So, what can you take away from today’s game?
Well, as is the case with all early-spring games, the most important thing is that nobody was injured. Beyond that, Jacoby Ellsbury, Dustin Pedroia, Shane Victorino, Jonny Gomes and Stephen Drew — who all figure to be regulars in 2013 — each got three at-bats before giving way to the minor leaguers. Pedroia, in particular, looked locked in, hitting his first home run of the spring in the first inning. Victorino looked sharp, as well, working a couple three-ball counts and seeing the ball well.
On the mount, Alfredo Aceves settled down in the second inning after an erratic first frame, so seeing him make some early adjustments (and not doing anything noteworthy off the diamond) is a plus. Terry Doyle looked good, as well, and may well provide some rotation depth for the Red Sox and start the year in Triple-A Pawtucket. Conversely, we’ve already talked about Daniel Bard.
Well folks, that’s it for today’s split-squad version of your Red Sox live blog. But be sure to join us tomorrow, as the St. Louis Cardinals travel to Fort Myers to take on Boston. That game is scheduled for 1:35 p.m.
End 8th, Rays 6-3: Since this live blog is swiftly running out of real estate, let’s revisit Bard’s one-inning outing from earlier this game.
The plain fact of the matter is that the Red Sox don’t need Bard. The team already had a number of good pieces returning to its bullpen from last season, and they further fortified the back end by adding Joel Hanrahan and Koji Uehara. So, any contributions that Bard makes are going to effectively be a bonus. Of course, having an arm like his in the bullpen could potentially give the Red Sox an absolute shutdown unit, but the team isn’t counting on him.
All that being said, Bard is going to have to show that he has real, immediate value to the team to get another chance. And today Bard looked tentative, and clearly wasn’t comfortable out on the mound, throwing around 93 miles per hour. In short, this isn’t the Bard the team hoped to see, because the team has better options than the version of Bard that lacks confidence.
Mid 8th, Rays 6-3: Well, credit Jose Iglesias for showing something with the bat this spring.
The questions about Iglesias’ ability to hit enough to be a major league regular are legitimate. However, he’s taken the first steps to quieting those critics this spring, hitting a home run during his first game and now getting an infield single up the middle to knock in Peter Hissey. Nothing too spectacular, but it does show that Iglesias can have better at-bats and handle himself better at the plate.
End 7th, Rays 6-2: Smart baseball for the Rays in that last half inning.
The team executes a perfect hit-and-run very early in the spring, putting Anderson in motion to avoid the double play with Jose Lobaton at the plate and Cole Figueroa at third. In fact, it’s that smart play that keeps Doyle from enjoying his second consecutive scoreless inning.
Typically this is the part of the spring where teams are still integrating running plays that rely on timing, such as the hit-and-run, so the fact that the Rays are already executing it in a game speaks to the team’s fundamentals. But then again, what else would you expect of a Joe Maddon-managed ballclub?
Mid 7th, Rays 5-2: Nothing doing there for the Red Sox, who work a walk for one baserunner but can’t do anything else.
We’re thoroughly at the point in the game where, early in the spring especially, the names become very unfamiliar and the numbers on the back of jerseys start heading north of 70. But just remember, baseball fans, these are the players who will either someday be up with Boston for depth, or may even play a role later in the 2013 season. Know your team, fans.
End 6th, Rays 5-2: Good stuff there from Boston College product Terry Doyle, who gives up a hit to Mike Fontenot but nothing else, striking out a couple in the process.
Doyle actually took part in the pregame ceremony before the Red Sox played BC a couple days ago. Doyle wheeled friend and former teammate Pete Frates — who is battling ALS — out to the mount to deliver the game ball to John Farrell.
Check out a video of Frates’ courageous story by following this link.
Mid 6th, Rays 5-2: Victorino works a walk, but otherwise nothing doing for the Red Sox against Jake McGee. That’s the second three-ball count that Victorino has had on the day, so it’s nice to see him seeing the ball so well so early in camp. He’ll be playing for Team USA at the World Baseball Classic, so he looks to be in good shape for the tournament.
Aside from that, it’s the Red Sox down by three runs, and McGee (who has the awesome nickname of “Clockhands” per his delivery) the latest pitcher to confound Boston. With the starters now having three at-bats under their belts, it’s now safe to say we’ll soon see some wholesale defensive changes for the Sox.
End 5th, Rays 5-2: Well, that was certainly not an encouraging development.
Daniel Bard absolutely looked more like the 2012 edition than his old self in that last half inning. Not only did he hit Leslie Anderson with a pitch around the feet, but the pitch he walked Luke Scott on went to the backstop. Then Sean Rodriguez tatooed one that just happened to be right at third baseman Drew Sutton for a tag-up double play. So, Bard was very, very lucky to get out of the inning without giving up a run.
We’ll analyze more on Bard a bit latter, but suffice to say that was not what the Red Sox were hoping to see from the right-hander.
