FORT MYERS, Fla.-- Takeaways from the Fort, where David Ortiz was excused because of dehydration issues, Pablo Sandoval took infield practice with a bottle of water in his back pocket and Mookie Betts [The House] continued his campaign to wrap up the job of Opening Day center fielder in Boston’s 3-2 win over a split-squad of Minnesota Twins in JetBlue Park.
Ortiz was among a number of Sox players who have been cramping in an unseasonably hot spring here, temperatures climbing into the 90s with an announced 100 percent humidity Wednesday. He missed his second straight game Wednesday and is expected to remain shut down for a few days, said manager John Farrell, who announced that the team’s entire starting infield, along with Ortiz and Betts, have been told to stay home Thursday and not even show up at the ballpark.
The Sox will be sending something less than the first team to Dunedin. Among the players making the 2 1/2-hour bus ride are catcher Blake Swihart, outfielder Jackie Bradley Jr., and infielder-outfielders Daniel Nava, Allen Craig and Brock Holt. Rookie left-hander Henry Owens draws the start.
Rusney Castillo went 0-for-2 in two at-bats, one for Triple-A Pawtucket and one for Double-A Portland, but reported he felt no pain in his left side. He has missed the last two weeks with a strained left oblique muscle. Christian Vazquez also went 0-for-4 in minor-league action (he has not yet been cleared to catch after reporting tightness in his throwing elbow), while lefty Robbie Ross threw an inning for Pawtucket and gave up a run.
Betts doubled in his first at-bat and is batting .448 with five doubles and two triples this spring.
Boston's projected Opening Day outfield, at the moment, is Hanley Ramirez in left, Betts in center, and Shane Victorino in right. Can you name the Opening Day outfield when the Sox opened the 2014 season in Baltimore? (answer below)
Rick Porcello tamped down the recent angst about Sox starting pitching by holding the Twins to a run in four innings, allowing three hits and two walks while striking out three. “That’s always comforting when a guy you’re counting on goes out and does his job," Farrell said. Porcello stretched out to 70 pitches. “Changeup was a lot better today,’’ Porcello said, “and that’s one thing I was really looking to working on today. Fastball command little shaky. I left a lot of sinkers up in the zone today, so I’ve got to continue to work on that and get the ball down. But overall, it was a little bit of a battle, but it was good opportunity to work out of a jam and prevent a run from scoring."
Porcello credited Xander Bogaerts with saving a run when the shortstop dived and kept Trevor Plouffe’s ball from going into left field in the first.
Porcello was asked if he has ever faced anyone as big as Kennys Vargas, the Twins’ DH who is listed at 6-foot-5 and 289 pounds, which may be conservative. Vargas hit a rocket off the Wall in left for a double in the first. “The only guy who looked bigger to me that I faced was Frank Thomas in spring training in 2008, and he looked enormous,’’ Porcello said. “But Vargas is a big guy. I saw him a little bit last year. He’s a good player.'' Hall of Famer Thomas is listed in baseball-reference.com as 6-5, 240 pounds, but the Big Hurt surely weighed more, especially in the latter stages of his career. The heaviest player in major league history is believed to be Walter Young, a first baseman who played one year for the Orioles (2005) and was listed at 6-5 and 320 pounds.
The game’s best defensive play was made by shortstop Deven Marrero, who made a terrific stop and threw to second almost from a prone position to start a double play in the sixth.
Sox Opening Day outfield in 2014: Mike Carp in left, Grady Sizemore in center, Daniel Nava in right.