The outcome: As Red Sox manager Terry Francona said, “It wasn’t just a long bus ride and a sandwich.”
Boston’s game against the New York Mets at Tradition Field in Port St. Lucie on Thursday had a rain delay, but the teams were able to resume with the Red Sox finishing with an 8-2 victory. A lot of the Red Sox regulars made the three-hour trip to the east coast, including Dustin Pedroia, Marco Scutaro, Victor Martinez, David Ortiz and Mike Cameron.
Once the game resumed, all the veteran starters, with the exception of Ortiz, were out of the lineup. After Boston scored three runs in the top of the first inning, Red Sox bench players provided the rest of the offense, scoring five runs in innings six, seven and eight. Minor league veteran Gil Velazquez continues to impress this spring as he drove in two runs against the Mets and has a total of seven RBIs in Grapefruit League games.
The notable: Red Sox pitcher John Lackey made his second start of spring training, working three scoreless innings. He allowed only three hits on 30 pitches (17 strikes). After his outing, Lackey tossed 12 more pitches in the bullpen.
“His fastball was down with good movement,” said Francona. “I didn’t get to see his last outing, but I heard it was about the same. He was efficient and did a really good job. It was a relief his outing [didn’t get rained out] because you could see the weather coming. He didn’t get interrupted, he got his work in.”
Lackey has dealt with injuries the last two springs while with the Angels, but he’s healthy this season and right on schedule.
“I’m on time,” he said. “I’m not getting ahead of myself. My two-seamer was pretty good today. I got a lot of ground balls, but some of my other pitches are not there yet. I’ve got some work to do, for sure.”
Lackey was able to work with new batterymate Victor Martinez for the first time this spring, and said his working relationship with Martinez went very well.
“He was great, it was a lot of fun,” said Martinez. “I was talking to him, he really looked effortless. He wasn’t trying to overthrow or push his pitches. And he really has that two-seamer working pretty good today. He mixed his pitches and worked on what he needed to work on. I think it went great for him.”
Prospect watch: Red Sox pitcher Junichi Tazawa worked the eighth and ninth innings and held the Mets hitless. The right-hander recorded two strikeouts with one walk. Francona was impressed with Tazawa’s curveball and fastball.
The 23-year-old made his major league debut with the Red Sox in 2009 and in six games (four starts) he posted a 2-3 record in his first season of pro ball. Francona is already seeing a difference this year.
“He’s stronger and I’m sure his confidence level is [higher] because everything he did last year was a first,” Francona said. “It was a lot to ask and he did a great job. Now he’s out there competing on a level playing field like everyone else.”
Progress report: Francona said he was thinking about putting Jason Varitek in the lineup against the Cardinals on Friday, but the weather report is bad and the manager doesn’t think it's a good idea. Francona told both Varitek and third baseman Adrian Beltre to stay in Fort Myers. Varitek has missed several days of camp to tend to his ailing father.
Up next: The Sox remain on the east coast of Florida and will face the Cardinals on Friday at Jupiter. Clay Buchholz, Daniel Bard and Boof Bonser are scheduled to pitch. Francona was given a forecast for Friday and it doesn’t look good at this point. The manager thinks there’s a strong possibility the game could be rained out.
Boston returns to City of Palms as the Sox host the Pirates on Saturday. Michael Bowden, Jonathan Papelbon, Hideki Okajima, Ramon Ramirez, Brian Shouse, Manny Delcarmen and Ramon Ramirez are all scheduled to pitch for the Sox.
Etc.: Right-handed pitcher Daisuke Matsuzaka will throw live batting practice at the minor league complex on Saturday. ... It’s not etched in stone, but there’s a very good chance Mike Lowell will be able to play against the Twins on Monday. “We’ll see how he gets through the rest of the week,” said Francona. ... A day after Nomar Garciaparra officially retired from baseball as a member of the Red Sox, people are still talking about his career. Garciaparra made his Triple-A debut for the Pawtucket Red Sox as a 22-year-old in 1996. He hit .343 with 16 homers and 46 RBIs in 43 games for the PawSox that season. When former PawSox manager Buddy Bailey learned of Garciaparra’s retirement, Bailey was impressed by the way it was handled. “Good for him, the Red Sox organization and especially for the Red Sox fans,” said Bailey. “He was good for the fans, and Boston was good to him. Class move by the Red Sox and Nomar.”