Ryan Lavarnway still at it on a minor-league deal with Yankees
TAMPA — Ryan Lavarnway, once the Red Sox catcher of the future, found it a little unusual the first time he tried on a Yankees uniform.
“For a long time I thought these were the bad guys. It took some getting used to,” Lavarnway said Friday before catching three innings for the Yankees against the Sox. “It’s another historic franchise with unbelievable history, but those colors felt weird the first time.”
Lavarnway was drafted by the Red Sox out of Yale in 2008 and made his major league debut in 2011.
He hit two home runs against the Baltimore Orioles on Sept. 27 of that season, helping the collapsing Sox to a much-needed victory. But the Sox were eliminated the next day.
Manager Terry Francona was fired; general manager Theo Epstein resigned and Lavarnway hit only three more homers for the Red Sox before the Dodgers claimed him off waivers following the 2014 season.
Lavarnway has since been, at least on paper in some cases, with the Cubs, Orioles, Braves, Blue Jays, Athletics, Pirates, and now the Yankees on a minor league contract.
In all, he has played 146 games in the majors over seven seasons.
“There were a lot of ups and downs in my Red Sox career,” said Lavarnway, who appeared in 25 games for the 2013 team and came away with a World Series ring. “I think about it from time to time. I wish the downs could have gone differently. But I have good memories.”
At 31, Lavarnway still enjoys playing and hopes the Yankees will provide an avenue back to the majors. He’s roughly fourth on the depth chart behind Gary Sanchez, Austin Romine, and Kyle Higashioka.
“What else would I want to do? I love it; I love playing,” Lavarnway said. “I love the competition and that every day and every pitch is a new and different challenge. I feel like I have lot of good baseball in me.
“I know Red Sox fans won’t like to hear this, but I’d like to win another ring. That’s why I keep going.”
Porcello skips Yankees
Rick Porcello skipped the Yankees and pitched in the Triple A game against Tampa Bay in Fort Myers.
The righthander went with what amounted to four innings and threw 75 pitches, 49 of them strikes. He allowed three runs on six hits, all singles, while facing 17 batters. Two of the plate appearances ended mid-count when Porcello hit his pitch limit for the inning. He struck out four and walked two.
Porcello, who said that he would make one more Grapefruit League start on Wednesday before pitching in an exhibition game against the Cubs in Arizona next week, is pleased with the state of his preparations.
“The buildup feels great,” said Porcello, who incorporated his full mix of pitches and topped out in the low 90s. “Honestly, I was really happy with the way I felt going 75 pitches today and that I felt as strong as I did at the end of it just physically speaking.”
Christian Vazquez caught Porcello and was 0 for 3. Tzu-Wei Lin was 1 for 2 with a double and a walk.
Spot starters spotty
Hector Velazquez started against the Yankees and threw 38 pitches over 1⅔ innings. He allowed four runs, one earned, on three hits and a walk.
“A little bit off the plate. I didn’t think the split was good today,” manager Alex Cora said. “There’s a few things he’s working on as far as his stride.”
The Red Sox plan to use a No. 6 starter in Oakland on April 2 and Cora has said Velazquez and Brian Johnson are the only candidates for the job.
They have combined to allow 17 earned runs on 28 hits over 13⅓ innings in spring training. Johnson is scheduled to pitch again on Sunday.
Wilson in pinstripes
Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson arrived at Yankees camp on Friday for a two-day stint.
An accomplished college player, Wilson was a fourth-round draft pick of the Rockies in 2010 and played parts of two seasons in the minors. He gave up baseball for football in 2012.
The Rangers acquired Wilson in the Rule 5 draft in 2013. The Yankees obtained his rights last year and Wilson had one at-bat in a spring training game.
On the football front, Wilson said he was “shocked” the New York Giants traded Odell Beckham Jr. to the Cleveland Browns.
He also has counseled University of Oklahoma quarterback Kyler Murray, a first-round draft pick of the Oakland Athletics who decided to focus on football and is projected to be one of the first picks of this year’s NFL Draft.
“His time is now. He’ll do a great job; he’s a great quarterback,” Wilson said. “He has a great mind-set. He’s a great baseball player, too. . . . In terms of him playing in the NFL and playing for a long time, I think he’ll be able to do that.”
Brasier ready to go
Righthanded reliever Ryan Brasier is scheduled to appear in his first game on Saturday. He was held back because of an infected toe. Cora said Brasier would pitch every other day and should be ready for the regular season . . . Steve Pearce, who homered twice Thursday, doubled on Friday and was robbed of what would have been at least a double when Brett Gardner made a leaping catch against the wall in center . . . The Sox will use the bulk of their regular lineup on a daily basis starting on Monday . . . Dustin Pedroia is likely to play Saturday . . . Jerry Remy worked his first game of the spring for NESN. Remy, who is making his way back from a reoccurrence of lung cancer, will do several more games in spring training then take some time off before the home opener on April 9.
. . . Cora staked his claim as father of the year by arranging tickets for the Ariana Grande concert in Boston next week as a birthday present for his daughter Camila, who turned 16 on Thursday . . . Quixotic presidential candidate Howard Schultz was on the field for batting practice and chatted with several Yankees.