FORT MYERS, Fla. -- For Ryan Dempster, right now it’s about getting in his work. He was able to do that Tuesday afternoon against the Orioles.
But work it was, as -- in his first five-inning stint of the spring -- Dempster was touched for three runs on six hits (including a home run), with two walks and a strikeout, in the Red Sox' 8-7 loss.
The O’s scored all their runs off Dempster in the third inning. Trayvon Robinson led off with a home run, followed by a ground-rule double by Taylor Teagarden and a single by Jason Pridie. Brian Roberts’ single to right scored Teagarden, and Nate McLouth’s groundout to shortstop Jose Iglesias scored Pridie, before Dempster struck out Chris Davis, looking, to end the inning.
Dempster, who threw 73 pitches (48 for strikes), had runners on base in every inning but the fourth. But double plays in the fourth and fifth helped him get out of those innings unscathed. Dempster got eight outs on groundballs.
"I got extended again and just made a couple of mistakes ahead in the count,” he said. “But [I'm] feeling better and better. Felt stronger today. So you’re just pushing yourself and next time out, you get a little further. Things are coming together nice.''
When asked about the highlight of Dempster's outing, manager John Farrell replied: “The ability to minimize [damage] with a couple of groundball double plays. They bunched some hits together in that [third] inning, but I think for the most part he used all of his pitches. Might not have been as sharp, start to finish, with his strike-throwing as we’ve seen in some previous spring training starts . . . But, like I said, [he] was able to make a pitch and induce a couple of groundball double plays.”
For Dempster, who had given up three runs over 12 2/3 innings in his previous four outings, the challenge of working out of jams was productive.
“Yeah, it's always good for your body and arm to get some innings logged in and see how you bounce back from that because it's going to happen during the year,” said Dempster, who's projected to be the Sox' No. 3 starter. “You're not going to go out there every inning and go 1-2-3 and throw 10 pitches. So those opportunities where you can do that, it's more beneficial physically rather than mentally.”
Dempster, who will ramp up to about 90-100 pitches in his next outing, had no qualms with facing a division foe at this stage of spring training. If the schedule holds, he will face the O’s again during the first homestand of the season between April 8 and 11.
“Nah, it’s fine,” he said. “It’s almost three weeks away.”