FORT MYERS, Fla. — The Red Sox could certainly live with Rusney Castillo’s first at-bat Thursday against Norheastern, a first-pitch, pop up into foul ground. That happens, even against college kids.

But what transpired for the outfielder in his second go-round truly left a mark when it came to the Red Sox’ perception of Castillo.

Rusney Castillo (Jasen Vinlove/USA Today Sports)

Rusney Castillo (Jasen Vinlove/USA Today Sports)

FORT MYERS, Fla. — The Red Sox could certainly live with Rusney Castillo’s first at-bat Thursday against Norheastern, a first-pitch, pop up into foul ground. That happens, even against college kids.

But what transpired for the outfielder in his second go-round truly left a mark when it came to the Red Sox’ perception of Castillo.

With one out in the third inning, and Marco Hernandez on first base, Castillo grounded to Northeastern shortstop Max Burt. The righty hitter clearly was not aware of how many outs there were, because he barely jogged down the first base line, allowing for an easy 6-4-3 double play for the Huskies.

“Disappointing for a couple of reasons,” said Red Sox manager John Farrell. “One, he has lost the number of outs. Still, regardless of another of outs, getting down the line is controllable. And for a player in his situation, every little aspect of the game is important. That’s something that was addressed in the moment. He needs to execute the game situation. And for that matter, every player. But that one obviously stood out.”

Castillo, who was getting the start in left field, is an obvious longshot to make the Red Sox to begin with, currently not residing on the 40-man roster. As colleague John Tomase points out, if the Red Sox did decide to promote the 29-year-old, it would cost the team $56,596 per day to keep him around, a reality that would eventually push them over the luxury tax threshold.

The outfielder did impress during his stint in the Puerto Rican Winter League after showing some signs of life with Triple-A Pawtucket during the second half of 2016.

But this — which wasn’t the first issues Castillo has had involving game situation recognition — was clearly a step in the wrong direction for the $72.5 million man.

Blog Author: 
Rob Bradford

FORT MYERS, Fla. — Exactly a week ago, it started. Blake Swihart couldn’t throw back to the pitcher.

Blake Swihart (Jasen Vinlove/USA Today Sports)

Blake Swihart (Jasen Vinlove/USA Today Sports)

FORT MYERS, Fla. — Exactly a week ago, it started. Blake Swihart couldn’t throw back to the pitcher.

Thanks to Comcast Sports Net New England cameraman Bill Messina, we had the video of the Red Sox catcher having a terrible time accurately tossing the ball back to Rick Porcello during a simple bullpen session. The next day was better, but not enough to stop the storyline to really gain steam. (To read about the saga, click here.)

While there was significant progress from Swihart throughout whatever throwing exercises he was participating in, the true story wouldn’t be told until the actual games started.

So, they did. And as it turned out, it wasn’t a problem.

Swihart came in for the fifth inning and tossed the balls back to reliever Marcus Walden without incident. The throw downs to second base? Right on the money. That appeared to be that.

“I mean, you tell me. Yeah, everything felt good,” he said after the Red Sox’ 9-6 win over Northeastern Thursday at JetBlue Park. “I went and cut off that ball and threw it to third. My throws in between innings were good. Throwing back to the pitcher was fine.”

Was he concerned heading into the exhibition game test?

“No. not for me,” Swihart said. “I wasn’t worried about it. Like I said, it’s just part of getting back in the groove.”

Along with playing well defensively at a position he hadn’t manned since last April, Swihart was encouraged by how his surgically-repaired ankle responded to sprinting from first base to home plate on Steve Selsky’s double off the left field wall. The catcher had singled to reach with two outs in the sixth inning.

“Every first game, everybody’s adrenaline should be going. I was excited,” he said. “June 4 was a long time ago. I was ready to get out there.”

Blog Author: 
Rob Bradford

FORT MYERS, Fla. — The Red Sox went to 16-0 in their spring training meetings with Northeastern, beating the Huskies 9-6, Thursday at JetBlue Park. Yippee.

Pablo Sandoval (Jasen Vinlove/USA Today Sports)

Pablo Sandoval (Jasen Vinlove/USA Today Sports)

FORT MYERS, Fla. — The Red Sox went to 16-0 in their spring training meetings with Northeastern, beating the Huskies 9-6, Thursday at JetBlue Park. Yippee.

We shouldn’t really care what the final score was, or that Red Sox reliever Jamie Callahan surrendered two runs, or hard-throwing Luis Ysla gave up two in just 2/3 innings. The reality was that a healthy chunk of the assumed 25-man roster was on the premises before first pitch, and those who stuck around had no idea what the final score was.

But there were reasons that you should have paid some attention to the goings on, regardless of who was playing for Mike Glavine’s Huskies. Here should be your takeaways:

– Sam Travis was one of a few Red Sox who were making their return to actual game competition after a season-ending injury at some point last year.

Before the game, both Travis and Red Sox manager John Farrell proclaimed the first baseman in relatively the same shape as when he dominated Grapefruit League action with a .469 batting average and 1.167 OPS in 18 games last season. And watching Travis serve as the Sox’s DH Thursday, it sure didn’t appear as though that knee surgery he had last June 1 was going to have any impact, with the righty hitter lining a three-run homer just over the left field wall.

“I feel great,” said the player who wears no batting glove or undershirt. “I’m ready to go.”

– There was also Blake Swihart, who found himself catching for the first time since last April. First there was a position change to the outfield, then came his season-ending ankle injury.

While his line-drive single was encouraging, sprinting home from first on Steve Selsky’s double off the left field wall was perhaps more impressive. And then there was his work behind the plate, which included an improved job of framing strikes, and no issues at all throwing the ball.

