Takeaways: Rays 6, Sox 3; Pedroia pain-free

February, 25, 2013
2/25/13
7:05
PM ET
PORT CHARLOTTE, Fla. -- Takeaways from the Port, where the Sons of Torey Lovullo lost to the Tampa Bay Rays 6-3 in a split-squad game in which Lovullo, John Farrell’s bench coach, had most of the regulars at his disposal. That, he expects, will mean some grief from Farrell, whose split-squadders in Dunedin emerged as 4-2 winners over the Toronto Blue Jays.

* Second baseman Dustin Pedroia hit his first home run of the spring, jumping on a high 2-and-0 fastball from Rays right-hander Alex Cobb and hitting it over everything, including the boardwalk beyond the left-field fence. The home run came in the first inning and reminded Pedroia of how good it feels to swing pain-free, after dealing with a bad right thumb for the last four months of last season.

[+] EnlargeDustin Pedroia
AP Photo/Mike Janes/Four Seam Images"It's a good feeling when you can just worry about having a good at-bat rather than thinking if I get jammed, it's going to be the worst pain," Dustin Pedroia said about recovering from last season's thumb injury.
“It was kind of a freak deal," he said. “I never had my hand slip off the bat like that. The bottom hand. Usually it’s the top hand that slips off. It was painful, because I couldn’t rest it. The vibration would keep hitting [the thumb] every time I hit. It’s a good feeling when you can just worry about having a good at-bat rather than thinking if I get jammed, it’s going to be the worst pain. It’s nice.

“Right after I got home, I rehabbed it, tried to get all the scar tissue out of there, build up strength. Worst massage ever. So painful. [But now] it feels great."

* Since breaking into the big leagues in 2006, Pedroia has played with 19 different shortstops in the Sox infield, including seven for 100 or more games.

Stephen Drew is No. 20. Pedroia said the acclimation period is going just fine.

“It’s been great," he said. “I think that’s overblown. Since the first couple days of ground balls, talking and working, you kind of get used to each other right away."

* Former Mariner Mike Carp, who arrived in camp on Friday and batted in a simulated game Saturday, beat Farrell’s estimate of needing three to five days before he played in a game and started at first base Monday. Carp hit an RBI double into the gap in right-center, the opening salvo in his bid to win a spot as backup first baseman-left fielder. Carp whiffed in his other at-bat.

“I’m ready to go," he said. “Fresh start. Just getting back on the field. I missed a lot of last year, so it’s just exciting to play baseball again. They asked me if I was ready to go, and I wasn’t going to say no."

The double, he said, “was definitely a good way to start out. Just to have a good at-bat, put a good swing, took two tough pitches, got myself into a hitter’s count, and took a good swing."

Carp said he has not yet been told whether he’ll be playing back-to-back games. Only three days in, he has yet to take fly balls in the outfield, but Carp said he expects that will begin soon.

* Daniel Bard, in his first outing this spring against big league hitters, issued a full-count walk and hit a batter, but threw a scoreless inning, striking out one. The stadium radar gun clocked him at 94 mph.

“I caught him the other day in that college start and he looked even better," said David Ross, who was behind the plate for Bard again Monday. “We talked, and he said there were a couple of times he said he felt like he was getting under the ball a little bit, but I thought he threw really well."

Bard expressed satisfaction with his outing.

“Just working hard on getting on top of every pitch, having the rhythm and intensity to get the rotation, that’s where you see a couple of the errant ones. Mostly, though, my mechanics were good, just that one little thing, keeping on top of the ball and driving it down through the zone.

“It’s a small thing, but it takes a lot of reps to get it right. I had some bad habits built up from last year and corrected most of them. That’s the one we’re still working on. I feel good. I feel like I can finally trust myself with throwing the ball where I want to and just attacking guys."

Bard said that if he can make the proper mechanical adjustment, he expects to add another 3 or 4 mph on his fastball.

* Catcher Christian Vazquez, who is in his first big league camp after splitting last season between Class A Salem and Double-A Portland, made the day’s best defensive play, with an absolutely killer throw to catch Mike Fontenot attempting to steal second in the eighth inning. The throw easily beat Fontenot and was right on the bag.

“That’s where it gets fun for us to get familiar with some of the younger players," Lovullo said, “and see something special like that happen. It’s as good as you see in baseball. To see him walk off with a smile on his face, those are great moments that hopefully lead to more great performance."

Vazquez had a chance to tie the score in the ninth after a fielding error put two on with no out, but he took a called third strike on a full count from Tampa Bay lefty Adam Liberatore.

“He didn’t say much about it -- I think the guy just hit his spot," Lovullo said. “If a guy doesn’t complain or drop their shoulders, it generally means it’s a good pitch."

Gordon Edes

Red Sox reporter, ESPNBoston.com

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