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Notes: Pérez getting tips from hero Pedro

Sale ready to throw live BP; Devers set to debut Friday
February 26, 2020

BRADENTON, Fla. -- Lefty Martín Pérez’s strong Spring Training debut for the Red Sox on Wednesday included incorporating some recent advice from his idol, who happens to be a new work colleague.

BRADENTON, Fla. -- Lefty Martín Pérez’s strong Spring Training debut for the Red Sox on Wednesday included incorporating some recent advice from his idol, who happens to be a new work colleague.

For Pérez, the biggest perk to being a member of the Red Sox -- the team he signed with as a free agent in December -- is being able to pick the brain of Hall of Famer Pedro Martinez.

“Pedro, he wants me to use more of my legs, staying on-line,” said Pérez. “Every time when I finish a pitch, I see the line and everything is perfect. Every day we have a drill with the towels, so it’s been working good and working with where I want to be.”

During his youth in Venezuela, Pérez made sure he found a way to watch Martinez whenever his start was televised.

Martinez, a special assistant for the Red Sox, is a frequent presence at Spring Training. Meanwhile, Pérez simply can’t believe his good fortune.

“Finally, my dream come true, now here with this team and they have a big history,” said Pérez. “Pedro’s story in baseball is amazing. To be part of this organization, it’s big for me and for my family. I’m going to do all I can for the fans and my teammates.”

Backed by more power in his legs, Pérez fired two strong innings, allowing one hit and one unearned run while walking one and striking out three in Boston’s 6-3 rain-shortened win over the Pirates.

So Martinez’s advice helped?

“Yes, a lot,” Pérez said. “He’s too smart and he’s a Hall of Famer. He knows a lot of things, and we can learn from him and improve during the game. I like to talk to him a lot. He knows a lot. I just need to ask him questions and whatever he says, just do it in the game.”

Pérez had never met Martinez until this spring. But he vividly remembers observing him up close as a Minor Leaguer in 2009. At the time, Pérez was a Rangers prospect and Martinez was ramping up to join the Phillies at midseason.

“It was in New Jersey. I told him, ‘Hey Pedro, I saw you in 2009.' He was like, ‘I remember you. You were the only guy who was watching me from your dugout.’ I was like, ‘I want to be like you some day.’ Now having him here and learning from him is a big opportunity for me to do what he was doing in baseball,” Pérez said. “Now we talk every day.”

Originally, the Sox signed Pérez to be their fifth starter.

But the trade of David Price to the Dodgers has already moved him up one slot. And with the chance that Chris Sale could start the season on the injured list, Pérez could take on even more responsibility early in the season.

“Obviously, [Pérez is] a big part and hopefully we get him to where everything he has, we can maximize,” said Red Sox interim manager Ron Roenicke. “And we know our analytics department, they see certain things and they talk to them. Anything to just try to fine-tune that stuff he has. He has that good cutter and if he can get everything working right, he could really help us.”

Not open and shut
Roenicke continues to be open-minded about how he will deploy the back of his rotation.

The opener remains in play.

“I’m not going to say it’s going to happen, but it’s possible that fifth spot could be [an opener],” Roenicke said. “We have this group of guys who are fighting for this one job, the fifth starter, and they’ll fight that out, but if we find out that it’s just kind of better to piggyback two guys, maybe that’s what we do. We’re still kind of looking at what we have and how it plays out.”

Sale ready for live BP
Sale took another step forward on Wednesday when he threw two innings in the bullpen. In total, Sale threw roughly 45 pitches. The lefty had a late start to camp due to the flu and pneumonia.

Roenicke expects Sale will throw live batting practice for the first time this spring on Saturday. Sale will likely have to do that multiple times before pitching in a Grapefruit League game.

The Red Sox are expected to reveal their Spring Training progression plan for Sale in the next day or two. All signs continue to point to Sale starting the season on the IL, though Roenicke wants to confer with his ace before finalizing a plan.

Devers debut
The Red Sox will get an added boost of excitement on Friday, when third baseman Rafael Devers expects to play in his first Grapefruit League game. The emerging star arrived four days late to camp following the birth of his daughter.

Shortstop Xander Bogaerts (left ankle) hasn’t played yet either, but he’s likely still a few days away.

Non-roster invitee Jonathan Lucroy, who is in a battle with Kevin Plawecki for the backup catcher’s spot, could make his debut on Thursday with a couple of at-bats as the DH.

Up next
The Red Sox will go with arguably their top starting pitching prospect for Thursday’s home game against the Phillies as righty Bryan Mata makes his first start of Spring Training and second appearance. Most of the regulars should be in the lineup, including Andrew Benintendi, J.D. Martinez and Jackie Bradley Jr. First pitch is scheduled for 1:05 p.m. ET.

Ian Browne has covered the Red Sox for since 2002. Follow him on Twitter @IanMBrowne and Facebook.