|John Farrell, and the umpires, were impressed with Allen Webster Saturday||03.02.13 at 5:16 pm ET|
While it was encouraging to see Clay Buchholz make his spring training debut, Saturday – having been delayed by a hamstring injury – it was hard to identify anybody other than Allen Webster as the headliner in the Red Sox’ 2-1 win over the Twins at Hammond Stadium in Fort Myers.
Webster, following up both Buchholz and Alfredo Aceves, pitched three shutout innings, allowing two hits and a walk while fanning a pair. His fastball once again sat in the high 90’s during what was a 29-pitch outing.
“With each added inning as he went out there, better rhythm, better feel for his secondary pitches,” Red Sox manager John Farrell told reporters. “Once again, high 90’s with his velocity, good location, three pitches for strikes. A very impressive three innings. He was really good, especially the last inning. You can ask the umpires. It was an impressive performance.”
Webster hit 99 mph on the stadium’s radar gun, as was the case in his outing in Dunedin. But it might be his secondary pitches that have separated the pitcher in the eyes of the Red Sox’ coaching staff.
“Velocity is one thing, but still, I just think the action to the stuff, and keep in mind, this is someone who has always been a starter so the first inning coming in the middle of the game is a little different for him,” Farrell said. “But with each successive inning, you can see the rhythm and just the glow of the game really start to take over. He has three very good weapons you can go to.”
Farrell added, “We had reports of velocity in the high 90’s. Kind of the calling card in the two starts he made when he came over in the trade was his willingness to go to a changeup in key spots. He did it again today. Any time you can slow some hitters down with a good offspeed pitch in addition to the velocity, much like we were talking about with [Rubby] De La Rosa, two very good arms with good secondary pitches.”
Farrell also said the organization’s plan for Webster is similar to what the manager had revealed for De La Rosa Friday night – begin the regular season in the minors and see where it goes from there.
Webster has never pitched above Double-A, having turned in 130 2/3 innings between Chattanooga and Portland (striking out 129).
“Provided everyone is healthy, our rotation is spoken for,” Farrell explained. “The one thing we’re getting a better read on and a feel for are the abilities of these guys in key spots and their ability to make certain pitches in some tight situations, albeit [in] spring training. Still, they are handling those situations well. They come into a new organization and they are making very good impressions.”
Buchholz also took a step in the right direction, turning in 1 1/3 innings while allowing a hit and two walks while striking out a pair.
Aceves, who is now leaving to play for Mexico in the World Baseball Classic gave up one run on five hits over 3 2/3 innings, striking out three and not walking a batter.
“I thought he threw the ball well,” Farrell said. “We were able to get him stretched out to 50 pitches, which was the goal today.”
Offensively, the Red Sox got their game-winning hit from Ryan Sweeney via a fifth-inning RBI single. Juan Carlos Linares got the visitors on the board first with a solo home run.
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