After falling behind by four runs in the first inning, the Boston Red Sox routed the Minnesota Twins 12-5 in a spring training matchup this afternoon in Fort Myers, Florida.
A slimmed down Pablo Sandoval homered twice in the game at Hammond Stadium, the Twins’ Grapefruit League home field. The comeback-minded Sandoval arrived at last year’s camp way out of shape and lost the starting third baseman job, and then was on the DL most of the season following shoulder surgery.
In the off-season, the Sox traded 2016 third baseman Travis Shaw, and as well as top prospect Yoan Moncada, so Sandoval may get the hot-corner job by default.
“Sandoval is now hitting .333 with a .965 OPS in his 39 at-bats, while making plays on defense he would have no chance at a year ago. He’s also running the bases like we haven’t seen since joining the Red Sox, beating out close plays at first on a few occasions that would have been outs last spring training,” WEEI explained about the player nicknamed “Kung Fu Panda.” Manager John Farrell has yet to officially name Panda as the team’s day-to-day third baseman, however.
The teams combined for 26 hits.
Cy Young Award Winner and Opening Day starter Rick Porcello was very un-Cy Young-like in today’s outing, allowing nine hits, three walks, and five runs in four innings (plus two batters in the fifth) of work against Minnesota.
After the lackluster start at the CenturyLink Sports Complex, the Red Sox scored twice in the second inning, five times in the fourth, and five times in the sixth. Jake Reed, who relieved Twins starter Ryan Vogelsong, was tagged with the loss.
Also participating in the offensive outburst, new Sox first baseman Mitch Moreland (.310) blasted two doubles. Although injuries and just the randomness of baseball could create a fluid situation, Moreland seems likely to get most of the reps at first base while Hanley Ramirez transitions to designated hitter after the retirement of David Ortiz.
Catcher Blake Swihart, who is competing for a spot on the Red Sox roster with Sandy Leon and Christian Vasquez, went 3-5, raising his Spring Training average to .370.
“Twins second baseman Brian Dozier went 3-for-3 with a double. Joe Mauer had an RBI single, and Max Kepler drove in two runs with a triple for the Twins,” InfoForum noted about today’s action.
Knuckleballer Steven Wright, who injured his shoulder last August when Farrell sent him into a game as a pinch runner, pitched three scoreless innings in relief, giving up no hits and one walk. Wright, a righty, appears primed to go into the regular rotation, particularly given that David Price is starting the season on the disabled list.
With the addition of ace pitcher Chris Sale (who was acquired from the Chicago White Sox for Moncada and several other highly-regarded prospects), the Red Sox are the favorites to again win the American League East, with the disclaimer that baseball is so random — part of its fascination — that anything is liable to happen.
Boston won the AL East last year with a 93-69 record, but was swept out of the playoffs by the Cleveland Indians, the American League Central champion, on their way to the World Series. The Twins finished dead last in the American League Central with a dismal 59-103 mark.
While spring training baseball is a lot of fun, it is very much a caveat emptor situation for the fans as far which players take the field on a particular day. Frontline players often don’t make road trips during the exhibition season,. Perhaps because the Red Sox also train in Fort Myers at nearby JetBlue Park, most the Red Sox regular season stars were in the lineup, however, making their fans in the near sell-out crowd of 8,500 on the sunny afternoon very happy.
With today’s results, the Boston Red Sox are 10-11 (3-7 away) in the Grapefruit League, while the Minnesota Twins are 11-8 and 7-4 at home. Spring training results typically have minimal bearing on the regular season, however.
[Featured Image by Robert Jonathan]