FORT MYERS, Fla. — The Red Sox will keep J.D. Martinez out for a couple of games in order to allow the tight back that forced him to be scratched from Wednesday’s game to heal.
After the 9-5 loss to the Twins, manager Alex Cora downplayed the setback but said that in addition to not playing on Wednesday, Martinez will not make the bus trip north to Tampa to play against the Yankees on Friday.
“J.D., just tight back,” said Cora. “We’re not going to take a chance. He wasn’t going to play tomorrow anyway so he’ll come here, get treatment and see how he feels. The plan was for him to go to Tampa and pay the outfield. So we’ll most likely keep him here. If he’s OK to play, probably get at-bats on the minor league side. There’s no need to rush him.”
In the loss, the Red Sox’ seventh in a row, Brian Johnson was charged with the loss after allowing four runs on four hits in 1 2/3 innings.
“He needs to be more aggressive in the strike zone,” said Cora. “He threw a breaking ball, it was a good take but that’s an at-bat he needs to be more aggressive in the strike zone and get him out earlier.”
Ryan Brasier threw his first live BP, before the game in the stadium. He’s been bothered all spring by an infected pinky that maybe-almost-perhaps has healed.
“It was good to get on the mound and face a couple of hitters and a few more days hopefully get in the game,” said Brasier. “I’ve been anxious to get off the mound for a while and finally get into it. Feeling good and throwing some good pitches, so looking forward to what comes next.”
Asked if he could still feel discomfort in the toe, Brasier said, “Not really, no.”
A little bit? “Hmmm, no.”
Even with the late start, Brasier will be ready for the start of the season.
“It’s not that he’s behind,” said Cora. “We went through this last year with Craig (Kimbrel, whose infant daughter faced heart surgery). He was behind but he’s a different athlete, so he pitched what, one game, something like that, but (Brasier) will have to probably catch up in the last week of spring training here.”
Reliever Tyler Thornburg had an infected cyst-like area removed from under his chin on Tuesday. He was able to play catch on Wednesday.
“He should be back in action not later than Saturday,” said Cora.
Starting in Lakeland on Thursday against the Tigers is Eduardo Rodriguez with Sandy Leon catching. Also going on the road trip — the Red Sox play in Tampa against the Yankees on Saturday — are Blake Swihart, Rafael Devers, Andrew Benintendi, Tzu-Wei Lin, Gorkys Hernandez and Bryce Brentz.
After Rodriguez on Thursday, Brandon Workman, Heath Hembree and Domingo Tapia.
Instead of facing the Yankees, Rick Porcello will pitch in a minor-league game and will be caught by Christian Vazquez.
Hector Velazquez will start, with Swihart catching, against the Yankees.
Chris Sale pitches Monday, which is when Hembree will pitch again.
Dustin Pedroia came out of Tuesday’s game fine. His next game will be on a back field either Thursday or Friday, when he’ll play four innings and get two at-bats.
Cora confessed to wondering sometimes if everything this spring is as calm and settled as it appears, with hardly a single ounce of drama over competition for spots.
“Sometimes you wonder, ‘are we doing it right’ — we’re doing it right, but I have so much time on my hands, I’m like ‘should we do a little bit more, do less?’” said Cora. “Like yesterday, we wanted to hit hard the fundamentals and BP and it was probably the hottest day of the whole camp, it was like ‘Gosh, bad timing’ but we have to do it. It’s a lot different from last year to tell you the truth, a lot different. After the games you probably meet with somebody. ‘What did you do?’ ‘Ok, cool.’ More meetings and all that — no, you have structure, sometimes you feel like you have so much time on your hands it’s not healthy, it’s not cool.”
Cora still understands he has to stay on his toes.
“This is a first for me, kind of like, who’s who and what is what and how we deal with small sample sizes?” said Cora. “A guy might hit .500 in spring training but that means he’s a .500 hitter? No, of course not. I think it’s for them to understand, yeah, they’re competing for certain spots, but they still have to go through a progression and then at the same time go out there and perform I guess, whatever that is, so, no, but I’m good where we’re at.”