<
>

Takeaways: Shaw, Red Sox slam Yankees

3/11/2015

TAMPA, Fla. -- Takeaways from George M. Steinbrenner Field on Wednesday where, if you looked closely enough, the bronzed version of The Boss could be seen wincing after the Red Sox whacked the Yankees 10-6 for their sixth straight win in exhibition play.

You might recall that Steinbrenner seemed to regard any loss to the Red Sox as a personal offense, whether it took place in March or October. And that this defeat came at the hands of a Sox traveling squad boasting few regulars would not have gone over well with the late Yankees owner, who undoubtedly would have found someone worthy of a good haranguing.

• The book on Travis Shaw, the Red Sox first-base prospect and son of former big league reliever Jeff Shaw, is that he can’t hit left-handers. That was the read for those basing their evaluation on his play in Triple-A Pawtucket, where he hit just one home run in 99 plate appearances against lefties last season and posted a .189/.253/.256/.509 slash line.

On Wednesday it took just one pitch from former Sox lefty Andrew Miller for Shaw to suggest people might not want to be too hasty in their judgments. Shaw hit Miller’s first pitch in the third inning for a long home run, his first of the spring, and later added an opposite-field double off promising Yankees prospect Bryan Mitchell, a right-hander.

Another home run Wednesday, hit by Alex Rodriguez, might garner a bit more attention. But this was an encouraging development for the 25-year-old Shaw, who was a ninth-round draft choice out of Kent State in 2011.

"Impressive," Sox manager John Farrell said. "He had a little bit of a breakout year last year. I think, more about, knowing himself more as a hitter. I think just seeing him from year to year, he’s much more comfortable in this environment.

"He hit two very good arms. He got a first-pitch fastball from Miller and the 1-0 fastball [from Mitchell], he’s looking in a specific spot away, and he puts a very good swing on the pitch. He’s swinging the bat good."

Boston’s other home run came off the bat of 31-year-old Luke Montz, a six-year minor league catcher who was originally drafted by the Montreal Expos in 2003.

Joe Kelly, who lamented after being roughed up by the Twins in his first start that he hadn’t thrown an 88 mph fastball since he was 13, had considerably more velocity Wednesday, striking out four pretty good hitters -- Brett Gardner, Carlos Beltran, Brian McCann and Garrett Jones -- in his first two innings of work.

Kelly was touched up for a couple of runs in his final inning, but he is satisfied that his spring is trending in the right direction. Of his 41 pitches Wednesday, he threw 28 for strikes.

"Getting there," he said. "For the most part I made pitches, but didn’t exactly put the ball where I wanted to. But for second time out in facing hitters, I felt pretty good about my stuff. I was throwing a changeup for a strike, using four-seam, two-seam [fastballs], threw curveballs for a strike."

The one "really bad" pitch he made, Kelly said, was a high curveball to Jose Pirela leading off the third, one that Pirela drove for a double. "Curveball that I rushed a little bit and it stayed up," he said.

"I know the curveball and slider will come along. The spin is going to get there. It’s good I have two pitches working now, the fastball and changeup."

If Farrell keeps the Sox starters in their current order, Kelly would face the Yankees in the fifth game of the regular season. The Bombers could have as many as nine left-handed hitters (including three switch-hitters) facing Kelly, depending on whether the left-handed hitting Jones serves as the DH instead of Rodriguez.

Left-handed batters have a .759 OPS against Kelly; right-handed hitters have a .665 OPS.

"They’re definitely going to throw all those lefties against me," he said. "That’s what teams seem to do. And they’re a very good hitting team. And if you make a mistake, they’ll make you pay."

• Rodriguez hit his first home run of the spring off Brandon Workman, connecting on a 3-1 fastball to lead off the fourth inning.

"I caught a little more plate than I wanted," Workman said. "He was looking fastball away and I threw a fastball over the plate. He put a pretty good swing on it. He swung at it like he knew it was coming."

So A-Rod looks like he can still hit?

"Yeah, I didn’t see anything wrong with him there," Workman said.

• Fans holding tickets for Thursday’s game against the Pirates in Bradenton are in for a rarity, especially in the first days of the exhibition schedule: The Sox are sending most of their regulars on the road. The only regular not expected to play Thursday is Mookie Betts, who made the trip to Tampa on Wednesday and had three of Boston’s 18 hits. And Clay Buchholz, the de facto Opening Day starter, is scheduled to pitch.

• As of early Wednesday evening, the Sox had yet to announce the signing of Yoan Moncada, who has been holding stealth batting practice sessions in the cages behind JetBlue Park. A news conference could be in the works for Friday.