SARASOTA, Fla. -- Greetings and salutations from Ed Smith Stadium, where the biggest Boston Red Sox-related story involves catcher Christian Vazquez's first game since last March 13, when he tore the ulnar collateral ligament in his right elbow and required Tommy John surgery that ended his 2015 season before it began. Vazquez is expected to start and catch two innings.
"Given that we're, I think, five days from the one-year anniversary of his surgery, the fact that he's back in a game speaks volumes to the work he's put in," manager John Farrell said. "I'm sure he's looked forward to this day on the calendar for quite some time."
There will be much more on Vazquez to come. Meanwhile, there's something else on Farrell's mind, namely a spate of recent defensive miscues committed by the Red Sox.
Farrell expected growing pains from Hanley Ramirez, who is still learning to play first base. But third baseman Pablo Sandoval committed two errors Monday, one day after shortstop Xander Bogaerts was unable to make a play and Rusney Castillo dropped a fly ball in right field. And those are only the errors that were charged, unlike the fly ball that fell in between outfielders David Murphy and Chris Young on Sunday.
And so, Farrell had a meeting with the coaching staff Tuesday morning to discuss placing an added focus in this week's pregame drills on defense, namely handling grounders more cleanly.
"We've got work to do, particularly on some defensive things we've got to get ironed out," Farrell said. "Just basic mechanics of ground ball work. You come off an offseason where you haven't been at game speed, so some of that comes into play. We're going through daily work to get caught up to speed. Hanley's exposure to first has gone as anticipated, largely in part because of the way he's worked, and that's a compliment to him. But still, we're far from a finished product, and in these coming weeks it's a focal point for us."
Here, then, is the lineup for the 1:05 p.m. game against the Baltimore Orioles:
RF Mookie Betts
2B Brock Holt
DH Chris Young
3B Travis Shaw
LF David Murphy
1B Allen Craig
C Christian Vazquez
LHP Roenis Elias