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Takeaways from Red Sox Grapefruit League game No. 20: Rusney Castillo has something to prove

03.20.16 at 7:27 pm ET
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Rusney Castillo

Rusney Castillo

The Red Sox beat the Mets, 9-4, in Port St. Lucie on Sunday. Ryan Hanigan (3-for-3), Chris Young (3-run homer) and Travis Shaw (what else is new) were the offensive standouts, but after, manager John Farrell talked about Rusney Castillo.

The left fielder went 1-for-3 with a single and also took a couple of aggressive extra bases on flyouts. His hit came off Mets starter Noah Syndergaard, one of the best young pitchers in baseball.

“Thought he swung the bat well,” Farrell told reporters who journeyed to Florida’s east coast. “Got a breaking ball his first at-bat, squared up the ball well into center field, fastball out over the plate first pitch against one of the better arms in baseball, line drive single the other way. Thought he did a good job on the basepaths, particularly tagging up a couple of times. Solid day for him.”

This is a big spring for Castillo, who has been penciled in as the Opening Day left fielder, but will have to play well enough to justify his spot in the starting lineup. He’s had a so-so spring, hitting .273 with a .636 OPS and a ton of groundballs, which plagued him last year, too.

“I worked a lot on my spring this offseason and it feels good to get more reps and more practice at the plate,” Castillo told reporters, via translator Daveson Perez. “This spring has been a pretty productive one from my point of view. It’s just been a good spring.”

With the Rays playing in Cuba on Monday, Castillo was asked about returning to his homeland.

“Yeah, I would be very happy if they gave me the opportunity to go play in Cuba,” he said. “It’s where I was born and raised and to be able to go back would be a dream come true.”

Yoan Moncada, No. 1 Red Sox prospect, impresses ace David Price in 3 at-bats

03.20.16 at 1:27 pm ET
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Yoan Moncada

Yoan Moncada

FORT MYERS, Fla. — Yoan Moncada just made another fan in the Red Sox organization: ace David Price.

Pitching in an intrasquad game against Red Sox minor leaguers on Sunday, Price praised Moncada for his approach during a 2-for-3 afternoon.

The hyped prospect lined out in the first before grounding singles in his final two at-bats. The last one, up the middle, particularly caught Price’s attention.

“His last at-bat to me, that was very impressive,” Price said. “After I came in 0-1 with a really good front-door two-seamer, and he took it and kind of [shook] his head like that, and then I went back away with a backdoor cutter. I feel like a lot of young guys would be sitting on that fastball in again and he didn’t do that. He took the ball up the middle of the field, there’s a lot of hits up the middle if you keep the ball there. That was pretty impressive.”

Batting right-handed, Moncada watched Price’s two-seamer start in off the plate and then tail back to catch the inside corner. Instead of looking for something inside again, he then stayed on the cutter, which started off the plate before zipping back across the outside corner.

Moncada, 20, is considered one of the top 10 prospects in the game by numerous outlets, including Baseball America.

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David Price throws 5 shutout innings in intrasquad game, pleased with progression

03.20.16 at 1:19 pm ET
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David Price

David Price

FORT MYERS, Fla. — David Price got his work in and took another step towards Opening Day.

The Red Sox left-hander, pitching an intrasquad game in Fort Myers on Sunday rather than risking a long drive across the state to a potential rainout in Port St. Lucie against the Mets, pronounced himself satisfied after throwing 76 pitches over five-plus shutout innings. Per The Boston Globe, which kept score, he allowed six hits and no walks, striking out eight.

“Got it in. Got the pitch count into the 70s,” Price said. “My first two outings in the games I was in the low 50s. To amp it up 25 more pitches, that’s good. Responded well.

“Location and command were pretty good. I didn’t think my stuff was that good today. I got my work in, got up five times, maybe six. Just getting through that part of spring.”

Price said he didn’t have trouble upping his intensity level for minor leaguers, but he did struggle with the 11 a.m. start time.

“For me pitching on a back field, it’s not a problem,” he said. “Getting out there at 11, that’s a little different, that’s a little tougher. But you might be the one that gets the Marathon game, as well. That’s at 11 o’clock, so that’s the way I look at it. I’ll be ready for the 11 o’clock game.”

Price expects to throw 90 or so pitches in his next outing, and then ramp back down in his final start before the season opens on April 4 in Cleveland.

