FORT MYERS, Fla. -- Ryan Dempster is off to a good start this spring, and if experience has taught him anything, that may translate into a good start in the regular season.
"We're out there practicing getting outs,'' said Dempster. "The more of a groove you can get in, the more comfortable you feel, the more you feel you can make your pitches -- for the most part, that generally translates over into the season. The last thing you want to do is be limping into the start of the season.
"If you're throwing the ball well at the end of the season, it can carry over to the season and give you some confidence.''
Friday night, Dempster made his third Grapefruit League appearance, allowing two hits on five hits over 3 2/3 innings in a 2-0 loss to Minnesota.
Few of the five hits were hit hard, and four of them came after two were out in the third inning, accounting for both Minnesota runs.
"I felt like it was a good quality outing for what [I was] looking to get out of it,'' said Dempster. "I was looking to extend it and I got to throw 70-something pitches, so that was nice.''
Red Sox manager John Farrell liked what he saw from the righty, especially given Dempster's pitch selection.
"Two goals completed here tonight, one was to get him close to 70 pitches, which we did and he went out and made an effort to pitch predominantly with his fastball. Of the 69 pitches I think he threw only about 12 or 13 were cutters or sliders, the rest were fastballs, which was the intention in tonight’s outing."
Why focus so much on the fastball?
"Just a chance to go out and work on building arm strength," said Farrell. "[Dempster's] shown the ability to throw three and four pitches for strikes in his previous outings but wanted to go out and pitch with his fastball here tonight."
In 8 2/3 innings this spring, Dempster, who usually has terrific command, hasn't walked a batter.
"I feel really good,'' said Dempster about his ability to locate. I'm just trying to repeat my delivery on the side and then, obviously in the games.''
Dempster also uses spring training to try to pitch to contact -- throwing a certain pitch to a designated area of the strike zone, with the intent of getting hitters to hit the ball to a specific spot on the field.
"Absolutely,'' he said. "When I throw a pitch, I want them to hit it. Obviously, there's times when you're trying to strike somebody out. But I'm trying to put the ball in a place where I feel if I execute a pitch there and they do hit it, that you're going to get contact where you like.
"Sometimes those ground balls go through the hole. Maybe the pitch isn't exactly where you want it and that's why it gets through. But you just try to make adjustments. When I pitch to contact instead of away from it, I find that I get better results.''