Saturday, March 16, 2013
Morning report: Aceves faces Rays
By Gordon Edes
PORT CHARLOTTE, Fla. -- Good morning from the Port, where the sounds of Pink Floyd's "Dark Side of the Moon" are accompanying early batting practice by the Rays. Lynyrd Skynyrd is on-deck, or at least I'm so informed by Sean McAdam of CSNNE.com, who will never tire of mocking my ignorance of rock.
Having played a split-squad doubleheader the day before, the Sox went light on regulars making the trip here for Saturday afternoon's game against the Rays. Alfredo Aceves will be making his first exhibition start since returning from the WBC, but the travel roster is loaded with players summoned from minor league camp, most notably catcher Blake Swihart, one of two No. 1 picks the Sox had in the 2011 draft.
Swihart made his full-season debut last season with Class A Greenville, where he hit .262 in 92 games and threw out 31.3 percent of runners attempting to steal (27-of-86). Swihart, who hails from Cody Ross country (New Mexico), is ranked No. 6 overall among Sox prospects by Baseball America, which notes that the Sox had not drafted a catcher as high as Swihart since 1984, when they took John Marzano out of Temple University with the 14th overall pick.
And wearing No. 99 Saturday will be outfielder Matty Johnson, a 5-foot-8, 165-pound switch-hitter who was signed out of the independent Frontier League, the same league that gave us Morgan Burkhart. Johnson, who turns 25 on April 10, hit .265 in 48 games for Class A Salem last season. He played for the Gateway Grizzlies in the Frontier League, and was named Baseball America's Independent League prospect of the year in 2010.
Also on the travel squad is Aussie left-hander Ryan Rowland-Smith, the former Mariner who was signed earlier this spring to a minor league contract by the Sox. Rowland-Smith has not pitched in the big leagues since 2010.
Here is Saturday's lineup for the Sox:
Brock Holt, 2B
Jose Iglesias, SS
Jackie Bradley Jr., CF
Ryan Lavarnway, C
Lyle Overbay, 1B
Mauro Gomez, DH
Drew Sutton, 3B
Juan Carlos Linares, LF
Ronald Bermudez, RF
Alfredo Aceves, RHP
* The Sox announced two roster cuts this morning: catcher Daniel Butler and pitcher Alex Wilson were both sent to Triple-A Pawtucket.
* And finally, many thanks to FedEx supervisor Edwin Osorio, who runs the FedEx facility in Needham, Mass., and with Sherlock Holmes relentlessness managed to track down a package containing my tape recorder that temporarily was lost in transit. Thanks also to Patricia, who was involved in the search from Cincinnati, and to my wife, Bonnie, who set the whole thing in motion and wouldn't rest until it was found. It wasn't so much the recorder but the interviews that were still on it.