Pearce breaks out of slump in hometown of Lakeland

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              Houston Astros' Collin McHugh casts a shadow as he throws in the bullpen before an exhibition spring training baseball game against the Miami Marlins on Thursday, March 14, 2019, in West Palm Beach, Fla. (AP Photo/Brynn Anderson)
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LAKELAND, Fla. (AP) — World Series MVP Steve Pearce needed a trip home to find his swing.

The Lakeland High School product ended an 0-for-12 spring training start with two homers as the Boston Red Sox and Detroit Tigers tied 4-4 on Thursday.

“It just feels good to finally get a rhythm,” Pearce said. “For my first couple games, the timing just wasn’t there. I was kind of clueless at the plate. But now the last couple days it’s starting to feel a lot better.”

Pearce was given a Lakeland Dreadnaughts jersey with his number 5 on it by a fan. Pearce said the last time he probably homered in his hometown was in high school.

“Look in the stands and I’ll see people I haven’t seen in 15 years,” Pearce said. “That’s pretty cool.”

Notes: Slugger J.D. Martinez did not make the trip after being scratched from Wednesday’s game because of minor back tightness.