The Red Sox’s first day spring training of games kicked off today with a pair of seven-inning exhibition games versus Northeastern University and Boston College respectively. While these types of games may not seem like something that all of the team would care about, John Farrell said that these games mean something for minor leaguers and veterans alike.
“For everyone in camp, these games are important,” Farrell said as reported by NESN. “Regardless of the position, we’re trying to get a foundation laid. That’s the next step in our overall preparation to begin the season. It’s good to get the games started. I know that.”
Game 1 against Northeastern saw a roster of professionals. Mike Napoli (1B), Dustin Pedroia (2B), Will Middlebrooks (3B), and Xander Bogaerts (SS) handled the infield, while Grady Sizemore (LF), Jackie Bradley, Jr. (CF), and Jonny Gomes (RF) started in the outfield. Brandon Workman was on the mound, and Ryan Lavarnway was behind the plate. The Sox got the W with a score of 5-2.
On the offensive side, there was some promise and some old bad habits. Bad news first, the Sox stranded baserunners in the first four innings, and the game remained scoreless. But then the newly-acquired Jonathan Herrera came in for the fifth inning and got some work done. Herrera walked, stole second and third, and then was knocked in on a groundout by Jayson Hernandez.
The rest of the scoring happened in the bottom of the sixth. Deven Marrero and Mike McCoy got things going with a pair of walks and a double steal on a Northeastern error. Scott Cousins tripled, and then Herrera knocked in Cousins on a groundout. Ryan Lavarnway had a good game with a double off of the JetBlue Monster and a single. He was hit by a Bradley line drive but was okay.
As for Sizemore, who was playing in his first game since 2011, he felt just fine despite going 0-for-2.
“Honestly, it didn’t feel like a big deal,” Sizemore said, as reported by ESPNBoston.com’s Gordon Edes. “I know it was a big moment for me just to get back out there, but once I was out there, it didn’t feel like it was different than any other spring training game. I was just kind of focused on what I normally focus on, and that was that.”
Defensively, the game went well, even when the Sox were down 2-1 in the top of sixth. Workman hurled two scoreless innings, allowing one hit, which may have been helped by some confusion between Pedroia and Bogaerts both going for the ball. Sidearm pitcher Shunsuke Watanabe struck out all three batters in the fifth. Noe Ramirez was responsible for the two Northeastern runs in the sixth, but ultimately got the win.
Game 2 was a different roster with the same results, as the Sox’s minor league squad also got a 5-2 win over B.C., and the team got a good look at some new talent. Most notably, right-handed prospect Matt Barnes threw a perfect third inning, catcher Christian Vazquez, who’s known for his defense, launched a solo home run in the fourth, and top prospect Mookie Betts entered the game in the fifth and recorded a single.