BOSTON — The Boston Red Sox will open spring training on Feb. 17, with the first exhibition game taking place on Feb. 27 against Pittsburgh, at JetBlue Park in Fort Myers, Florida.

Pitchers and catchers will hold their first workout on Feb. 17 with the first full-squad workout Feb. 22. The team also announced 17 Grapefruit League home games. The exhibition game against Northeastern scheduled for Feb. 26 has been canceled.

The Red Sox’ equipment truck is scheduled to leave Fenway Park on Monday and is anticipated to arrive at JetBlue Park on Feb. 11. To help prevent the spread of COVID-19, fans are discouraged from gathering at Fenway Park for the departure of the equipment truck, or at JetBlue Park for its arrival.

The Red Sox will implement appropriate physical distancing and safety protocols that will allow fans to return in a limited capacity for exhibition games by operating JetBlue Park at approximately 24% of its normal capacity – around 2,400 fans each game. Regular seating capacity is 9,909.

All tickets will be sold in physically distanced ‘pods’ comprised primarily of 2-4 seats that will allow for at least 6 feet between groups. Season ticket holders will be offered the first opportunity to attend exhibition games and additional tickets may go on sale to the general public depending on availability.

• For three seasons the Boston Red Sox have entered spring training hoping that Dustin Pedroia would be able to make a return to second base on a full-time basis after the franchise stalwart had his career disrupted by a knee injury in 2017.

Those hopes ended on Monday when the four-time All-Star and four-time Gold Glove winner announced his retirement, concluding what had been a merry-go-round of surgeries, rehab attempts and setbacks for the longest-tenured player on Boston’s roster and the only holdover from the 2007 championship team.

The Red Sox took another step in moving on Tuesday when they officially announced the signing of infielder Enrique Hernández to a two-year contract for a reported $14 million.

“The team has a lot of really good players … probably the reason I wanted a two-year deal instead of one is I get invested in teams and my teammates,” he said.

Speaking of the expectations Boston fans have for their teams, he added: “I know that they’re not going to be OK with a multiple-year playoff drought.”

While the 29-year-old doesn’t have Pedroia’s experience, he offers yet another injection of youth and versatility at second, a position that has been seen a platoon of players since Pedroia’s injury.

Hernández is a career .240 hitter with 71 homers with 227 RBIs in seven seasons, most of them with the Dodgers. He played 48 games in the pandemic-shortened season last year and 17 more in the postseason, batting .308 with two homers to help Los Angeles beat the Atlanta Braves in the NL Championship Series en route to winning the World Series. He also was a member of the Dodgers’ 2018 World Series team that lost to Boston.

“It’s never every day you can go from a franchise like the LA Dodgers to another one like the Boston Red Sox,” Hernández said.

CARDINALS: St. Louis completed its blockbuster trade to acquire All-Star third baseman Nolan Arenado from the Colorado Rockies on Monday night.

St. Louis dealt left-hander Austin Gomber and four minor leaguers to the Rockies: infielders Elehuris Montero and Mateo Gil along with right-handers Tony Locey and Jake Sommers.

As part of the trade, Colorado will send cash to St. Louis to offset part of the money Arenado is due in his contract.

Arenado had been set to be paid $199 million over the remaining six seasons of a $260 million, eight-year contract. As part of his agreement to waive a no-trade provision, Arenado agreed to add a season to his deal, which now extends for seven seasons through 2027.

His deal had given him the right to opt out and become a free agent after the 2021 season. His new contract gives him the right to opt out and become a free agent after either the 2022 or 2023 season.

RAYS: Former major leaguer Denard Span was hired by Tampa Bay on Tuesday as a special assistant in baseball operations.

Span, 36, batted .281 with 71 homers and 490 RBI over 11 seasons with the Rays, Minnesota Twins, Washington Nationals, San Francisco Giants and Seattle Mariners.

The AL champions also hired Allison DeKuiper as assistant in performance science, Rigo De Los Santos as Dominican Republic regional crosschecker and area scout, Carlos Herazo as pro scout, Jonah McElwee as major league food services assistant and Isha Rahman as assistant in minor league operations.