“I love that,” he said of his return to catching. “I love being involved in every play. I’ve said that from the beginning. That’s where I want to be.”

“I think any time you’re dealing with an ankle, and again the surgery has been successful and the rehab has obviously been there, too,” Farrell said. “Just to see the overall athleticism get back to the level previous. A number of positive things inside today.”

– The last reclamation project to emerge in fine fashion was Pablo Sandoval. The third baseman fielded all three of his chances cleanly, while stretching a line-drive into right field into a double (even sliding head-first).

“A lot of things to prove, man. A lot of things,” Sandoval said. “I just want to do everything I can out there, prove everything that I know that I can do on the field. I’m just going to be humble and keep playing the game the way I play.

“All three,” Farrell said of the returning trio. “There were a number of positive things inside an exhibition game. Panda, it’s been nearly a year since he’s been in a game, handled three balls cleanly. Good to see the swing he puts an a ball on a double down the right field line. Regardless of who the opponent is, when you miss that much time and you come back, and in his case particular, where he’s put a lot of work, it’s good to see it get off on a positive note. With Sam, he’s picked up seemingly right where he’s left off in swinging the bat. And Blake, I think today for just three innings of work, he received a number of pitches that were borderline that he got strikes. He looked much more under control back there and his receiving, I thought, was very clean.”

– While it’s impossible to read anything into Brian Johnson’s line — that included not allowing a hit while striking out three and walking one over two innings — seemingly approaching the form that put him on the Red Sox radar two spring trainings ago was a positive.

“I felt like the ball was coming out of my hand better,” said the lefty, whose last two seasons had been derailed by an elbow injury, and then anxiety issues. “I felt like going to physical therapy three or four times a week last year, when I got here I felt my arm was already tired.”

– Mitch Moreland is evidently really good at kicking off spring training.

The new Red Sox first baseman hit a home run in his first spring training at-bat in 2015, taking Jake Arrieta deep. He went deep again in his first exhibition game of the season this time around, as well, blasting a three-run homer into the Sox’s bullpen in his second at-bat.

“Surprisingly, I felt really comfortable, really kind of loose and relaxed even though it’s spring training,” Moreland said. “It was a first day out there. It felt pretty good. Comfortable. You know had fun.”

– Not all was encouraging for the Red Sox, with Rusney Castillo’s issues with mastering game situations surfacing once again.

With one out in the third inning, and Marco Hernandez at first base, Castillo hit a grounder to shortstop. The outfielder basically jogged down to first, clearly forgetting how many outs there were, with the play resulting in a 6-4-3 double play.

“Disappointing for a couple of reasons,” Farrell said. “One, he has lost the number of outs. Still, regardless of another of outs, getting down the line is controllable. And for a player in his situation, every little aspect of the game is important. That’s something that was addressed in the moment. He needs to execute the game situation. And for that matter, every player. But that one obviously stood out.”

Blog Author: 
Rob Bradford

FORT MYERS, Fla. — No Red Sox Radio Network? No NESN? No problem.

If you want to watch at least some of the Red Sox spring training opener against Northeastern, you’ll have to go to the Major League Baseball Facebook page, where MLB is using Facebook Live to stream the first two innings.

FORT MYERS, Fla. — No Red Sox Radio Network? No NESN? No problem.

If you want to watch at least some of the Red Sox spring training opener against Northeastern, you’ll have to go to the Major League Baseball Facebook page, where MLB is using Facebook Live to stream the first two innings.

(Click here to go to the MLB Facebook page.)

Blog Author: 
Rob Bradford

Xander Bogaerts and Mookie Betts are two Red Sox players who are potential superstars and obviously the team would like to have them part of their long-term future.

Bogaerts is a free agent after the 2019 season, while Betts is a free agent after 2020.

Dave Dombrowski isn't in a rush to extend Mookie Betts or Xander Bogaerts. (Mark J. Rebilas/USA Today Sports)

Dave Dombrowski isn’t in a rush to extend Mookie Betts or Xander Bogaerts. (Mark J. Rebilas/USA Today Sports)

Xander Bogaerts and Mookie Betts are two Red Sox players who are potential superstars and obviously the team would like to have them part of their long-term future.

Bogaerts is a free agent after the 2019 season, while Betts is a free agent after 2020.

Appearing on Kirk & Callahan Thursday morning, Red Sox president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski said the organization would like them to be with them for a long time, but aren’t in any rush to strike a deal.

“We would like them to be Red Sox for a long time,” Dombrowski said. “But, I have also learned throughout the years any time you have contract negotiations with players they are best kept between you and the player. That is how I have always handled those types of situations.”

Bogaerts is a Scott Boras client and he’s been known not to sign contracts before a player hits free agency. Dombrowski noted he’s been able to strike deals beforehand with Boras clients on a few occasions and sometimes it is up to the player to overrule Boras and make a decision on their own.

“I think first of all, let’s just use those two because they are specific, there’s not a rush per se,” Dombrowski said regarding an extension. “It’s not like they are [free agents] at the end of this year. I’ve run into those scenarios. You can occasionally still throw out that we have interest. I think what’s interesting throughout the years, I’ve dealt with Scott Boras many, many times for 30 years basically, and ultimately it is the player’s life. They need to step up at times and make their decisions and I have had players that Scott will say, ‘We’re really not interested,’ and he will talk to the player and at one point he may come back and the player may say, ‘I want to make this decision.'”

Dombrowski also noted that Bogaerts seems to enjoy being a member of the organization.

“I think Xander likes it here a great deal,” he said. “I think he is in a position where he would like to be a Red Sox. He appreciates the organization and the way he’s been treated. You never can tell what can happen with those things.”

Blog Author: 
WEEI