by Josh Maurer
Opening day at McCoy Stadium is drawing even closer (two weeks from the time of this writing!), and the roster situation for the PawSox is becoming clearer. Roster moves made on Thursday morning sent several players to the Pawtucket roster.
Thursday was the final day in Fort Myers for Will and me, and during it we got the opportunity to broadcast one final Red Sox Grapefruit League game from JetBlue Park. Boston defeated a split-squad Mets team, 4-1, behind seven brilliant innings from Joe Kelly.
Kelly improved to 3-0 this spring, and has now allowed only three runs in five starts. David Ortiz delivered his second RBI of the spring with a go-ahead two-out single in the sixth inning, while Xander Bogaerts added some insurance by lifting his first home run this season over the Green Monster in the eighth.
Earlier in the day, the Red Sox announced that six players had been re-assigned from big-league camp; pitchers Henry Owens, Brian Johnson, Heath Hembree and Roman Mendez along with infielder Sam Travis and outfielder Ryan LaMarre.
It is possible, maybe even likely, that all six of those players begin the season with the PawSox when the season opens in two weeks. Owens, Johnson and Hembree are all members of the 40-man roster and so each have already been optioned to Pawtucket.
One would think that Owens would be right at or near the top of the PawSox starting rotation along with Johnson, who is now generally recovered from a sprained toe suffered earlier this month.
William Cuevas, who finished the season well with Pawtucket in 2015, veteran hurler Sean O’Sullivan, and lefty Roenis Elias are also possibilities to begin the year in the PawSox rotation.
Elias, received by Boston from Seattle in the Wade Miley deal last offseason, is also a candidate to start the year in the big-league bullpen. He earned a save on Thursday against the Mets by recorded a 1-2-3 ninth inning that included two punchouts.
-Will had an in-depth conversation with new Red Sox President Sam Kennedy prior to Thursday’s broadcast. You can check it out below:
-Here is a video interview with PawSox reliever Pat Light from Wednesday. Light says he feels very confident as he gets ready to head north and begin his second season pitching in the International League.
Thanks to everyone for reading our coverage from “The Fort” over the past couple of weeks. We owe a big debt of gratitude to the Red Sox broadcasting and media relations departments for allowing us to broadcast from JetBlue and giving us access to all the players and coaches. It has been a lot of fun.
We’ll talk to you soon from New England!
Today is one of only two scheduled days off for the big league club, who returned to Fort Myers after three days on Florida’s east coast. On the back fields, Rick Porcello was the headliner; he struck out eight over six innings in the PawSox’ game against Durham. Porcello worked with Christian Vasquez on Field 4 and looked strong; here’s video of a punchout that ended the fifth inning:
The Major-League side was mostly quiet today, though all pitchers who had a scheduled bullpen (David Price and Pat Light amongst them) were on site and worked with Carl Willis.
After Porcello wrapped up his outing, we sat down and chatted with Light:
Around 10 o’clock, the PawSox finished their morning session with batting practice (here is a clip of Sean Coyle taking some hacks):
After that, Josh celebrated National Puppy Day by spending some time with Homer, the Sox’ clubhouse dog:
Josh and I logged a video diary from the visitors’ dugout at JetBlue:
It was an otherwise slow news day at the Fort, but there were a couple items of note:
- Carson Smith will start the year on the DL with a strained flexor mass
- The Rays played Cuba in Havana, and the event drew rave reviews
- Tamp was stuck on the tarmac because of a mechanical issue for seven hours
Josh and I will have the call of the Sox and Mets on MLB. com tomorrow at 1 PM; we will log a video preview in the morning and will be available for a Facebook video chat at 10:30.
Talk to you then!
by Josh Maurer
Oftentimes during spring training, when established Major League players want to get in some extra work on the mound or take extra at-bats to work on some things at the plate they go take part in one of the minor league games. On Monday, Will chronicled how David Ortiz and Junichi Tazawa (and others) played in the PawSox game at JetBlue.
Tuesday afternoon when the PawSox headed north to Sarasota to take on the Norfolk Tides (Orioles Triple-A affiliate), they ran into some important pieces of the Baltimore big-league roster in a game played at the Buck O’Neill Complex at Twin Lakes Park (about a 15-minute drive from the Os spring home Ed Smith Stadium).
Ubaldo Jimenez pitched 5 2/3 shutout innings against a lineup that feature PawSox infielder Sean Coyle, among others. Baltimore catcher Matt Wieters, infidlers Chris Davis and Pedro Alvarez and outfielder Hyun Soo Kim all batted against a Pawtucket pitching staff that included William Cuevas and Edwin Escobar.
Will and I were fortunate enough to be at the contest in Sarasota, and here is a photo/video recap of the afternoon:
Edwin Escobar, a man who has spent a large portion of the past two seasons pitching for the PawSox, entered the game in the middle innings and got to face both Davis and Wieters. Here is a video clip of Escobar retiring Davis on a fielder’s choice:
And here is Wieters lining a single to right against Edwin in the same inning:
-We have been very fortunate to get the opportunity to interview some great guests during our time in Fort Myers this spring. On Monday, I sat down with new Red Sox pitching ace David Price and talked about, among other topics, his impressions of Henry Owens and Brian Johnson.
