Red Sox vs Twins

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The Red Sox continue their spring schedule on Friday by traveling just a bit down the road to take on the Twins. They’ll have a few regulars in the lineup, though it’s not quite as exciting as what we’ve seen the last couple of days.

The most interesting part of this lineup, to me, is that we are seeing a lot of guys playing off of their natural positions. The Red Sox obviously value versatility, particularly from guys who aren’t slam dunk starting-caliber players, and so they use spring to try and build more of that versatility into players’ games.

In this one, we’ll see Tzu-Wei Lin play in center field as he continues his evolution into a super utility man. That could certainly prove valuable if Brock Holt leaves in free agency next winter. Meanwhile, Sam Travis heads out to left field, Eduardo Núñez plays shortstop (I’d be okay with not seeing this one in the regular season), and Michael Chavis plays first base. The last one is probably most interesting there.

Chavis’ bat has looked great in the early parts of spring and that alone will be enough to get him to the majors. If he wants to stick and carve out a regular role, however, he’ll need to find a spot on the diamond. The Red Sox are trying him at a few different positions as they try to find the best fit.

On the mound it’s going to be a day of relievers for the Red Sox, and mostly minor-league guys. Josh Taylor, who was acquired in the Deven Marrero deal and added to the 40-man this past winter, gets the start.

He’s kind of an under-the-radar bullpen piece who could make an impact in 2019. After him, per Jen McCaffrey, we’ll see Bobby Poyner, Dan Runzler, Daniel Schlereth, Daniel McGrath (lots of Dans!), Domingo Tapia, Jordan Weems, Jordan Montgomery, Trevor Kelley and Adam Lau.

FORT MYERS, Fla. — Red Sox second baseman Dustin Pedroia is likely to make his spring debut Thursday afternoon at JetBlue Park against the Twins. The game will be nationally televised on ESPN.

Manager Alex Cora was originally leaning towards Friday’s game in Sarasota for Pedroia’s debut to avoid the fanfare that comes with a national broadcast. It appears his thinking has changed.

“In Sarasota, we don’t have the doctors and the facilities and all that,” Cora told reporters in West Palm Beach Tuesday.

Pedroia has not appeared in game action since May 29, when he went 1-for-4 against the Blue Jays at Fenway Park before going back to the disabled list with a recurrence of pain in his left knee. He spent the rest of the season rehabbing and has participated fully in workouts so far this spring.

Pedroia will only play a couple innings Thursday, with Cora’s goal being to build him up to seven innings by the end of spring training. The goal is to have Pedroia bat leadoff against the Mariners on Opening Day.

“When you run a marathon, you don’t run the whole thing before you get there,” Cora said. “Seven innings. We’ll take it step-by-step.”

If he debuts Thursday, Pedroia will have exactly three weeks of game action to prepare for Opening Day. His debut will mark a significant step on a long road back.

F”or everything that we’ve been gathering and where he’s at, (it’s) a good start,” Cora said. “It’s not gonna be too much. Just the first game of spring training. We’ll start with that.”

40 years after the sunset on those summer nights, Grease is still the one that we want. But these dark behind-the-scenes stories will make sure you never sing “Greased Lightning” the same way again.

Boston Red Sox notebook: Alex Cora mum on Opening Day starter, Relievers Colten Brewer, Tyler Thornburg impress vs. Pirates
Posted Mar 6, 6:38 PM
Boston Red Sox manager Alex Cora, left, relieves Chris Sale, center, during the fifth inning of the second game of a baseball doubleheader against the Baltimore Orioles in Boston, Wednesday, Sept. 26, 2018. (AP Photo/Michael Dwyer).

Boston Red Sox manager Alex Cora, left, relieves Chris Sale, center, during the fifth inning of the second game of a baseball doubleheader against the Baltimore Orioles in Boston, Wednesday, Sept. 26, 2018. (AP Photo/Michael Dwyer)

FORT MYERS, Fla. — The biggest Red Sox news of the day came after the team’s 6-1 loss to the Pirates, as right-hander Steven Wright was suspended 80 games for violating Major League Baseball’s performance-enhancing drug policy. Here are some other notes from Wednesday’s action:

Boston’s top four starters– Chris Sale, David Price, Rick Porcello and Nathan Eovaldi– will get into games starting Sunday. They’ll likely go two innings the first time around but could go three if the pitch count is low.

Porcello, who is starting Sunday against the Rays in Port Charlotte, will be the first of the big four to get into a big-league game. He’s looking to build on a solid 2018 season in which he posted a 4.28 ERA in 33 starts.Cora appreciates how Porcello uses a full five-pitch repertoire in his outings.

“He’s a tough one because he has so many pitches,” Cora said. “Then all the sudden, the changeup is not working and he can use the breaking ball. If the breaking ball’s not working, he’ll use the sinker. If the sinker’s not good, he can go with a four-seamer up, which is great. It’s hard to plan for his outings because he’s so versatile on the mound.”

Cora said Porcello’s relief appearance in Game 1 of the ALDS against the Yankees was the loudest he heard Fenway Park at any point last season.

“When he came in and got those two outs,” Cora said. “That was cool to see. He actually set the tempo for the whole month of October.”

Bullpen candidates Tyler Thornburg and Colten Brewer each pitched against the Pirates, with Thornburg allowing an earned run on two hits and Brewer striking out two in his inning of work. Thornburg’s line was skewed by a dropped Andrew Benintendi fly ball but raised his spring ERA to 12.00.

“Velocity was the same as the last one, which is good,” Cora said. “Something that we’re looking forward to. 95 (mph), again. Just like the last one. He threw better than what the line shows.”

The Sox will be back in action Thursday at JetBlue Park, facing the Twins at 1:05 p.m. Second baseman Dustin Pedroia will make his long-awaited debut, getting one at-bat and playing two innings in the field.

J.D. Martinez will be at designated hitter while Mitch Moreland (first base), Xander Bogaerts (shortstop) and Rafael Devers (third base) will join Pedroia in the infield. Brock Holt (left field), Jackie Bradley Jr. (center) and Mookie Betts (right) will round out the lineup.