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Red Sox 7, Braves 2: A good Pérez Day

Plus two homers and a nice swing from Bogaerts.

Tampa Bay Rays v Boston Red Sox Photo by Billie Weiss/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images

The Red Sox continue to roll through these last few games as the offense has been relentless for much of this spring. They scored seven runs on Saturday against the Braves in a 7-2 victory, but it was the starter who was most encouraging. Here are the notes from the day.

A whiffy kind of Pérez Day

Martín Pérez was one of the few bright spots — relatively speaking, at least — on the pitching side for the 2020 Red Sox, so fans are excited to have him back in 2021. It’s even more exciting that he should be better cast as a back-end arm this time around, which is where he fits in part because he doesn’t really miss bats. Generally speaking, Pérez is only successful when he’s inducing weak contact. That wasn’t the case on Saturday, though, as the southpaw decided to cosplay as a different kind of pitcher.

Pérez made his second start of the spring here, going four innings after tossing a pair in his first outing. He’s definitely going to be happy with the way he threw the ball, though, allowing only a pair of singles over those four innings of work with one walk as well. Most notable, however, was that he struck out five batters in the process. Obviously it’s spring training and he wasn’t exactly facing a lineup full of major-league starters, but it’s still very nice to see. Over his two spring appearances Pérez now has six scoreless innings on three hits to go with five strikeouts and one walk.

As noted above, Pérez figures to be a mainstay in the back of the Red Sox rotation, where his roughly average expectations fit very well. The group has much more upside ahead of him, but there is plenty of value in having a dependable arm to hand the ball to every five days. That’s what Pérez was last summer, and he’s looking this spring like he’s ready to pick up where he left off.

Other Notes

  • Xander Bogaerts got his second action of the spring here on Saturday after going 0-2 on Friday. He got one nice swing in here today, smacking an RBI double into left field off of Braves starter Ian Anderson. It goes without saying that the offense isn’t really a concern for the Red Sox shortstop — though it’s still fun to see it action in the spring — and we’re really looking to see him get some time in the field. Bogaerts has been nursing a sore shoulder in the early parts of spring, but is hoping to get some defensive action early this coming week.
  • Speaking of nice swings, we saw the Hunter Renfroe power for the first time this spring. In his first at bat of the day, Renfroe went down and got a pitch from Anderson that was down in the zone and was able to just demolish it. It was a no-doubt shot out to left for his first homer of the spring. He went 1-3 with a strikeout on the day and has a .778 OPS this spring. It’s also worth noting he got the start in center field, something that we may see from time to time during the regular season.
  • This was one of two homers on the day for the Red Sox. The second came at the very end of the game when Michael Gettys hit a grand slam in the eighth to open up the score. That was his first homer of the spring. Gettys was a minor-league signing this past winter and will serve as outfield depth at Triple-A/the Alternate Site. He’s got big power (as we saw here) as well as a ton of athleticism in the outfield, but also plenty of swing and miss at the plate. He’s got a .962 OPS so far this spring.
Boston Red Sox Spring Training Photo by Billie Weiss/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images
  • Darwinzon Hernandez made his spring debut here on Saturday, and it was not a great one. We all know the lefty’s biggest issue is his control. The stuff is dynamic, but it can only work if he’s throwing strikes at a reasonable rate. Here on Saturday, he walked two and hit a batter in his first inning of work, though he was able to escape without any runs thanks in part to a double play that was started nicely by Chad De La Guerra at shortstop. Hernandez came back out for another inning, walking the only batter he faced before being pulled. Hernandez will be on the Opening Day roster and has a chance to earn an important role in the bullpen, but he’ll have to show he can consistently hit the zone before he gets too many high-leverage spots.
  • Jonathan Araúz is having something of a sneaky good start to his year. The infielder was a Rule 5 selection by the Red Sox prior to the 2020 season and was able to be kept all season last year, in part due to the circumstances of the year. He’s going to start the year in the minors as they try to get him the consistent at bats he was not able to get last season. On Saturday, he had a pair of doubles while getting the start at second base, and he’s up to a 1.231 OPS on the spring.
  • Others who had hits today who have not been mentioned were: Christian Vázquez, who started behind the plate and went 1-3 with a single; and Ronaldo Hernández, who got his first spring action off the bench and went the other way for a base hit in his only at bat.
  • Others who pitched today who have not been mentioned were: Austin Brice, whose lack of minor-league options give him an inside track for an Opening Day middle relief spot, and he allowed a run in his inning of work on a walk, a hit batter and a strikeout; Phillips Valdez, who is on the roster bubble right now despite generally pitching well last summer, and he tossed a perfect inning with a strikeout after coming in for Hernandez; Jay Groome, the former first round pick who has a big season coming up after missing so much time with injury early in his career, and he tossed a scoreless inning in his first big-league spring training appearance while giving up a single and issuing a walk to go with one strikeout; John Schreiber, a recent waiver claim who figures to serve as bullpen depth, and he struggled here, allowing a run on two doubles and a single with one strikeout while only recording two outs; and Kaleb Ort, a minor-league Rule 5 pick from this past winter who retired the only batter he faced to end the game.