Xander Bogaerts and the Red Sox kicked off their spring slate by beating Northeastern. Credit: Getty Images
Stepping outside in New England Thursday afternoon you certainly wouldn’t know it, but baseball season officially got underway in Fort Myers, Fla. with the Red Sox taking on both Northeastern and Boston College in two separate seven-inning games – the first real live game action the defending World Series champions have seen since their Game 6 World Series clincher.
Many of the regular position players started against Northeastern in the first game, with the backups taking over later in the game and then minor leaguers taking on BC later in the day. The majority of the major league pitchers will make their debuts once Grapefruit League play opens, with the starters taking a bit more time because of their extensive workload last season.
As for the games themselves, even though the scores don’t matter much, the Sox topped the Huskies, 5-2, and then bested BC by the same count later in the afternoon.
Here are three things we learned from the two games:
Welcome back, Grady Coming into camp, few knew what to expect from Grady Sizemore who inked a one-year, incentive-laden deal in December, especially considering he hadn’t played in a game since Sept. 22, 2011. It was expected to be a gradual process, getting the 31-year-old back into game shape after missing the past two full seasons because of knee and back ailments, but the left-handed hitting outfielder wasted no time and started the first game in left field while batting lead-off.
The three-time All-Star went 0-for-2, but at this point in the spring it’s not worth looking into any statistic – the big thing is Sizemore already being in game shape and playing in games.
“Honestly, it didn’t feel like a big deal,” Sizemore told reporters. “I know it was a big moment for me just to get back out there, but once I was out there, it didn’t feel like it was different than any other spring training game. I was just kind of focused on what I normally focus on, and that was that.”
As it stands now, Sizemore likely wouldn’t be on the Opening Day roster because of the number of outfielders the Sox have, but as is the case with any team, injuries can happen and there is no such thing as too much depth.
Workman impresses Brandon Workman was a starter all throughout his time in the Red Sox organization until last year when the Sox needed a dependable guy in the bullpen and Workman grew into that role, earning the trust of manager John Farrell.
A new season means Workman will be back to his accustomed role as a starter and he is projected to be the sixth starter for the Sox, likely opening the year in Pawtucket, but would be first in line for a potential call-up. Workman pitched the first two innings against Northeastern, allowing just one hit while striking out two.
"There's definitely room for improvement," Workman said when speaking to reporters. "My fastball command was good today, but I misfired a couple of them that I need to get sharper with. Same with all my pitches. You just continue to get sharper."
Future Red Sox shine The game against the Eagles gave some of the Red Sox prospects their first game action of the spring and a few of them made the most of it. Third baseman Garin Cecchini went 2-for-3 with a run scored, while first baseman Travis Shaw went 2-for-2 with 3 RBIs. Catcher Christian Vazquez homered in the win as well.
For Cecchini, he will likely start the year in Pawtucket having finished last year with Double-A Portland, while Shaw will try and work his way onto the Pawtucket roster this spring. The Sox highly value Vazquez as he could very well see himself as one of the primary catchers with the big league club next season.
Follow Metro Red Sox beat writer Ryan Hannable on Twitter @Hannable84.