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Red Sox 8, Rays 3: The bench competition is heating up

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Blake Swihart, Brock Holt and Deven Marrero all had big days.

MLB: Spring Training-Boston Red Sox at Tampa Bay Rays Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports

Make it nine in a row for the Red Sox, who simply cannot be stopped right now. On Wednesday, the offense had another strong showing thanks to some run producing from J.D. Martinez and big performances from three guys competing for bench spots. Let the good times roll.

Blake Swihart goes yard

The Red Sox offense did some work on Wednesday, and the star of the show — or at least the one with the biggest swing of the day — was the star of the early part of the offseason. Blake Swihart has arguably lost a bit of shine because we as a society have short attention spans and also Sam Travis has decided to kick it into high gear, but the catcher/infielder/everything is still killing the Grapefruit League. On Wendesday, Swihart got the start in left field and eventually moved over to first base, and while he only got one hit he sure as hell made it count. In the fourth inning batting from the left side, he got a hanging breaking ball from Rays setup man Daniel Hudson and he took an easy swing that was able to lift the ball over the right field wall for a solo homer. It was Swihart’s third dinger in a spring that has locked up his spot on the Opening Day roster.

Swihart had Boston’s only home run of the day, but he certainly wasn’t the only strong performer. Both Brock Holt and Deven Marrero were in the lineup for this one as they continue to battle for that final bench spot, and they both played like they wanted the job in this one. Holt played third and hit leadoff, and the utility man went 2-3 with a double and a single while also drawing a walk, scoring a pair of runs and driving in another. Marrero, meanwhile, went 2-4 with a double and a single while also scoring a pair of runs and driving one in. This seems like a battle that will go down to the wire — while also being potentially altered if one player proves more valuable in a trade — and they both made their respective cases on Wednesday. Holt, though, has had the better spring overall. The Red Sox also got a multi-hit day from J.D. Martinez, who had a double and a single in three at bats while also driving in three runs. He’s yet to hit a home run this spring, but today was a reminder that he’s going to be a big run producer in the middle of this lineup. Boston also got doubles from Sandy Leon and Jackie Bradley Jr. while Sam Travis contributed a single.

MLB: Spring Training-Boston Red Sox at Tampa Bay Rays Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports

A good day on the mound for depth pieces

Boston didn’t send any of their big pieces to the mound for Wednesday’s contest, but we did get a look at some players who could serve as depth. Marcus Walden got the start and was really good, tossing three scoreless innings with four strikeouts while allowing just a pair of singles. Walden likely won’t see major-league time unless there is a big run of injuries, but he’s had a really good spring and is a valuable organizational piece as someone who can switch back-and-forth between Pawtucket’s rotation and bullpen. Roenis Elias came on next as he tries to make a case for a relatively surprising Opening Day roster spot, and he was merely okay. The southpaw was out there for two innings and allowed two hits including a solo homer to first baseman C.J. Cron. Elias also allowed a single and a walk while striking out two Rays. Bobby Poyner is another lefty who has had a really impressive spring, and while I’d be surprised if he got an Opening Day roster spot given his relative lack of high-minors experience, he’s certainly opened some eyes. That continued this afternoon as he went two perfect innings with three strikeouts. Poyner may not be in Boston right away, but expect him to make an impact at some point in the 2018 season. The game was finished off by a pair of intriguing minor leaguers who should start the year in Portland. Mike Shawaryn had a rough day, allowing two runs in an inning of work thanks to a two-run shot form Brandon Snyder. He did rack up three strikeouts around the homer and a walk. Dedgar Jimenez had more success, allowing just a single in a scoreless inning with one strikeout.

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