Chris Murphy, Brandon Walter struggle as Red Sox get shelled by Blue Jays in 16-3 loss

To put it simply, the Red Sox got rocked by the Blue Jays in Dunedin on Monday afternoon. Boston fell to Toronto by a final score of 16-3 at TD Ballpark to drop to 9-4-4 in Grapefruit League play.

Chris Murphy, making his first start and third overall appearance of the spring, did not fare well for the Red Sox. The left-hander surrendered six runs (five earned) on four hits, six walks, and zero strikeouts over just 2 1/3 innings of work. Only 24 of the 57 pitches he threw went for strikes.

The Blue Jays got to Murphy right away in their half of the first. Bo Bichette got the scoring started by crushing a one-out solo home run off the lefty. Murphy then loaded the bases on back-to-back walks and a single before recording the second out. But he was unable to escape the jam, as Addison Barger snuck an RBI single through the right side of the infield that scored Alejandro Kirk from third. Brandon Belt also attempted to score on the play, but he was thrown out at home plate by right fielder Miguel Bleis for the final out of the inning.

Despite falling behind by two runs right out of the gate, the Red Sox lineup wasted no time in mounting a rally of their own in the top of the second. With All-Star right-hander Alek Manoah starting for the Jays, Niko Goodrum led off with a single and Stephen Scott and Nick Sogard each took ball four. That ultimately loaded the bases with two outs for Bleis, who came through by roping a game-tying, two-run single to right field.

Manoah had been laboring to that point in the inning, and so the Blue Jays elected to temporarily take their starter out of the game and bring in Jackson Rees out of the bullpen. Following that pitching change, Enmanuel Valdez greeted the new reliever by plating Sogard from third on another single to right field. That gave the Red Sox a 3-2 lead heading into the middle of the second.

Murphy followed by facing the minimum with the help of a double play, but his struggles to command the strike zone continued in the third. There, he again filled the bases with one out before issuing a bases-loaded walk to Orelvis Martinez, allowing Toronto to tie things up at three runs apiece. Martinez would prove to be the final batter Murphy would face, as he was given the hook in favor of fellow southpaw Cam Booser.

Booser entered with the bases still loaded and two outs to get in the third. He immediately gave up a bases-clearing single to Barger that was misplayed by Bleis in right field. As a result of Bleis’ error, all three runners Booser had inherited scored (Murphy was charged with all six runs) while Barger moved up all the way to third before being thrown out at home moments later.

The Blue Jays continued to haunt Red Sox lefties in the fourth. Brandon Walter, who took over for Booser, served up a leadoff double to Whit Merrifield that was followed by a blistering 453-foot two-run blast off the bat of Bichette (his second homer of the day), which gave Toronto a commanding 8-3 advantage.

Walter surrendered two more hits in the fourth before allowing another run to score on a Kevin Kiermaier groundout. The 26-year-old got tagged for three additional runs in the fifth on four more hits (including an RBI double from Merrifield) and a fielding error committed by second baseman Eddinson Paulino.

In the sixth, Wyatt Mills allowed the first two batters he faced to reach base before serving up a three-run home run to the pinch-hitting Andres Sosa. The same thing happened in the seventh as Mills gave up a single to Cam Eden before plunking Vinny Capra to put runners at first and second. He then made way for Durbin Feltman, who filled the bases with two outs before issuing yet another bases-loaded walk to Davis Schneider.

That sequence of events put Toronto up, 16-3. Feltman wrapped up an otherwise miserable day for Boston pitching by working his way around a leadoff double in a scoreless eighth inning in which he struck out a pair.

Offensively, the only real damage the Red Sox did came in the second inning. Outside of that lone productive frame, Boston batters were completely shut out by Manoah and the rest of Toronto’s pitching staff. When down to their final three outs in the ninth, Max Ferguson drew a leadoff walk before Marcelo Mayer, Matthew Lugo, and Gilberto Jimenez each went down swinging against Yosver Zulueta to put the finishing touches on a 16-3 loss.

Other worthwhile observations:

Bleis (1-for-2 with two RBIs) was one of three Red Sox hitters to record a hit on Monday. The 19-year-old outfielder is currently regarded by Baseball America as the No. 5 prospect in Boston’s farm system. Valdez, who had one of the other two hits and the only other RBI, is currently ranked 19th on the publication’s list.

Next up: Pivetta vs. Lorenzen

The Red Sox will travel to Lakeland to take on the Tigers at Joker Marchant Stadium on Tuesday afternoon. Nick Pivetta is slated to get the start for Boston opposite fellow righty Michael Lorenzen for Detroit.

First pitch is scheduled for 1:05 p.m. eastern time. The game will not be televised.

(Picture of Chris Murphy: Elsa/Getty Images)


Red Sox’ Yu Chang named MVP of Pool A in World Baseball Classic

Red Sox infielder Yu Chang has been named MVP of Pool A in the World Baseball Classic.

Chang, a native of Taiwan, batted .438 (7-for-16) with two doubles, two home runs, eight RBIs, five runs scored, two walks, and two strikeouts in four games for Chinese Taipei during the opening round of the tournament.

