FORT MYERS, Fla. — Drew Pomeranz is playing it down. But, considering where we are at in spring training, the fact that the Red Sox starter left his outing after just two innings Sunday due to left triceps tightness isn’t inconsequential.

Drew Pomeranz

Drew Pomeranz

FORT MYERS, Fla. — Drew Pomeranz is playing it down. But, considering where we are at in spring training, the fact that the Red Sox starter left his outing after just two innings Sunday due to left triceps tightness isn’t inconsequential.

Pomeranz, who said he first felt the issue in the first inning against the Twins, has now pitched in just two Grapefruit League outings, totaling four innings. He finished his 47-pitch outing giving up two runs on two hits.

“The first inning, my triceps got a little tight toward the end of the first one. I told the trainers in between that inning, went back out and it stayed tight the whole time. Nothing crazy,” he said. “Just a little triceps tightness. I think my workloads have been a little higher this week. Who knows. I threw that second inning and it didn’t really loosen up. We just decided to call it quits. I could’ve thrown one more but it’s still the second start and we’ll give it a little rest.”

Considering he was behind the rest of the rotation in terms of ramping up for the regular season, if nothing else this might put the lefty in a bad spot in his race against time.

With Pomeranz’s timetable now in question, more focus falls on Kyle Kendrick.

Kendrick, who doesn’t have the opportunity to opt-out of his minor-league deal until June, has been one of the best Red Sox pitchers in camp to date. He would, however, need to be put on the 40-man roster if the Red Sox want to draw back on Pomeranz heading into April.

In 18 innings, Kendrick has totaled a 1.50 ERA, striking out 16.

Blog Author: 
Rob Bradford

FORT MYERS, Fla. — Steven Wright looks the same as when he marched on to an All-Star appearance last season.

Making his second Grapefruit League start Saturday, the knuckleballer pitched three hitless innings against the Twins, and how not only allowed one baserunner in five frames. This time out he worked up to 41 pitches before going back down to the bullpen for another 14.

Steven Wright (Kim Klement/USA Today Sports)

Steven Wright (Kim Klement/USA Today Sports)

FORT MYERS, Fla. — Steven Wright looks the same as when he marched on to an All-Star appearance last season.

Making his second Grapefruit League start Saturday, the knuckleballer pitched three hitless innings against the Twins, and how not only allowed one baserunner in five frames. This time out he worked up to 41 pitches before going back down to the bullpen for another 14.

If all keeps going down this road, Wright figures to be in line to starter Game 4 of the regular season, in Detroit.

“It’s really encouraging to see him throw as many strikes as he did,” said Red Sox manager John Farrell. “He came back in some counts. He threw a 3-2 knuckleball in one scenario. Quietly he continues to build up the pitch count and the innings.”

Farrell added, “The biggest thing is to not be interrupted. Given where we are in the calendar, the number of opportunities left to build the pitch count, it’s critical for us to get them to the desired number, and that would be 85-90 by the time we break.”

Besides his obvious ability to throw the knuckleball, another facet of Wright’s game that has allowed for some separation is a harder-than-normal fastball for a pitcher of his type. Two seasons ago, for instance, he caught Seattle slugger Nelson Cruz looking on a 91 mph fastball.

Saturday, Wright’s heater was living at about 81-82 mph, a bit below where he typically throws it. It is a reality that he, A. acknowledges, and B. doesn’t seem all that concerned about.

Blog Author: 
Rob Bradford

FORT MYERS, Fla. — Pablo Sandoval is hitting the stuffing out these spring training baseballs.

The third baseman’s latest Grapefruit League triumph came Saturday afternoon when he notched two more hits, both home runs. He how has three round-trippers for the spring, with two of them most likely representing the furthest hits of any Red Sox player this month.

Pablo Sandoval (Jonathan Dyer/USA Today Sports)

Pablo Sandoval (Jonathan Dyer/USA Today Sports)

FORT MYERS, Fla. — Pablo Sandoval is hitting the stuffing out these spring training baseballs.

The third baseman’s latest Grapefruit League triumph came Saturday afternoon when he notched two more hits, both home runs. He how has three round-trippers for the spring, with two of them most likely representing the furthest hits of any Red Sox player this month.

Sandoval is now hitting .333 with a .965 OPS in his 39 at-bats, while making plays on defense he would have no chance at a year ago. He’s also running the bases like we haven’t seen since joining the Red Sox, beating out close plays at first on a few occasions that would have been outs last spring training.

Oh, and he still weighs a lot less when getting beat out for the third base job last season.

And, guess what? He’s also saying all the right things, as was evident after the Red Sox’ 12-5 win over the Twins Saturday.

“First, I don’t think about myself,” Sandoval said. “I think my fans and teammates. This is a team I have a lot of things to prove for them because up and downs in my career. You have to prove a lot of things right now. That’s what I’ve been doing and I’m going to continue doing it for the fans and my teammates who have respect for the game. I want to continue doing all the things I’m doing on the field.”

But this whole deal is far from being punctuated. That’s why when given the opportunity to hand Sandoval the starting third base job after Saturday’s win, John Farrell wouldn’t walk through that door.

“He’s done everything you’re looking for,” the Red Sox manager said. “I don’t see any reason to say he’s the guy. Just continue to go play. We’ll put the best team on the field in a given day.”

Yes, Sandoval has checked off all the boxes … except one.

Through no fault of his own, the switch-hitter still hasn’t really been tested against left-handed pitching. He has been sitting at six at-bats vs. southpaws to date, notching a single hit.

