FORT MYERS, Fla. — When Red Sox top pitching prospect Jason Groome got a text from an unknown number last winter claiming to be from Chris Sale, he thought one of his friends was pulling a prank on him.

Jason Groome

Groome checked with a mutual friend. The number did indeed belong to Boston’s ace starter.

Sale found out that Groome was living on his own in Fort Myers. He lives nearby and figured he could use a workout partner.

“It’s not like I’m going to teach him anything profound,” Sale said. “Just like hey this is your first year down here and in the organization, I live down here, and I’ve got a guy I work out with and kind of show him what it’s like to put work in in the offseason.”

Sale has worked out for years at a local gym where part of his training includes Pilates. The core strength and flexibility that Pilates promotes is a nice compliment to the rest of Sale’s offseason work. He thought it might work for Groome, too.

The 19-year-old lefty had never done Pilates before, but was willing to try anything Sale suggested despite being a little nervous at first.

“I grew up watching him and he asked me to work out so I was really pumped up that he even went out of his way to arrange that,” Groome said. “It was just so cool to be a part of his offseason.”

Groome worked out at JetBlue Park on Mondays and Tuesdays and then spent Wednesdays doing Pilates with Sale and sometimes Rick Porcello. Thursdays and Fridays were back to lifting.

Groome was well accustomed to the Red Sox strength program, but Pilates was something completely different and harder than he imagined.

“The first couple sessions I guess it didn’t live up to the hype and I guess in my head I was like ‘Oh that isn’t too bad,'” Groome said. “But then after the first two it really, it hurts but it works in a very good way.”

The offseason workouts with Sale put Groome in a good position for a healthy 2018 season. Last year, his first full year in professional baseball, Groome missed a large chunk of time due to two separate injuries.

In his first start of the year for Class A Greenville he suffered a mild lat strain and missed a month and a half. When he returned in June, he made three starts in short-season Lowell and 10 starts in Greenville before a forearm strain ended his season.

Despite the injuries and a 5.69 ERA over 14 starts, Groome, Boston’s 2016 first-round pick, still ranked as a top 100 prospect in baseball and the top overall prospect in Boston’s system.

DAVID ORTIZ returned to Red Sox camp on Wednesday for the first time in two years.

Ortiz, who retired after the 2016 season, didn’t make an appearance at JetBlue Park last spring training, in part because he wanted to give the team some space and grow on its own without him.

But this year, with a new manager in place and a year removed from retirement, Ortiz blocked off a few days in his schedule to help out.

He’ll be in camp through Sunday, serving as coaching assistant similar to what Pedro Martinez and Jason Varitek have done. They’re not full-time members of the coaching staff, but pop in and out when needed.

Ortiz will be working with the hitters over the next few days, including Boston’s newest addition, designated hitter J.D. Martinez.

THURSDAY’S GAME: Charlie Morton pitched two shutout innings in his first action since closing out Game 7 of the World Series, and prospect Kyle Tucker hit his third spring home run as the Houston Astros topped Boston 10-5 at West Palm Beach, Florida.

Boston starter Rick Porcello struck out four in two scoreless innings. Hanley Ramirez hit his first homer of the spring.