PORT CHARLOTTE, Fla. — Alfredo Aceves did an unusual thing during a 6-3 loss to the Rays Monday in which he allowed two runs over two innings. He stayed in the Red Sox dugout for the entire game.
Normally in spring training, once a pitcher comes out of the game he leaves and either does some running or additional throwing. Sometimes the pitcher will leave for the day.
Aceves has been in the news for doing the wrong thing — he lobbed pitches during batting practice last week, and last season he had run-ins with then manager Bobby Valentine.
“I want us to win,” Aceves said. “I want the best for us. Whatever I can do to help. They’re going to get that from me. I’m going to do what’s best for the team. Whatever they want me to do.”
The Sox want Aceves to be a good citizen and accept his role as a swingman. Aceves wants to be a starter, and much of his frustration stems from that.
Aceves was mediocre in his spring debut. He threw 16 pitches, 8 for strikes. He allowed those two runs on two hits. He walked two and allowed a two-run double to Yunel Escobar in the second inning on a fastball he left over the middle of the plate.
“I felt pretty strong,” Aceves said. “First game of spring training. I missed a pitch down the middle that cost me two runs. I threw my fastball and curveball. It’s early in spring training. I felt really strong. I had a bad inning, one bad pitch, walked two guys, they got me for two hits.”
Aceves seems to be able to pitch a lot. It seemed as if two innings weren’t enough.
“I didn’t get tired. I was maintaining my endurance. I feel I have endurance. They wanted me to throw two innings, I’m OK with that,” he said.
There was some miscommunication with catcher David Ross.
“This was the first time we threw,’’ Aceves said. “He’s a good catcher. He’s going to help the pitchers. He’s spent a lot of time in baseball. He talks about how to go against the hitters and go after the hitters and go after the outs.”
“It’s early,” Ross said. “It’s one of the things that stinks as a catcher. You feel like you ruin a guy’s rhythm sometimes when you’re not on the same page, because I’ve got to know what’s coming and where they want me to set up, where they want the pitches thrown.
“It’s just frustrating for me because I know it’s me. When I’m just not on the same page, I’ve got to get right with him. It comes with time. I’m new and I just have to figure out the things they like me to do.”
Aceves, whose velocity topped out at 94 miles per hour, is always in top shape. He’ll get one more start before he heads to the World Baseball Classic on March 3.
Work in progress
Daniel Bard topped out at 94 m.p.h. in his one inning vs. the Rays. He hit a batter, walked one, and threw a few errant pitches. It’s still a process for Bard to come back from last year, when he lost his control. Bard and Ross agreed the outing was better than his first appearance, against Northeastern last week.
“I think overall I would say it was better,’’ Bard said. “It’s still just working hard to get on top of every pitch. I have a little bit of a tendency to get a little rotational. That’s when you see some of those errant ones, but for the most part mechanics feel good. It’s just some bad habits built up from last year and corrected most of them, and that’s just the one thing we’re working on. I feel good. I feel like I can finally trust myself with throwing the ball where I want to and just attacking guys.”
Bard said he thinks he can find an additional 3 miles per hour by just getting his mechanics right.
Farrell meets the press
A large group of Toronto-based reporters were waiting for Sox manager John Farrell at Florida Auto Exchange Stadium in Dunedin before the split-squad game against the Blue Jays.
Farrell has been sharply criticized in Toronto for leaving the Jays for the Sox last fall. He spent two seasons managing the Jays.
“I appreciate that people might have differing opinions,” Farrell said. “All I can do is go about my work day in and day out. People are going to form their own impressions, their own perceptions. I certainly can’t control that.”
Farrell was similarly diplomatic with other questions. Several Toronto players, Adam Lind in particular, have been critical of Farrell. But outfielder Jose Bautista said the issue would fade.
“It’s unusual to have your manager go to another team in the division,” Bautista said. “But we all do what we think is right. I respected him as a manager and now we’ll try to beat him.”
In the swing
Mike Napoli will take live batting practice off Clay Buchholz on Tuesday. He will run the bases again either that day or the next, and is scheduled to make his spring debut against the Pirates Friday . . . Buchholz is scheduled to pitch against the Twins Saturday. The plan is for him to start and throw two innings. Felix Doubront threw live batting practice back in Fort Myers Monday. He will repeat that Wednesday, then begin his five-day routine and start Monday against the Rays . . . As it stands, the Sox have Jon Lester, Buchholz, Ryan Dempster, Doubront, and John Lackey lined up as their rotation. Barring injuries, that is how Farrell hopes the season will start . . . Lefthanded reliever Craig Breslow (shoulder) is feeling better, but has not been cleared to throw. The Sox want him to continue strengthening his shoulder before he starts a throwing program. Breslow needs only 8-10 appearances in the spring.
Dustin Pedroia homered in the first inning vs. the Rays. Asked if he could hit 30, he said, “Thirty what? Doubles? I’ve always told you guys I’m not a home run hitter. I try to get hits, get on base, score runs, and just kind of be a pain in the butt. So hopefully I can do that. The year I hit 21 there was a couple of wind-aided ones. So no, I think, obviously my strength is the ball in, close to me. Other teams know that, so they’re not going to attack me that way. So I might get enough mistakes, maybe there’s a chance. Don’t read too much into it.” Pedroia said he has no worries about his hand injury. “Right when I got home, I rehabbed it. Tried to get the scar tissue out of there and build up strength. Now it feels great,” he said . . . Mike Carp played first base, made a couple of nice plays and doubled in his first Red Sox at-bat, against Tampa Bay’s Alex Cobb. Carp expects to play almost every day from here on out and likely will start taking fly balls so he can play left field and compete for the backup first base/outfield job. “It was nice to open up at first base since that’s my natural position,” he said.