FORT MYERS, Fla. -- Takeaways from the Fort, where Monday's practice exercise between the Red Sox and Cardinals was halted by rain in the fifth, with the Cardinals leading, 2-0:
Having grown up in New Jersey and played at Seton Hall Prep, Rick Porcello has plenty of experience pitching in cold weather.
“I pitched in a couple of games where it was snowing,’’ Porcello said. “There was a preseason game in high school, it might have been 18 or 20 degrees. It was supposed to be in the 30s with sunshine, but a cloud cover came in and it never got warm. It was absolutely freezing. I threw two or three innings, and I remember hitting one off the end of the bat, and my hands were ringing the rest of the game.
“The whole month of March for high school baseball in New Jersey is freezing cold. Basically you’re on the blacktop or inside the gym.''
Porcello, who threw 92 pitches on Monday -- 56 for strikes -- is in line to make his first start of the regular season on April 8 in Philadelphia. Daytime temperatures on that date are scheduled to be 55 degrees, with a low of 33 during the night, according to accuweather.com. Meanwhile in Fort Myers, it has been an unseasonably warm spring, with temperatures already reaching 90 degrees a couple of times.
“It’s definitely a big difference,’’ Porcello said. "I know hitters don’t like to hit in cold weather, but for pitchers, the ball feels different in your hand in cold weather. It's always a grind, the first start or two, to go from Florida back up north, especially with your breaking ball.''
And there’s not much a pitcher can do to compensate.
"You got to make your adjustments when you’re out there,’’ Porcello said. “We’ll get to work out the day before, get an opportunity to throw the ball in cold weather, and make adjustments. It’s definitely an adjustment, probably harder on hitters than pitchers.''
This will be the first time Porcello will pitch in Citizens Bank Park. The only time he faced the Phillies was in 2013, in Comerica Park, when he was with the Tigers.
“I've never even been to the ballpark in Philly,’’ Porcello said. "Everyone says it's a bandbox. We’ll see. I’m looking forward to seeing it.''
Historically, Porcello has struggled in the season’s first month, with a 9-12 record and 6.12 ERA in 26 starts. That was not the case last season, when Porcello went 3-1 with a 3.96 ERA in four starts. He made his first start in Detroit last season on April 6, on a 41-degree day, and went 6 2/3 strong innings, allowing just three hits and a run.
Monday, Porcello gave up six hits and two runs, walking one and striking out five in five innings. He was going to stop there, regardless of the weather.
"I feel strong,’’ he said. “My sequences, the way I’m thinking on the mound, is there. The consistency of the pitches isn’t, again, where I want it to be. That's obviously why we’re here in spring training. I’ve got to keep working on the consistency, but I like the sequences.
"The changeup was a lot better today and that’s the one pitch I was really working on between starts. There are spots where everything is really good and working together and there are spots where it’s a little inconsistent. Overall, I feel strong and healthy and ready to go.''
Brian Johnson, and not Henry Owens, will start against the Miami Marlins in Jupiter on Tuesday. Owens will follow, along with Matt Barnes, Dalier Hinojosa and Dana Eveland all scheduled to make the trip.
There’s a possibility DH David Ortiz could play in a minor league game Tuesday. “At a minimum, he’ll be in the lineup Thursday,’’ manager John Farrell said.
Catcher Christian Vazquez is scheduled to throw to bases in drills on Tuesday, with game action to follow as soon as Thursday.
Farrell acknowledged there could be a scenario where the club breaks camp with eight relievers, instead of seven, because the club won’t need a fifth starter until April 15, at home against the Washington Nationals. The Sox have an off day during their opening series in Philadelphia, which means Clay Buchholz could come back on regular rest against the Yankees on April 11. That’s why Joe Kelly will pitch in a minor league game on Friday instead of in the team’s exhibition in Orlando against the Braves, so if he starts the season on the DL, it could be backdated far enough to make him eligible on the 15th.
With both the Phillies and Yankees loaded with left-handed hitters, Farrell has expressed a preference to start the season with two lefties in the pen, with Craig Breslow and Tommy Layne the leading candidates. An extra right-hander, should Kelly start on the DL, could come out of a group that includes Brandon Workman, Matt Barnes and Steven Wright. “That decision has not been made,’’ Farrell said. “It’s an option available to us.''
Multiple scouts mentioned Monday that Shane Victorino does not look right physically. Victorino played in back-to-back games for the first time, but served as DH on Monday, with Rusney Castillo in right. Castillo will also be in Jupiter on Tuesday.