Playing in his own country, Chang came through in the clutch on multiple occasions this past week. On Friday, the right-handed hitter clubbed a then-game-tying, two-run home run in the sixth inning of an 11-7 win over Italy. The following day, he crushed a 410-foot grand slam in the second inning of a 9-5 victory over the Netherlands.

Despite winning both of those games, Chinese Taipei still fell short of advancing to the quarterfinals due to a complicated five-way tie in Pool A that will see Cuba and Italy move on to Tokyo instead.

Since has team has been eliminated from the WBC, Chang will now travel stateside to report to Red Sox camp in Fort Myers. The 27-year-old signed a one-year, $850,000 contract with Boston last month and will have the chance to earn more in additional performance bonuses as well.

The Red Sox originally claimed Chang off waivers from the Rays in September. He appeared in 11 games for the club down the stretch and slashed .150/.346/.250 with two doubles, one RBI, three runs scored, five walks, and seven strikeouts across 26 trips to the plate before being non-tendered in November.

With Trevor Story (right elbow surgery) and Adalberto Mondesi (ACL rehab) slated to miss the start of the season, the Red Sox elected to bring Chang back in an effort to bolster their infield depth. Chang, who is listed at 6-foot-1 and 180 pounds, has seen playing time at all four infield positions since first breaking in with Cleveland in 2019.

“His defense was good. He put good at-bats but defensively, he’s solid,” Red Sox manager Alex Cora said of Chang earlier this spring. “You can move him around. Good athlete. He put together competitive at-bats but I think his defense is what separates him from the others.

Chang, who turns 28 in August, is out of minor-league options, so he will need to stick on the major-league roster this season if the Red Sox do not intend on exposing him to waivers at any point. He could have a somewhat significant role within the infield mix while Story and Mondesi are sidelined.

(Picture of Yu Chang: Yung Chuan Yang/Getty Images)

Red Sox option top pitching prospect Bryan Mata to Triple-A Worcester in latest round of spring training roster cuts

Only two players were involved this time around, but the Red Sox still made their third round of spring training roster cuts following Sunday’s split-squad doubleheader against the Yankees and Orioles.

Boston optioned right-hander Bryan Mata to Triple-A Worcester and reassigned left-hander Ryan Sherriff to minor-league camp, the club announced.

Mata made his fourth appearance of the spring in Sunday’s 3-3 draw against the Yankees at JetBlue Park. The 23-year-old scattered three hits and two walks to go along with two strikeouts over three scoreless innings of work. He retired eight of the 13 batters he faced on 46 pitches and has yet to surrender a run in Grapefruit League play.

After returning from Tommy John surgery last season, Mata was promoted to Worcester in late August. The native Venezuelan made five starts for the WooSox and posted a 3.47 ERA (3.12 FIP) with 30 strikeouts to 15 walks over 23 1/3 innings pitched. He is currently regarded by Baseball America as Boston’s top pitching prospect and could have a chance to make an impact at the major-league level later this year.

Sherriff, on the other hand, signed a minors pact with the Red Sox in January that came with an invite to big-league camp. In four relief appearances this spring, the 32-year-old southpaw has allowed one unearned run on three hits, one hit batsman, and four strikeouts. He has held opposing hitters to a .188 batting average against thus far.

With Sunday’s subtractions, the size of Boston’s spring training roster has shrunk from 56 to 54 players. Fifteen of the 54 players who remain are not on the 40-man roster and are therefore at camp as non-roster invitees.


Pitchers (4): Matt Dermody, Oddanier Mosqueda, Chase Shugart

Catchers (4): Jorge Alfaro, Caleb Hamilton, Ronaldo Hernández, Stephen Scott

Infielders (1): Christian Koss

Outfielders (3): Greg Allen, Narciso Crook, Raimel Tapia

Infielder/Outfielders (4): Ryan Fitzgerald, Niko Goodrum, Daniel Palka, Nick Sogard

(Picture of Bryan Mata: Maddie Malhotra/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images)

Adam Duvall hits first homer of spring as Red Sox draw with Yankees, fall to Orioles in split-squad doubleheader

As part of a split-squad doubleheader on Sunday, the Red Sox drew with the Yankees at home and lost to the Orioles on the road. In Fort Myers, Boston tied with New York, 3-3. Up the road in Sarasota, Boston fell to Baltimore by a final score of 6-4.

At JetBlue Park, Tanner Houck made his third start of the spring for the Red Sox. The right-hander surrendered two earned runs on four hits, two walks, and one hit batsman to go along with four strikeouts over 3 1/3 innings of work.

Both of those Yankees runs came in the top half of the fourth. There, after getting through the first three innings unscathed, Houck allowed the first two batters he faced (Isiah Kiner-Falefa and Billy McKinney) to reach base on a HBP and walk. He then gave up an RBI single to Andres Chaparro and a run-scoring sacrifice fly to Jake Bauers to give the Yankees a 2-0 lead.

Having thrown 75 pitches already, Houck was given the hook in favor of fellow righty Chase Shugart, who promptly got Rodolfo Duran to ground into an inning-ending 4-6-3 double play. The Red Sox lineup responded by playing two runs of their own in the latter half of the fourth.