Tuesday morning Will caught up with PawSox Hall of Famer-to-be Jim Rice, and chatted with the Red Sox great about his impressions of the current Boston outfield situation.
Finally, here is a video interview with Red Sox reliever Noe Ramirez, who has had a strong spring and is in the mix for a big-league bullpen spot to start the season (especially after the injury to Carson Smith on Monday).
-Earlier on Tuesday back at the JetBlue Complex, Rick Porcello threw a bullpen session with Pawtucket pitching coach Bob Kipper standing in the batter’s box as a “dummy” hitter.
Porcello is expected to pitch on Wednesday during the PawSox game on the backfields. We will bring you a recap of his outing, as well as the rest of the game information, tomorrow afternoon here on “45 Miles From Fenway.”
Thanks so much for reading, we will talk to you again on Wednesday from The Fort!
Today was further proof of a little-known truth about Spring Training: the slowest days are often the best days. Many of the big league regulars spent Monday in Jupiter in a game against the Cardinals – and the traveling pack that covers the Red Sox went with them. As a result, there was an unmistakably laid-back vibe around JetBlue Park this morning; everyone was in the mood to talk, so Josh and I did just that. Josh landed interviews with David Price and Joe Kelly (look for those on our website and in an upcoming episode of PawSox Insider) before we had an on-camera chat with Noe Ramirez.
The big leaguers that stayed back in Ft. Myers had a workout on the big field at 9:30. Here’s a brief montage of swings taken by Blake Swihart and Sam Travis:
Ater BP, I chatted with both Rich Gedman and Bob Kipper. Then it was off to the outer fields, where Junichi Tazawa, Chris Young and Swihart were slated to play in the PawSox game. On any day, that would draw a horde of fans to the exterior of JetBlue. Today, however, those who came onto the grounds at Fenway South were greeted with an even bigger name in the AAA game:
David Ortiz batted third in each of the first three innings; in between, he spent some time in his former club’s dugout.
Yesterday in Port St. Lucie, John Farrell told reporters that he wants to see as much of Travis Shaw at third base as he possibly can, and candidly admitted that nothing is settled at the hot corner. Not surprisingly, this admission sent ripples less for what it says about Shaw (who had two more hits today and scored on a Jackie Bradley, Jr. double) than what it may mean for Pablo Sandoval.
Here is yet another double for Shaw:
Meanwhile, Hanley Ramirez continues to look solid at first base:
Hanley was on the back end of this spectacular diving play by Brock Holt:
A few final notes for the day:
- Josh and I will head up to Sarasota tomorrow to cover the PawSox game against Norfolk.
- Pete Abraham took a more in-depth look at the Sox’ dilemma at third
- David Murphy hinted that if he doesn’t make the big-league club, this could be the end of the line.
- All eyes are on the Sox’ starting rotation, but Pedro Martinez thinks they have a future ace in the lower levels of the minor leagues.
That’s all for now on a chilly day in Ft Myers (66 degrees at the time of this writing!). We will talk to you tomorrow from Sarasota.
by Josh Maurer
First-baseman Sam Travis has been the talk of the camp at JetBlue Park. Not many paid attention when Travis was named a non-roster invitee to spring training, and those who did likely assumed he would have been re-assigned to minor league camp by this juncture.
The Red Sox’ Minor League Offensive Player of the Year in 2015 had other ideas, however. He has hit for average. He has hit for power. He has hit in the clutch. Through Friday’s action, Travis is batting a cool .600 (15-for-25) with two home runs and a remarkable 13 RBIs.
John Farrell said on Friday that the quiet-spoken Indiana Hoosier has made the big leage coaching staff take notice.
“He’s got lightning-quick hands and a compact swing. I marvel at a guy who sits for two hours, then comes up (late in the game) and hits line drives. He’s a gritty, hard-nosed type of player and for someone who’s come into major league camp for the first time, you hope they make an impression.”
“He’s made an impression on everyone who’s sat in the stands and watched games, let alone us who work with him day-in, day-out,” said Farrell.
Earlier on Saturday Will Flemming and I caught up with Travis before the Red Sox’ rain-shortened 3-1 victory over St. Louis. Here is the interview, as heard on this week’s edition of PawSox Insider.
-If you have a few minutes, do check out this terrific look at PawSox Manager Kevin Boles’ winter working as the skipper for Perth of the Australian Baseball League by MassLive’s Jen McCaffery. It paints an interesting picture of what the Aussies are doing to try and grow America’s National Pastime on their continent.
-Also on PawSox Insider Saturday, Will and I had a fun sitdown with Gordon Edes, the longtime Red Sox beat reporter recently turned team historian. Gordon has so many stories to tell, and in his new role he’ll have some new forums to relay them.
We hope you had a chance to check out the Open House at McCoy this afternoon. Opening Night is less than three weeks away!
We will have more updates from Fort Myers throughout the weekend and all of next week. Have a great rest of your Saturday, and thanks for stopping by!
