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Red Sox prospects make good impression

FORT MYERS, Fla. -- Good morning from the Fort, where the Boston Red Sox play the Baltimore Orioles -- the team that traded highly regarded pitcher Eduardo Rodriguez to Boston at the 2014 trading deadline -- just hours after Boston optioned Rodriguez to Triple-A Pawtucket along with catcher Blake Swihart.

Rodriguez and Swihart took advantage of their opportunities in the time they had. Rodriguez had a 1.17 ERA and held hitters to a .172 batting average in 7 2/3 innings spread over three appearances. Swihart, the top-rated catching prospect in baseball according to most services, had a .389 batting average with a .450 on-base percentage in 18 at-bats, and was tied for fourth on the team with 4 RBIs.

Red Sox manager John Farrell said Rodriguez impressed him the most in a game in which he struggled -- March 12 in Bradenton, Florida, when he gave up three hits in 2 2/3 innings and worked his way out a few jams without surrendering a run.

"He didn’t have his best stuff and yet he didn’t let the traffic or the challenge of the inning affect the body language, the poise, the ability to make pitches," Farrell said. "He’s an impressive young guy."

Asked if he is as developed as two other left-handed prospects, Henry Owens and Brian Johnson, Farrell said, "To say who’s ahead of the other, you almost have to look at the individual. What does that individual pitcher have to do? In Eduardo’s case, we want to see the breaking ball get tightened up a bit. But when you get to understand some of the aptitude, the intelligence and the poise, those are all strong points. Not to mention a left-hander who can throw in the mid-90s is a pretty damn good starting point. He’s got a bright future ahead of him."

Farrell said Swihart came into camp this spring with an attitude he didn’t have in his first camp a year ago. He wasn’t just happy to be here. He came to compete, knowing that he’s very close to breaking through.

"The first year a young player comes into a big league camp, maybe they’re in awe of the situation, maybe they’re a little bit uneasy as they’re walking around that clubhouse and sensing that their time is approaching," Farrell said. "The second year they come in, there’s more known -- there’s more known about them, more known about the situation they’re walking into. And I think they’re more realistic with themselves and their thoughts about how they’re going about their work. I think they become more realistic, and it’s becoming more tangible."

  • Outfielder Rusney Castillo (strained oblique) will play in today’s game off the bench and is expected to start Saturday in Bradenton.

  • "He got through the last two days without issue and (is) looking forward to the next step here," Farrell said.

  • Closer Koji Uehara (strained hamstring) did not do long toss yesterday, but will today. He is expected to get back on the mound by the middle of next week after he goes through some physical testing.

  • "I still don’t question whether he’s going to be ready for the start of the season," Farrell said. "I fully expect him to be ready when the season begins."

  • Designated Hitter David Ortiz, who was kept out of the lineup Tuesday and Wednesday in the Fort because of dehydration issues, is not expected to play in a game until next week.

  • "He’s under the weather; he’s dealing with a couple of things," Farrell said. "He’s going to remain going through overall treatment and getting general soreness out of him."

    Farrell said Ortiz is expected to play first base in a few games before the regular-season opener in Philadelphia.

    "That’s going to get (him) enough familiarity," Farrell said. "Even when we’ve been in interleague play before in NL ballparks, there’s been some days with ground balls, which he’s already been taking. So he’ll have enough time to prepare for Philadelphia."

  • Catcher Christian Vazquez (right elbow) will be the DH today as he resumes his throwing program and could be back at catcher on Monday.

  • Right-hander Joe Kelly (biceps) is listed as the starter for Sunday’s game against the Phillies at JetBlue Park.

  • Ryan Lavarnway, the 2009 MLB.com Red Sox Organization Player of the Year, is starting at catcher and batting eighth for the Orioles. Lavarnway had surgery June 4 to remove the hamate bone from his left wrist and was designated for assignment November 25. He was with four teams in 18 days, going from the Red Sox to the Dodgers to the Cubs to the Orioles.

Here are the lineups:

RED SOX

Mookie Betts, CF

Dustin Pedroia, 2B

Pablo Sandoval, 3B

Hanley Ramirez, LF

Shane Victorino, RF

Brock Holt, 1B

Xander Bogaerts, SS

Ryan Hanigan, C

Vasquez, DH

Justin Masterson, RHP

ORIOLES

Everth Cabrera, SS

David Lough, CF

Jimmy Paredes, 3B

Travis Snider, LF

Henry Urrutia, RF

Steve Clevenger, DH

Chris Parmelee, 1B

Lavarnway, C

Ryan Flaherty, 2B

Brian Matusz, LHP