After doing very little against Yankees starter Yoendrys Gomez, Reese McGuire mounted the mini-rally by drawing a one-out walk off new reliever Jimmy Cordero. He then scored all the way from first base when the speedy Greg Allen roped a hard-hit triple to the triangle in center field. Two batters later, Allen was able to knot things up at two runs apiece by scoring on a passed ball.

That stalemate did not last long, however, as Chris Martin took over for Shugart out of the Boston bullpen and immediately served up a leadoff home run to Anthony Volpe in the fifth. Again, though, Boston quickly responded. In similar fashion to Volpe, Adam Duvall led off the bottom of the fifth by crushing a solo shot over the faux Green Monster in left field.

Duvall’s first homer of the spring — and first in a Red Sox uniform — pulled Boston back even with New York at 3-3. That is where the score would remain, as the two sides exchanged zeroes over the next four inning. Zack Kelly stranded a pair of base runners in the sixth before Bryan Mata before Bryan Mata followed with three scoreless frames of relief.

With a chance to walk it off in the ninth, top prospect Marcelo Mayer laced a leadoff double to center field to get things started against Demarcus Evans. Mayer, however, failed to advance from there, as Evans retired Karson Simas, Niko Kavadas, and the pinch-hitting Ahbram Liendo to keep the 3-3 tie intact.

At Ed Smith Stadium, Kutter Crawford made his second start and third overall appearance of the spring for the visiting Red Sox. The right-hander allowed three earned runs on five hits, one walk, and four strikeouts over 3 2/3 innings of work.

The Orioles first got to Crawford in their half of the second. There, Ramon Urias drew a leadoff walk, went from first to third base on a Nomar Mazara one-out single, and scored the first run of the day on a line-drive RBI single off the bat of Jorge Mateo. Crawford was able to retire the side in order in the next inning, though, and the Red Sox responded by putting up a four-spot in the fourth.

Matched up against one of baseball’s top pitching prospects in Grayson Rodriguez, Ceddanne Rafaela led off the fourth with a groundball single. He then stole second base while Daniel Palka was in the process of drawing a walk. That put runners at first and second with no outs for Niko Goodrum, who plated Rafaela with a then-game-tying infield single.

Rodriguez issued another walk to Caleb Hamilton to fill the bases for Narciso Crook, in turn, ended Rodriguez’s outing by singling in a run (Palka) of his own. David Hamilton then drew a bases-loaded walk off new Orioles reliever Morgan McSweeney before Nick Sogard drove in (Caleb) Hamilton on a groundout for the fourth and final run of the frame.

Despite having a brand-new three-run lead to work with, Crawford was not able to get through the bottom of the fourth. He instead gave up a one-out single to Austin Hays and a two-out RBI double to Mateo, who proved to be the final batter he would face.

Ryan Miller came on with one out still to get in the fourth, but the righty filled the bases on a walk and HBP before serving up a go-ahead grand slam to catcher Adley Rutschman. Rutschman’s slam put Baltimore up, 6-4, heading into the fifth.

From there, Kaleb Ort worked his way around a walk in a scoreless fifth inning while Matt Dermody continued his impressive spring by fanning three across three perfect innings of relief. The Red Sox lineup, however, was unable to get anything else going offensively as 6-4 would go on to be Sunday’s final score.

With a tie against the Yankees and a loss to the Orioles, the Red Sox are now 9-3-4 in Grapefruit League play with 16 more games remaining on the schedule before Opening Day.

Next up: Murphy vs. Manoah

The Red Sox will travel to Dunedin to take on another division rival in the Blue Jays on Monday afternoon. Left-hander Chris Murphy is slated to get the ball for Boston while All-Star right-hander Alek Manoah is lined up to do the same for Toronto.

First pitch from TD Ballpark is scheduled for 1:05 p.m. eastern time on NESN 360.

(Picture of Adam Duvall: Maddie Malhotra/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images)

Red Sox’ Justin Turner could be ready for Opening Day: ‘Hopefully he will be with us right away,’ Alex Cora says

Less than a week after frighteningly being hit in the face by a pitch, Justin Turner has rejoined the Red Sox at the Fenway South Complex in Fort Myers.

Turner needed 16 stitches after taking a fastball from Tigers starter Matt Manning off the left side of his face in the first inning of Monday’s Grapefruit League game against the Tigers at JetBlue Park.

Though it left him bloodied and required a trip to the hospital, Turner came away with no facial fractures and all his scans came back clean. After briefly recuperating at home, the 38-year-old infielder/designated hitter was back in Boston’s clubhouse on Wednesday and was doing cardio workouts on Thursday.

“He walked on the treadmill yesterday and felt good,” Red Sox manager Alex Cora told reporters (including’s Ian Browne) on Friday. “Same deal today. Just add a little bit more and take it day-by-day.”

Turner, who signed a one-year deal with the Red Sox in January that comes with $15 million in guaranteed money and a player option for 2024, will not be cleared to resume baseball activities until his stiches are removed. That could happen as soon as next week, according to Cora.

