FORT MYERS, Fla. -- A few takeaways from the Fort, where Jim Rice celebrated his 60th birthday and the new Red Sox left fielder, Jonny Gomes, celebrated, well, just the beauty of playing the game in a 2-0 loss to the Minnesota Twins.
In the clubhouse Friday afternoon, Gomes, who left the Oakland Athletics and signed a two-year, $10 million deal with the Red Sox, was talking about what it takes to be a leader and the importance of going all-out on the field.
“There’s no blueprint to it by any means,” Gomes said. “Every year is an individual year. Every year is different vocally, different everything. One thing I do consistently every day is play how I do play between the lines. (I’m a guy) that doesn’t take a day off. Maybe this year is no team meetings, no vocal anything, all the way to the World Series. Maybe it’s once a week. There’s not a blueprint. You have to just find what the flow of traffic is.
“We’re grown men and we’re competing against grown men who want to win. Is every single at-bat personal? Not really. But you can look at it like that. The guy wants to strike you out for his success. It’s a results-driven industry. So yeah, you definitely need to have a little attitude on the field.”
Then Gomes went out and showed what leadership is all about.
In the first inning, he hit a slow roller back to pitcher Mike Pelfrey, who threw too late to second base to nail Ryan Sweeney. Gomes, meanwhile, was motoring at top speed down the first-base line and beat the throw from second. Instead of runners on second and third and two outs, it was bases loaded and one out.
That’s the kind of attitude that’s going to make a difference.
Gomes went 1-for-3, raising his spring average to .294. He tried to start a rally in the sixth with a two-out single, but Will Middlebrooks struck out and left runners on first and second.
* Ryan Dempster’s charmed spring ran into a minor snag. Dempster, who had given up just one hit in five innings over two starts, was tagged for five hits and two runs in 3 2/3 innings. He sailed through the first two innings and had two outs and nobody on in the third when Aaron Hicks touched him for a double on a 3-2 count that led to two runs.
“I just couldn’t get them to hit the ball to the guy I wanted them to hit it to,” Dempster said. “They were finding the holes.
“When I’m throwing a pitch, I want them to hit it. Obviously, there are times when you’re trying to strike somebody out. But I’m trying to put the ball in a place that I feel like if I execute a pitch that they do hit, you’re going to get contact where you like. Sometimes those ground balls get through the hole. Maybe the pitch isn’t exactly where you wanted it, so that’s why it gets through. It’s hit a little bit harder. But then you make the adjustments.”
At least Dempster's control was good: He threw 43 strikes in 66 pitches and didn’t walk a batter.
“I feel really good,” said Dempster, who still hasn’t walked a batter all spring.
* The Red Sox have six home runs in 482 at-bats this spring. That is correct. Six. They are dead last in baseball, with the Seattle Mariners having hammered five times as many. Big Papi’s Achilles’ tendon had better stop barking at him.
* Manager John Farrell had a chance to watch pitching prospects Anthony Ranaudo and Brandon Workman in their first intrasquad game Friday morning at the team’s spring training complex.
Ranaudo, a supplemental first-round pick in 2010 out of LSU who fell to the Red Sox at 39th overall after an elbow injury, and Workman, a second-round pick in 2010 who was the 2012 Pitcher of the Year in the organization’s farm system, are both expected to start the season at Double-A Portland.
“You’re looking at two big, strong right-handed pitchers with a lot of promise and a lot of talent,” Farrell said. “Two innings of a sim intrasquad in spring training, I mean, it’s just a look at their delivery and just to see them execute on the mound. It’s not under the microscope, by any means.”
* Catcher Christian Vasquez threw out Trevor Plouffe with another laser strike to second base on an attempted steal in the sixth inning and also rocketed a ninth-inning double off The Green Monster.
The throw was the real jaw-dropper.
“This is probably the fourth guy he’s cut down in spring training, and all of the same variety,” Farrell said. “He had a 1.82(-second) release tonight. I don’t know if you can get below 1.8.”
* Felix Doubront gets the start in Saturday’s 7:05 p.m. game against the Baltimore Orioles. In his only spring training appearance, Doubront pitched 1 2/3 scoreless innings, giving up one hit, walking two and striking out two. Also scheduled to pitch: Terry Doyle, Joel Hanrahan, Andrew Miller and Andrew Bailey. Hanrahan will leave after the game to fly to Texas for the birth of his son.
* Farrell on Yankees closer Mariano Rivera, who is expected to announce Saturday that this will be his last season: “He set the standard by which all other closers are compared. I think it’s remarkable that if you look at video from probably 15 years ago to now, you’re going to see the same exact delivery. Just a great athlete with a Hall of Fame career.”
* Red Sox players in the World Baseball Classic: Alfredo Aceves was tagged with a blown save in Mexico’s 6-5 loss to Italy Thursday in its first Pool D game , giving up a two-run homer and five hits in three innings. Oscar Villarreal threw a scoreless inning. ... In Tokyo, Xander Bogaerts went 1-for-5 in the Netherlands’ 6-2 victory over Cuba. In four games, he’s 2-for-13 with a double and two walks ... Shane Victorino went 0 for 1 as a pinch hitter in his Classic debut Friday night against Mexico at Chase Field, and Jose De La Torre didn’t pitch as his Puerto Rico team beat Spain 3-0 in its opener.