FORT MYERS, Fla. -- Takeaways from the Fort, where the Red Sox lost to the New York Triple-A Yankees, 5-2, an outcome that for a certain type of cranky Red Sox fan -- the kind that finds it intolerable to lose to the Bombers at any time of year -- means it should be Ben Cherington, and not Brian Cashman, who should be jumping out of a plane Monday, preferably without a parachute.
(The Yankees’ general manager is scheduled to parachute over Miami Monday morning with the Golden Knights of the U.S. Army to raise awareness for the Wounded Warrior Project.)
But from the Red Sox perspective, there was much to like about Sunday’s game, such as Mike Napoli’s first home run of the spring, Ryan Dempster’s three scoreless innings and some good work by the bullpen’s “A team.”
* Napoli lost one over the center-field fence, just to the left of the 420-foot sign, in just his third at-bat of the spring, and in his second game. He also registered six putouts at first base in an exercise considerably less challenging than the one he experienced Friday night.
“He’s done that many times, and we’re hopeful he‘ll do it many times this year,’’ manager John Farrell said of the home run. “Just tremendous power to all fields, and when he gets extended, he can do a lot of damage.’’
Napoli hit 24 home runs for Texas last season; of the last dozen he hit, none went fewer than 396 feet in true distance, as measured by ESPN’s Hit Tracker. And while Napoli is regarded as a pull hitter with a swing well suited to Fenway Park’s left-field wall, a third (59) of his 146 career home runs have been hit to center, right-center or right field.
* Dempster faced the minimum nine batters in his three-inning stint. He gave up an infield hit to Brett Gardner to open the game, then erased Gardner with a double play started by Dustin Pedroia. He threw 28 pitches, 25 for strikes. Six of his outs came on grounders, two on whiffs.
“His command was outstanding,’’ Farrell said. “He had very good location throughout, threw three pitches for strikes, and once again was extremely efficient.’’
Dempster pronounced it a “good day,” and said he’s looking forward to being part of the Sox-Yankees rivalry. He graciously declined to demean the Pinstripers who made the bus trip from Tampa, saying he’s just focused on hitting the catcher’s mitt, no matter who is at the plate, be it Derek Jeter or Zoilo Almonte.
“I’ve always enjoyed it from afar, being a baseball fan,’’ Dempster said of mixing it up with the Bombers. “I’m sure we’ll have a lot of good games against each other. I know that rivalry is pretty much different from any rivalry in baseball.’’
Dempster works fast, a refreshing change from the ponderous pace set by the likes of Josh Beckett last season. And while one big-league scout says Dempster’s stuff is nowhere near the quality of his younger years, he said his experience, competitiveness and savvy make him capable of giving the Sox five or six good innings most starts.
* A broken-bat single and two errors on double-play balls by auditioning third base reserve Drew Sutton led to a rough outing for Joel Hanrahan, who was charged with three runs (one earned) in two-thirds of an inning. “Got my pitch count up,’’ said Hanrahan, whose sleep should be undisturbed tonight.
* Still, the Bombers prevailed, their six pitchers holding the Sox to just four hits. They also managed to retire Yankee-killer Pedro Ciriaco in his only at-bat, Ciriaco grounding into a force play, though he subsequently stole a base.
* Daniel Bard is scheduled to throw a simulated game Monday, with Felix Doubront scheduled to make his first start in the game against Tampa Bay. Players’ union head Michael Weiner, in his spring tour of camps, will meet with the Sox on Monday, and Jonny Gomes is scheduled to be back in the lineup Tuesday.