Pablo Sandoval on fighting for a job: ‘You have to earn everything. … I don’t have a problem competing with every guy here’

03.20.16 at 10:18 am ET
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Pablo Sandoval hopes to be in the lineup on Opening Day. (Jim Rogash/Getty Images)

Pablo Sandoval hopes to be in the lineup on Opening Day. (Jim Rogash/Getty Images)

FORT MYERS, Fla. — On Saturday, John Farrell effectively said Pablo Sandoval needs to win a job.

On Sunday, Sandoval effectively replied, “Bring it.”

Speaking to WEEI.com before a workout at JetBlue Park, Sandoval made it clear he’s not shying away from the challenge of rookie Travis Shaw, who is challenging him for the starting third base job.

“Every guy’s trying to make the team, especially me, I’m trying to make the team,” Sandoval said. “I have to prove a lot to my teammates, my team, the staff that I can be better and better.”

After a slow start, Sandoval has started doing his part, particularly at the plate. He homered to dead center on Saturday and owns an .847 OPS on the spring, with a better approach from the right side and line drives and power from the left.

“I have to win the job, no matter what,” Sandoval said. “Every guy here wants to win the job. Showing in the game that we want to play every single day. That’s what we’re looking for.

“You have to earn everything. You have to work hard. You have to compete. Things are more interesting when you compete. I don’t have a problem competing with every guy here. At the same time, we have a good arrangement, because we’re teammates. We’re working to be better for each other to make the team better. That’s good.”

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Takeaways from Red Sox Grapefruit League game No. 19: Joe Kelly explains impact of Jacob DeGrom on his changeup

03.19.16 at 10:56 pm ET
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Joe Kelly was on his game on Saturday against the Cardinals. (Evan Habeeb/USA Today Sports)

Joe Kelly was on his game on Saturday against the Cardinals. (Evan Habeeb/USA Today Sports)

FORT MYERS, Fla. — The Red Sox beat the Cardinals, 3-1, in a rain-shortened game at JetBlue Park. Mookie Betts and Pablo Sandoval homered, but the story was right-hander Joe Kelly, who has emerged as the most consistent starter behind ace David Price.

On to some quick observations:

Have to start with Cup of Joseph himself. He allowed five hits and a run (on a wind-aided homer) in 4 2/3 innings. He walked one, struck out five, and featured outstanding secondary offerings, particularly a changeup that he threw to both sides of the plate against lefties and righties.

Just listening to Kelly discuss the pitch illustrated an advanced understanding of his craft.

“I throw changeups mostly away to lefties,” he said. “Today I threw some changeups away to righties, so it was the other side of the plate. It gets your arm and hand through the zone. Sometimes it might go down and in to a righty, but if you set up away, it makes you extend and changes the speed very, very well, and makes it more of a true pitch, diving down in the zone, and I felt like I did in that in one at-bat in particular with Patrick Wisdom. I felt like I did a really good job there of mixing the pitches in the previous at-bat. I accidentally let one go up and in and came back with a good curveball. The next at-bat, I came back with a changeup down and away to him. It’s something that righties usually don’t see.”

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Takeaways from Red Sox Grapefruit League Game Nos. 17, 18: Andrew Benintendi delivers solid debut, Sam Travis still raking, Rick Porcello so-so

03.18.16 at 5:22 pm ET
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Mookie Betts makes a diving catch on Friday. (Evan Habeeb/USA Today Sports)

Mookie Betts makes a diving catch Friday. (Evan Habeeb/USA Today Sports)

FORT MYERS, Fla. — The Red Sox dropped a pair of split-squad games on Friday, losing 5-1 to the Rays in Port Charlotte, and falling 8-6 to the Twins at home. And now on to the observations …

Andrew Benintendi got the heads-up on Thursday that he’d be playing against the Twins. He didn’t know he’d be starting until an hour before the first pitch, when the Red Sox scratched Jackie Bradley Jr. with right forearm soreness.

Benintendi, the No. 7 pick in last year’s draft, didn’t disappoint. He singled on his first swing and finished 2-for-3 with a run in his spring training debut.

“For the three at-bats, obviously he has a good looking swing,” said manager John Farrell. “Even if he doesn’t get a couple of base hits, which was the case today, it’s still a compact swing. Fortunate today we can get the look from the open side, so you see the bat path, good looking hitter.”

The low-key Benintendi downplayed his debut.

“My job is just to go out there and play hard every day,” he said. “It’s a process. I’m going to trust in the process and the people who make those decisions. All I can do is control what I can control and go out there and play hard every day.”

