Day 1 at the Fort

The yearly trek to Ft. Myers is here. Goodbye to the cold for a week and hello sunshine.

Nothing but baseball over the next eight days.

This is how the day started…
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I mean, really…What a view! Bright and early, dew still on the field. Nothing better.

Sunday is a camp day in the Minor League world. The big league club traveled north to Port Charlotte to play Tampa Bay and brought a number of potential PawSox with them. But, we’ll focus on the back fields, because that’s where I was.

Games started on Wednesday for the ‘Pawtucket’ team and they are off to a 1-2-1 start. Anthony Ranaudo started on Saturday afternoon and pitched well going four innings and allowed just a hit and a run with five strikeouts. To read the full recap of yesterday’s game, click here…http://www.milb.com/news/article.jsp?ymd=20140315&content_id=69424980&fext=.jsp&vkey=news_t533&sid=t533

But “Camp Days” are for fundamentals and a day of rest.

Admittedly, the guys were ready to start playing games two weeks ago after taking countless ground balls, hitting cut off men and working on run downs, but a nice afternoon off can do the mind some good.

So, today was all four back fields filled with individual position drills, a handful of bullpens, some agility work and batting practice. There was one simulated game, mostly between the low-A offensive guys. Chris Hernandez, who pitched in Pawtucket and Portland last year and needed some work, pitched three innings allowing just a couple walks. His cutter was sharp and he was efficient with his pitches.

Justin Haley, who spent 2013 in Greenville, allowed just a single in his three innings of work. He featured a firm fastball, a sharp breaking ball and an average changeup. He’ll more than likely be in Salem this year after going 7-11 with a 3.68 ERA with the Drive.

A handful of former and future PawSox got work in defensively and a round of BP. Alex Hassan, Bryce Brentz, Heiker Meneses and Garin Cecchini were the feature players back on Field 5.

Meanwhile, the Red Sox players who did not make the trip to Port Charlotte worked in the bullpen and the position players had a light workout in front of a handful of fans.

Some gathered by the bullpen to watch Felix Doubront get his work in.
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Earlier Brandon Workman watched Tommy Layne, Andrew Miller and Rich Hill throw their bullpens.
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I ran into PawSox manager Kevin Boles as he was headed to one of the back fields as well as pitching coach Rich Sauveur, coach Bruce Crabbe and trainer John Jochim. All were eager to get the season started, but certainly enjoying the warmth while they still can.

A couple of PawSox related injury notes. Matt Barnes has been throwing at 120 feet for the last few days and the hope is to have him throw a bullpen over the next few days. With the shoulder stiffness and subsequent shut down/restart, it’s unlikely that he’ll break camp with the PawSox. But, he won’t be too far behind.

Another PawSox standout, Steven Wright, who is coming off of sports hernia surgery, is ahead of his work out schedule. He was playing catch at 75 feet today, something he usually wouldn’t be doing for another week. But, after talking with him for a bit, he’s doing well, feeling good and hoping to be game ready in six weeks (beginning of May). And his knuckleball was dancing all over! One particular knuckler crossed up his catching partner and almost hit Jim Rice as he was chatting near the clubhouse a good 100 feet away. The near miss elicited a comment along the lines of, “Hey, if you you wanted me to work with you, all you have to do is ask!” Both smiled and continued with their work.

A few random shots from JetBlue…
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High atop the Green Monster...just a few feet HIGHER than the one in Boston

High atop the Green Monster…just a few feet HIGHER than the one in Boston

The backfields from The Monster

The backfields from The Monster

As for the big league game in Port Charlotte which Boston lost 8-4, Allen Webster started and was ok. Four innings, three runs (two earned), three hits, three walks and three strikeouts. Of the 68 pitches he threw, 38 were strikes. A “run of the mill” start for Allen at the moment.

Drake Britton struggled for the first time this spring going just 1.2 innings while allowing five runs (all earned) on six hits with two walks. In all, he faced 13 batters and eight reached base.

Brayan Villarreal, Francisco Cordero and Jose Mijares all added scoreless innings.

Deven Marrero is still opening eyes, now, more so, with his bat as he slugged his first spring homer in the 9th and is hitting .333 thus far.

Ryan Lavarnway has found his hitting stroke as he went 2-for-4 with a double and an RBI as his average sits at .320. And Brock Holt added an RBI double and is hitting .292 in his battle with Jonathan Herrera for the back up infield job in Boston.

Tomorrow, as most of you know, is St. Patrick’s Day! The Red Sox will be hosting the Cardinals at JetBlue Park and I’ll be covering that game after spending the morning on the back fields. I should have some news and notes mid-day and then an evening nightcap edition. I’ll be emceeing the Future Stars Luncheon for the BoSox Club after the game, so the run down of the festivities will be delayed. Attendees for the event include William Cuevas, Wendell Rijo, Daniel McGrath, Bryan Hudson, Jordan Weems, Carson Blair and Greenville Pitching Coach Paul Abbott.

Don’t worry, I’ll wear my green and have a green beverage later!

More to come throughout the week.

Jeff
@jlevering4
jlevering@pawsox.com

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