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Post-Game Notes: Twins 5, Red Sox 0

03.05.10 at 4:13 pm ET
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FORT MYERS, Fla. — The Red Sox traveling squad was shut down by Carl Pavano and a host of Twins relievers, and Jon Lester struggled with his control in Boston’s 5-0 defeat against Minnesota at Hammond Stadium. The Sox did, however, have a couple of positive signs. Foremost was the work of Tim Wakefield.

One would ordinarily expect a knuckleballer to be an incredibly frustrating opponent for hitters in the first week of spring training games, when players are still searching for their timing. Even so, Wakefield noted that he felt good physically, he was able to command the pitch and his movement was good. He allowed only an infield single in his two scoreless innings. Given that he was barely able to walk when he made his last start in September, Wakefield could not help but take satisfaction in his outing.

“It’s a big difference. I have my strength back on my front side right now. I’m making sure, right now, it’s building strength in my legs – not that they’re weak, but it’s a matter of getting your pitch count up, getting your arm stretched out for five, six, seven innings and being ready to throw for the start of the inning,” said Wakefield. “I felt really good today. I felt like my timing was there, my rhythm was good. I was able to throw a lot of strikes and get outs quickly. I’m very pleased. … Obviously, this was a test. But I’ve been telling everybody that I feel fine, and I think I proved to myself when I got over here that everything was going to be good, and try to get ready for a long haul of a season.”

While the Sox had tried to measure expectations about how Wakefield might progress this spring. As manager Terry Francona pointed out, he started his offseason late after recovering from lower back surgery to repair a bulging disc. The Sox were prepared for the possibility that he might not be able to stay on the same schedule as the other starters.

To this point, however, those concerns have been erased. Wakefield has proven able to take part in every aspect of camp, and he is now slated to stay on his turn in the rotation, with his next turn coming on Tuesday in Jupiter.

“We didn’t want to rush him,” said Francona. “We want him to prepare at the pace that’s appropriate. He’s obviously doing okay. … He’s on the regular rotation. … If [a starter] needs an extra day [between starts], we can always build that in. I don’t see that happening with Wakefield.”

Jon Lester was only able to log one inning in his first outing of the spring. Some command issues — Lester said they were slight — resulted in a four-run yield in just one inning, as Lester allowed three hits, walked two and struck out one. Afterwards, he suggested that he was happy to have gotten his first start of the spring out of the way, and that there were some positives to be gleaned.

“I felt alright. Mechanically, I felt okay,” said Lester. “It wasn’t like I was throwing the ball off the backstop. Even though I walked two batters, it wasn’t like I was bouncing the ball, throwing the ball high. I was down in the zone. I was happy with that aspect of it.”

Mike Cameron said that he felt good in his first game of the spring. He led off the contest with a walk and then attempted a steal of second. He was called out, though Cameron said he was told by Twins second baseman Orlando Hudson that he was safe. He grounded out in his only other at-bat.

J.D. Drew went 0-for-2 in his first game of the exhibition season. After serving as the Sox’ DH on Friday, he will play the outfield on Saturday.

–One beneath-the-radar performance by a Sox pitcher was turned in by Randor Bierd. The non-roster invitee, who was acquired from the Orioles in exchange for David Pauley prior to the 2009 season, has turned in a couple of outings (the first on Wednesday against BC, and against in the third inning on Friday against the Twins) in which he has shown an effective two-seam fastball. He induced a pair of groundouts on Friday and struck out Denard Span.

–Twins manager Ron Gardenhire glimpsed his Red Sox counterpart after the game.

“Hey Tito,” Gardenhire yelled to Francona. “We’re 1-1, baby!”

That utterance reflected that the Mayor’s Cup series is now tied after two games between the teams. Francona could not hide his disappointment.

“That really hurt,” he said.

Clearly, the stakes of the rivalry have intensified, especially now that pitcher Boof Bonser has crossed Fort Myers after having been traded from the Twins to the Red Sox during the offseason.

“Yesterday, Boof Bonser was holding [the Cup] up in the dugout. I don’t know what’s wrong with that picture, but something is wrong with it, since he might have helped lose it,” grinned Gardenhire. “Dirty, no good … [The trophy] probably had a beer in there.”

Read More: Boof Bonser, Jon Lester, mayor's cup, randor bierd Print  |  Email  |  Bark It Up!  |  Digg It
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