METS: J.D. Davis and the New York Mets argued the first of 13 scheduled salary arbitration cases this month.

The third baseman and outfielder asked for a raise from $592,463 to $2,475,000 during Tuesday’s hearing before Gil Vernon, Mark Burstein and Jeanne Vonhof. The Mets argued for $2.1 million. Davis is eligible for arbitration for the first time.

Because of the pandemic, hearings are being conducted by Zoom for the first time rather than in person.

Still scheduled for hearings are Los Angeles Dodgers catcher Austin Barnes and pitcher Walker Buehler; Tampa Bay first baseman Ji-Man Choi and reliever Ryan Yarbrough; Houston shortstop Carlos Correa; St. Louis pitcher Jack Flaherty; Chicago Cubs outfielder Ian Happ; Los Angeles Angeles pitcher/outfielder Shohei Ohtani; Baltimore outfielder Anthony Santander; San Francisco second baseman Donovan Solano; and Atlanta pitcher Mike Sorotka and shortstop Dansby Swanson.

Teams won 7 of 12 hearings last year, including six of the first seven, and had a winning record for the fourth time in six years.

GRANT JACKSON, the winning pitcher in Game 7 of the 1979 World Series for the “We Are Family” Pittsburgh Pirates and a reliable left-hander for 18 seasons in the majors, died Tuesday from COVID-19 complications. He was 78.

The Pirates said Jackson died at Canonsburg Hospital in Pennsylvania.

“This pandemic has affected every family throughout our community, and the Pirates family is no different,” team President Travis Williams said.

Williams said Jackson “remained dedicated to the Pirates and the city of Pittsburgh” and was “an active board member of our alumni association who was always willing to help make an impact in our community.”

Known for bringing the ball far behind his back and then slinging it toward the plate, Jackson was 86-75 with 79 saves and a 3.46 ERA in 692 games from 1965-82. He was 3-0 with a 2.55 ERA in 13 postseason appearances.

Jackson was an NL All-Star in 1969 with Philadelphia as a starter and pitched in relief during the World Series with Baltimore in 1971, the New York Yankees in 1976 and the ’79 Pirates.

In that Game 7, Jackson entered in the fifth inning with the Pirates trailing Baltimore 1-0. He pitched 2 2/3 hitless innings at Memorial Stadium and was replaced by Kent Tekulve in the eighth with Pittsburgh ahead 2-1.

Pittsburgh won 4-1, completing a comeback from a three games to one deficit. Led by Willie Stargell, the Pirates celebrated to their theme song, “We Are Family” by Sister Sledge.

Jackson spent parts of six seasons with the Pirates, going 8-5 with a 2.96 ERA in 72 relief appearances for the 1979 champions. He made six scoreless appearances during that postseason.

Jackson began his career in 1965 with the Phillies. He was a starter for them in 1969, throwing four shutouts, and in 1970 and made some spot starts for the Orioles in 1971. After that, he shifted almost exclusively into a relief role.

In June 1976, he was part of a 10-player trade, sent with Ken Holtzman and three others from Baltimore to New York for a package that included Rick Dempsey, Scott McGregor and Tippy Martinez. Jackson went 6-0 with a 1.69 ERA in helping the Yankees reach the postseason.

Jackson was taken by the Seattle Mariners in the expansion draft after the 1976 season and quickly traded to Pittsburgh. He later played for Montreal and Kansas City and returned to Pittsburgh in late 1982 to pitch one last game.

Curiously, Jackson was a switch-hitter, batting .136 in 236 at-bats. He hit two career home runs, both tie-breaking drives in the late innings that made him the winning pitcher.

Jackson became a bullpen coach for the Pirates from 1983-85 and was a bullpen coach for Cincinnati. He also coached in the minors.

Jackson is survived by his wife, Millie; children Debra, Yolanda and Grant Jr.; and 10 grandchildren.

Private funeral services will be held Saturday.


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