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Farrell happy to be back as Sox open spring slate

Manager at helm for first time since Aug. 21; Wright returns, Hanley plays 1B, Mookie homers
MLB.com @IanMBrowne

FORT MYERS, Fla. -- Monday was the first "game day" for the Red Sox, and the annual college doubleheader against Boston College and Northeastern served as the perfect springboard for several members of the team, including the manager.

John Farrell got to run a game for the first time since Aug. 21, and the Red Sox notched a 6-0 victory over BC. In the second game, the Red Sox defeated Northeastern, 8-3.

FORT MYERS, Fla. -- Monday was the first "game day" for the Red Sox, and the annual college doubleheader against Boston College and Northeastern served as the perfect springboard for several members of the team, including the manager.

John Farrell got to run a game for the first time since Aug. 21, and the Red Sox notched a 6-0 victory over BC. In the second game, the Red Sox defeated Northeastern, 8-3.

Spring: Tickets | Ballpark | 40-man roster | NRIs

"To get back into the flow of things, the game is a lot of fun," said Farrell. "Regardless of Spring Training, or what time of year and who you're playing against, the fact that you're back involved in a game is a really good feeling."

Farrell missed the last six weeks of 2015 as he battled back from cancer, and he admits that brought special meaning to Monday's opening game.

Video: NEU@BOS: Shaw doubles to left, scoring Rutledge

"Yeah, for sure," Farrell said. "There were two months missed last year and some treatments along the way, so there's some significant things that have been worked through, but I guess now you can't ask that anymore about being the first time back in a game. But it was good to be back on the field."

• Knuckleballer Steven Wright's 2015 season also ended on that August trip to Miami, when he was hit in the head by a line drive during batting practice and suffered a concussion. Wright was thrilled to be the first pitcher out of the gate for the Red Sox, and he pitched two shutout innings.

"It's huge," said Wright. "It's something I've been looking forward to since I got hit, especially missing the rest of the season. I've been looking forward to today, just getting back in the game and getting in that situation again. It's nice to get my feet wet. Now I can work on stuff and getting ready for the season."

Video: Wright K's four in first game since August

• For Hanley Ramirez, it was the first chance to play first base. There wasn't much action for the veteran making a position switch for the second straight season, but he handled a couple of routine plays in the win over BC.

"What can I say? I was a little bit nervous the first inning, but after the first pitch, everything calmed down, and it was time to go," Ramirez said.

Perhaps more important to Ramirez than the three innings of defense was the early-morning trip to Camp Butterfield. Each morning, Ramirez takes the field early with renowned Red Sox infield instructor Brian Butterfield.

"Everybody here knows Butter. He's doesn't miss anything. Today we went out there early and worked on the underhand flips," Ramirez said. "We're going to try to cover everything in the early work. What we're supposed to do in the game, we're going to try to do in the early work."

Video: BOC@BOS: Hanley starts for the Red Sox at first base

Another good sign for Ramirez was that he clubbed a double off the Green Monster on a low, outside pitch. It was the same type of offering Ramirez couldn't get around on last year when his shoulders hampered him.

"Not only that, but that work we put in in the cage to try to find my swing and shorten it down and we made a couple of changes, and it seems like it's working," Ramirez said. "I couldn't hit that pitch down there. That one I got a chance to stay through."

• Then there is Mookie Betts, who offered a refresher course on his lightning-quick swing, which delivered a three-run homer for the Red Sox over the Green Monster in the fourth inning of Game 1. After a strong first full season in the Majors last year, Betts could emerge as an All-Star this year.

"He's fun to watch, he's fun to be around," said Farrell. "He's a student of the game. Not surprised in his first live game action he squares a couple of balls up, and we're all looking forward to what Mookie can do between the lines. You see him on the break in right field and he makes a spot-on route in his first game. He's got a chance to impact the game in three different ways, and it's fun to watch."

As always, Betts was low key when asked about his goals for the season.

"Again, I don't necessarily want to be that much better than last year," said Betts. "I feel like if I can be the same player as last year, that's pretty good."

Ian Browne is a reporter for MLB.com.

Boston Red Sox, Mookie Betts, Hanley Ramirez, Steven Wright