FORT MYERS, Fla. (AP) — Boston Red Sox manager John Farrell returned to the dugout for the first time since revealing his cancer diagnosis in mid-August, and his team opened exhibition play Monday with a 6-0 win over Boston College and an 8-3 victory over Northeastern.
Farrell missed the final seven weeks of the season while being treated for non-Hodgkin lymphoma.
“To get back in the flow of things, the game is a lot of fun regardless of what time of spring training, what time of year and who you’re playing against,” Farrell said. “The fact that you’re involved in the game is a really good feeling.”
Farrell said it was a rugged road back.
“There was two months missed last year and some treatments along the way,” he said. “There’s some significant things to work through.”
Farrell announced he had cancer and stepped down on Aug. 14. Bench coach Torey Lovullo took over for the rest of the season.
The Red Sox annually start their spring schedule with a doubleheader of seven-inning games against the Boston-area college teams.
Red Sox star Hanley Ramirez got off to a smooth start in a new spot, handling a pair of easy plays in his debut at first base in the opener. He also doubled off the left-field wall and singled.
“I was trying to anticipate everything,” Ramirez said. “That’s the key. That’s what spring training’s about, getting your work in.”
Before he made his debut at first, Ramirez headed out to a back field with coach Brian Butterfield for extra work about 8:30 a.m. for about 25 minutes. When he returned to the clubhouse, he walked in and tossed his red first baseman’s glove about 20 feet to his locker.
He later used it to handle two very easy plays.
“It’s just a matter of watching him in varied game situations and conditions,” Farrell said.
Ramirez struggled last year while shifting from the infield to left field. The Red Sox moved him to first late in the season, but he didn’t play there after being shut down with a shoulder injury.
Mookie Betts hit a three-run homer against BC’s Brian Rapp in the fourth. Red Sox starter Steven Wright struck out four and gave up two singles in two innings.
Wright had last season cut short due to problems following a concussion after he was hit in the head by a ball during batting practice in early August.
Williams Jerez pitched a scoreless inning for the win.
Free-agent outfielder David Murphy agreed to a minor league contract with the Red Sox. The 34-year-old hit .283 with 10 homers and 50 RBIs last year for Cleveland and the Los Angeles Angels.
Red Sox 3B Pablo Sandoval had a slow roller go under his glove as he charged it on the only ball hit to him.
Sandoval’s weight was questioned at the beginning of spring training.
CHECK OUT THAT NAME
BC’s starting first baseman was Joe Cronin, who also wears No. 4, one of eight retired numbers worn by Red Sox players.
Hall of Famer Joe Cronin played 11 seasons with the Red Sox before retiring in 1945. They are not related.
The college player is from Scarborough, Maine, and said he often gets asked about his name.
“Quite a bit. It’s usually Red Sox fans. He’s not the most known of the retired numbers,” he said.
He grew up as a Red Sox fan and was at Game 6 of the 2013 AL Championship Series, when Boston beat Detroit.
Red Sox: Farrell said DH David Ortiz needed “two or three more days” of hitting work before he was ready to play. The manager said he’s likely to play Friday when they host Tampa Bay. . Red Sox C Christian Vazquez, who missed most of last season after elbow ligament replacement surgery, threw on Monday and Farrell said he was about “90 percent.” He’s slated to catch in a simulated game on Saturday.
The Red Sox open their Grapefruit League schedule when Minnesota makes about a 5-minute trip to JetBlue Park on Wednesday afternoon. LHP Henry Owens is scheduled to start for Boston against RHP Phil Hughes.
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