Red Sox Notes: Mookie Betts Tightens Grip On Boston’s Center Field Job


The Boston Red Sox’s starting lineup Friday was far more recognizable than the lineup put forth by New York Yankees manager Joe Girardi.

It didn’t matter.

The Yankees handed the Red Sox their first loss in eight games. Boston’s seven-game win streak was snapped by a 5-3 defeat despite the Sox jumping ahead 2-0 early in the contest at JetBlue Park.

The day started with the Red Sox formally introducing Cuban prospect Yoan Moncada. It ended with a few more encouraging signs in spite of the game’s final result.

Let’s run down some notes from Friday.

— Moncada’s press conference offered some insight into the 19-year-old. The links below should catch you up to speed on the roughly 30-minute presser.

Click to watch Moncada’s press conference >>

Click for notes on Moncada’s press conference >>

— Mookie Betts tightened his grip on the Red Sox’s center field job.

Betts opened the game with an excellent diving catch in left-center field. The 22-year-old continues to look more and more relaxed defensively, even telling NESN’s Elle Duncan on Friday he’s starting to feel more comfortable in center field than at his natural position of second base.

Betts also went 2-for-3 with two runs scored while hitting atop the order. He lined a double off the left field wall in the third inning.

At this point, Boston’s center field “competition” seems like anything but that. It would take a major turn of events for Betts not to be the Red Sox’s Opening Day center fielder and leadoff hitter, especially with Rusney Castillo’s status up in the air because of an oblique injury.

— Travis Shaw, who opened eyes Wednesday against the Yankees, showed again why he’s worth watching this spring.

Shaw went 2-for-2 with a double, a single and a run scored. His ninth-inning single off Jacob Lindgren was significant in that it marked another solid at-bat versus a left-hander.

Shaw, a left-handed hitter, hit .189 (17-for-90) with a .508 OPS against lefties while with Triple-A Pawtucket in 2014. The 24-year-old hit .291 (65-for-223) with an .850 OPS versus right-handers.

— Rick Porcello allowed two earned runs on three hits over three innings. He struck out three and walked one.

Porcello was removed in the fourth inning after surrendering back-to-back singles to Garrett Jones and Brian McCann. Both runners scored when Daniel Nava failed to corral a fly ball into the right field corner, leading to a three-run triple.

“I felt good,” Porcello told reporters in Fort Myers. “The consistency obviously is not where I want it right now. I made some good pitches and some other pitches I tried to force a little bit. I just need to keep working through that stuff.”

— Edward Mujica had a shaky seventh inning. He allowed two runs on three hits.

— Brian Johnson tossed two scoreless innings in which he struck out one and walked one.

— Dustin Pedroia flashed some leather.

— Just another day at the office for Christian Vazquez.

Vazquez, who replaced catcher Ryan Hanigan in the sixth inning, delivered a perfect throw to nab Tyler Wade trying to steal second base in the eighth inning.

Thumbnail photo via Tommy Gilligan/USA TODAY Sports Images

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