FORT MYERS, Fla. (AP) —Clay Buchholz is ready for the big crowds.
Buchholz pitched one-hit ball for four scoreless innings, and the Boston Red Sox beat the Minnesota Twins 6-1 Thursday night in the first of three straight games between the teams to end spring training.
“I’d rather just be able to make a smooth transition (into the regular season), carry on everything that we’ve done to prepare for that first start and everything,” Buchholz said. “Just keep doing the same thing. The same game, just more people watching you do it.”
Buchholz walked one and struck out six. The right-hander allowed just two runs over 22 2-3 innings in six starts.
“Thought he was very sharp,” Red Sox manager John Farrell said. “A number of two-seamers that he threw in to left-handers that came back on the plate for some put-away pitches, strike-three calls. Good cutter, changeup, four-pitch mix for strikes. I thought he looked very sharp.”
One pitcher who did not look sharp this spring was Daniel Bard, and he learned he was being sent to Double-A Portland to work on his mechanics.
While the Red Sox believe Bard, who turns 28 in June, can regain the form that made him a successful setup man prior to a failed attempt at becoming a starter last season, the move to Double-A rather than Triple-A was to emphasize that the organization is not looking for a quick-fix to his problems.
“The point of emphasis we made to Daniel was we didn’t want him to think if he put up three consecutive scoreless innings or three appearances where he pitched well, that he was on his way back to Boston,” Red Sox manager John Farrell said. “We don’t see him as a filler on a major league staff. We still see him as a very capable, very good, and potentially dominant late-inning reliever. And first and foremost is the foundation he pitches from and that’s his delivery. That’s the focal point.”
Bard, a first-round pick in 2006 — 28th overall — has not pitched at Double-A since 2008.
In eight spring training games, spanning eight innings, Bard allowed seven runs — six earned — for a 6.75 ERA.
After two appearances early in the spring, Bard was held out for 11 days to work on his mechanics. Bard returned, showing some improvement, but reverted back to his struggles in recent outings. Farrell acknowledged he was surprised Bard was not able to make the necessary adjustments.
“Maybe a little bit right now particularly after the three outings he put together it looked like he was well on his way or at least on a more direct path, a more clear path,” Farrell said. “We’re not disappointed but at the same time, we don’t think this is something that’s a long-term fix, but one that still needs work.
Twins starter Kevin Correia was pleased with his outing. He went five innings, giving up one run on five hits and a walk with one strikeout.
“It was a good one to end on,” Correia said. “It was my efficient outing so far in the spring probably. It’s nice to have that as your last one before the season starts.”
Correia pitched out of a bases-loaded, one-out jam in the fifth to end his outing.
“If that’s a regular-season game, that’s a pretty important inning when you’ve got a guy like Buchholz throwing as good as he was,” Correia said. “You don’t have room to give up many runs if you want to win the game. So to get out of that inning was huge.”
Twins manager Ron Gardenhire was pleased with Correia’s outing.
“That was fun to watch Correia,” Gardenhire said. “The ball was moving. He used his pitches well. What we’re looking for is them to get their arm strength built up, their pitches built up, and at the end here finish up with a good performance. And he did all that. So it ended up being a nice spring for him. He did all that.”
The Red Sox scored their lone run off Correia in the first inning, when Jacoby Ellsbury led off with a double, moved to third on Daniel Nava’s groundout and scored on Dustin Pedroia’s groundout.
New Red Sox closer Joel Hanrahan followed Buchholz. Since getting roughed up by the Twins on March 7, when he gave up four runs in one-third of an inning, Hanrahan has pitched 4 1-3 scoreless innings in five appearances.
NOTES: The Red Sox optioned 1B Mauro Gomez and INF Brock Holt to Triple-A Pawtucket, bringing their roster to 32. . The Red Sox placed SS Stephen Drew on the seven-day concussion disabled list retroactive to March 27. . After the game Boston informed non-roster invitee OF Ryan Sweeney, who had an opt-out clause for midnight if he were not added to the major league roster, they would not be purchasing his contract.DH David Ortiz, who has been sidelined by sore heels, did some agility drills and worked out on the field. . LHP Franklin Morales, who has been sidelined by a sore lower, is expected to throw off a mound Saturday. . LHP Craig Breslow, who has been sidelined all spring by sore shoulder, is expected to throw off a mound Monday. . Twins 1B Justin Morneau was scratched just before the game because of mild back tightness. He is day to day. . LHP Scott Diamond, who is recovering from surgery to remove bone spurs from his elbow, threw 65 pitches in a minor league game Thursday afternoon. He is expected to have two more outings before his return from the DL on April 12. . RHP Liam Hendriks threw a bullpen session Thursday with no problems, two days after being hit in the hand by a line drive.
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