FORT MYERS, Fla. — Justin Turner is doing well, according to manager Alex Cora, beginning his progression back from being hit in the face by a pitch Monday by walking on a treadmill.
“We’re taking it day by day,” Cora said Friday morning. “We have plenty of time. The hope is for him to be with us right away. He’s in good spirits.”
The Red Sox are confident Turner can be ready by Opening Day. He will be able to get some at-bats in minor-league games and live batting practices, and simulate game speed against pitching machines. Turner won’t return to action until he gets his 16 stitches removed, which Cora believes will happen next week.
Getting at-bats is the easy part. The Red Sox want to be certain they aren’t skipping steps, especially with cardio, which is why the club is trying to keep Turner active with low intensity cardio.
“We’ve [been texting] and he’s feeling better,” Cora said.
Trevor Story sparking optimism
Most of Trevor Story’s rehab for his surgically repaired elbow takes place inside the Red Sox gym. “Grinding,” as Cora labeled it.
But Story is slowly making progress elsewhere, taking grounders for the first time this week. It’s an encouraging sign that Story will return sometime this season.
“That gives you hope,” Cora said. “If he’s not thinking about this year, then why take ground balls so soon? He wants to be a baseball player too, just like everybody else. He’s engaged and he’s excited to take that step.”
The typical timeline for Story’s procedure — in simple terms, a modified Tommy John allowing the shortstop to return to action quicker — could have him back on the field around the All-Star break. Story has maintained confidence that he won’t be out for the year.
“It means a lot,” Cora said. “I don’t want to get way ahead of myself, but that’s a good first step.”
Christian Koss keeping in Sox’ head
Prospect Christian Koss is turning some heads at camp, particularly on defense. The shortstop was late arriving at big league camp because of the recent birth of his child, but has shown off his range in the hole and his big arm since arriving. That’s no surprise to the Sox.
“He loves to play the game,” Cora said. “He’s made some great plays at shortstop, very athletic, versatile. He’s a good one.”
Cora added that the Red Sox ranked Koss, who spent last season in Double A and was acquired from Colorado in a December 2020 trade, as one of the best defenders in the minors. How?
“A lot of my stuff goes into the mental side of it,” Koss said. “So a lot of anticipation, a lot of game prep, stuff like that. As far as the defensive aspect, I think a lot of it has to do with positioning, where coaches put me. But it’s a lot of anticipation and just getting good jumps on balls.”
Cora raved about the infielder’s high baseball IQ. An IQ, according to Koss, that developed due to his lack of size. He was 5-foot-2 entering his freshman year of high school. He graduated at roughly 5-foot-9 and reached 6 feet during his freshman year at UC Irvine.
“Being that small kind of player, that’s where I had to stand out,” Koss said. “I had to know more about the game, about the situation.”
Koss’s approach in the field is elite, but he needs some work offensively. He hit .260 at Portland last season with 17 homers, but wasn’t able to lay off pitches outside the zone, walking in just 4.7 percent of plate appearances and striking out in 25.8.
“I think last year I just caught myself edging on the shadow with the pitcher more, and it gave them more power to get me to chase off the plate,” Koss said. “A lot of the spring is just trying to dial it back in over the plate and get good swings off.”
Outfielder Masataka Yoshida was 3 for 3 with five RBI in Japan’s 13-4 World Baseball Classic win over Korea. Yu Chang had a highlight day, too, in Chinese Taipei’s come-from-behind win against Italy, going 2 for 4 with three runs scored. Chang’s game-tying two-run homer to right center field in the sixth inning brought the raucous home crowd of 18,799 to its feet. Lexington native and Brewers prospect Sal Frelick was 1 for 4 with a two-run double for Italy . . . Brayan Bello and Garrett Whitlock are scheduled to throw their first live batting practices of the spring Saturday . . . The Red Sox agreed to terms with 19 of their previously unsigned pre-arbitration players, all for between $720,000-$750,000. The group included John Schreiber, Bobby Dalbec, Tanner Houck, Kutter Crawford, Bello, Wyatt Mills, Jarren Duran, Zack Kelly, Triston Casas, Connor Wong, Josh Winckowski, Kaleb Ort, Wilyer Abreu, David Hamilton, Bryan Mata, Chris Murphy, Ceddanne Rafaela, Enmanuel Valdez, and Brandon Walter .