We are now exactly a week away from the start of the 2022 regular season, and it is looking like a couple of players in particular that figure to play a key role in the Red Sox lineup this year are ready to go. Each of those two homered on Thursday, helping lead the way towards a 4-3 win over the spring crosstown rival Twins. Here are the notes from the day.
Rafael Devers and Bobby Dalbec homer
We won’t leave you on the edge of your seat as to who those two players we mentioned above were, and it’s the two hottest players still on the Red Sox roster. (Ryan Fitzgerald could, of course, also be mentioned, but he’s been optioned already.) There was no video for these two homers, but we can just imagine they both went over 600 feet because who can tell us no? The people in attendance? What do they know!
Devers and Dalbec will, of course, be playing opposite each other at third and first base, respectively, more often than not in the regular season. For Devers, it was his second home run in as many days and his fifth of the spring, which puts him all alone in first place among all hitters in baseball. That seems good. Dalbec, meanwhile, lags behind with only three. That said, he also smacked his third double of the spring in this game as well, while Devers merely walked in his second plate appearance. It’s worth mentioning that Dalbec also hit a bunch of homers last spring and then struggled for most of the first half, but for now we’ll just keep riding the positive vibes.
Non-roster invitees making their case
One of the interesting storylines for the Red Sox right now is how they’re going to fill out the final few spots on their active roster. They have a handful of open spots that have yet to be firmly claimed, and a lot of the favorites for those spots are minor-league signings. That’s all well and good, but it leads to the problem of needing to clear 40-man spots to make room for them. The Red Sox won’t add them unless they are sure they are the best options. On Thursday, a couple of those candidates had big days in Travis Shaw and Derek Holland.
The former, of course, has plenty of experience in Boston and indeed ended last season on the team’s roster. He didn’t start in this game, but he came in off the bench to play first base and had hits in each of his two at bats with a single and a double while also scoring a run and knocking another one in. Holland, meanwhile, handled the seventh and eighth innings and was perfect, retiring all six batters he faced, striking out two of them. If I had to guess right now I’d say that both will make the Opening Day roster — I’m more confident with Shaw than Holland, but over 50 percent with both — though again that 40-man question looms large. Both certainly made their case today.
We should also mention that a few more of these non-40-man options also played. Rob Refsnyder came off the bench to play center field and went 0-1, while Yolmer Sánchez singled in his lone at bat while coming off the bench to play shortstop. Franchy Cordero also came off the bench to play right field and singled in his only at bat. As things are currently constituted, the Red Sox need an outfielder on the bench, which could lead to one of Refnsynder or Cordero getting one of those final two spots up for grabs.
- Michael Wacha was the starter for this game and he was, well, Michael Wacha. The righty did miss some bats with five strikeouts over four innings of work, and did so without walking anyone, but he also allowed three runs on five hits, including a homer and a double.
- The bullpen was outstanding in this game. We already mentioned Holland, and they also got a scoreless inning each from Oddanier Mosqueda, John Schreiber, and Phillips Valdez. The latter two figure to be bullpen depth this year, with Valdez in particular being on the 40-man roster and having plenty of big-league experience already under his belt. Mosqueda is a 22-year-old lefty who has been in the organization since 2016 and last season pitched to a 3.61 ERA over 47 1⁄3 innings at High-A Greenville.
- The only other players who had hits in this game who have not yet been mentioned was Jackie Bradley Jr. He started in right field, as he’s currently projected to do most games this season, and went 1-3 with a single and a strikeout.