Ciriaco hopes to continue to prove his worth

879711.jpg

Ciriaco hopes to continue to prove his worth

FORT MYERS, Fla. Pedro Ciriaco was one of the very few bright lights on a very dim Red Soxscape last season. A virtual unknown, Ciriaco wasted little time last spring making a name for himself. A two-run, walk-off home run in extra innings early in camp set the tone for his spring.

After being called up on July 7 from Triple-A Pawtucket, Ciriaco went on to hit .293 with 16 stolen bases, seventh in the American League, in 76 games for the Sox while playing six positions 35 games at third base, 16 at second, 12 at shorts, three in center field, two in left, and two in right, while serving as the designated hitter in 10.

Ciriaco, 27, who joined the Sox as a minor league free agent in December 2011, set career highs last season in almost every category. After all, he had appeared in a total of just 31 games with the Pirates in 2010-11.

It was pretty good for me, to be able to play a little bit more, he said. Have more chances to prove myself and prove to everybody else I can play in the high level, it was really important to me.

Still, it was important to him that he proved he could do it.

I always know I have the ability to play, he said. I just wanted to prove I could do it and be a little more consistent. So its much better.

This season, Ciriaco will be in much the same role, playing both infield and outfield. But, he knows he still has to prove himself.

Im just fighting for my spot, he said. I dont want to take anything for granted. Just have to be better every day.

Ciriaco played winter ball this offseason, playing for Toros del Este of the Dominican League. He went appeared in just nine games, batting just .192. He had hoped to play more, but a shoulder injury cut his time short. His shoulder is fully healed now, he said, ready for a full season.

But he wouldnt mind having another spring like last year.

I hope so, he said with a smile. I work hard in the offseason to be better this year.

Boston pitchers strike out 14, but Red Sox still fall to Rays, 7-3

Boston pitchers strike out 14, but Red Sox still fall to Rays, 7-3

The appearance of Tampa Bay Rays lefty Ryan Yarbrough almost got the Boston Red Sox back in their spring training exhibition game. The Sox managed to score all three of their runs against the 25-year-old in their 7-3 loss to the Tampa Bay Rays at Charlotte Sports Park in Port Charlotte, Florida on Sunday.

But the Rays, who scored runs in five different innings, managed to widen their lead in the eighth inning by beating up on Sox lefty Luis Isla, a 24-year-old who spent last season with Portland and Pawtucket. In the eighth, Rays' Joe McCarthy homered and Luke Maile managed an RBI single, which cappped off the scoring in the contest. Sox starter Hector Velazquez allowed three hits and an earned run in his two innnings. The 28-year-old, who spent 2016 in the Mexican League, still managed to amass four strikeouts.

"I was a little nervous at the start, being in the United States for the first time and playing for a big league club for the first time," Velazquez told RedSox.com through an interpreter. "But once I got the first out, all the nerves went away, and I was able to bear down."

Despite allowing two homers, Boston pitchers combined for 14 strikeouts.

With the exception of the Sox' inning against Yarbrough, Boston's veterans and prospects struggled mighltily against the Rays pitching staff. Chris Archer started for Tampa, and set the tone in the first two innings, where he threw two strikeouts, one walk and allowed one hit and no runs. Andrew Benintendi (0-for-3), Sam Travis (0-for-2) and Bryce Brentz (0-for-3) went hitless on the day. Travis, however, reached base on balls.

"I felt good. I accomplished what I wanted to accomplish," Archer said, via the Red Sox' team website. "Just out there having fun, it was really fun to be out there in the spectrum with the umpire, the fans, the batter. It was fun."

Marco Hernandez's triple got the Sox' eighth-inning off to a strong start, and singles from Matt Dominguez, Deven Marrero, Rusney Castillo and Cole Sturgeon followed. The Sox' eighth inning scoring ended after Castillo got thrown out by left fielder McCarthy at third. Six Red Sox finished with one-hit outings, including Brock Holt and Blake Swihart.

The Sox will next host the St. Louis Cardinals in Fort Myers on Monday at 1:05 p.m. ET.