The Pawtucket Red Sox radio team is handling the audio duties for today’s game on MLB.com. You hear a lot of different broadcasters during the spring, with a lot of different insights and outlooks. You get a much more cumulative feel for the league and the division than by simply listening during the regular season.
Mookie Betts is doing the same thing he did last spring, which is absolutely setting fire to opposing pitching. Solo home run to lead off the game. He led off Saturday with a triple as well.
Here’s what I like about Hanley Ramirez at first as compared to Hanley Ramirez in left: there isn’t a day that goes by this spring where something isn’t said or written about the amount of work he is putting in to prepare for the transition. By the very nature of the game, he is getting more looks and more opportunities in actual games as a first baseman than he did in left field last year. You can’t guarantee a certain number of balls hit to left. The first baseman, on the other hand, will be involved in maybe 70-80 percent of the outs in a game. Also, he is slamming the cover off the ball at the plate and he’s not trying to boost them all over the fence.
Henry Owens tosses three strong innings of shutout ball, striking out one and walking one. Clay Buchholz didn’t look great in his first appearance Sunday, but he also didn’t have a lot of help. It was also his first appearance since ending last season with an injury, so there was some rust to account for. I just don’t believe the projected rotation of Price, Buchholz, Porcello, Rodriguez, Kelly is going to be the actual rotation we see once the season begins. At this point, I’m guessing Eduardo Rodriguez will not break camp with the team. That could/should give Owens the fifth slot – at least temporarily.
Sam Travis getting another look at first, supplanting Hanley mid-game. Batting .333 for the spring, Travis makes a great play to end the top of the seventh. He is making it harder and harder to justify keeping Allen Craig on the roster. Craig keeps getting at bats, I fully believe, to establish grounds for a trade within the next two or three weeks.
Tampa sneaks away with the win in extra innings. Strong showing by the varsity team, outside of two errors from Pablo Sandoval.
Sandoval made a great play earlier in the game. I’d just had the thought earlier in the game that he doesn’t have to carry the load, or even attempt to, with the Red Sox lineup this year. He just needs to stay healthy and perform better than he did last year to be an every day contributor. There are five guys above him in the order who will hit at or near the top of the league in their respective positions. But he has to be strong on defense. Travis Shaw is batting at a .625 clip this spring and he can handle third defensively. There will be a fascinating storyline playing out over the next three or four weeks as to what facet is more important in the Red Sox economy this season: Production or Payroll?