Mid 5th, Rays 5-2: Once again it’s a perfect inning for Cesar Ramos, who is certainly showing the Rays something against a lineup full of major league talent for the Red Sox.
A little background on the 28-year-old Ramos: He was drafted in the first round of the 2005 draft. His career seemed to stall in the low minors, but he eventually came up with the Padres in 2009. The Rays signed him for the 2011 season, and he’s been up and down with them since — throwing 30 innings with a 2.10 ERA and 29 strikeouts last year.
End 4th, Rays 5-2: Well, that’s the thing about spring training. With lots of young pitching around, you’re going to have some big innings, and the Rays just put up three against Hernandez there.
Actually, credit Hernandez with limiting the damage. After giving up consecutive hits to Loney, Roberts and Ben Zobrist, the youngster got Desmond Jennings to line out and picked off Zobrist to get out of the inning. So, things certainly could have been worse, and Perez showed some good resiliency to limit the damage.
Mid 4th, 2-2: Cesar Ramos will soon be joining Mexico during their World Baseball Classic campaign, but for now he throws a perfect inning against the Red Sox.
Ryan Sweeney’s been hitting the ball with some authority on Monday, and the only reason he didn’t end up with a second hit on the day was thanks to some nifty glovework on the part of Loney. Nonetheless, if he can earn a spot on the bench he can be a valuable player as a backup outfielder, thanks to his pitch recognition and on-base skills.
End 3rd, 2-2: Good inning there for southpaw prospect Chris Perez, who gives up a double to Matt Joyce but nothing else.
Going back to an earlier point, Aceves threw 29 pitches in his two innings of work, which is probably right in line with what the Red Sox wanted him to do. The fact that the team is stretching him out as a starter is probably significant insofar as it tips their hand in what they think his role might be. So, could he be the sixth starter? Or is it Franklin Morales?
Mid 3rd, 2-2: The veteran Jamey Wright gets the Red Sox in order in the top of the third there.
With a couple at-bats already, that may be it for the Red Sox’ top four batters, who figure to be in the Opening Day lineup. They may get another defensive inning or two, but keep in mind that this is still very early in the spring.
End 2nd, 2-2: Former Red Sox first baseman James Loney singles, but otherwise it’s a much easier inning for Aceves. Ryan Roberts hit one a fair distance that Jacoby Ellsbury had to reel in, but that was definitely a ball that was aided a bit by the wind.
All in all, it’s a fair outing for Aceves. His first inning was erratic, but he seemed to settle down in the second, so it’s good to see him making adjustments this early in the spring.
Mid 2nd, 2-2: Most of the position battles are set for the Red Sox. While there will certainly be some moving pieces — particularly at first base and left field — the rest of the order is relatively set.
But that’s why the battle between Mike Carp and Lyle Overbay is so interesting. Both players likely won’t leave camp on the active roster, so they’re really fighting for a job this spring. While Overbay has never played left field and Carp has been less than adequate in his brief time there, Carp probably has the advantage. For one, he’s younger. For another, his bat may have some upside, yet.
So, score a point for Carp there in the second inning, as he gets an RBI double in his first at-bat with the Red Sox.
End 1st, Rays 2-1: Well that lead was certainly short-lived.
Alfredo Aceves seemed like he had a hard time getting on the same page as catcher David Ross, and was likewise erratic. Aceves is definitely a guy who’s under some scrutiny due to his lack of a clear role and his sometimes-bizarre personal conduct. So, as good of an arm as he has, results are going to be a little more important with him than some of the other players.
The Red Sox are stretching Aceves out as a starter during the spring, so it stands to figure he’ll be out there for another inning. But, we’ll see what happens.
Mid 1st, Red Sox 1-0: Well, that’s what you like to see if you’re the Red Sox. Dustin Pedroia hits his first home run of the spring batting in the No. 2 hole off of Alex Cobb, giving the Red Sox a 1-0 advantage.
Some over-aggressive baserunning on the part of Shane Victorino may have run the Sox out of an even bigger inning, but Boston will certainly take the early offense from their second baseman.
10:41 a.m.: The Rays will be dealing with the majority of Red Sox regulars on Monday as Jacoby Ellsbury and Dustin Pedroia head to Tampa’s spring training complex in Port Charlotte with some firepower.
Check out the Sox lineup below:
Jacoby Ellsbury, CF
Dustin Pedroia, 2B
Shane Victorino, RF
Jonny Gomes, LF
Stephen Drew, SS
Ryan Sweeney, DH
Drew Sutton, 3B
Mike Carp, 1B
David Ross, C
Tampa Bay is throwing Alex Cobb, Jamey Wright, Cesar Ramos and Jake McGee while the Sox are sending out Alfredo Aceves, Chris Hernandez, Daniel Bard and Terry Doyle.
Bench coach Torey Lovullo will manage the squad while John Farrell handles duties up in his old stomping grounds in Dunedin. Both games are scheduled to start at 1:05 p.m. ET.