BRADENTON, Fla. -- Good morning from beautiful McKechnie Field, home of the Pirates, on a day where Sox veterans could no longer avoid a lengthy bus ride, usually the province of the kids on the roster.
With the Sox having played a split-squad game in Sarasota on Saturday, travelled across the state to play the Mets in Port St. Lucie on Sunday and the Cardinals in Jupiter on Monday, and went north to Tampa to play the Yankees on Wednesday, manager John Farrell said he needed to see his A-teamers get a little action.
Most of the regulars will also get the call Friday night, when the Yankees come down to the Fort to play the Sox in JetBlue Park, a game that will be televised on NESN. Center-fielder Mookie Betts and catcher Christian Vazquez, who were in Tampa on Wednesday, were not here Thursday, but are expected to play Friday.
Farrell said he expects most of Thursday’s starters to get at least three at-bats.
Here’s the lineup:
1. Shane Victorino, RF
2. Dustin Pedroia, 2B
3. David Ortiz, DH
4. Hanley Ramirez, LF
5. Pablo Sandoval, 3B
6. Mike Napoli, 1B
7. Xander Bogaerts, SS
8. Jackie Bradley Jr., CF
9. Blake Swihart, C
Clay Buchholz, RHP
1. Sean Rodriguez, 2B
2. Jordy Mercer, SS
3. Andrew McCutchen, CF
4. Jung Ho Kang, 3B
5. Pedro Alvarez, 1B
6. Starling Marte, LF
7. Andrew Lambo, RF
8. Elias Diaz, C
9. AJ Burnett, RHP
Interestingly, the Pirates agreed to allow the Sox to use a DH but are having their own pitcher bat.
A couple of things to watch for:
• Will someone finally test Ramirez in left field? So far, he’s had only one routine chance in the two games in which he has played.
• Will Dustin Pedroia and Mike Napoli continue their hot hitting? They each have five hits in their first nine at-bats.
• Will Phillies scout Charlie Kerfeld see something in Blake Swihart that he hasn’t seen already? Can’t swear that Charlie will be here Thursday, but given Philadelphia’s level of interest in Boston’s top prospect, it would be a surprise if he doesn’t make an appearance.
• A recurring theme among scouts who are tracking the Sox: Many would trade Swihart for Phillies left-hander Cole Hamels. Not that they do not hold Swihart in high regard -- they do. But they share the belief that when you have a chance to get a Hamels, you sacrifice the prospect.
The issue also is this: The quality of the prospects the Sox may be willing to give up will depend in part on how much of Hamels’ contract the Phillies are willing to absorb. The more money the Phillies are willing to eat, the better the package of prospects the Sox are willing to sacrifice, and the opposite holds true as well.
As much depth as the Sox feel they have in their rotation, Hamels clearly is still in play. It will be interesting to see which uniform he will be wearing on April 6 when the Sox open in Philly.
• Savor the chance to see Pirates center-fielder Andrew McCutchen, one of the top five players in the game, but also check out Pirates catching prospect Elias Diaz. One scout said he has an "80" arm, which is as high as it goes on the scouting scale.