Once he does get the stitches removed, the Red Sox will need to make sure Turner is in a good spot not just physically, but mentally as well. Per The Boston Globe’s Julian McWilliams, Turner will get at-bats in live batting practice and in minor-league games on the backfields in an effort to get back up to speed.

So far this spring, Turner has appeared in six Grapefruit League games for Boston. The right-handed hitter has gone 3-for-12 (.250) with one RBI, four runs scored, one walk, and one strikeout in that stretch.

Time will be of the essence once Turner is cleared to take the field again, but the Red Sox are confident that their projected primary designated hitter will be ready for Opening Day against the Orioles on March 30.

“We’ve got plenty of time,” said Cora. “Hopefully he will be with us right away [at the start of the season]. We’ll shoot for that. He’s in good spirits. He’s doing better.”

(Picture of Justin Turner: Maddie Malhotra/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images)

Red Sox fall to Blue Jays, 2-0, for first loss of spring

The Red Sox suffered their first loss of the spring and were shut out by the Blue Jays on Friday afternoon. Boston fell to Toronto by a final score of 2-0 at JetBlue Park to drop to 9-1-3 in Grapefruit League play.

Corey Kluber, making his third start of the spring for the Sox, was tagged with the losing decision. The veteran right-hander allowed two earned runs on five hits and two walks to go along with three strikeouts over three-plus innings of work.

In both the first and second innings, Kluber allowed the first two batters he faced to reach base. Each time, however, he was able to escape the jam by striking out the side in the first and inducing three straight fly outs in the second.

The third inning was a different story. There, Kluber allowed the first two batters he faced (Orelvis Martinez and Zach Britton) to reach on a double and single, respectively. Rather than get out of the jam this time around, the righty instead surrendered a run on a sacrifice fly off the bat of Wynton Bernard.

A similar situation arose in the fourth, as the Blue Jays doubled their lead when Cam Eden led off with a single and promptly scored all the way from first on a Rainer Nunez RBI double that split the gap in right-center field. Nunez proved to be the last Toronto hitter Kluber would face.

The 36-year-old hurler had already thrown 69 pitches to that point, and he was given the hook in favor of Cam Booser out of the Red Sox bullpen. Booser, in turn, prevented any further damage thanks to Caleb Hamilton picking off Nunez at third base. The minor-league left-hander then made way for Ryan Brasier, who made quick work of Toronto in the fifth.

In the sixth, Wyatt Mills was able to maneuver his way around a bases-loaded jam when Rob Refsnyder made a nice sliding, inning-ending catch down the left field line. Oddanier Mosqueda followed by hurling two more scoreless frames before Jake Faria stranded a pair of runners with the help of an inning-ending, 6-4-3 double play in the top of the ninth.

To that point in the contest, four different Blue Jays pitchers had combined to hold the Red Sox lineup to just four hits (all singles) through eighth innings. Jimmy Robbins, who had given up a single and a walk in the bottom of the eighth, was also responsible for the latter half of the ninth inning.

Tyler McDonough, who had replaced Refsnyder in left field, reached base on a one-out single off the faux Green Monster. That brought Bobby Dalbec to the plate representing the tying run. Dalbec, however, lined out to second baseman Davis Schneider, who was able to get the ball back to first baseman Cullen Large in time to double up McDonough and thus end the game.

Following Friday’s loss, which took all of two hours and 24 minutes, Boston is now 11-1-3 in all competitions this spring.

Other worthwhile observations:

Raimel Tapia was one of five Red Sox hitters to record a hit on Friday. The 29-year-old went 1-for-2 with a stolen base and is now batting .421 (8-for-19) through seven Grapefruit League contests.

With a fourth-inning single, Adam Duvall broke out of an 0-for-11 slump to begin his Red Sox tenure. Following a 1-for-3 showing on Friday, the center fielder is now batting .071 (1-for-14) this spring.

In three appearances out of the bullpen this spring, Ryan Brasier has allowed one run on one hit, two walks, and three strikeouts over 3 2/3 innings of relief. That is good for an ERA of 2.45 and a WHIP of 0.82. The righty is also holding opposing hitters to an .083 (1-for-12) batting average against.

Next up: Sale Day

The Red Sox will remain in Fort Myers on Saturday and take on the Twins in Game 3 of the 2023 Chairman’s Cup. Left-hander Chris Sale is slated to make his second start of the spring for Boston while right-hander Tyler Mahle is scheduled to start for Minnesota.

With a two-games-to-none lead already in hand, the Red Sox can take home the Chairman’s Cup with another win on Saturday afternoon. First pitch from Hammond Stadium is scheduled for 1:05 p.m. eastern time on NESN.

(Picture of Corey Kluber: Maddie Malhotra/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images)

How Rob Refsnyder turned his career around in first year with Red Sox

As spring training was drawing to a close in Fort Myers last year, Rob Refsnyder was informed that he would not be breaking camp with the Red Sox.

Refsynder, who signed a minor-league deal with Boston over the winter that included an invite to major-league camp, would instead be reporting to Triple-A Worcester for the start of the 2022 season. Before the big-league club headed to New York for their opening series against the Yankees, though, the 31-year-old journeyman approached Red Sox hitting coach Peter Fatse.

