FORT MYERS, Fla. — There are eight white tents of various sizes set up on the grass adjacent to the home clubhouse at JetBlue Park. From a distance, it looks like there’s a carnival in town.
But a carnival would be noisy, and Red Sox spring training 2021 is a quiet affair.
Other than the satisfying sounds of a fastball popping a catcher’s mitt and a hitter making solid contact, the background noise Monday came from birds.
Fans aren’t allowed to watch workouts this season. So instead of the usual crowd of 1,500 who turn out for the first full-squad practice, the only spectators Monday were about a dozen members of the media, half coming from Boston and the others local.
A few other observations from Day 1:
▪ A dozen pitchers threw in the bullpen before Martín Pérez and Garrett Whitlock threw live batting practice to Jonathan Araúz and Bobby Dalbec.
Pitchers are always ahead of hitters at this stage, but Araúz and Dalbec had some good swings. Whitlock then punched out Dalbec with a slider.
Whitlock is a 6-foot-5-inch righthander who was a Rule 5 pick from the Yankees organization.
“A lot of upside. He looked great,” manager Alex Cora said. “He’s a good kid, man, he’s very polite.”
▪ You need a roster to follow this team after all the turnover the last two years. Much of the day was spent trying to figure out who players were. The numbers ranged from 0 (Adam Ottavino) to 99 (Alex Verdugo).
▪ Jay Groome appears to be in good shape and worked smoothly in the bullpen. The lefty, a first-round pick in 2016, has thrown only 66 innings since because of injuries.
▪ Chris Sale may be the only professional athlete who could lose weight while being out for a year. He’s skinnier than he was a year ago.