FORT MYERS, Fla. -- When Red Sox manager Alex Cora reunites with the defending World Series champion Astros for Thursday's 1:05 p.m. ET contest on MLB.TV in West Palm Beach, Fla., he will do so with a far more impressive travel roster than you typically see in Spring Training.The last
FORT MYERS, Fla. -- When Red Sox manager Alex Cora reunites with the defending World Series champion Astros for Thursday's 1:05 p.m. ET contest on MLB.TV in West Palm Beach, Fla., he will do so with a far more impressive travel roster than you typically see in Spring Training.
The last time these teams met, the Astros, with Cora as the bench coach, eliminated the Red Sox in Game 4 of the American League Division Series.
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The pitching matchup -- Sox right-hander Rick Porcello vs. Charlie Morton -- will be the same as it was in that Game 4, which Boston lost in heartbreaking fashion. The talented starting outfield of Andrew Benintendi, Jackie Bradley Jr. and Mookie Betts will be on the trip. They'll be joined by first baseman Hanley Ramirez, third baseman Rafael Devers and catcher Christian Vazquez.
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Cora won't be trying to help his team reverse history on March 1. But he would like them to remember it.
"I think most of those guys, being in front of those guys, it will be good for them. Just a reminder, 'Remember what they did to you guys.' For me it's a good time to turn the page, obviously," Cora said. "I know Spring Training is not about sending messages, but for them to go over there, and it's Charlie, too, on the mound. It's always cool. It's just a reminder. We still have a ways to go, but for some reason on March 1 is when everything starts flowing and it just happens to be the Houston Astros, so that's a good message for that group in there.
Emotional day for Red Sox prospect
On Wednesday morning, second baseman Brett Netzer, ranked as the club's No. 19 prospect by MLB Pipeline, found out he'd be playing his first game in big league camp as a Minor League extra. By the afternoon, he delivered a two-run double to left-center that put the Red Sox ahead in their eventual 4-3 win over the Pirates.
But that is just part of the story. Netzer's father Drew, who has battled colon cancer for the past four years, was in the stands to see his son's big hit.
"He can't fly, but he lives in Maryland, so my uncle and my two aunts made a bed in the back of the van and made the 20-hour drive down from Maryland," Brett Netzer said. "He really came down to get some warm weather."
Brett got emotional after the game while talking about his dad.
"It was a special day for them," Cora said. "We were thinking about it, 'Can you imagine if he gets a hit here to win it.' The kid was a little emotional after the game. I think that's pretty cool that happened. Good for the kid. That's awesome. Good for the organization."
The Red Sox selected Netzer in the third round of the 2017 MLB Draft.
Kimbrel back in Boston
As planned, Red Sox closer Craig Kimbrel went back to Boston for his daughter's latest heart surgery. Lydia Joy was born on Nov. 3, 2017, with heart defects and had her first surgery at four days old.
Recently, Kimbrel estimated he would be gone from camp for about a week.
"He has to take care of that first," Cora said. "We're behind him. I think everybody is. Everybody in this room is behind his family. We know everything is going to be well [for his daughter], everything is going to work. Whenever he comes back, he comes back. He has his workouts and he'll be able to throw over there."
Cora passes eye test
Cora had to miss the first few innings of Wednesday's game because he needed to see a doctor to undergo tests for conjunctivitis. Fortunately, his eye was just scratched and he got back to the game by the middle innings.
Thanks to technology, Cora was able to stay caught up on the game.
"I was following on the MLB app," he said.
Sox request re-naming rights for Yawkey Way
After months of discussion, the Red Sox have decided to request that Yawkey Way be returned to its original name of Jersey Street.
"Restoring the Jersey Street name is intended to reinforce that Fenway Park is inclusive and welcoming to all," the team said in a statement.
Last summer, Red Sox owner John Henry expressed the desire to change the name of Yawkey Way because he was 'haunted' by racism that took place during Tom Yawkey's long tenure as the owner of the Red Sox. The club became the last team to integrate in 1959.
Ian Browne has covered the Red Sox for MLB.com since 2002. Follow him on Twitter @IanMBrowne and Facebook.