Due to the nature of a lockout-abbreviated camp, Fatse had not been able to spend much time working with Boston’s non-roster invitees in the batting cages of the Fenway South complex. With seemingly nothing to lose, Refsnyder went up to Fatse in hopes of working with him just once before joining the WooSox in Jacksonville.

“I was like you know what, Fatse, everyone speaks so highly of him,” Refsnyder recalled to The Athletic’s Jen McCaffrey. “I didn’t get that much time with him, especially as a minor-league signing, so he was available and I went up to him and said, ‘Hey, I’d love to work with you before I leave.'”

That decision would prove to pay off for Refsnyder. On April 4, he and Fatse worked through a self-described “life-changing” hitting session.

Refsnyder, who to that point in his career had played in parts of six major-league seasons for the Yankees, Blue Jays, Rays, Rangers, and Twins, had always had difficulties against right-handed pitching. Those struggles could be attributed to the fact that the right-handed hitter had trouble staying inside the ball due to his swing mechanics.

As outlined by McCaffrey, Refsynder had “been hyper-focused on his upper-half movements, but less so on his lower half, which forced him to open up too much on his swing. It was something he was aware of but always struggled to fix.”

During that April 4 hitting session, however, something clicked while Refsnyder was working with Fatse, which allowed him to unlock a new component of his swing.

“Fatse really dumbed it down for me,” Refsnyder said. “He really helped me understand how the lower half should work. It’s super simple stuff, but I was like, ‘Damn.’”

As part of the session, Refsnyder picked up on the notion that if he kept his back heel planted on the ground, his lower half would stay more stable throughout his swing. That, in part, would allow him to get the ball in the air more frequently as opposed to hitting soft singles.

“I would just jump out of my swing and the barrel would drop under plane, and then come up really fast and create top spin,” said Refsnyder. “I think I’ve always been able to control the strike zone OK but I couldn’t do anything with the ball. Fatse unlocked that for me.”

Fatse, for his part, has worked with countless Red Sox hitters since joining the organization as an assistant hitting coach in October 2021. When speaking with McCaffrey, though, the Western Mass. native was able to remember that particular day with Refsnyder rather quickly.

“It was honestly probably more talking than hitting,” Fatse said. “I basically put together almost like a four-part iMovie of the drills and said, ‘Boom, do this, this, this and go.’ Let that be your fallback whenever you feel you need something, go back to this. These things are your staples in terms of your routine.

“The thing that stands out about that time to me,” he added, “it was the physical element of the swing, but it was the mental, like, ‘You’re going to help us. We need you to be locked and loaded when it’s your time,’ and to his credit, if it helped him, great, but he was ready to go when it was his time. He set the league on fire in Triple-A.”

With a condensed, four-minute video of his session with Fatse saved on his phone as a helpful reference, Refsnyder made his WooSox debut on April 5. While coordinating with hitting coach Rich Gedman and assistant hitting coach Mike Montville, he set the International League on fire by hitting safely in 10 of his first 11 games. He was then called up by the Red Sox when the club was dealing with a COVID outbreak in late April.

Upon returning to Worcester, Refsnyder picked up where he left off. By early June, he was batting a stout .306/.429/.524 with 14 doubles, six home runs, 28 RBIs, and 31 runs scored in 42 games. Around that same time, injuries began to pile up for the Red Sox. And so Refsnyder had his contract selected from Triple-A on June 8.

From that point forward, Refsnyder did not return to Worcester and instead put together the best year of his big-league career. In the process of registering a career-high 177 plate appearances over 57 games, Refsnyder slashed .307/.384/.497 with 11 doubles, six home runs, 21 RBIs, 25 runs scored, one stolen base, 15 walks, and 46 strikeouts. He also hit .308 as a pinch-hitter and posted a respectable .792 OPS off right-handed pitching.

On the other side of the ball, Refsnyder saw playing time at all three outfield positions for the Red Sox last year. The 6-foot, 205-pounder started 16 games in right, 13 in center, and two in left while ranking in the 90th percentile of all big-leaguers in arm strength (averaged 91.3 mph on his throws), per Baseball Savant.

In November, the Red Sox avoided arbitration with Refsnyder by signing him to a $1.2 million deal for the 2023 season. It might not seem that noteworthy on the surface, but it actually marked the first time in Refsnyder’s career that he had agreed to a guaranteed contract.

“This offseason, my wife and I celebrated our first guaranteed contract,” Refsnyder said in a recent interview with Red Sox Productions. “I always got to a point where I was like, ‘I wonder what this is going to feel like? If it’s going to feel any different.’ It’s almost like even more of a driving factor. It’s like, ‘Wow, a team has put a little bit of confidence in you. You better work your [expletive] off. You better live up to it or do the best you can trying to.”

Refsnyder, who turns 32 later this month, figures to serve as a fourth outfielder who fares well against lefties for Boston this season behind the likes of Masataka Yoshida, Adam Duvall, and Alex Verdugo. He will surely be looking to build off the momentum he gained in 2022 by taking another step forward this year.

