FORT MYERS, Fla. -- Takeaways from the Fort, where Jerry Remy made an upbeat return to the broadcast booth, Mike Napoli pared his beard but not his home run stroke, Jake Peavy sliced his left index finger with a fishing knife, Yaz showed up to watch his grandson play for the Orioles, Felix Doubront dialed in with two strong innings and the Red Sox won for the first time in three Grapefruit League tries.
The result: It was Sox 8, Orioles 6, as the Sox took an 8-1 lead into the ninth and withstood a five-run Orioles rally in their last at-bat.
The game highlights: Start with Napoli, who cleared the center-field wall with his first home run of spring, a two-run shot in the fourth off Orioles left-hander Brian Matusz.
“The biggest thing is, he’s come into camp without having to go through all he went through last offseason,’’ said manager John Farrell, alluding to the crisis management regarding Napoli’s hip condition. “And it’s freed up his mind. There’s no question on how his hip is feeling, with the games played (last season), the transition to first base. All those things are behind him. He comes in in really good shape, he comes in, probably the bigger case, with a free mind of everything he was contending with last season.
“It was a normal offseason for him. Even in batting practice and live BP, you see him being a little more aggressive, particularly on the pull side at times. Yeah, he put a good swing on that ball.’’
Napoli also made a leaping catch of Francisco Peguero’s line drive in the fourth. We’ll have to await MLBAM’s advanced analytics to learn whether trimming the beard impacted the aerodynamics of Napoli’s leap.
Feliz Felix: Felix Doubront, who smiled when WBZ’s Jonny Miller asked him about coming to camp “lean and mean,” showed off his improved physique in two scoreless innings in which he struck out three and commanded the zone with his fastball, with 18 of his 24 pitches thrown for strikes.
Farrell had talked about Doubront’s ceiling before the game.
“We know one thing,’’ he said. “When he goes to the mound with his best stuff, he can pitch against anybody in the league.’’
Doubront has pitched in the big leagues in each of the last four seasons with the Sox, and yet is still only 26. Last season as a starter, he held opponents to a .250/.326/.379/.705 slash line, with a 3.87 ERA. He is at an age where he should be entering the prime of his career, even as Farrell noted that left-handers tend to progress at variable rates.
“If we knew the exact answer, maybe there wouldn’t be such variability to the timetable,’’ Farrell said. “Certain guys just get it at certain stages, and maybe because left-handers can be so rare, they get more opportunity, because there is a smaller pool of them. So some of those guys who might click at 27, 28, 29 years old, if they were right-handers, there might have been four or five guys who came along and replaced them long before that left-hander clicked.’’
JBJ watch: The rookie center fielder, batting eighth, had a Wall-ball double and scored in the fifth, and singled home a run in the sixth. He was 2 for 3.
X files: Rookie Xander Bogaerts flared a single in the second, then lined a double and scored on Bradley’s hit in the sixth.
Remy’s return: The Sox analyst on NESN, who said he had debated returning to the air after his son Jared was charged in the murder of Jennifer Martel, the mother of their child, appeared in good spirits during Sunday’s broadcast with longtime partner Don Orsillo. It’s a delicate situation for both broadcasters; Martel family members have said in published reports that it will hurt to watch Remy in action.
Skewered Peavy: Farrell said Peavy narrowly avoided serious injury when he cut his left index finger with a fishing knife at his spring-training residence Saturday. He’ll be on a no-throw program for the next three days. Farrell did not say how many stitches Peavy took, but said he underwent a procedure to clean out the wound Sunday.
Family affair: Carl Yastrzemski came across the state from Delray Beach to watch his grandson, Mike, an Orioles’ minor-leaguer added to the team’s travel squad by manager Buck Showalter. Mike Yastrzemski, who bats left (same as Yaz) and throws left (unlike Yaz), entered the game as a pinch-runner in the fifth, grounded out in the eighth and walked in the ninth.
The dot, dot, dots: Reliever Edward Mujica made his Sox spring debut and pitched a 1-2-3 third. ... Jonny Gomes batted leadoff for the second time and singled in three trips. ... Left-hander Chris Capuano will make his Sox debut with a start Wednesday in Jupiter against the Cardinals. ... Sox starters Jon Lester and John Lackey will make simulated starts here Wednesday and Thursday, with the team staying over in Jupiter to play the Marlins. ... Reliever Rich Hill remains back home in Boston dealing with what Farrell called a “serious” family issue. ... David Ross caught his first game of the spring, going the first five innings. Ryan Lavarnway caught the last four.