Takeaways from the Fort: Silver linings

March, 4, 2014
Mar 4
6:22
PM ET
FORT MYERS, Fla. -- Takeaways from the Fort, where if this keeps up, the Nattering Nabobs of Negativism and the Fellowship of the Miserable will converge on JetBlue Park and declare the 2014 season over before it even begins. A record of 1-4, even in spring, has a way of feeding The Beast, especially the Boston version.

But for those of you inclined not to look at life through the bottom of a broken glass, the positive developments included Clay Buchholz bearing no resemblance to the guy pitching on fumes in the World Series, Grady Sizemore registering another five innings under his belt with no signs of cracks, Xander Bogaerts showing this shortstop thing fits quite nicely, thank you, and Shane Victorino approaching takeoff mode.

[+] EnlargeGrady Sizemore
AP Photo/Steven SenneGrady Sizemore batted leadoff and got another five innings under his belt with no apparent issues.
The result: The Sox lost, 8-0, to the Tampa Bay Rays, a team that believes deep down that had they gotten past Boston in the Division Series, they would be the ones passing out World Series rings at their home opener. These Rays, like the Sox, have not undergone extensive renovations -- they added a new catcher (Ryan Hanigan), brought back closer Grant Balfour, a setup man in his first incarnation with the Rays, and most importantly, have held onto ace David Price. They still could use another bat, but they’ll try to win the division the same way they always have, with exceptional pitching, good defense, opportunistic hitting and Joe Maddon in the dugout.

Feats of Clay: When last seen on a mound in a game, Buchholz went four innings in survival mode, successfully holding off the Cardinals with a fatigued shoulder incapable of kicking into high gear. On Tuesday, the giddyup commenced its return, Buchholz saying he hit between 88 and 92 on the radar gun. The 94 m.p.h. he averaged in 2010 is something of a distant memory, but there’s still plenty there to get people out, as he showed last season, when after a dozen starts he was 9-0 with a 1.71 ERA.

On Tuesday, he gave up a first-pitch double to David DeJesus to lead off the game, issued a walk to James Loney, an RBI single to Matt Joyce and an infield hit. He threw 26 pitches, 14 for strikes, his labors sufficient to skip the inning he had thought of throwing in the bullpen afterward. Before he was through, he said he mixed in some curveballs, cutters, two-seamers and changeups.

Told that manager John Farrell had described his previous bullpen sessions as “extremely encouraging,’’ Buchholz said: “That’s how I feel. I feel completely different than the last month and a half, two months of last year. That’s what I wanted to feel coming into camp, and I’ve just got keep working on it.’’

Grady meter: Sizemore, batting leadoff for the second time this spring, grounded out to second base, hit into a force play with his ground ball in the third, and was lifted for a pinch runner after walking in the fifth. And one scout agreed with Farrell’s assessment that Sizemore’s timing at the plate doesn’t resemble that of a guy who hadn’t played in a game in two years.

JBJ report: Jackie Bradley Jr. did not play Tuesday.

X file: Bogaerts hit two balls that were as hard-hit as anything by the Sox all day, and had nothing to show for it, lining out twice. He also drew a walk. In the first inning, he ranged deep in the hole to field a ground ball by Logan Forsythe and made a strong throw that was a tick late in catching the Rays’ batter. But it reinforced the Sox's contention that Bogaerts doesn’t need a change in position.

The dot, dot, dots: Victorino, who has been working to strengthen his troublesome hamstrings and back, participated in a full workout Tuesday, including his first live BP on the field. ... Jake Peavy played long toss from 120 feet and is expected to throw a bullpen Wednesday, minus a glove on his surgically repaired left index finger, a procedure that required him to be administered anesthesia. ... Jon Lester and John Lackey are scheduled to throw three-inning simulated games here on Wednesday and Thursday, respectively. ... The Rays had 16 hits and 7 walks Tuesday, doing most of their damage against Rubby De La Rosa (5 H, 2 BB, 4 ER in 2 IP) and Brayan Villareal (3 H, 1 BB, 3 R, 1 IP). Loney took De La Rosa deep in the second, Sean Rodriguez homered off Villareal in the fifth. ... The Sox had eight singles, two by Alex Hassan, against seven Rays pitchers, including starter Chris Archer. The Sox hit into four double plays and went 0-for-9 with runners in scoring position.

Gordon Edes

Red Sox reporter, ESPNBoston.com

SPONSORED HEADLINES

Comments

Use a Facebook account to add a comment, subject to Facebook's Terms of Service and Privacy Policy. Your Facebook name, photo & other personal information you make public on Facebook will appear with your comment, and may be used on ESPN's media platforms. Learn more.