BOSTON -- Full-time Major Leaguers usually get around 50 at-bats during Spring Training, and without the benefit of those, some players start the regular season slow.
Stephen Drew signed with the Red Sox in late May and fell victim to that fate. But teammate Jonny Gomes says that any player who didn't get those at-bats in Spring Training deserve some kind of grace period during the season.
That grace period is ending for Drew, who entered Saturday hitting just .136/.174/.182 in 69 plate appearances. But the shortstop drilled the first pitch he saw deep in a 3-2 win against the Orioles in Game 1 of a doubleheader, clearing the right-field bullpens to get the Red Sox on the board. It was his first home run of the year and third RBI in 20 games.
"This is the big leagues. The best in the business," Drew said. "I knew it was going to be a little different. Not being in this position before -- not making excuses -- it just takes a little time. It's going to come around."
The Red Sox hope this is the beginning of that turnaround. One thing the team hasn't had to worry about is Drew's glove, though. He ranked 12th among shortstops in defensive wins above replacement in 2013, according to Fangraphs.
The 31-year-old showed that once again Saturday, starting a 6-4-3 double play that ended Baltimore's eighth inning. North of 100 pitches, Jon Lester gave up a single to start that frame with the game tied at 2.
Nelson Cruz grounded a ball up the middle that Drew slid feet-first to his left to glove. He spun and flipped to Dustin Pedroia, who finished the double play, all in one smooth, fluid motion.
"He's maybe not driving in as many as he wants," Gomes said, "but he's keeping runs from touching the dish, and that's a 100 percent fact."
Papi misses Game 1 for family commitment
BOSTON -- Red Sox slugger David Ortiz was a healthy and planned scratch for Game 1 of Saturday's day-night doubleheader against the Orioles.
Manager John Farrell gave Ortiz an excused absence so he could attend his daughter Jessica's high school graduation in the Dominican Republic.
Ortiz had originally been scheduled to miss Friday's matinee against the Orioles. But when it was postponed to Saturday afternoon, he missed that game instead.
"Yes, he's returning from a family commitment that's been scheduled for quite some time in the Dominican," said Farrell. "He was going to miss [Friday's] game. It just happens it turns into the first game today. We fully expect him to be in the lineup here tonight."
Ortiz returned for Game 2, batting cleanup as the designated hitter.
With Ortiz out of the mix in Game 1, A.J. Pierzynski served as the DH, with David Ross catching Jon Lester as he almost always does.
Mookie Betts, after playing four straight games since his callup, was out of the lineup for Game 1. Farrell went with an outfield of Daniel Nava, Jackie Bradley Jr. and Brock Holt.
Red Sox bring in Layne as 26th man for nightcap
BOSTON -- Afforded an extra roster spot for Game 2 of Saturday's day-night doubleheader, the Red Sox added lefty reliever Tommy Layne from Triple-A Pawtucket.
A non-roster invitee to Spring Training, Layne pitched in 40 Major League games for the San Diego Padres, going 2-2 with a 2.84 ERA.
Layne, a 29-year-old veteran of the Minors, has been dominant for Pawtucket, going 5-1 with a 1.50 ERA, while striking out 46 over 41 2/3 innings.
"He's continued what he did in Spring Training, -- and that is that he's very successful against left-handers," said Red Sox manager John Farrell. "He's had decent ability to get good right-handed hitters out, so he's not solely a situational type of lefty reliever. The performance has been very consistent."
Carp could be close to returning to Red Sox
BOSTON -- Of the three Red Sox position players on the mend from injuries, Mike Carp will likely be the first one back.
Carp, who suffered a fourth metatarsal fracture of his right foot in late May, could be back by early next week.
"We want to get him regular at-bats through the weekend [at Triple-A Pawtucket]," said manager John Farrell. "He's playing left field [on Saturday] and hopefully [will play] a full nine innings in left field. As we talked on Thursday, we felt like everyday at-bats through the weekend was a good point in time to re-assess and see where we go from there."
Third baseman Will Middlebrooks, who had some recent swelling in his recovering right index finger, was able to play defense again for the PawSox on Friday.
"Will is DH-ing today, and played third base yesterday. He's continuing to make [progress], as well," Farrell said.
Right fielder Shane Victorino could re-start his Minor League rehab assignment by mid-week.
"He's improving. The running, the agility work, the number of swings in BP all continue to increase," said Farrell.
Red Sox recognize veterans, Gehrig's speech
BOSTON -- It may not have been Independence Day, but the Red Sox still did their part to honor local and active military members for their service.
Prior to the first game of Saturday's doubleheader, scheduled because of a rainout on Friday, the club draped its giant American flag over the Green Monster during the national anthem and honored Colonel Lester Weilacher. The Commander of the 66th Air Base Group in Hanscom, Mass., threw out the ceremonial first pitch.
The Orioles and Red Sox both wore special red caps and Boston wore its alternate, red home uniforms.
The Red Sox also commemorated the 75th anniversary of Lou Gehrig's historic speech, recognizing patients battling amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, or ALS, which killed the legendary Yankees first baseman. He gave that speech on July 4, 1939.
Members of the ALS Association, ALS Therapy Development Institute, and Muscular Dystrophy Association were all recognized on the field prior to the game, as well. Among them were United State military veterans Jerry Ash and Dennis McAvoy, plus Scott Murphy, an Army vet who has been living with ALS for the last decade.
Ian Browne is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Brownie Points, and follow him on Twitter @IanMBrowne. Steven Petrella is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.