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Road Trip to Port Charlotte

Sunday, February 26, 2017 – Charlotte Sports Park, Port Charlotte

Rays 7, Red Sox 3

Today was the first road game for the Red Sox, a short drive north to Port Charlotte to take on the Rays.  It was also my last game before heading much further back north.  We know going in that for road games in Spring Training, especially this early on, teams are expected to bring just four guys who are projected to be on the major league roster, filling in the rest of the spots with minor leaguers.  Today the four were Brock Holt, Andrew Benintendi, Jackie Bradley Jr., and Fernando Abad.  Blake Swihart was there too, but he’ll most likely start the year in Pawtucket.  The rest of the starting lineup were Triple A guys, and they were all eventually replaced by Double A (or lower) guys.

Charlotte Sports Park on a sunny Sunday.

Charlotte Sports Park on a sunny Sunday.

The game was started by Hector Velazquez, who just signed with the Red Sox last week after playing in the Mexican League for the last three years.  The 28-year-old had a quick first inning but labored a bit in the second. He ended up throwing 32 pitches over 2 innings and giving up 1 run on 3 hits and a walk while striking out 4.

The game was started by Hector Velazquez, who just signed with the Red Sox last week after playing in the Mexican League for the last three years. The 28-year-old had a quick first inning but labored a bit in the second. He ended up throwing 32 pitches over 2 innings and giving up 1 run on 3 hits and a walk while striking out 4.

Brock Holt manned shortstop and went 1-for-2 at the plate with a single and a hit-by-pitch.

Brock Holt manned shortstop and went 1-for-2 at the plate with a single and a hit-by-pitch.

Andrew Benintendi's hair also made it into the game.

Andrew Benintendi's hair also made it into the game.

Rusney Castillo was there, too, but his #38 uniform jersey didn't make the trip, so he had to wear a leftover #80. (My brother, who was watching on TV, told me the NESN announcers called it a "wardrobe malfunction.")

Rusney Castillo was there, too, but his #38 uniform jersey didn't make the trip, so he had to wear a leftover #80. (My brother, who was watching on TV, told me the NESN announcers referred to it as a "wardrobe malfunction.")

Not a lot went right for the Red Sox in this game.  They got in a 4-0 hole and only got going offensively in the seventh when they finally broke through for three runs.

Deven Marrero scores the Red Sox' third run of the seventh inning.  But look out, the throw has just come in to third, and Rusney Castillo is about to get caught up in a rundown.

Deven Marrero scores the Red Sox' third run of the seventh inning. But look out, the throw has just come in to third, and Rusney Castillo is about to get caught up in an inning-ending rundown trying to extend past second.

The subs for both teams included lots of players borrowed from minor league camp.  For the Rays, they were the guys without names on their backs.  For the Red Sox, they duplicated uniform numbers of guys we knew.  I do follow our minor league teams, so many of the names were familiar to me.  I felt like I was saying “we saw this guy on the Sea Dogs last year” a lot.  One guy I was excited to see was Kyri Washington, who came in to play right field in the bottom of the seventh.  I felt like Peter Gammons when I recalled that we had seen him play for the Wareham Gatemen in the Cape Cod League at a game in Hyannis in 2014, and that he had made it as far as Single A Greenville last season.  I always keep score when I watch a Cape League game for that very reason, and I’ve been tracking the players I saw on both teams ever since to see who got drafted and how far they went.  Today, that research finally paid off!

Channeling my inner Peter Gammons: I saw Kyri Washington play for the Wareham Gatemen in the Cape Cod League back in 2014.

Channeling my inner Peter Gammons: I saw Kyri Washington play for the Wareham Gatemen in the Cape Cod League back in 2014. And now, here he was in the eighth inning of a Spring Training road game.

The Rays had their share of minor leaguers too. They even had two number 74s in the starting lineup, batting back-to-back.

The Rays had their share of minor leaguers too. They even had two number 74s in the starting lineup, batting back-to-back.

The game ended as a 7-3 loss, and now tomorrow I have to fly back to Boston.  I won’t get to see these guys again until Opening Day on April 3.  (I suppose technically I won’t see many of the players from today’s game until July, when I make my annual trip to watch the Sea Dogs.)  Until then, I’m going to end with another picture from last Tuesday, when my all-time favorite player put in an appearance:

Pedro!

Pedro!

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