FORT MYERS, Fla. -- Takeaways from the Fort, where the Red Sox absorbed an 11-3 whipping at the hands of the Atlanta Braves and are dealing with their first rash of injuries, none of which appear serious at this stage.
Outfielder Rusney Castillo (left oblique muscle) has been cleared to play in minor-league games Wednesday and Thursday, manager John Farrell said Tuesday, but the Sox added two more players to their injury list.
Catcher Christian Vazquez felt some discomfort in his throwing elbow Friday while throwing out a base-runner attempting to steal and hasn’t played in a game since. He resumed throwing Monday but will be kept out of games indefinitely.
“We’ll bring that along slow," Farrell said.
Vazquez said he might play as soon as Friday.
“[It's] nothing bad," said Vazquez, who said he has never experienced discomfort before on a throw and felt tightness when he got back to the dugout. “Nothing big. I’m fine."
Rookie Blake Swihart started in Vazquez's place Tuesday and was charged with two errors, one on a throw, the other on a play ruled catcher’s interference.
Meanwhile, closer Koji Uehara strained his left hamstring during a running drill before Tuesday’s game. While Farrell termed the injury “day to day,” it is worth noting that Uehara missed 28 games at the start of the 2010 season with Baltimore after sustaining the same injury. Farrell did not address the severity of this strain other than to say Uehara will be re-evaluated.
Starting pitcher Joe Kelly had a light throwing session Tuesday after being removed from Monday's game with tightness in his right biceps.
“He continues to show improvement," Farrell said. “We’re not going to shut him down. He’ll probably get on a mound in a couple of days to test it, to see where we’re at that point. We’re not at the point of saying he will not make his next start."
Reliever Matt Barnes, who was to have followed Henry Owen as a starter in Dunedin on Thursday, was used for an inning out of the bullpen on Tuesday instead, pitching the fifth inning, giving up a couple of runs on two hits and a walk. Farrell acknowledged the club intends to take a look at Barnes in a relief role, though he insisted no decision has yet been made on his role once the season starts. It would appear to be a situation in which Barnes will be a reliever if he begins the year in Boston, a starter if he opens in Pawtucket.
“We’re still taking a look at him in shorter stints right now," Farrell said. “I thought he was amped up a little bit, in particular with the first couple of curveballs he threw. It looked like he overthrew them a couple times. I think there was some adrenaline in there. As we shift his role and talk a little bit more about more frequent outings, he’s probably looking into it and there’s probably some legitimate competition there, [but] we’re not making a final roster decision today."
Brandon Workman, one of the pitchers vying for a bullpen spot, had a rough inning, allowing four runs (three earned) on four hits and a walk. Farrell said that Workman’s velocity is not yet back to where it customarily is, so when he mislocates, he can expect to get whacked.
Clay Buchholz, making his third spring start, gave up two runs in the first and two more in the fourth, but struck out six, did not walk a batter, and threw 47 of 62 pitches for strikes. Buchholz said his focus was on throwing his changeup and curve.
“Coming out of the gate last year, I was basically throwing just two types of fastballs and those pitches were the only ones I was able to command," he said. "That makes it pretty hard, so I made a conscious effort today to be able to throw changeups where I could have some confidence in them coming into camp. Curveballs for strikes were good. Curveballs in the dirt when I was ahead in the count were good, too."
Mookie Betts had another good day at the plate, doubling, singling, and reaching on an infield error. He is batting .462 this spring.
Allen Craig hit his first home run of the spring, an opposite-field blast off Braves pitcher Brandon Cunniff in the fifth. Craig, who played first base while Mike Napoli served as DH in the absence of David Ortiz, is now batting .292, going 5-for-13 in his last four games.
Hanley Ramirez made a nice running catch in left-center and avoided a collision with Betts in the process.
Brock Holt played right field and made a diving catch. Someone mentioned to Holt that he can play as many positions as Will Ferrell with nowhere near the same fanfare. “He’s funnier than I am," Holt said, “but I’m better-looking."
Pablo Sandoval regaled a group of minor leaguers outside the team’s weight room Tuesday morning, a nice moment for those kids. “He’s a guy with three World Series rings spending time with them," Xander Bogaerts said. “That was pretty cool."
Former Sox outfielder Jonny Gomes, walked, whiffed and flied out in three plate appearances as the Braves DH. He struck out on a nasty curveball from Buchholz, who said he spent over a half hour visiting with his ex-teammate.
“Jonny’s a good dude," Buchholz said. “He’ll help any team he’s with."
Farrell indicated the club will be making its first cuts of spring soon. It would not be a surprise if that happens Wednesday. Because the team is playing in Dunedin on Thursday, that day would not give Farrell a chance to speak with the players who are being sent down.
There were seven errors in the game, four by the Sox, three by the Braves. The Sox also hit into four double plays.