Looking back, though, Refsnyder is in a much better place than he was 11 months ago. After being informed that he would not make the Red Sox’ Opening Day roster, Refsnyder told McCaffrey that he was at a crossroads and was even contemplating retirement.

Now, thanks in part to a memorable session in the cages with his hitting coach last April, Refsnyder is on track to head north with the Red Sox this time around.

“That session with Fatse really changed my life, to be honest,” said Refsnyder. “I still have it on my phone and it’s my favorite video when I’m not going well to look up.”

(Picture of Rob Refsnyder: Billie Weiss/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images)

Narciso Crook goes deep twice, leads power surge for Red Sox in 11-7 win over Yankees

The Red Sox went deep six times en route to a high-scoring win over the Yankees on Thursday afternoon. In the first of 15 meetings between the two rivals this year, Boston defeated New York by a final score of 11-7 at George M. Steinbrenner Field in Tampa.

With Clarke Schmidt starting for the Yankees, the Red Sox jumped out to an early 2-0 lead in their half of the second inning. After Reese McGuire reached base via a one-out single, Narciso Crook got his side on the board first by crushing a 327-foot two-run home run down the right field line.

Nick Pivetta, who was making his second start of the spring for Boston, had already worked a scoreless first inning. But the right-hander ran into some trouble in the second after issuing a pair of walks to Josh Donaldson and Rafael Ortega. He then gave up a game-tying, two-run single to Jose Trevino.

Having already thrown 33 pitches in the second inning alone, Pivetta was pulled by Red Sox manager Alex Cora with two outs. Ryan Miller, who was acquired from the Yankees in the minor-league phase of December’s Rule 5 Draft, was called upon on to record the final out of the second. Pivetta’s day, however, was not yet over.

After Schmidt stranded one runner in the top of the third, Pivetta came back out for the bottom half of the inning. The 30-year-old hurler surrendered a leadoff single to Aaron Judge but ended his afternoon on a more positive note by fanning Anthony Rizzo on five pitches.

All told, Pivetta allowed two earned runs on three hits and three walks to go along with two strikeouts over two total innings of work. He finished with 57 pitches (34 strikes) and averaged 94.7 mph with his four-seam fastball while inducing four swings-and-misses.

Durbin Feltman took over Pivetta with one out in the third and stranded the lone runner he inherited by inducing a pair of groundouts. He was responsible for the fourth inning as well, but he gave up a one-out double to Oswald Peraza and allowed him to score the then-go-ahead run on two wild pitches while Trevino was at the plate.

Following a scoreless fifth inning from Zack Kelly, though, the Red Sox erupted for six runs in the top of the sixth. Facing off against old friend Tyler Danish, minor-league outfielder Tyler Dearden clubbed a 422-foot solo shot to right-center field to lead things off. After Ceddanne Rafaela reached base with one out, Daniel Palka delivered with a 375-foot homer of his own that put Boston up, 5-3.

Niko Goodrum and McGuire then reached on back-to-back singles before Crook came through with his second big fly of the day. This one left his bat at a blistering 105.3 mph and was deposited 424 feet over the left field wall. The sharply-hit three-run blast gave the Red Sox some breathing room in the form of an 8-3 lead.

Kelly remained in for the bottom of the sixth and retired the final three batters he faced. Eddinson Paulino, who pinch-ran for Enmanuel Valdez the inning prior, led off the seventh inning by launching a 389-foot home run off new Yankees reliever Demarcus Evans. Chase Shugart was next up out of the bullpen after Kelly and also faced the minimum while punching out top prospect Jasson Dominguez in the latter half of the seventh.

After Norwith Gudino put up another zero in the eighth, the Red Sox made sure to make their last at-bats count in the ninth. Christian Koss drew a leadoff walk off Randy Vazquez. Three batters later, Phillip Sikes capped off the scoring by drilling a 395-foot two-run homer that had an exit velocity of 105.7 mph to right field.

Taking a commanding 11-3 advantage into the bottom of the ninth, Gudino served up a pair of home runs (including a three-run shot to Dominguez), but he was ultimately able to hang on and secure an 11-7 victory for the Red Sox.

With the win, which took two hours and 47 minutes to complete, Boston improves to 9-0-3 in Grapefruit League play and 11-0-3 in all competitions this spring.

Other worthwhile observations:

Batting out of the nine-hole and starting in left field on Thursday, Dearden went 2-for-3 with his sixth-inning home run. The 24-year-old was originally selected by the Red Sox in the 29th round of the 2017 amateur draft.

McGuire and Crook went a combined 4-for-6 on Thursday with five RBIs and four runs scored between them.

Next up: Kluber starts against Blue Jays

The Red Sox will return to Fort Myers on Friday afternoon to host the Blue Jays at JetBlue Park. Veteran right-hander Corey Kluber will get the start for Boston opposite fellow righty Zach Thompson for Toronto.

First pitch is scheduled for 1:05 p.m. eastern time on NESN.

(Picture of Narciso Crook: Billie Weiss/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images)

Joely Rodríguez strikes out side in spring debut as Red Sox best Team Puerto Rico, 9-3

The Red Sox changed things up at JetBlue Park on Wednesday night by hosting Team Puerto Rico in an exhibition game ahead of the World Baseball Classic. Playing under the lights and in front of a boisterous crowd of 8,715, Boston defeated Team Puerto Rico by a final score of 9-3.

