Wednesday, October 2, 2013
Scenes from a Sox scrimmage at Fenway
By Tony Lee
Jonny Gomes and the Red Sox had their eyes on the ball in a Wednesday scrimmage.
BOSTON -- The Red Sox defeated the Red Sox 1-0 on Wednesday in a six-inning intrasquad scrimmage at Fenway Park. Most importantly, the Red Sox (all of them) got in one final tuneup before the American League Division Series begins Friday.
While the action in the full-squad scrimmage lacked the intensity of a real October matchup, it provided a few glimpses into the club’s readiness, while simultaneously offering an interesting scene at Fenway, where a few thousand fans and just two umpires were on hand for the action.
Here are a few observations along the way:
• Clay and Jake: The starting pitchers were Clay Buchholz for the “home” red team against Jake Peavy for the blue team. Unofficially (there was no scorekeeper), Buchholz allowed a run on three hits while striking out three in three innings. Peavy struck out five in three scoreless frames.
• Double duty: There was a very early indication that lineups and teams were not set in stone, as Jacoby Ellsbury, a member of the red team, hopped up and hit second in the blue team’s half of the first inning. Ellsbury did not play the field. He needs the at-bats after getting just a few games in since he returned from injury, but he doesn’t necessarily need to track anything down in the gap, so the move made sense.
John Farrell gathered his troops before Wednesday's intrasquad scrimmage.
To account for Ellsbury’s absence, multiple players, including Shane Victorino and Jackie Bradley Jr., played consecutive half-innings in the field for both sides. Lackey, wearing red, pitched for the blue team in the third. Dempster, wearing blue, relieved Buchholz for the red team. Breslow, wearing red, pitched for the blue team. It was complete anarchy and very relaxing at the same time.
• That was close: Obviously, the one thing everyone wants to avoid in a situation like this is an injury. Manager John Farrell had to breathe a sigh of relief when Daniel Nava’s line drive up the middle in the bottom of the second narrowly missed Peavy.
• Highlight of the game: That goes to Quintin Berry, likely the last inclusion on the ALDS roster, for his full extension dive and catch of a Dustin Pedroia liner to right in the third. If Berry is needed defensively in the playoffs, Farrell said Wednesday that he would be most comfortable using the 28-year-old in center field, followed by left.
• Well, that’s odd: Many sights at Fenway were different from the usual game day. Both the blue and red teams utilized the home dugout, which made for a crowded scene. Extra camera wells have been installed in three areas around the perimeter of the field in preparation for the ALDS, but they were completely empty for most of the game. A few fans chose to extend themselves to the right-field corner, soaking in the rays before shadows enveloped the field, but the bleachers were closed. Members of the Red Sox front office were seen alone in the Monster seats as the game began, but soon disappeared. The scoreboards along the base lines showed the line score. The Green Monster scoreboard displayed only the AL East standings and the date.
In addition, Major League Baseball’s postseason logo has been painted into the grass behind home plate, and a large “B Strong” has been carved into the grass in center field. It looks really sharp and will be splendid come Friday.
The sparse crowd made it feel funereal at times. Peavy’s expletives were rather easy to discern. So, too, were some of the conversations of fans.
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First- and third-base coaches were utilized, and third-base coach Brian Butterfield, the master of defensive positioning, was seen giving as much instruction to the infielders as to those on the bases.
• Nava over Gomes?: The red team featured all the regulars, and that lineup had Nava batting sixth and playing left field. That may be an indication that he will be in the lineup for Game 1. However, if Tampa Bay advances, the Sox would probably face lefty Matt Moore in the opener. Jonny Gomes may be the choice for left field in that scenario.
• Shadowy figures: The game began at 3 p.m. ET, about the same time Game 1 will begin Friday (3:07 p.m.), and the talk was of the shadows that crept across the infield. As Buchholz threw the game’s first pitch, the shadows were nearing the mound. They had passed the mound by the second inning, but much of the infield remained in the sun. By about the fifth frame, the shadows had reached the outfield grass.
• Jake the snake: After Buchholz gave up a couple of hits in the top of the first against a mishmash of hitters, Peavy struck out Victorino, Pedroia and David Ortiz in the bottom half. Victorino did not take the bat off his shoulder, so perhaps he just wanted to see a few pitches. Pedroia went down looking after fouling off some pitches, and Ortiz swung through a third strike.
• More Salty, please:Jarrod Saltalamacchia followed up a 40-double regular season with a ringing two-bagger into the right-field corner in the first inning. The shot scored Bradley from first base with the game’s only run.
Saltalamacchia and fellow catcher David Ross served as designated hitters. Catcher Ryan Lavarnway and bullpen catcher Mani Martinez were behind the plate for Buchholz, Peavy & Co.
• David Ross, pitching coach: As Breslow worked through the bottom of the fourth, he walked Stephen Drew, the first free pass issued on the afternoon. Breslow then got a mound visit from Ross, who was in the dugout. Martinez joined the pair on the mound, but Ross did all the talking. Moments later, Breslow walked Will Middlebrooks, and then everyone left the field. Breslow had thrown enough pitches.
• Speaking of Salty and Ross: The two played at third base and first base, respectively, in the bottom of the sixth inning. Just for kicks, though. Middlebrooks played second that inning. He actually could serve as the backup for Pedroia, if necessary.