The Red Sox took to the field for the first time in the new year on Friday, defeating Northeastern University 3-0 in an exhibition game. Throughout spring training, the team has been rebuilding after quite an unsettling off-season that saw the departure of former manager Alex Cora and All-Star Mookie Betts.
This week, the Sox have welcomed newly-acquired faces, heard from David Ortiz and addressed controversial issues.
Here’s what we’ve learned so far:
Before taking on Northeastern, the Red Sox took a moment of silence to honor victims of the helicopter crash in California:
On Friday, the team held a pregame tribute for Pete Frates, Nick Cafardo and the family of Red Sox scout JJ Altobelli — whose father, stepmother and sister passed in the helicopter crash that killed Kobe Bryant and his daughter, Gigi.
A moment of silence for Nick Cafardo, Pete Frates and the Altobelli family. pic.twitter.com/H80XlsMtDL
— Guerin Austin (@guerinaustin) February 21, 2020
For Red Sox outfielder Kevin Pillar, the tragic news of Bryant deeply bothered him. He told reporters on Thursday that growing up in Los Angeles, he idolized Bryant and felt like he was an “older brother.” Pillar even named his daughter, Kobie, both because he liked the name and wanted her to have his initials, KP. It was also a “small” ode to Bryant, who inspired him to adopt the “Mamba Mentality” to fatherhood and to support gender equality.
Pillar also said that he wanted to write a children’s book about baseball, and planned on pitching the idea to Bryant, who was an author himself.
“That conversation’s never going to happen,” he said. “That’s going to haunt me for the rest of my life.”
Connor Wong started at catcher for the Red Sox in their exhibition game
Wong, who was acquired in the Mookie Betts and David Price trade with the Dodgers, got off to a solid start against Northeastern. He had two caught-stealings in the first two innings of the game.
Connor Wong, acquired in the Mookie Betts/David Price trade, is starting for the Red Sox at catcher in their spring training opener
— Eric Stephen (@ericstephen) February 21, 2020
Connor Wong earning #RedSox points early behind the plate. The catcher has two caught-stealings in the first two innings today against Northeastern.
— Sam Dykstra (@SamDykstraMiLB) February 21, 2020
David Ortiz called Mike Fiers a “snitch”:
On Thursday, the Red Sox legend commented on the Astros’ sign-stealing scandal, and the involvement of former Astros’ pitcher Mike Fiers. Fiers outed his former team’s actions to The Athletic in November, leading MLB to investigate the situation and punish the Astros’ organization.
“I’m mad at the pitcher that came out talking about it. After you make your money and you get your ring, you decide to talk about it? Why didn’t you talk about it during the season when it was going on? Why didn’t you say, ‘I don’t want no part of this.’ Now you look like a snitch.”
The Red Sox added catcher Jonathan Lucroy — who had awareness of the Astros’ sign-stealing:
The veteran catcher reportedly signed a deal that will pay him $1.5 million if he makes the Red Sox 25-man roster. He’ll bring experience onto the team’s training camp roster, that of which came in handy when recalling how he saw the Astros using sign-stealing to their advantage:
I knew about that two years ago, it was going on,” he said on Thursday. “I know it just recently came out. Everybody in baseball, especially in that division that played against them, we were all aware of the Astros doing those things. It was up to us to outsmart them, I guess you could say, which is kind of hard when you have a computer program that breaks your signs. We actively changed signs. Almost every pitch we were changing signs. You had to because they had them. They were relaying them from second. They were stealing from first too, from between your legs. They had a very intricate system going on, we were well aware of it and it was a challenge.”
The team could trade for Will Meyers:
According to the San Diego-Union Tribune’s Kevin Acfee, sources have said that there is communication between the Red Sox and the Padres regarding the outfielder.
“Sources said in the past two days that talks between the Padres and Boston Red Sox are ongoing,” Acfee wrote. “A deal seems contingent on the Red Sox taking on around half of the $61 million owed Myers over the next three years.”
He also mentioned that Boston is especially interested in Cal Quantrill, as well as Luis Campusano and Gabriel Arias. However, the Padres are, “unlikely to part with all three and other minor leaguers could be in the mix,” according to Acfee.
Andrew Benintendi did not think Brock Holt would return:
The Red Sox outfielder told WEEI on Tuesday that when he heard the news that Holt was leaving the team after signing a 1-year deal with Brewers, e was not caught off guard.
“No. I didn’t think so,” he said when asked if he thought Holt would return. “I thought there was no chance. As more players were acquired you put two and two together.”
The two were close friends, and although he’ll see Holt suit up for the Milwaukee Brewers now, he wishes him well.
“It is what it is,” Benintendi added. “You can’t really control it at all. I’m happy for him though.”
Alex Verdugo discussed past allegations of his involvement in a sexual assault case
The newly acquired Red Sox outfielder was asked about his alleged involvement in a sexual assault case of a minor in Arizona back in 2015. While Verdugo explained that he was “cleared of wrongdoing” after a police investigation, he wants to focus on his new start on the team:
“My name being mentioned in the allegations … it hurts. It really does hurt,” he said. “I was cleared of any wrongdoing. Of anything. And with that being said, it was a terrible thing that happened, but, I’m really just, it was in my past. It’s something that, I’ve grown from it, I’ve learned from it.”
“I wanted to come to a new organization, but I didn’t want to be a distraction,” he added. “I’m here to play baseball. I’m a baseball player. I’m here to help the Boston Red Sox win a championship.
“It was something I had to address to let everyone know the truth of it and hear it from my side, to hear the actual what happened.”
The Rays released their tentative lineup for their Spring Training opener against the Red Sox on Saturday :
(* subject to change) pic.twitter.com/YFdFIkPjIy
— Marc Topkin (@TBTimes_Rays) February 21, 2020
According to NESN’s Guerin Austin, interim manager Ron Roenicke said there will be, “a lot of regulars” in the Red Sox’ lineup.