need to go get ready for their season. We explain that to them. I don't think they ever know what day [the cuts will be], but I think they understand that it gets to be that time. Those generally aren't tough conversations. They're actually more enjoyable, because you're sending for the most part young guys on their way to get ready for their season."
In addition to the cuts, the Sox voided the Minor League contract of righty Jason Bergmann, who had been experiencing shoulder pain.
There are 49 players left in camp.