About an hour before the first pitch of the Red Sox’ game with Minnesota on Friday afternoon, word came down that Jackie Bradley, Jr. had been scratched with right forearm soreness. Once Jackie quickly dispelled any fears when he proclaimed he could stand at home plate and throw a ball out of the park, the day’s focus shifted to the man who took Bradley’s place on John Farrell’s lineup card, Andrew Benintendi.
Benintendi – the Sox’ first round pick out of Arkansas a year ago – erupted onto the scene in 2015 and came into camp as one of the more coveted prospects in the sport. I saw Benintendi on the outer fields Wednesday afternoon and was struck by two things: his size (or lack thereof) and his bat speed. Like Sam Travis (who is the headliner in the Sox spring thus far with his lightning swing that has produced one big hit after another), Benintendi has a straight path to the ball – and he put it on display right away on Friday.
In his first at-bat, Benintendi ripped the second pitch he saw from Tyler Duffey into left field. In his third plate appearance, the diminutive left hander laced a line drive hit to right. The Sox did hold their breath in the seventh, when Tzu-Wei Lin collided with the centerfielder chasing after a pop fly. Both remained in the game and Benintendi spoke to the media after his Grapefruit League debut (and told us his parents were at the park today):
The other piece of news from JetBlue: Marco Hernandez was optioned to Pawtucket the morning after he slipped on first base and separated his left shoulder after yet another hit in an impressive spring campaign. John Farrell told reporters before the game that Marco’s option was planned before the injury, and commented on the breakout spring:
Before the ballgame, Josh and I logged a video preview:
A few other highlights from today’s game with the Twins:
Mookie Betts did it again. He launched his third homer of the spring over the Monster in left:
Joe Mauer flashed his smooth swing on this RBI single:
Josh and I have had great fun on the MLB.com broadcasts; we will have the ballgame on the 24th from JetBlue. Between now and then we will bring you comprehensive coverage from Fort Myers.
We look forward to speaking with you on tomorrow’s PawSox Insider, which airs at 4 PM on WHJJ and on the PawSox Radio Network. Guests include manager Kevin Boles and the red hot infielder Sam Travis.
by Josh Maurer
Happy St. Patrick’s Day everyone (and Evacuation Day for those in Suffolk County)! Will and I returned to Fort Myers Thursday afternoon for the first of two straight Red Sox Grapefruit League game broadcasts on MLB.com. The Red Sox won for the first time in eight days, snapping a seven-game skid by defeating Baltimore 9-5.
Likely PawSox starting first-baseman Sam Travis was the star of the game for Boston, slamming a three-run home run in the second inning and later adding an RBI single. Travis has now hit safely in ten straight games played and has driven in 13 runs this spring.
Meanwhile, Henry Owens started for the Sox and allowed a three-run home run to Christian Walker, a former college teammate of Jackie Bradley, Jr. at South Carolina. Owens permitted eight baserunners (four hits, two walks, two hit batters) in his 2.2 innings of work and was charged with four runs.
Matt Barnes (2.1 innings), Noe Ramirez (one inning), Heath Hembree (one inning) and Tommy Layne (one inning) all pitched well in relief behind Owens, with Barnes and Ramirez still not having allowed an earned run this spring.
The Red Sox wore their customary green jersey tops and green caps in honor of St. Patrick’s Day, a tradition that carries back to 1990 when Roger Clemens purchased green caps and stirrups for Boston to wear on this date. Much of the 10,015 fans in the crowd wore green to the contest, and even the bases were painted that color making JetBlue look very festive.
Even President Obama got into the spirit on Thursday!
In other news from the JetBlue complex on Thursday:
-John Farrell announced that LHP Eddie Rodriguez will not be ready to start the season in the Boston rotation, as he continues to work his way back from a knee subluxation suffered last month. That leaves the #5 starter spot in an open competition between Owens, LHP Roenis Elias and knuckleballer Steven Wright.
-INF Marco Hernandez stumbled rounding first base after an RBI single in the seventh inning on Thursday and fell hard to the ground. He ended up leaving the game with a shoulder subluxation, and is considered day-to-day. Hernandez went 2-for-2 in the game against the Orioles before getting injured. We are likely to see him in Pawtucket to begin the regular season next month.
-LHP Brian Johnson is recovering from a sprained big toe suffered on Monday. The guess is that Johnson, assuming he is healthy, will begin the season as one of the top starters in the PawSox rotation. He is the reigning PawSox team Pitcher Of the Year and was one of the best hurlers in the IL at the time he got shutdown due to injury in early August.
-A big thanks to PawSox owner Jim Skeffington, Jr. for spending time with Will and me in Fort Myers Wednesday and Thursday. Jim is a huge baseball fan and was getting to see the entire operation at the JetBlue Complex for the first time. We are lucky to have him at McCoy and can’t wait to see him when the season starts!
The Sox play again Friday afternoon at 1:05 against Minnesota, part of a split-squad day for Boston. We’ll have the broadcast again on MLB.com, click here to find the link to tune in. Also, lots more coming up here on “45 Miles” from the Fort, as Will and I get to spend the next week around the complex getting information for you.
Again, happy St. Paddy’s Day! Thanks for reading.