Matched up against veteran starter Hector Santiago to begin things on Wednesday, the Sox drew first blood in their half of the first inning. After leading off with a single, moving up to second base on a passed ball, and advancing to third on a groundout, Greg Allen easily scored from third on a two-out RBI single off the bat of Raimel Tapia.

On the other side of things, Brandon Walter made his first start and third overall appearance of the spring for Boston. Going up against an opposing lineup that featured big-leaguers such as Francisco Lindor, Enrique Hernandez, Eddie Rosario, Javier Baez, and Christian Vazquez, the left-hander wound up allowing one earned run on one hit and three walks to go along with two strikeouts over 2 1/3 innings of work.

Walter got through the first and second innings without any trouble by retiring the first six batters he faced. Things began to unravel in the third, when he issued a one-out walk to Nelson Velazquez. Martin Maldonado followed by driving in Velazquez all the way from first on a hard-hit double off the faux Green Monster in left field.

The 26-year-old southpaw gave up two more walks to Lindor and Hernandez before getting the hook from Red Sox manager Alex Cora in favor of Robert Kwiatkowski. Kwiatkowski, in turn, escaped the bases-loaded jam by getting Rosario to ground into an inning-ending 6-3 double play.

Christian Koss, who started that twin killing, led off the bottom of the third with a groundball single off new reliever Dominic Hamel. The 25-year-old shortstop promptly moved up to second on an inadvertent pickoff attempt before taking third on a wild pitch. He then gave Boston a 2-1 lead by scoring from third on a Triston Casas groundout.

After Chris Martin and Kaleb Ort combined for two scoreless frames out of the Red Sox bullpen, Casas collected his second RBI of the night in the bottom of the fifth. Jorge Alfaro had led the inning off by drawing a walk off Duane Underwood Jr. He then moved up to second on a Koss single and to third on an Allen force out before Casas drove him in on a sacrifice fly to make it a 3-1 game.

Joely Rodriguez was responsible for the sixth inning. In what was his spring debut, the 31-year-old lefty struck out Baez, Vazquez, and M.J. Melendez in short order. Fellow offseason Wyatt Mills followed suit in the seventh by working his way around a leadoff double and punching out the side as well.

In the latter half of the seventh, the Red Sox lineup erupted for six runs. Enmanuel Valdez drew a leadoff walk off Emilio Pagan and then scored all the way from first on an RBI triple off the bat of the speedy David Hamilton. Marcus Wilson drew a walk himself and stole second base, which put runners at second and third for Daniel Palka, who plated both runners on a two-run double down the left field line.

Palka then came in to score from second on a Ceddanne Rafaela single that was misplayed by third baseman Emmanuel Rivera. Because of Rivera’s throwing error, Rafaela was able to move into scoring position. At that point, Team Puerto Rico had already run through all the pitchers they wanted to use. To accommodate the opposition, Cora had loaned opposing manager Yadier Molina some of his own pitchers in case they were needed.

So, in came minor-leaguer Jake Thompson to replace Pagan. Thompson, a former fourth-round draft pick out of Oregon State in 2017, immediately surrendered a double to Narciso Crook. The pinch-hitting Matthew Lugo followed by drawing a walk, which filled the bases with only one out in the inning.

Nick Sogard drove in Rafaela with a groundout before Valdez drove in Crook with a single moments later. That sequence of events gave the Red Sox a commanding 9-1 lead heading into the eighth. Team Puerto Rico was able to get one of those runs back, though, as Ryan Sherriff yielded a bases-loaded sacrifice fly to Melendez in the top half of the frame.

Another interesting thing took place in the bottom of the eighth. Lugo, who had already registered a plate appearance with the Red Sox, came on as a defensive replacement at third base for Team Puerto Rico. Lugo, who was born in Manati and is the nephew of former All-Star outfielder Carlos Beltran, did not see any balls hit his way while Jorge Lopez struck out the side.

Casey Cobb, meanwhile, took over for Sherriff in the ninth. He served up a leadoff homer to Velazquez before going up against Lugo, who he fanned on four pitches. He then retired Henry Ramos and Johneshwy Fargas to put the finishing touches on a 9-3 victory for Boston.

Jansen scratched:

Kenley Jansen was scheduled to pitch on Wednesday but was scratched from the Red Sox’ plans as a result of feeling under the weather. He will instead throw an inning on the back fields of the Fenway South Complex in Fort Myers on Thursday.

Other worthwhile observations:

To recap, Lugo played for both the Red Sox and Team Puerto Rico on Wednesday night. Between them, the 21-year-old went 0-for-1 with a walk and strikeout.

Koss, on the other hand, went 2-for-2 with a run scored. He also made a nice play in the hole at shortstop to throw out Rivera at first base for the final out of the fourth inning.

With no pitch clock or shift restrictions in place, Wednesday’s contest took two hours and 56 minutes to complete.

