Rafael Devers impresses, Roenis Elias struggles in Red Sox loss

Rafael Devers went 2-for-4 with a walk in the Boston Red Sox's 16-8 loss to the Orioles. AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez

SARASOTA, Fla. -- With the full slate of major-league infielders staying behind Saturday to go through "Camp Butter," infield coach Brian Butterfield's annual tutorial on defensive shifts and positioning, the Boston Red Sox called up touted prospect Rafael Devers to play in his first Grapefruit League game.

And Devers didn't disappoint.

The 19-year-old third baseman finished 2-for-4 with a walk and nearly completed a terrific defensive play in a 16-8 loss to the Baltimore Orioles, who started a close facsimile of their Opening Day lineup at Ed Smith Stadium. And when it was over, Devers flashed a mouth full of braces to express his excitement over the opportunity.

"I was a little tense at the beginning, of course, for my first game in a big-league situation," Devers said through translator Daveson Perez. "But you know, it's the same baseball. That's pretty much what I took from it. It was a good experience playing with these major leaguers and having opportunities to learn from them and have them teach me about things I could do better. This experience is just serving towards my growth as a player."

Devers got five at-bats, two of which came against Orioles starter Yovani Gallardo, who walked him in the second inning and struck him out in the third. Devers singled the other way to left field in the fifth against reliever Vance Worley, and after grounding into a double play in the seventh inning, he singled up the middle in the ninth.

"He's got good bat speed and he's got plenty of arm strength," Red Sox manager John Farrell said. "For a player that age, he's got a lot of good things going for him."

Devers said the Red Sox have informed him he will open the season at high-A Salem. He spent all of last season at low-A Greenville, batting .288 with 11 homers and a .773 OPS in 115 games.

No relief for Roenis: Before the Red Sox decide whether lefty Roenis Elias or knuckleballer Steven Wright will occupy the final spot in the starting rotation, they wanted to find out if Elias was suited to pitch out of the bullpen.

The sixth inning provided a resounding answer: No way.

Pitching for the second time in three days, Elias faced 10 batters and allowed six hits -- three of which were home runs -- and one walk. Manny Machado and Chris Davis took Elias deep back-to-back before backup catcher Audry Perez left the yard.

"Today was obviously a tough day for him," Farrell said. "It was a combination of (location and stuff). Didn't seen the life of the fastball through the zone. And it's not just measured in velocity. It's just the late action and life of all his pitches were not as consistent."

Because lefty Eduardo Rodriguez (knee) will open the season on the disabled list, the Red Sox could choose to keep both Elias and Wright. Elias can be sent to the minors without being exposed to waivers, so they could also option him to Triple-A and keep both Matt Barnes and Noe Ramirez in the bullpen.

Farrell said the Red Sox will convene an organizational meeting Monday to discuss the final roster spots.

This and that: Center fielder Jackie Bradley Jr. had never in his life swung at a 3-0 pitch -- until the second inning, when he took Orioles starter Yovani Gallardo deep. "It's just a thing I don't do," said Bradley, known for his patience at the plate. "They tell us that in spring training you want to get the feel of swinging the bat. You're seeing some pitches and they want you to be aggressive with your pitch and try to take advantage of it. I just wanted to see what it felt like to swing 3-0." Bradley finished 2-for-4 and is 14-for-37 (.378) overall this spring. ... Right fielder Mookie Betts went 3-for-4 to push his spring average to .300 (15-for-50). ... It was a brutal outing for veteran reliever Carlos Marmol, who faced four batters and gave up three walks and a single. Marmol, already a long shot to make the team, also mixed in a wild pitch.

Panda Watch: Third baseman Pablo Sandoval (back) took 15 swings from each side of the plate and fielded a few grounders in Fort Myers. The stiffness in his lower back has subsided and range of motion is improved, but he isn't likely to return to game action until Monday or Tuesday, according to Farrell.

Holding the Fort: Clay Buchholz threw 107 pitches and allowed two runs in 5 1/3 innings against the Twins' Triple-A team in Fort Myers. ... Although catcher Christian Vazquez has progressed well in his recovery from Tommy John elbow surgery, Farrell said "it would be a stretch" for him to make the Opening Day roster. Vazquez caught six innings against a Twins' Single-A team.

On deck: The Red Sox will face the Phillies at 1:05 p.m. ET Sunday in Fort Myers. In his last audition for the No. 5 starter spot, Wright will be opposed by Philadelphia right-hander Jerad Eickhoff.