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More small but positive steps as Justin Turner works back from getting hit in the face

Justin Turner avoided both a concussion and broken bones when he was struck Monday.Gerald Herbert/Associated Press

TAMPA — Justin Turner rejoined the Red Sox after being struck in the face by a pitch Monday, but it will still be some time before he gets back on the field.

Turner was back in the clubhouse Wednesday and again Thursday, manager Alex Cora said.

“Maybe start doing some walking on the treadmill, little by little,” Cora said. “Everything is trending in the right way … It was good to have him around.”

Turner needed 16 stitches after a pitch from Detroit’s Matt Manning struck him in the face. Remarkably, he came away without a concussion or any broken bones.


“He’s lucky,” Cora said.

Turner has played in six games and had 15 plate appearances in spring training. It’s still too early to know if he can recover in time to be on the roster for Opening Day (March 30). Turner won’t be able to return to the field until his stitches are taken out.

“Hopefully it’s the beginning of something good for him,” Cora said. “We’ll take it day-by-day with him.”

No first for Devers

With Vladimir Guerrero Jr. dropping off the roster because of a knee injury and Juan Soto dealing with a sore left calf, the Dominican Republic hatched a plan to use Rafael Devers at first base during the World Baseball Classic. That would allow Soto to be the designated hitter while keeping Devers in the lineup.

The Red Sox were consulted and rejected the idea. Devers has never played first base professionally, and the team saw that as too much of a risk.

“It’s something that doesn’t make sense to us,” Cora said. “I know [some Dominican players] got hurt, but there’s a reason the people who got hurt aren’t playing, right? We have to protect our guy and they understand that.”

The Red Sox nixed a plan that would have seen Rafael Devers play some first base for the Dominican Republic at the WBC.Julio Aguilar/Getty

With Manny Machado the presumptive third baseman, Devers may be out of the lineup if Soto is the DH.


“When you have good players, you have to make tough decisions. Raffy’s on board,” Cora said. “He’s just happy to be part of the team and ready to contribute whenever they put his name in the lineup. But it’s not going to be at first base.”

ESPN first reported the decision by the Red Sox.

Devers was 0 for 1 off the bench for the DR in a 2-1 exhibition loss against the Twins in Fort Myers.

New twist on his curve

Nick Pivetta has had two rough outings in spring training, allowing five runs on eight hits and four walks over 3⅔ innings. But results aren’t important yet.

The righthander has fully recovered from a case of a COVID that set him back by about a week. He’s also working on a new curveball. Pivetta has replaced his traditional curve with a harder breaking ball.

“Something more in the zone longer at a better speed,” he said. “My other one was more out of zone, in the zone, out of the zone. This one is in the entire time.”

The adjustment was something Pivetta made while working at a Driveline facility in Arizona during the offseason.

In a game Thursday the Sox went on to win, 11-7, Pivetta allowed two runs on three hits and three walks over two innings. He needed 48 pitches to get through the first 1⅔ innings and was taken out of the game. He re-entered in the third to face two more hitters and throw nine more pitches.


In terms of being ready for the season, Pivetta is on track physically.

National duty

Masataka Yoshida was 0 for 3 with a walk and a run as Japan beat China, 8-1, in Tokyo in the opening round of the World Baseball Classic. Yoshida batted cleanup and played left field.

Former Lexington High and Boston College star Sal Frelick was 1 for 5 and scored two runs as Italy upset Cuba, 6-3, in 10 innings, in a Pool A game in Taiwan. Frelick scored the go-ahead run in the 10th after stealing third base.

In an exhibition game in North Port, Fla., Kiké Hernández was 0 for 2 with a walk as the Braves beat Puerto Rico, 9-0. Counting all games, Hernández is 1 for 17 this spring.

Jarren Duran, meanwhile, had a double and a walk in six plate appearances as Mexico’s right fielder in an 11-1 rout of the Rockies in Arizona. Alex Verdugo did not play.

Jarren Duran helped power Team Mexico in a rout of the Rockies Thursday.Chris Coduto/Getty

Jansen ready to go

Kenley Jansen, who missed his last appearance because of illness, threw 17 pitches against hitters in Fort Myers. He is scheduled to pitch Saturday against Minnesota . . . The Sox are undefeated through 12 games of spring training, their longest such streak since at least 1945, when they started 11-0 — eight of those games were against minor league teams. Alas, the Sox finished 71-83 that season.

Peter Abraham can be reached at Follow him @PeteAbe.