Quick hits: Orioles 8, Red Sox 4

March, 15, 2010
3/15/10
7:35
PM ET
The outcome: The Red Sox lost to the Orioles, 8-4, even though the Orioles media crew sent over more first-stringers from Sarasota than Baltimore did. One of the few Baltimore regulars who did make the trip, Luke Scott, hit a three-run home run off Tim Wakefield, who gave up a total of five runs in 3 2/3 innings. Ramon Ramirez, who walked four batters in an inning Sunday, had another rough outing, giving up a two-run home run to Brandon Snyder, who benefited from the jetstream blowing to right field.

The notable: Mike Lowell made his first start of the spring, and first as a big-leaguer at first base, and lined an opposite-field single to right in his first at-bat. "He looked like a natural first baseman,’’ David Ortiz said after Lowell’s three innings of work, in which he fielded no ground balls but handled two throws for putouts. “I watched him taking ground balls and I said, ‘Man, you look like you’ve played here forever.’ That’s what happens when you play good defensively. You look like a natural everywhere.’’ Lowell is booked to play again Tuesday night against Tampa Bay in Port Charlotte.

Ortiz hit his first spring home run and followed with a line single, double the number of hits he’d had in 19 previous spring at-bats. Manager Terry Francona called his swing on the base hit the best he’d seen all spring. Ortiz agreed, but he also was pleased with his third-inning home run off Orioles starter Brad Bergesen.

"My good swing was hitting a slider 3-and-1 out of the park,’’ Ortiz said. “That’s not a pitch you’re expecting, so you've got to put a good swing or otherwise you’re out.’’

Ortiz has not been a fan of the attention he has received for his 1-for-19 start.

“What I said the other day is totally true,’’ he said. “This is my 14th spring training, and nobody ever talked to me about my numbers in spring training before.’’

Ortiz said he did a better job Monday of not jumping at pitches, instead letting the ball come to him. He flashed some vintage Big Papi bravado when asked if he was pleased to see some results.

“Oh, you guys are going to see some results, believe me,’’ he said. “It ain’t over yet.’’

Wakefield, who has had a strong spring, said he had timing issues, rushing his delivery while working on his slide-step, a weapon pitchers use to try to keep runners from stealing bases. “He’s always working on times to the plate,’’ Francona said. “That’s been since I’ve known him. With the style that he pitches, there are going to be passed balls, stolen bases, wild pitches, that’s just the way it is. We’re always trying to get to the point where guys who aren’t supposed to run don’t, so they need hits to beat him.

“It’s always a work in progress. He’s not too proud to always try to work on it to where it’s manageable.’’

Prospect update: Outfielder Josh Reddick lifted his spring average to .478 (11 for 23) with a two-run homer off top Orioles pitching prospect Chris Tillman. Reddick, who hit .167 in 27 games for the Sox last season and is expected to start this season in Pawtucket, has four doubles, a triple and a home run in 23 spring-training at-bats.

“He understands he needs to swing at strikes,’’ Francona said of Reddick, who has had plate discipline preached to him since he was drafted out of Middle Georgia College in the 17th round in 2006. “He’s a real aggressive young hitter. He’s wiry, stronger than he appears.’’

Progress report: Red Sox infielder Jed Lowrie, who has not played since last Thursday while the Sox tried to find why he was feeling fatigued, passed a stress test Monday and has been cleared to resume physical activity, Francona said. The Sox are still awaiting the results of blood work on Lowrie, Francona said. ... Josh Beckett, who was scratched from his start Sunday because of illness, was still sick Monday and was sent home, Francona said. ... Daisuke Matsuzaka threw a 25-pitch bullpen session and his long-awaited BP session is now tentatively slated for Wednesday.

Up next: The Sox play two Tuesday, with Francona hoping to somehow negotiate both a day game in Kissimmee against the Astros and a night game in Port Charlotte against the Rays. That would mean driving more than 300 miles to pull off the doubleheader. Francona said both Dustin Pedroia and Kevin Youkilis opted to take the 143-mile jaunt to Kissimmee in order to see Astros manager Brad Mills, the former Sox bench coach. Red Sox first-base coach Ron Johnson will coach third, which will put him just a few feet away from the Astros’ third baseman -- his son, Chris, a highly regarded Astros prospect.

Short hops: Ryan Westmoreland is scheduled to undergo brain surgery Tuesday in Phoenix. ... One major-league scout said he wonders why Manny Delcarmen isn’t throwing as hard this spring. “I had him at 90 the other day,’’ the scout said of Delcarmen, who told the Sox near the end of last season that he’d had a tired shoulder, accounting for a subpar second half. ... Word among scouts is that the Sox have made it known they’re looking for left-handed relief help, as Brian Shouse, 41, has not impressed. Francona had high praise for nonroster invitee Scott Atchison, the right-hander who is back from Japan trying to win one of the final spots in the Sox bullpen.

Gordon Edes

Red Sox reporter, ESPNBoston.com

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