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Read More: Andrew Benintendi, Rays, Red Sox, Roenis Elias

Red Sox OF Brennan Boesch fractures right wrist, out indefinitely

03.18.16 at 3:12 pm ET
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Brennan Boesch

Brennan Boesch

FORT MYERS, Fla. — Red Sox outfielder Brennan Boesch, in camp on a minor league deal, broke his right wrist while trying to make a catch against the Rays in Port Charlotte on Friday and will be sidelined indefinitely, the team announced.

Boesch, who hits left-handed, represented intriguing veteran depth behind a relatively unproven outfield. A former Rookie of the Year candidate with the Tigers, Boesch started the day hitting .267 with a homer and a .767 OPS in 13 games this spring.

The 30-year-old was battling with fellow veteran David Murphy to emerge as the first line of defense should outfielders Rusney Castillo or Jackie Bradley struggle.

Boesch is a lifetime .250 hitter with 48 homers in 481 games. His best season came in 2011 with Detroit, when he hit .283 with 16 home runs in 115 games.

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Andrew Benintendi gets start in center as Red Sox scratch Jackie Bradley with forearm soreness

03.18.16 at 12:32 pm ET
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Andrew Benintendi

Andrew Benintendi

FORT MYERS — Yoan Moncada isn’t the only exciting prospect in Red Sox camp. Last year’s No. 1 pick, Andrew Benintendi, will get his chance to impress on Friday afternoon when the Red Sox face the Twins at JetBlue Park.

Benintendi will start in center field as a late replacement for Jackie Bradley Jr., who’s out with right forearm soreness. Bradley described the injury as minor and said he could’ve played through it today.

“I can throw it out of the stadium still,” noted Bradley, who’s also battling a nasty pollen allergy.

That creates an opportunity for Benintendi to make his spring debut in a big league game. The 5-foot-10 center fielder hit .313 with a .972 OPS at two levels in his debut last year, and is considered one of the top 15 prospects in the game by Baseball America.

He slugged 11 home runs in just 54 games after being selected No. 7 overall out of Arkansas, starting the season at short-season Lowell and finishing at Low-A Greenville.

Let us introduce you to star of Red Sox camp Sam Travis

03.18.16 at 8:33 am ET
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Sam Travis

Sam Travis

FORT MYERS, Fla. — Sam Travis isn’t going to make the Red Sox out of spring training, and he could use some work on the defensive side of things at first base.

Other than those bits and pieces, the story of No. 74 should offer some intrigue for those trying to figure out what the Red Sox might look like in the near future.

Travis falls under the same umbrella as Jed Lowrie, Jose Iglesias and Mookie Betts did when attending big league camp for the first time. Like those before him, he’s leaving an important impression before heading back to the minors.

Heading into Friday, the 22-year-old was hitting .591 with a 1.475 OPS. It has allowed some who have a history with Travis to echo the words of former Red Sox assistant amateur scouting director Gus Quattlebaum. “He’s hit everywhere he’s been,” Quattlebaum stated.

That is undeniable. There was a reason he was picked to pose for the cover of Baseball America with Indiana teammate Kyle Schwarber back in college. (It was a photo the Red Sox posted in their draft room, superimposing two scouts’ faces on the biceps-bulging bodies.)

He earned the right to be selected with the 67th overall pick in the 2014 draft because of that bat. And hitting a combined .310 with an .828 OPS in his first two pro seasons has done nothing to change the first baseman’s narrative.

But the story of Travis is so much more than just the numbers.

“My nickname for him is Captain Caveman,” explained Quattlebaum, now the Sox director of pro scouting.

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Takeaways from Red Sox Grapefruit League Game No. 16: The Travises keep mashing, Henry Owens hits speed bump

03.17.16 at 4:27 pm ET
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Sam Travis (74) high fives teammates after homering on Thursday. (Evan Habeeb/USA Today Sports)

Sam Travis high-fives teammates after homering on Thursday. (Evan Habeeb/USA Today Sports)

FORT MYERS, Fla. — The seven-game losing streak is history!

You probably had no idea the Red Sox had lost that many in a row. It was news to me. But in any event, they hammered the Orioles 9-5 on Thursday afternoon at JetBlue Park behind some more slugging from the two Travises, Shaw and Sam.

Here are some thoughts on the game:

Forget about getting Travis Shaw on the roster. That’s already a done deal. What about finding room for Sam Travis?

That’s obviously not happening for Opening Day, but the young slugger is making a case to earn one of the first calls when a need arises with just a monstrous spring.

The 22-year-old went 2-for-3 with a homer and four RBIs, raising his spring average to .591 and his OPS to 1.475. His homer, a mammoth shot to center off of Vance Worley, easily traveled over 420 feet.

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