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J.D. to make Grapefruit debut today

Red Sox encouraged by Pomeranz's progress after injury
MLB.com @IanMBrowne

PORT CHARLOTTE, Fla. -- There will be a buzz in the air at JetBlue Park this afternoon, as J.D. Martinez will start in left field for the Red Sox in his Grapefruit League debut against the Twins.

The slugger will play his first game nine days after formalizing a five-year, $110 million contract with Boston.

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PORT CHARLOTTE, Fla. -- There will be a buzz in the air at JetBlue Park this afternoon, as J.D. Martinez will start in left field for the Red Sox in his Grapefruit League debut against the Twins.

The slugger will play his first game nine days after formalizing a five-year, $110 million contract with Boston.

View Full Game Coverage

Red Sox Spring Training: Info | Tickets | Schedule

Martinez ramped up for Wednesday by playing in Minor League camp games on Sunday and again on Tuesday, when he went 2-for-6 -- including a homer -- against teammate Rick Porcello.

Video: Red Sox slugger J.D. Martinez faces live pitching

Manager Alex Cora is looking forward to getting a close look at his new right-handed masher.

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"I just want to hang out with him," said Cora. "Since he's signed, I've probably seen him one day. We've been on the road the whole time. I haven't been around him. It will be great to see him there -- the fans are excited, everybody's excited. He kept pushing and he's in a good spot. He did a great job of getting his legs under him and getting ready, and now we go."

Eduardo Nunez, who re-signed with the Red Sox after camp started, could also make his debut in Wednesday's game, but Cora left open the chance that could wait until Thursday.

The Red Sox are being conservative with Nunez due to the right knee injury that bothered him late last season and into the offseason.

Video: BOS@STL: Pomeranz leaves game with forearm tightness

Pomeranz feels no pain

All signs continue to be encouraging that lefty Drew Pomeranz will be back on the mound pretty soon after leaving his first Grapefruit League start with a mild flexor tendon strain in his left elbow.

"He was re-evaluated today, no pain, so they're going over the schedule and the program and we'll have a better idea after the workout today," said Cora. "That was good, that was positive for him."

The Red Sox are reasonably optimistic Pomeranz will start the season on time.

"Looks that way, but I don't want to put a timetable [on it]. And like I said about other guys, we're not going to push somebody just to push them," Cora said. "We know it's 162 games and you heard yesterday from David Price about the program [for the pitchers] and what we're trying to accomplish. We're just going to make sure it's the right program for him and then see where he's at."

Swihart returns to left

For the first time since he severely dislocated his left ankle on a run-in with the side wall at Fenway Park on June 4, 2017, Blake Swihart played left field in Tuesday's 9-1 win over the Rays.

Naturally, the first batted ball of the game by the Rays found him, and Swihart fought off the sun and the wind and flagged down a fly ball by Kevin Kiermaier. It was his only chance of the day.

"Good," said Swihart. "Just like old times."

The Red Sox envision Swihart playing the outfield in addition to catcher and corner infield this season. He has the opportunity to be one of the most valuable utility players in the league, given his ability as a hitter.

Swihart wasn't wary about going back to the outfield for the first time since his traumatic injury.

"No, not at all. Next time I'll just jump into it [the wall] instead of run into it," said Swihart.

Swihart continued his hot spring at the plate, smashing a double and scoring a run. He is hitting .417 with six doubles.

Pitching plans

Red Sox ace Chris Sale will make his first Grapefruit League start on Friday in Jupiter against the Marlins. Price will make his debut Saturday on the road against the Twins. The two star lefties both pitched in controlled Minor League games to get their pitch counts up.

By design, the Red Sox have brought all of their starting pitchers along at a slower pace in Spring Training to make sure they have enough in the tank for the entire season.

"I want them to post when it's their turn. We'll talk about how we're going to do that throughout the season," said Cora. "We have an idea, but the goal is for them not to miss a start, that would be great. For me as a manager, I know for them and their personal agenda, that's their goal."

Holt scratched with abdominal tightness

Brock Holt was supposed to start Tuesday's game at second base, but was scratched with abdominal tightness. The injury is not believed to be serious.

"Yeah, just throwing," said Holt. "Made a throw, felt a little tightness in my lower ab so I said something, 'Keep an eye on me.' I took ground balls, hit BP after, didn't feel anything during BP, just a little tight throwing. So, being cautious, just didn't want to go out there and do something during the game and actually pull it."

Up next

The Red Sox have split-squad games Wednesday. Most of the regulars, including Martinez, will start the 1:05 p.m. ET home game against the Twins on Gameday Audio. Cora will manage at home. Andrew Benintendi and Rafael Devers will play the road game in Clearwater, Fla., against the Phillies at 1:05 ET on MLB.TV. Right-hander Chandler Shepherd will start at home, with righty Justin Haley taking the mound against the Phillies.

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

Boston Red Sox, J.D. Martinez