PORT CHARLOTTE, Fla. -- Even in an otherwise non-descript spring training game, things are never dull with Alfredo Aceves on the mound.
Alfredo Aceves pitched four plus innings, allowing two runs on six hits with a walk and a hit batter in a 9-2 victory for the Red Sox over the Tampa Bay Rays.
It was the hit batter that made things interesting. After Tampa Bay's Sean Rodriguez belted a two-run homer to left in the third inning, he was plunked by Aceves leading off the fifth.
Rodriguez stared out at Aceves as he started for first and Aceves returned the look, with the two exchanging words. When Rodriguez got to first and Aceves continued to yell at him, Rodriguez broke for the mound only to be held back by Tampa first base coach Dave Myers.
A few Rays came onto the first from the dugout, but home plate umpire Bill Welke ordered them back and things were kept in check.
"It was obviously not intentionally,'' said Aceves. "The score was 3-2. And plus, it was a split-finger, not even a fastball. He was mad because he got hit. I understand. His last at-bat, he had a homer so he probably thinks it was intentional, but like I say, a 3-2 ballgame, you don't want to get nobody on the bases and tie the game.
"I understand he's probably upset or frustrated because he got hit and the last time, (he hit) a homer.''
"When I asked Alfredo about it,'' said manager John Farrell, "he said he threw a pitch and it got away from him. I can tell you this: we don't intentionally try to hit any hitters, in any situation.''
For his part, Rodriguez said: "He threw at me, I guess, on a 3-and-1 pitch,'' he said. "He says it got away from him. I dont know if I'd agree or disagree but I was just kind of upset when he was still jawing at me when I got to first and that's why I kind of got riled up when I was over there.
"If you look at my track record, I dont mind getting hit by a pitch. I've got no problem with that; whether there's intent behind it or not, there's no way of knowing that.''
Asked if he thought Aceves was intentionally trying to hit him, Rodriguez said: "My opinion, really doesn't matter.''
He added that Aceves further provoked him by what he yelled over when Rodriguez reached first.
"From first,'' said Rodriguez, "I was ready to go because there was some stuff he said that I'll leave unsaid.''
Farrell lifted Aceves after the incident, but said that was the plan all along, with three lefties due up and lefty Andrew Miller warming in the bullpen.
"I think, for the most part, he used all of his pitches,'' said Farrell. "He didn't overwork and to get into the fifth inning efficiently, he pitched. Given that he's had inconsistent scheduling because of the WBC, coming back with an inning three days ago and then to be able to back out for the fifth inning today -- he did exactly what we were hoping to get to 60-65 pitches.''