- Gordon Edes, ESPN Staff Writer
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SARASOTA, Fla. -- Takeaways from the spring home of the undefeated Baltimore Orioles, winners of their first five games after a 5-3 victory over the Red Sox (2-4) in Ed Smith Stadium on Wednesday night:
* For a short time, the Sox were worried they’d lost more than a February practice game when third baseman Will Middlebrooks took an awkward half-swing at a pitch from Orioles right-hander Chris Tillman in the first inning and immediately came out of the game, telling manager John Farrell he felt a “zinging sensation” in his right wrist, the same one in which he sustained two fractured bones after being hit by a pitch last Aug. 10.
But Middlebrooks insisted afterward his wrist felt fine, that he was just “scared” and came out as a precaution. It remains to be seen, of course, whether any soreness or swelling develops overnight; the Sox medical staff intends to re-evaluate in the morning, but Middlebrooks said the strength in his wrist was good, and he didn’t rule out taking batting practice Thursday (that's unlikely).
* Jonny Gomes led off the fourth inning with a home run off Orioles lefty Zach Britton that undoubtedly will spark a debate with Dustin Pedroia over whose ball traveled farther, the one Pedroia crushed Monday in Port Charlotte or Gomes' first homer of the spring. The ability to hit baseballs thrown by left-handers a long way is why the Sox imported Gomes.
* Minor-league catcher Christian Vazquez gave another exhibition of his throwing prowess, nailing two runners in the eighth inning, one at second on the back end of a double steal, the other at third on a pickoff play Vazquez orchestrated with Ryan Dent. Regular catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia threw one into center field, his second throwing error of the spring.
“What a release, what an arm,’’ Farrell said of Vazquez, who reminded one scout of Carlos Ruiz of the Phillies. “He’s got a good arm, and he’s not afraid to show it off.’’
* Six Sox relievers, led by swingman Franklin Morales, all got in an inning’s work, and Farrell pronounced satisfaction with all of them, including Junichi Tazawa, who was charged with two runs on four hits -- all, as Farrell noted, to the opposite field. Morales went three up, three down, throwing a dozen pitches, eight for strikes.
* Shortstop Stephen (The Younger) Drew has gone an entire seven at-bats this spring without a hit, prompting this question: Is 0-for-7 enough to start a panic? Not in Arizona, maybe, but in Boston. Drew did make a nice play on a broken-bat liner off the bat of Wilson Betemit.
* Shane Victorino stole his first base of the spring and also motored down the line at a rapid-enough clip to stay out of a DP in the first.
* Pedro Ciriaco, who is to spring training what Reggie Jackson is to October, had two hits, including a triple, after replacing Middlebrooks at third.
* And who ever expected to see Numain Romero again, after his short-lived stint in Boston, one in which he wound up hitting cleanup one night behind David Ortiz, which resulted in multiple free passes for Papi, multiple whiffs for Numain. He’s in camp with the O’s.
* The Sox stirred in the ninth, when Jeremy Hazelbaker singled to open the inning, but the O’s bullpen was nails last season (29-9 in one-run games, 16-2 in bonus panels) and Pedro Strop was nails Wednesday night, striking out the last three hitters in succession.
* John Lackey will be on the bus to Bradenton on Thursday, when the Red Sox play the Pirates. Most of the regulars will not, having played here Wednesday night.