FORT MYERS, Fla. -- Well, it's that time of year again. The curtain rises Friday on another Grapefruit League season."It's great, make out a lineup and go over the opposing] pitchers and all that; see the guys go out there and run around," said Red Sox manager Alex Cora, who
FORT MYERS, Fla. -- Well, it's that time of year again. The curtain rises Friday on another Grapefruit League season.
"It's great, make out a lineup and go over the [opposing] pitchers and all that; see the guys go out there and run around," said Red Sox manager Alex Cora, who makes his debut when Boston plays host to the Minnesota Twins at 1:05 p.m. ET at Jet Blue Park. "We're not going to do too much offensively. There's not going to be a lot of strategy, but just to see them out there and start performing is just great."
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It will be a battle of right-handers when Boston's Hector Velazquez goes against Minnesota's Aaron Slegers. Red Sox righties Austin Maddox and Fernando Rodriguez are also slated to pitch.
Cora reflected on the task of filling out a lineup card and compared his new team to that of the World Series champion Houston Astros, where he was bench coach last season.
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"We're athletic just like them," Cora said. "Obviously, we've talked about making adjustments. We feel like we can put certain guys in different spots in the lineup and also with a different mind-set in the batter's box for them to be productive."
Cora was named the 47th manager in Red Sox history on Oct. 22, 2017. He will be 42 years and 162 days old on Opening Day, making him the third-youngest active manager in the Majors. He is also the youngest Red Sox manager to start a season since Kevin Kennedy, who was 40 at the start the 1995 season.
The Red Sox swept a doubleheader against a pair of college teams on Thursday afternoon at Jet Blue Park in preparation of Friday's spring opener. Boston scored seven runs in the first inning Thursday during its 15-2 win over Northeastern University. The Red Sox then beat Boston College, 4-2, extending the winning streak to 43 games over the two schools dating back to 1916.
Kelly on the mend
Reliever Joe Kelly was excused from any baseball activity on Thursday. Kelly was struck in the right shin while throwing batting practice on Wednesday. Kelly limped off the field and precautionary X-rays came back negative.
"He's fine," Cora said prior to the Red Sox's doubleheader Thursday. "Today we're going to keep him off his feet. But he should be right on schedule."
Kelly is coming off an impressive season with the Red Sox, posting a 2.79 ERA, his best since 2013, when he compiled a 2.69 ERA with St. Louis. He pitched in a career-high 54 games last season for the Red Sox.
Washington hits grand slam
Minor League outfielder Kyri Washington was one of several extra players added to the Red Sox squad for the Thursday doubleheader. He made the most of his opportunity with a pinch-hit grand slam in the third inning of Boston's win over Northeastern.
Washington belted 16 home runs in Class-A in 2016 and is hoping to round back into form after spending much of last season on the DL.
Nick Lovullo and Tate Matheny were also added as extra players. They are sons of Major League managers Torey Lovullo (Arizona D-backs) and Mike Matheny (St. Louis Cardinals) respectively.
The Red Sox officially open Grapefruit League play at 1:05 p.m. ET on Friday, when they play host to the Minnesota Twins at Jet Blue Park.