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Regulars to get early action on Thursday

FORT MYERS, Fla. -- In past years, the Red Sox often split up their regulars for the annual college exhibition doubleheader against Northeastern University and Boston College.

But manager John Farrell will play all of his established veterans in the early game against NU, while going with almost exclusively Minor Leaguers vs. BC.

"We just want to keep their schedule as consistent as possible early in camp," Farrell said.

Dustin Pedroia, Jacoby Ellsbury, Will Middlebrooks, Stephen Drew, Shane Victorino, Jonny Gomes and Jarrod Saltalamacchia and David Ross will all play in the first game at 1:35 p.m. ET. Top prospects like Xander Bogaerts, Jackie Bradley and Deven Marrero will be on display in Game 2 at 4 p.m.

Farrell is looking forward to seeing his players in a competitive environment.

"Whether it's a college game, whether it's an intrasquad, I think there's a lot of value," Farrell said. "You take a pitcher from throwing batting practice in front of a screen to the batting cage, and you strip all that away. It's the next progressive step. These are beneficial. No aluminum bats, so that's a good thing."