Red Sox

Fister sharp again as Red Sox beat Blue Jays, 6-1

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Fister sharp again as Red Sox beat Blue Jays, 6-1

BOSTON -- Doug Fister has quickly gone from a pitcher looking for a big league job right into being a key starter for a team chasing a division title.

Fister gave up one run over seven innings, Jackie Bradley Jr. hit a two-run homer and drove in three runs and the Boston Red Sox beat the Toronto Blue Jays 6-1 on Wednesday night, a day after the teams played a 19-inning marathon.

The Red Sox claimed the 33-year-old Fister in June after he opted out of a Triple-A contract and was released by the Los Angeles Angels. In the last couple weeks, he's clearly been Boston's best starter.

"To say that when we got him from the Angels that he would be running a streak of starts consecutively like he is, no - he's surpassed the initial expectation," Red Sox manager John Farrell said. "He's doing a great job."

It was the second straight win for the AL East-leading Red Sox, who moved four games ahead of the second-place Yankees. New York's game at Baltimore was rained out.

Playing just 18 hours after completing a 3-2 victory that lasted six hours and ended on Hanley Ramirez's bloop single, the Red Sox took charge with a four-run fourth that was capped by Bradley's homer.

Fister (5-7) allowed four hits, struck out nine and walked three, improving to 3-1 in his last four starts with a 1.50 ERA.

"It's definitely a fun time of year, being anxious for what might come," he said. "I just continually work hard each and every day."

Joe Biagini (3-10) was tagged for five runs in 3 1/3 innings.

With rain starting to fall when the Red Sox came to the plate in the fourth, Xander Bogaerts halted a 3-for-33 stretch by lining an opposite field RBI triple and scored on Rafael Devers' single. Bradley then belted his homer into Boston's bullpen, making it 5-1.

"I thought he threw the ball pretty good early under these conditions," Blue Jays acting manager DeMarlo Hale said of Biagini. "You think about the fourth inning, really the big blow was the home run. He left a changeup up to Bradley and I thought that was really the big blow of the game."

Biagini didn't waste time analyzing his outing.

"Bad. That's a short answer for you," he said. "It's a search for consistency, consistency of release point. Just aggressiveness and all that good stuff."

Both teams scored a run in the first.

TRAINER'S ROOM

Red Sox: LHP David Price (left elbow inflammation) threw his fourth bullpen session of the week and Farrell said he's expected to pitch a simulated game Saturday. ... Farrell decided to DH 2B Dustin Pedroia with the forecast of showers to limit playing on his left knee that landed him on the DL with inflammation for nearly three weeks last month.

LET ME SEE, TOO

Fister stood on the edge of the mound and joined in, looking at an iPad that Red Sox head groundskeeper Dave Mellor brought out to show the umpires the radar before the sixth.

SLOW STARTS

During his strong four-start stretch, Fister has allowed all five of his runs in the opening inning.

Miguel Montero drew a bases-loaded walk after Fister gave up a leadoff single to Ezequiel Carrera, a double to Justin Smoak and a walk to Michael Saunders.

"He gets into the rhythm of the game. It takes him an inning," Farrell said. "It's been uncanny how similar the beginning of games are and how he finishes out."

EASY THEFTS

The Red Sox were 4 for 4 in stolen base attempts, and improved to 29 for 32 this season against Toronto, the most steals by any club in the majors against an opponent this season.

UP NEXT

Blue Jays: Off Thursday. They open a three-game series at Rogers Centre on Friday against Detroit. RHP Marcus Stroman (11-6, 3.08 ERA) is scheduled to start after leaving his last one when he was hit on the right elbow with a line drive.

Red Sox: Off Thursday. LHP Drew Pomeranz (14-5, 3.36) looks to rebound after his career-best eight-game winning streak was halted in his last start when Boston opens a three-game series against Tampa Bay at Fenway Park on Friday.

Red Sox open spring training with wins over Northeastern and Boston College

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via Twitter (@RedSox)

Red Sox open spring training with wins over Northeastern and Boston College

The Red Sox started off spring training with a doubleheader on Thursday, beating both Northeastern and Boston College.

Boston beat Northeastern 15-2 in the opener, scoring seven runs in the first inning. Highlights included a grand slam from minor league outfielder Kyri Washington, an RBI triple from Blake Swihart, and RBI doubles from Brock Holt and minor league catcher Austin Rei.

In game two, the Red Sox beat Boston College by a score of 4-2. Sam Travis contributed with an RBI double.

Boston takes on the Minnesota Twins on Friday at JetBlue Park.

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Blake Swihart would benefit from a trade, and his trade value may never be higher

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Blake Swihart would benefit from a trade, and his trade value may never be higher

FORT MYERS, Fla. — Blake Swihart would be better off in another organization. The best time to trade him could be now, as well.

He might have a lowered chance of a World Series ring in the immediate future if he's sent away. But for Swihart's personal development, the Red Sox are not his ideal base. 

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Naturally, the Sox have to prioritize their needs. To do that with Swihart, they need to examine the future.

A switch-hitter staring at a bench role with the Sox, Swihart's value remains high because other teams see his potential as a catcher. He turns 26 years old on April 3. A year in a utility role in the majors would not kill him, but it would not help him blossom as a catcher — and therefore, would not help his trade value in the future. He's not old, but he's getting older.

If Christian Vazquez is the Sox’ catcher of the present and the future, Swihart today might well be more valuable to another team than he is to the Sox. It would be up to a potential trade partner to prove as much.

Swihart has said he wants to catch, and has also said he’ll do whatever the team wants. He’s doing catching drills every day in Florida. He also does one of either outfield work or infield work daily, on top of the backstop drills. So far, he hasn't ventured beyond first base on the infield.

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Alex Cora and several members of the coaching staff coordinate on Swihart’s plan. 

“They’re in touch [about] what they have planned for me, so they don’t kill me out there catching a ton of bullpens,” Swihart said Thursday. “I think everyone is kind of involved.”

But the Sox must realize they run the risk of creating a jack of all trades and a master of none. Maybe in the short term, that's what they want. But if so, there is a potential cost in the future: slowed development. Super utility players are nice, but catchers with Swihart's skillset are probably nicer.

Someone, somewhere, is going to carry Swihart on a major league roster this year.

If the Sox have one position-player injury in spring, they can carry all three of Swihart, Brock Holt and Deven Marrero on their opening day roster. Without an injury, the Sox would appear to have three players for just two spots. Swihart and Marrero are both out of minor league options.

“Yeah. I’m not really thinking about that, but yeah,” Swihart said when asked if being out of options is a good thing. “I’ve got to prove myself, still. I’ve got a job to do.”

Swihart’s upside is tantalizing and hard to part with. He tripled and walked twice Thursday in a 15-2, seven-inning win over Northeastern, the Sox’ first game of the spring

Whether it was intentional or not, Holt batted behind Swihart and Marrero directly followed Holt. Swihart’s triple was immediately followed by one of Swihart’s two hits, a double. Marrero, whose value lies in an extraordinary glove, went 0-for-3 with a pair of strikeouts.

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Results are virtually meaningless now, but after injuries held Swihart back the last two years, he seems rejuvenated. 

"Especially when I’m healthy, I love playing," Swihart said Thursday. "If I can go out there and get as many reps as I can, it’s almost like a tryout for me. I want to go out there and treat it like that, just go out there and do everything I know I can do.”

Other teams know what he can do, too — behind the plate particularly.

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