FORT MYERS, Fla. – At this point in the spring, now more than halfway through the Grapefruit League schedule, it’s about staying healthy and focusing on being ready for the regular season. Ryan Dempster’s start Thursday afternoon was progression for the right-hander along that path.
Dempster went four innings, giving up a run on three hits, including a home run, two walks, and three strikeouts, earning the win as the Red Sox beat the Twins, 7-3, at Hammond Stadium. He threw 73 pitches, 43 for strikes. In four spring outings, spanning 12 2/3 innings, Dempster has allowed three runs, on nine hits (one home run) and two walks with nine strikeouts, for a 2.13 ERA.
“Four solid innings of work,” said manager John Farrell. “Once again got to the 70-pitch mark, or close to it, that we were hopeful of. And he used all his pitches. Last time out he pitched primarily with his fastball,which was by design. But today he went out and took the whole repertoire to the mound and made some key pitches when he needed to. But a very good step in spring training.”
“We got some real good work in,” said Dempster. “Started off a little bit slower then just felt like I got better as the game went on, made some good pitches, just keep getting extended in pitch count, get further towards the regular season.”
Dempster had runners on in every inning but the third. With one out in the first, he induced Josh Willingham to hit into a double play to end the inning. In the second, he gave up a walk to Chris Parmelee and a double to Joe Benson to put runners on second and third. But he struck out Oswaldo Arcia and Eric Fryer, ending the threat. In the fourth, after a two-out home run by Parmelee, Benson walked and went to second on an errant throw on a pick-offattempt by Dempster.
But pitching out of jams is also part of spring training.
“Yeah, for sure,” Dempster said. “When you go away from the season and the season ends, you lose sight of those situations a little bit. So when you get back into them it kind of gives you an understanding of trying to manage an inning, how to maybe get a strikeout when you can, not try for one but get one when you can. Those kinds of situations are fun because you’re going to get lots of them during the year. You just try to go through and make some pitches.”
The Sox got a run in the first and added four in the second, including a two-out, bases-loaded double to left-center by Will Middlebrooks for three runs. They added a run in each of the eighth and ninth innings.
The Twins added two runs in the eighth off Terry Doyle, who went 2 2/3 innings, giving up five hits and a walk with two strikeouts. In five Grapefruit appearances, spanning 12 innings, Doyle has given up seven runs,four earned, on 16 hits and two walks with 10 strikeouts, for a 3.00 ERA.