And while there has been some optimism about how his swing has looked hitting righty, there really can’t be any kind of leap of faith, particularly considering half of those at-bats have resulted in strikeouts.

Perhaps there will be an about-face from the 2-for-41 horror show Sandoval presented hitting righty against lefties the last time he was a full-time player, in 2015. But that is clearly one part of the resurgence we can’t define.

And if you think a lack of exposure during spring training isn’t a big deal, remember that Hanley Ramirez got no more than a handful of fly balls in game action during spring training before being thrown into left field during the regular season. How did that work out?

“We’ve got a lefty coming at us on Monday in Wade Miley. There’s going to be an opportunity there,” Farrell noted. “The limited number of at-bats right-handed, it’s been encouraging. It’s been better than anytime in the three years now that he’s been here. That’s a product of just being in better athletic condition.”

There doesn’t seem to be a doubt that Sandoval will start at least the first three games of the season, all of which figure to be against Pittsburgh right-handed starters. The question will come when the Pirates bring in lefty relievers to turnaround the third baseman.

In these last two weeks it will be up to Farrell to uncover if Josh Rutledge will be the better option in those situations.

“Today is probably as good as you’re going to see from Panda,” Farrell said. “Another encouraging day. I would just describe it as another building block in his spring training to get back to previous levels.”

Blog Author: 
Rob Bradford

FORT MYERS, Fla. — Hanley Ramirez has the luxury of not having to throw a baseball. That is part of his new lot in the life.

But it sure would make the Red Sox feel better about their overall plan if he did.

Hanley Ramirez (Kim Klement/USA Today Sports)

Hanley Ramirez (Kim Klement/USA Today Sports)

FORT MYERS, Fla. — Hanley Ramirez has the luxury of not having to throw a baseball. That is part of his new lot in the life.

But it sure would make the Red Sox feel better about their overall plan if he did.

Ramirez’s right shoulder continues to not allow for game action at first base, limiting him to designated hitter thus far through the Grapefruit League. He can do that, of course, because with no David Ortiz, and with Mitch Moreland manning first, the dynamic is different from a year ago.

With just more than two weeks to go with the regular season, it is approaching that time where the Red Sox should start determining if this is a serious issue or not.

Red Sox manager John Farrell doesn’t believe it is.

“He had a very good day yesterday and again this morning with some of the manual patterns and resistance he’s going through with his arm,” Farrell said Saturday morning. “We feel like there’s been a little bit of a breakthrough here. We’re anticipating that throwing to continue to progress and ramp up. The goal, obviously, is still to get him games at first base while in camp, and we’re moving towards that.”

So, will Ramirez play in the field before the team leaves spring training?

“I would love there to be the most possible, but we’ll put him out when he’s first ready,” Farrell said. “He still continues to drill work and ground balls at first base. It’s not like he’s been completely absent of any work on the field. The throwing component to it, whether it’s the front end of a double play, that’s not been there. Game reactivity, game reaction, speed, we’d love to get him a handful of games before we get out of here.”

“I’m feeling better. It’s a day-to-day thing,” Ramirez said. “Day by day.”

In the meantime, Ramirez continues his work at the plate. Heading into Saturday, he was hitting .235 with an .804 OPS in 34 at-bats.

“Even where Hanley was so good at the beginning of last year, he had a tremendous year last year, but he got back to that right-center-field stroke,” Farrell said. “Even in spring training, they’re not giving him anything out over the plate. He’s reacting to some balls on the inner part of the plate. He feels good physically swinging the bat. He’s in a good place offensively, but the complete player is what we’re still striving to accomplish.”

Blog Author: 
Rob Bradford

FORT MYERS, Fla. — There was a reason Hanley Ramirez wanted to play once again in the World Baseball Classic. It looks like a lot of fun.

But Ramirez wasn’t with his Dominican Republic countrymen when they took on Venezuela Thursday night. Instead he could be found getting three more at-bats at JetBlue Park during the Red Sox’ 4-3 win over the Pirates.

Hanley Ramirez (Kim Klement/USA Today Sports)

Hanley Ramirez (Kim Klement/USA Today Sports)

FORT MYERS, Fla. — There was a reason Hanley Ramirez wanted to play once again in the World Baseball Classic. It looks like a lot of fun.

But Ramirez wasn’t with his Dominican Republic countrymen when they took on Venezuela Thursday night. Instead he could be found getting three more at-bats at JetBlue Park during the Red Sox’ 4-3 win over the Pirates.

He works out. He sits at his locker. He plays in meaningless Grapefruit League games. Thanks to a balky right shoulder, this is the life Ramirez has been living. It’s a far cry from the festive atmosphere of the WBC.

So how is Ramirez dealing with not being with his WBC team?

“I don’t watch it. I go to sleep,” Ramirez told WEEI.com. “It’s tough because I want to go out and represent my country, but I couldn’t do it. So it’s tough, yeah.”

Ramirez does say, however, that the early bedtime isn’t strategic.

“When I leave the stadium I just go to sleep. Not because I don’t want to watch it or nothing like that,” he said. “I’m just tired.”

Ramirez’s priority right now is to get healthy enough to start playing games at first base, where he hasn’t manned yet during this spring training.

Red Sox manager John Farrell has said he is optimistic Ramirez will be ready to play in the field when the regular season rolls around, with the Red Sox’ plan to put him at the position against left-handed starting pitchers.

Ramirez — who his hitting .258 with an .877 OPS with two home runs in Grapefruit League play — shares that optimism.

“I’m feeling better,” he said. “It’s a day-to-day thing. Day by day.”

Blog Author: 
Rob Bradford