Dana LeVangie’s tip gets Matt Barnes straightened out
FORT MYERS, Fla. — Matt Barnes allowed two runs on two well-struck hits against the Twins Monday. But he walked away with a smile.
Barnes revealed that he had been tipping his pitches to the Twins, but after pitching coach Dana LeVangie came out to the mound, he fixed it and struck out Marwin Gonzalez.
“It’s something you don’t even realize what you’re doing,” Barnes said.
LeVangie, ever taciturn, spoke only generally about the situation.
“I thought too many good swings were taking place for a guy that was actually throwing really well,” he said. “I don’t think we’d seen that from Matt Barnes, when he’s throwing good pitches and they’re having good swings. We had to have a little conversation.”
That took place over a relatively long visit to the mound.
“I had to get my point across,” LeVangie said.
Barnes has appeared in three games this spring and allowed three runs on six hits and two walks over three innings.
“We’re still building to be ready,” he said. “My arm feels great.”
The Sox waited until March 9 to get Barnes in a game, wanting to give him extra rest after he appeared in 10 of last year’s 14 postseason games. Manager Alex Cora is comfortable with how he looks.
“The stuff is good; the breaking ball was good,” Cora said. “The velocity is actually higher than last year [at the same time]. He’s in a good place.”
Roster is trimmed
Eleven players were reassigned to minor league camp: catcher Oscar Hernandez; righthanders Zach Putnam, Erasmo Ramirez, Josh Smith, Domingo Tapia, and Ryan Weber; infielders C.J. Chatham, Bobby Dalbec, and Chad De La Guerra; and outfielders Bryce Brentz, Tate Matheny, and Cole Sturgeon.
The Sox now have 35 players in camp, with Opening Day coming up March 28 in Seattle.
Cora said Dalbec, a 23-year-old third baseman with power, impressed him.
The manager also liked how Matheny and Sturgeon handled themselves in their first big league camp.
“That was pretty cool to see,” he said. “When you get invited to major league camp, it’s a privilege.”
Among the players still competing for a roster spot is 22-year-old lefthander Darwinzon Hernandez, who finished last season in Double A.
Hernandez has appeared in five Grapefruit League games and allowed one earned run on seven hits over 10 innings with five walks and 12 strikeouts.
Keep your distance
David Price, who missed his start Sunday because of illness, is feeling better but will be kept away from the team for another day in case he’s contagious.
Steve Pearce, who came out of Sunday’s game with a sore left calf, has been cleared to play but was held out of games Monday.
“Nothing serious,” Cora said. “He was smart enough to tell us.”
You never know
When the Red Sox ran through situational infield drills before the game, Mookie Betts took reps at second and third base. Cora said it was preparation for using a five-man infield if the need arises.
“It has to be an extreme ground-ball [hitter] and there’s not too many around nowadays,” Cora said.
Cora did not use a four-man outfield last season, although he considered it against Houston’s Alex Bregman.
“Our three guys, they can go get it,” he said.
Sixth man in
The Sox are planning to use a No. 6 starter on April 7, the final game of the season-opening road trip. That sets up Chris Sale to start the home opener April 9 against the Blue Jays on an extra day of rest . . . Rafael Devers wore a jersey with No. 84 for his first at-bat, having forgotten to pack No. 11. His actual jersey arrived later in the game . . . Tzu-Wei Lin was 1 for 4 with a double and Marco Hernandez 0 for 3 in a minor league scrimmage. Lin has hit well all camp (.375/.423/.667 in nine major league games) but is stuck behind Brock Holt and Eduardo Nunez on the depth chart. Hernandez has not played since early in the 2017 season because of a shoulder injury that required three rounds of surgery. He is not yet cleared to play the field but is improving. “Just seeing him compete out there, I know he’s happy,” Cora said.
Steven Wright will remain on the roster until his 80-game suspension for using performance-enhancing drugs starts March 28. But Wright no longer has a locker in the major league clubhouse at Fenway South. He was sent to the far more utilitarian minor league clubhouse a few days after his suspension was announced. Sale was among the players who said Wright’s suspension reflected poorly on the entire team.