PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. — Observations from the Red Sox‘ 6-3 victory over the Mets . . .
XANDER TIME: The story of this one was definitely Xander Bogaerts. The shortstop continued his torrid spring by going 2 for 3 with an opposite-field single and three-run homer down the left field line.
Read what you will into a handful of spring training games, but Bogaerts looks like a different hitter than he did for much of last season. He’s hitting .375 with a pair of homers and six RBIs and has returned to the all-fields approach that had him flying through the minors.
He got fooled by a slider on his home run, but kept his hands back and his front side closed, enabling him to launch it over the left field fence basically with one hand.
“I was out in front a bit, but I didn’t open up,” Bogaerts said. “It wasn’t that bat of a swing. It’s just staying closed was what I did. The whole time, I’m thinking of hitting the ball up the middle and other way.”
That approach was on display in the third, when Bogaerts waited on a 1-2 fastball away from Jon Niese and ripped it to right field for a single. Add a lineout to short that required a diving catch in the first, and Bogaerts was right on the ball all day.
“I liked the one going to right field,” Bogaerts said. “I was behind in the count. I’m just not getting too overaggressive. I’m just letting the ball get deep and putting the ball in play. It’s something I really want to do more this year — put the ball in play. If you put the ball in play, stuff can happen.”
PORCELLO POUNDS ZONE: Right-hander Rick Porcello got off to a slow start that included a first inning of loud contact, but once he ended the first with a 5-4-3 double play on Michael Cuddyer, he cruised.
Porcello limited the Mets to four hits and an unearned run in three innings, striking out two and walking none.
Porcello fed the Mets a diet of sinkers and induced soft contact after a Kirk Nieuwenhuis double leading off the second.
“I was pleased with the amount of strikes I threw,” Porcello said. “I don’t know what I ended up at, but most of my misses were around the plate. Everything as far as fastball, curveball, four-seamer, sinker were working really well. Changeup was a little iffy. I started to feel a lot better with that in the third inning when I threw two pretty good ones. Overall I felt pretty good.”
WEEKS STEPS IN: With prospect Sean Coyle KO’d by a grounder to the face in BP that required stitches, veteran Jemile Weeks stepped in and played third base for the first time, starting a 5-4-3 double play and going 1 for 2 withtwo steals and two runs.
“He hasn’t played over there a whole lot, so there’s going to be some different timing and reads on groundballs, but he’s doing everything we’ve asked,” manager John Farrell said. “He’s swinging the bat well. He’s running the bases aggressively and making good decisions. He’s an interesting guy because of the versatility and the overall athleticism.”
Weeks’ path to the big leagues appears blocked by Brock Holt at the moment, but his speed and ability to play infield and outfield make him an intriguing utility candidate. Adding third base to the resume can’t hurt.
“Coming into camp, it primarily was going to be second, short and center field,” Farrell said. “He’s here. He takes advantage of an opportunity.”