Boston's bats come alive as Red Sox rout Twins

FORT MYERS, Fla. -- Takeaways from the Fort, where the Boston Red Sox made Brian Duensing look like a high school freshman, David Ortiz looked as fresh as he has all spring and Justin Masterson was masterful in the Boston Red Sox's 14-2 victory over the Minnesota Twins on Monday at JetBluePark.

Duensing isn't a bad pitcher: He was converted by the Twins from starter to reliever in 2013 and had a 3.31 ERA last year in 62 games. But the Red Sox -- just hours after manager John Farrell twice said, "I like our team" -- took him deep repeatedly in a six-run fourth inning.

Maybe Duensing should consider himself fortunate. Last Tuesday against the Toronto Blue Jays, Devon Travis drilled him in the left quadriceps with a line drive, knocking him out of the game and stitching a massive bruise on his leg that required a bandage for three days. The way the Red Sox were tattooing the ball on Monday, the damage could have been a lot worse.

The Red Sox rocked him for seven straight hits, none of them of the cheap variety: homer, double, double, single, double, double, single.

This was the kind of explosion that general manager Ben Cherington and Farrell envisioned when the Sox acquired Hanley Ramirez and Pablo Sandoval in the offseason, and plugged them into the lineup behind David Ortiz.

"It was great," Masterson said. "I mean, they're going to do that a lot. ... You know what I'm really excited about is, I really feel a different guy is going to go on hot streaks for a while. You're going to have a week of this guy, a week of that guy. And when they all come together? Oooh, man. I'm going to sit there and just watch. Put my seat back and just say, 'This is awesome.' "

Big Papi is back: Ortiz had his first multi-hit game since returning from an eight-game absence, rapping a third-inning single off Duensing to right to score Mookie Betts. Then he chased Duensing from the game in the fourth inning with a one-out single that scored Pedroia from second. Then his night was over, with Tim Roberson pinch-running for Ortiz.

Masterson's strong start: Masterson turned in his best outing of the spring, going 5 2/3 innings, giving up five hits and one unearned run while walking one and striking out four.

"[It was] a combination of feeling good and feeling strong and having for the most part hitting my spots, definitely," he said. "Which is exactly as we've been talking about moving in that right direction. Able to make a few adjustments."

Asked how he feels now compared to a year ago, when he was battling an oblique injury that haunted him all season, he said, "I feel great. At this time [last year], if we were going into the fourth and fifth inning, I'd be giving up at least a couple of homers out there."

Said Farrell, "It's good to see him with each successive outing continue to build arm strength and continue to build his stuff."

Ramirez has impressed Farrell: "Well, he's a force, there's no doubt," said Farrell after watching Ramirez up close and personal for about six weeks. "It's been fun to watch. … He's so dangerous. I don't know if I've ever seen a guy hit the ball as hard as him consistently."

The knock on Ramirez, who leads the team with 12 RBI and is batting .289 this spring, has been that he can't stay healthy. He's missed 185 games in the past four seasons.

"He's got his maintenance routine he goes through, but we're hopeful, too, that getting off the shortstop position just gives him a chance to remain a little bit more healthy," Farrell said, "and [outfield] is a less physically demanding position, so our goal is to have him in that 4-hole as often as possible, which should be every day."

Betts robbed Trevor Plouffe: In the fourth inning, Betts scooted back to the warning track in dead center to nab a liner that would have been at least a double.

"He makes a heckuva play, obviously," Farrell said, "but I think where he's becoming more comfortable is kind of playing the lineup, knowing where we are in the lineup. Guys with a little bit more power, he'll go a little bit deeper. And that's just coming through his feel and repetition in playing center field. So he continues to impress."

Oh, yeah, and Betts went 2-for-3 with three runs scored, a double, walk, RBI. Somehow, he seems to raise his batting average with every game -- and that's pretty hard to do when you're hitting more than .450 (and now it's .467).

How strong is Mike Napoli? In the fourth, he sawed off his bat on a pitch from Duensing. The barrel of the bat ended up in the dirt near Plouffe at third base. The handle remained in Napoli's hands. The ball went over The Green Monster. Napoli leads the team with four homers -- twice as many as anybody else.

Asked how many broken-bat homers he has seen like that, Farrell said, "Not too many like that. Nap's been in a pretty good place all spring."

More takeaways

  • Here's an odd sight: A ground ball goes right underneath the glove of Pedroia. It happened in the third inning on a hard shot by Danny Santana. Pedroia is a four-time Gold Glover and is coming off a season in which he committed just two errors and had the best fielding percentage (.997) of his career.

  • Steven Wright will start on Wednesday against the Toronto Blue Jays at JetBlue Park, while Clay Buchholz goes against the Twins at CenturyLink Sports Complex. Joe Kelly will pitch on the back fields in a minor-league game.

  • Farrell on what he's seen from the arm of catcher Ryan Hanigan this spring: "There's ample arm strength and transfer ability to help deal with a running game. It's going to be a team effort, though. In a short period of time, we became pretty spoiled on a guy that's got a rocket back there in Christian (Vazquez). Ryan's certainly capable."

  • Farrell on Xander Bogaerts shaking off the jumpiness in the batter's box that Farrell said he had exhibited earlier in camp: "You see it little by little, and in combination with understanding and knowing that work that's going on with Chili (hitting coach Chili Davis) prior to BP. I think we all want adjustments to happen more readily, but hey, things will happen in time. You can see the adjustments being attempted at the plate. A couple of balls the other day that find their way to base hits -- that just gives him a chance to relax a little bit and let some of work that's being done really start to gain some traction."