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Notes: Lucroy, Roenicke reunion; Sale strong

@IanMBrowne
February 20, 2020

FORT MYERS, Fla. -- Still without a job as of a few days ago, the soothing voice of Ron Roenicke never sounded better to Jonathan Lucroy. The catcher played for Roenicke for parts of five seasons in Milwaukee. And Roenicke, now Boston’s interim manager, called to personally encourage him to

FORT MYERS, Fla. -- Still without a job as of a few days ago, the soothing voice of Ron Roenicke never sounded better to Jonathan Lucroy.

The catcher played for Roenicke for parts of five seasons in Milwaukee. And Roenicke, now Boston’s interim manager, called to personally encourage him to come to Red Sox camp and earn a spot on the roster.

“Look, he called me and he wanted me to come,” said Lucroy. “It was a big one. He’s like, you’ll get an opportunity to come here and make the team. Right now, that’s all you can ask for with a guy in my position.

“I’ve known Ron for a long time. He was my manager in Milwaukee for five years. We had a lot of good times together. He was a really good guy, a really good manager. He’s a quality pickup for the Red Sox. Speaking from experience with him, he’s a huge positive for the Red Sox.”

Lucroy passed his physical on Wednesday and officially signed a Minor League deal with the Red Sox that included an invite to Spring Training.

By Thursday, Lucroy was right in the mix, catching a side session from ace Chris Sale.

“Luke, when I had him, he was a great offensive player. I think he hit 50 doubles or close to it one year,” Roenicke said. “He could really hit. Defensively, really good hands. I think the metrics on him were really high when they first started doing the metrics. I know those numbers have dropped so we need to figure that out. Great guy, cares about the pitching staff, works as hard as anybody. Just a really solid guy.”

A two-time All-Star who belted 24 homers in 2016, Lucroy is trying to battle back from an offensive decline the past two seasons.

“Yeah, absolutely,” Lucroy said. “I’ve had some mechanical issues come up, I’ve had some injuries that have happened and I’m working on breaking those things right now, those bad habits, and I’m feeling really good about it.”

The Red Sox don’t need Lucroy to be an All-Star. They just need him to be a solid backup catcher for Christian Vázquez. Kevin Plawecki is also competing for that spot.

“It’s part of the business side of baseball and honestly it’s what I deserve,” Lucroy said. “I haven’t played good so it’s where we’re at. You make your bed and have to sleep in it. So this is something I have to deal with. It’s part of life.”

Devers takes another day
The Red Sox thought Rafael Devers would make his first appearance in camp on Thursday, but the third baseman delayed his arrival so he could spend one more day with his newborn daughter in the Dominican Republic.

He is now expected on Friday. The Red Sox play their first Grapefruit League game on Saturday against the Rays, but Devers will be delayed at least a few days before getting into games.

Sale looking good
Ace Chris Sale is quickly getting over the flu and pneumonia that plagued him entering Spring Training.

The lefty threw his second side session of the week on Thursday.

“I didn’t see him but talked to him with [pitching coach Dave Bush] and it was really good,” Roenicke said. “So when you see a smile on a guy’s face you know things are going well. He felt really good. Physically he feels great.”

The next step could be for Sale to throw live BP.

“I didn’t check with Dave to see what the next step was, but I would think so,” Roenicke said.

The old college try
The Red Sox do have a game on Friday against Northeastern University. But Roenicke isn’t expecting to deploy any of his regulars on the mound or at the plate.

Prospect Daniel McGrath, a lefty, will make the start and go one inning. The game will be seven innings.

Brian Johnson, a non-roster invitee this year, will start Saturday’s Grapefruit League opener.

Ian Browne has covered the Red Sox for MLB.com since 2002. Follow him on Twitter @IanMBrowne and Facebook.