Next up: Pivetta vs. Schmidt

Though Wednesday’s win does not count towards their record, the Red Sox are still unbeaten this spring. They will resume Grapefruit League play by taking on the Yankees in Tampa on Thursday afternoon. Nick Pivetta is slated to take the mound for Boston opposite fellow right-hander Clarke Schmidt for New York.

First pitch from George M. Steinbrenner Field is scheduled for 1:05 p.m. eastern time on NESN360 and YES Network.

(Picture of Joely Rodriguez: Maddie Malhotra/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images)

Triston Casas and Christian Arroyo combine for 4 hits, Tanner Houck records 4 strikeouts as Red Sox top Braves, 10-2

An hour-long bus ride from Fort Myers to North Port could not prevent the Red Sox from rolling over the Braves on Tuesday night. Boston defeated Atlanta by a final score of 10-2 at CoolToday Park to improve to 8-0-3 in Grapefruit League play.

Tanner Houck, making his second start of the spring for the Red Sox, was able to bounce back from a shaky 2023 debut last Thursday. Although the right-hander gave up two runs on three hits and two walks, he also struck out four of the 13 batters he faced over three innings.

Both of the runs Houck gave up came on one swing of the bat in the third inning. After stranding one runner in the first and facing the minimum in the second, the 26-year-old issued a leadoff walk to Marcell Ozuna to begin the third. He followed that up by serving a booming two-run home run to Kevin Pillar, which gave the Braves an early 2-0 lead.

Houck walked another batter, but he managed to escape any further damage in what would prove to be his third and final frame of work. The righty finished his evening having thrown 41 pitches. He also committed two pitch clock violations.

Though the Red Sox found themselves trailing 2-0 heading into the fourth, they quickly got both of those runs back with some added insurance. After being held in check by Braves starter (and New Bedford native) Jared Shuster, Boston mounted a rally against veteran reliever Jesse Chaves. A leadoff walk from Rob Refsnyder and a groundball single from Triston Casas put runners on the corners for Christian Arroyo, who drove in his side’s first run on a sharply-hit single of his own.

Bobby Dalbec then nearly grounded into an inning-ending 6-4-3 double play, but his groundball was misplayed by Braves shortstop Vaughn Grissom, which allowed all three of Casas, Arroyo, and Dalbec to reach base safely. Reese McGuire capitalized on that fielding error by plating Casas from third on a sacrifice fly to right field. Daniel Palka followed with a line-drive single off new reliever Victor Vodnik to drive in Arroyo. Dalbec scored the fourth and final run of the inning when Ceddanne Rafaela grounded into a force out at second and beat the throw at first.

In relief of Houck, Bryan Mata received the first call out of the Boston bullpen. Mata, the organization’s top pitching prospect, worked his way around a Sam Hilliard double in an otherwise clean fourth inning. The Red Sox then tacked on two more runs in their half of the fifth on back-to-back two-out RBI doubles from Casas and Arroyo. Mata, meanwhile, retired the side in order in the latter half of the fifth and capped off his outing by fanning Matt Olson.

The Red Sox and Braves proceeded to trade zeroes over the next two innings. John Schreiber walked the first two batters he faced in the sixth but got out of trouble by getting Michael Harris II to ground into a 5-4-3 double play and Grissom to fly out to right field. Schreiber recorded the first two outs of the seventh as well before making way for Matt Dermody, who punched out Forrest Wall to end the frame.

To lead off the eighth inning, Stephen Scott — who replaced McGuire at catcher in the middle of the seventh — came through by taking Brian Moran way deep to right field for his first home run of the spring. Dermody then struck out two more Braves in the bottom of the inning before the Red Sox put up a three-spot in the ninth.

With one out and one runner (Gilberto Jimenez) on, Atlanta reliever Danny Young plunked Ryan Fitzgerald and Eddinson Paulino in consecutive order. That loaded the bases for Nick Sogard, who promptly scored Jimenez and Fitzgerald on a two-run single to left field. Paulino, who advanced to third on the play, then scored his side’s 10th and final run on a sacrifice fly off the bat of Scott.

Taking a commanding 10-2 lead into the last of the ninth, Dermody sat down the final three Braves hitters he faced in short order to secure yet another spring victory for the Red Sox. This one took two hours and 27 minutes to complete.

Other notable observations:

Out of the bullpen, Mata, Schreiber, and Dermody combined to strike out six of the 20 batters they faced while combining for six scoreless innings of relief.

Jimenez and David Hamilton, two of the fastest prospects in the organization, each stole a base and scored a run in Tuesday’s win.

Batting third and fourth in starting lineup, Casas and Arroyo went a combined 4-for-7 with three RBIs, three runs scored, and one walk (which belonged to Casas). Palka also went 2-for-3 while driving in a run out of the seven-hole.

Next up: Taking on Team Puerto Rico

The Red Sox will take on Team Puerto Rico in an exhibition contest on Wednesday night ahead of the 2023 World Baseball Classic. Left-handed pitching prospect Brandon Walter will get the start for Boston. It is not yet known who he will be going up against.

Regardless, first pitch from JetBlue Park is scheduled for 6:05 p.m. eastern time on NESN.

(Picture of Tanner Houck: Maddie Malhotra/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images)