Red Sox

First Impressions: Porcello, Ortiz lead the way in 4-0 win


First Impressions: Porcello, Ortiz lead the way in 4-0 win

First impressions from the Red Sox' 4-0 win over the San Francisco Giants:


It looked like it might be a long -- or, short -- night for Rick Porcello

The first two batters of the night - Denard Span and Angel Pagan -- hit singles, giving the Giants runners at first and second and nobody out.

But as it turned out, that would be the last time the Giants had more than one baserunner at a time against Porcello and the last time they would have someone reach scoring position.

Porcello allowed just two more hits after the first two batters and was never in any real danger.

In a way, it was a typical Porcello outing from this season -- lots of balls put in play (just three strikeouts recorded, all in a row to follow the first two hits in the first), good command (two walks) and the ability to pitch the Red Sox into the seventh inning.


It had been a while since David Ortiz did something of impact at the plate.

In New York over the weekend, Ortiz seemed to hit at least one ball hard every game -- a hard line drive to the right field corner in the first game; a bullet to shortstop in the second; and a ball to the warning track in center on Sunday night.

Each one, however, was hit directly at someone, and the series finished without Ortiz leaving his mark - a rarity for him in three games at Yankee Stadium.

Tuesday night, it began just the same way for Ortiz, who hammered a ball to the triangle in the second only to have Span track it down on the warning track.

But two innings later, Ortiz connected -- and didn't get cheated. He drove a pitch from Jake Peavy deep into the bleachers behind the bullpens.


Perhaps Ortiz would do well to swing at the first pitch more often.

Ortiz is hitting .514 with three homers in such situations - including the homer he belted off Peavy Tuesday night.

It's not that simple, of course. It's impossible for hitters to fall into predictable patterns like swinging at the first pitch. Before long, they'd never see a first-pitch strike and would begin every at-bat down in the count.

But it is remarkable that Ortiz, when he determines it's time to be ultra-aggressive, connects for a base hit more than half the time. And in 10 of his 37 at-bats, he's delivered a hit for extra-bases.


Red Sox, Yankees working to play in London in 2019

Red Sox, Yankees working to play in London in 2019

Mookie Betts and Aaron Judge are about to go global.

Red Sox CEO Sam Kennedy on Monday confirmed the Sox are interested to play the Yankees in London during next year's regular season. Bloomberg reported the clubs are nearing an agreement to play two games there in June 2019. Discussions are indeed taking place, but a deal is not done.

MORE - Sox signal they'll keep Swihart, may trade Marrero or Holt

“We would love to participate in a series in London against the Yankees but this is a decision that MLB and the MLBPA will make," Sox CEO Sam Kennedy said.

Bloomberg reported the games would be played at London Stadium, which was the main facility for the 2012 summer Olympics.

MLB has not played any games in Europe before. The Red Sox have made trips before, including to Japan before the 2008 season.


Red Sox signal they'll keep Swihart, may trade Marrero or Holt

Red Sox signal they'll keep Swihart, may trade Marrero or Holt

Blake Swihart’s strong spring seems to have the Red Sox more inclined to deal one of their natural utility infielders, such as Brock Holt or Deven Marrero, rather than Swihart, a converted catcher with high upside who's getting a look in other roles.
"Sounds like they’re holding Swihart to open," a rival executive said. "More likely to move a utility guy."
A true utility guy, that is.


The Boston Globe’s Nick Cafardo reported Sunday that Marrero has been drawing interest from other teams.

"We do have depth with our middle infielders," Sox president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski said Monday. "However, [I] would not get into potential trade discussions."
Swihart, who turns 26 on April 3, is most valuable as a catcher. But he could still be useful in a bench role for the 2018 Red Sox, and a win-now mentality may be the driving force here. (It is possible, as well, that there is nothing available via trade for Swihart that has piqued the Sox’ interest. Marrero or Holt wouldn’t require as much in return.)
The potential drawback is that Swihart won’t grow much if he’s not playing every day -- and in particular, if he's not catching every day. But the Sox may be be at a juncture where they feel his bat is a worthwhile experiment off the bench, at least for this season. They can figure out his future -- and their future at backstop -- later.
"He’s a great athlete," Cora told reporters on Sunday. "We’ve seen it in the batter’s box. It’s not only the results, but the way he’s driving the ball to left field as a left-hander, the quality of at-bats as a right-hander. [On Saturday], as a pinch-hitter, that kid was throwing 99 and he throws a breaking ball and squares a ball up."
Swihart entered Monday with a .283 average in Grapefruit League play, with a .905 OPS and a pair of home runs. But he does not have the infield experience that Marrero or Holt has, and the Red Sox essentially have to carry one of those two to start the year. 
Eduardo Nunez, the temporary replacement for Dustin Pedroia, is coming off a knee injury, and a sure-handed infielder -- Marrero’s glove is particularly good -- is a must. Rafael Devers is still coming into his own at third base. 
Tzu-Wei Lin is available in the minors too, and the Sox could see some redundancy with him, Holt and Marrero. Lin, unlike Marrero, has minor league options remaining. Lin also has some limited outfield experience.
The way the Sox roster looks now, they have two spots available for the three guys: Marrero, Holt and Swihart. Health can change that. Holt, despite being the most veteran of the group, has minor league options remaining, so he theoretically could go to Triple-A to start the season. But if the Sox don't see a role for him on this year's team any way, they'd be wiser trading him, considering he's due to make $2.225 million. It also would be kindest choice for Holt, to let him have an opportunity elsewhere, if one exists.


Swihart has played first base, third base and left field in addition to catching this spring. Perhaps, in time, there will be a way to work Swihart in behind the plate for the Sox. At the least, retaining him would be insurance if Christian Vazquez or Sandy Leon do not perform well offensively.
There was a clear personal-catcher system for the Red Sox in 2017. Leon was Chris Sale’s guy, for example. Manager Alex Cora said he is not taking that approach. As an auxiliary effect, moving away from a personal-catcher system might make it easier for Swihart to receive more time behind the plate, if called on.
"Whoever I feel comfortable with that day behind the plate, he'll catch," Cora told reporters in Florida. "Christian already caught him. Sandy's going to catch him today. And then the next turn, Christian's going to catch him. Everybody's going to work with everybody."