The Red Sox played their first game at JetBlue Park of the spring, and also their first game on television for our viewing pleasure, on Monday. It did not go super well. They dropped to 0-2 in Grapefruit League play after a 5-3 loss on Atlanta. Here are a few notable storylines from the action.
The defense could be crisper
We know spring training doesn’t really matter all that much, particularly in terms of stats, but Alex Cora himself said the thing he really cares about is playing good, crisp baseball. The Red Sox have not exactly done that through two games. After a couple of defensive miscues on Sunday, they one-upped themselves on Monday against the Braves. The box score says they made five errors, though apparently the official scorer says only four. That changes everything! But more seriously, having seen all five plays in question I’m deeply curious which one said official scorer did not consider an error.
Regardless, this is super not a concern for panic, but rather a mildly annoying part of early spring training. Between veteran players easing themselves into action, young players probably having the adrenaline pumping playing with the big league squad, and the normal ebb and flow that leads to errors even in the middle of the regular season, these things happen. But again, the manager said this was what he was really focused on here early in spring training, so it’s worth pointing out they have not done well on this front.
And, for what it’s worth, the errors were from: Jeter Downs (who made two, one each of the fielding and throwing variety at shortstop), Marwin Gonzalez (fielding, at second), Thad Ward (throwing, as a pitcher), and Bobby Dalbec (fielding). Again, the official scorer says one of these was not an error, but I’m not sure which.
Nick Yorke has a day
For the most part, the offense never really got going here on Monday, with just five hits total on the day and only one inning (the fifth) seeing multiple hits in the same inning. One of those hits in that fifth inning came from Nick Yorke, who came in as a sub at second base for the final few frames. Yorke, of course, was Boston’s first round pick last summer and at this time last year he was in high school.
He did not look like someone who was just in high school in this game. The young infielder showed off the qualities the Red Sox have been raving about since drafting him with both his hands and his approach. In his first at bat, he finished a good at bat by not trying to do too much with a good pitch and knocking a base hit into right-center field. Then, in the next at bat, he drew a walk. Again, this is an 18-year-old who was in high school at this time last year. There weren’t a ton in the way of positives in this game, but Yorke was certainly one.
Up and down for Garrett Richards
Getting the start for the Red Sox in this one was Garrett Richards, making his first start with his new team. The first impression was not good, as the righty struggled mightily with his command in that first inning of work. The game started immediately with a double from Ronald Acuña Jr., which was followed by a single and a walk. After getting a strikeout for out number one, he gave up a base hit and issued another walk before hitting his pitch limit. Thanks to kooky spring training rules this year (which, to be clear, I’m not complaining about), that ended the inning with just one out on the board.
To his credit, Richards came out and was much sharper in his second inning of work. There, he recorded all three outs and did so in just three batters, getting a fly out and a pair of ground outs.
- The Red Sox also had a couple of their best pitching prospects on the mound in this game. First was Thad Ward, who was a bit up and down. He was hurt a bit by his own aforementioned error, and he also hit a batter, but he also showed off a couple good sliders and ended up working around the trouble for a scoreless inning. Connor Seabold also got a chance and had a cleaner outing, tossing a couple of really nice changeups in scoreless inning that included just a single.
- Zac Grotz, a former Mariners reliever who was signed to a minor-league deal in January, was the final pitcher to go for the Red Sox. Unfortunately, he suffered some sort of elbow injury on the final pitch of the top of the seventh (which ended after the injury.) He says he was feeling better after the game, but he immediately waved to the dugout after throwing the pitch, which is never a great sign.
- Also pitching for the Red Sox in this game were: Kyle Hart, who struggled in his major-league debut last year and allowed two unearned runs in an inning of work today; and Kevin McCarthy, a minor-league signing from early in the offseason who tossed a scoreless inning.
- Also getting hits who haven’t been mentioned were: Yairo Muñoz, who had Boston’s lone extra-base hit on a hustle double; Jonathan Araúz, who came in as a sub and went 1-2; Bobby Dalbec, who got the start at third base and went 1-2 with a strikeout and a walk; and Kole Cottam, who came in as a sub and went 1-2.
- This isn’t game-related, but we should mention that Marcus Walden, who was recently designated for assignment, cleared waivers and was outrighted to Triple-A. He’ll rejoin the club in big-league camp.