FORT MYERS, Fla. -- Takeaways from the Fort, where it was a supreme challenge to figure out who was on first -- or any other position -- in the Boston Red Sox’s 4-2 victory over the Minnesota Twins on Saturday at Hammond Stadium.
It was a day on which the starters got just two at-bats and players like Forrestt Allday were already in the game in the fourth inning. (Note: He’s an eighth-round pick in 2013 who is described by Soxprospects.com as “backup outfielder potential but likely profiles as an organizational player.”) You almost expected Tom Hanks to run for Forrestt. Or maybe Will Ferrell.
For the Red Sox, there was really only one certainty in the first five innings: Justin Masterson was on the mound.
Masterson, scheduled to start the final game of the season-opening series in Philadelphia on April 9, gave up seven hits and two runs in five innings. He was nicked for an RBI single by Torii Hunter in the third and an RBI double by Danny Ortiz in the fifth.
Masterson finished the spring with a 3.52 ERA in 23 innings spread over six games. Manager John Farrell said that as the spring progressed, Masterson showed increased arm strength and consistency in his release point.
“We know when he’s right, he’s going to put the ball on the ground,” Farrell said. “He got through camp healthy and is primed to take a start next Thursday.”
Farrell said closer Koji Uehara, who will start the season on the disabled list, was “aggressive” in his 35-pitch side session Saturday. Best of all? “No effects or feeling in the hamstring,” Farrell said. Uehara will throw live batting practice on Tuesday in Fort Myers, then pitch in a simulated game Thursday at low Class A Greenville and is expected to pitch in the game versus Augusta next Saturday at Greenville. If all goes well, Farrell said Uehara “theoretically” could join the Red Sox for their home opener April 13 against the Washington Nationals.
ESPNBoston’s Gordon Edes reported last week that multiple scouts mentioned that right fielder Shane Victorino “does not look right physically.” But he appears to be rounding into shape. Victorino made a diving catch in right field to rob Joe Mauer of a hit on a screaming liner in Saturday's first inning. Victorino didn’t exactly “leg out” his triple in the fourth -- he slowed down at second base and appeared to be ready to put on the brakes until the ball was not fielded cleanly -- but he looks better.
News flash: Mookie Betts went hitless in the game! Of course, he batted just twice before leaving in the bottom of the third inning, but he did manage to reach first on an error in the first. Going into the game, Betts led all Grapefruit League qualifiers with a .444 batting average, .778 slugging percentage, 1.216 OPS, 12 extra-base hits and 42 total bases.Betts also went to the wall in left-center to catch Hunter’s shot in the first inning.
This wasn’t one of those shake-off-the-catcher, adjust-the-batting-gloves kind of games. Total elapsed time: 2 hours, 5 minutes. In the second inning, Masterson gave up two singles and yet still threw just seven pitches to five batters. No offense, Fort Myers -- you’re a warm, gracious host, with world-class, white-powder beaches and a refurbished downtown that rocks -- but both teams appeared ready to hop on their respective planes.
Dustin Pedroia made his third error of spring training when he couldn’t handle Danny Santana’s third-inning grounder to his right. Pedroia made just two errors in the entire 2014 regular season, when he won his fourth Gold Glove.
Farrell on Xander Bogaerts, who came into the game with a .261/.364/.457 slash line: "Working on some things to take into a game. There's been flashes of him staying behind the ball and creating better and more consistent leverage in his swing. I know that he's striving for that consistency. The work that he's doing with Chili and Vic (hitting coaches Chili Davis and Victor Rodriguez) in the cage is there. It's translating and transferring that into a game that's still a work in progress."
This week’s Baseball America ranks the Red Sox’s farm system as the second best in baseball behind the Cubs. The Sox lead all organizations with eight players in the 2015 Top 100 Prospects list, led by Yoan Moncada (10th), Blake Swihart (18th) and Rusney Castillo (22nd).
In case you care or attach any significance to spring training records: The Red Sox won six more games this year (17-12-2) than last year (11-17-2). Their seven-game winning streak from March 7-12 was their longest since 2009.
The Red Sox didn’t set a JetBlue Park record for total attendance in a Grapefruit League season because they played fewer games than in the past, but they did set a record for average per-game attendance (9,924).