By Sean McAdam and JoeHaggerty
FORT MYERS, Fla. -- Alfredo Aceves, who has pitched well this spring, will face his former teammates Monday night. Aceves will start against the New York Yankees, taking the place of Clay Buchholz.
Buchholz faced the Yanks 10 days ago in Tampa, but the Sox don't want one of their starters facing a division rival twice in spring training.
That gives Aceves a chance to impress. For now, the thinking is to have Aceves start the season in the Pawtucket rotation, offering some depth in case a Red Sox starter is either hurt or ineffective. But Aceves could also open with a spot in the Boston bullpen.
Buchholz is scheduled to throw a simulated game Monday afternoon, tossing 55-60 pitches, covering four or five innings.
"I think it's going to be good,'' said Buchholz. "There are things I can work on without having to feel like I have to do something in a real game. Obviously, there are things you have to work on every time out. But I think it's going to be a better atmosphere for me, to do it there, rather than try to do it in a game. It will be sort of an off-day kind of thing to get where I need to be.''
Buchholz plans to work on his curveball command, which has been off somewhat this spring.
"I've been trying to throw it more for strikes rather than using it as a finish pitch,'' he said. "The feel, spin . . . everything's good. It's more of a release point for me. It's more about command and Monday will be a good day to work on that.''
Felix Doubront, who was shut down earlier in camp with soreness in his left elbow, tossed his second bullpen session of the spring Sunday, though he was limited to mostly fastballs.
"Nothing in terms of pain today when I was throwing,'' reported Doubront. "Let's see tomorrow how I'm feeling.''
Doubront mixed in 5-to-10 changeups at the end of his session, but the real test for the elbow will come when he begins throwing breaking pitches.
"I have to make sure nothing's bothering me when I throw fastballs and changeups first,'' he said. "Maybe the next bullpen I'll try curveballs. That's the test.''
Doubront will have at least two more bullpen sessions before graduating to live batting practice. He estimated that he's probably two weeks from getting into a game.
"I could get ready to pitch in relief pretty fast,'' he said. "But as a starter, I'm going to have to take my time. I'm not ready to start and throw five innings. I'm behind, but I'm better than I was a couple of weeks ago.'' Lars Anderson still knows he has plenty to prove to himself both on and off the field, but getting a taste of the Major Leagues in a callup last September certainly helped in plenty of areas.Anderson isnt the Golden Boy prospect he might have been a couple of seasons ago as he worked his way up the Boston organizational ladder, and he certainly wouldnt appear to be the future at first base for the Sox after the arrival of Adrian Gonzalez last winter.But Anderson still has talent, value and oodles of power as he showed off on Sunday afternoon in Bradenton with a pair of hits including a solo home run in the top of the fourth inning to right field on an 0-and-2 pitch.The two hits and two runs lifted his spring average up to .182, and the fact that Anderson is now showing some spring pop in front of the big league coaching staff is something that Terry Francona noted.Ive seen him hit a couple of home runs now. Ive seen him hit the ball to left-center on a single and then he turns on a ball and hits a home run, said Francona. Thats what he has to do. Hes going to play first base, so youve got to hear some noise. Hes starting to show that.When he first came to spring training three years ago he was a little ill at ease. Hes kind of growing into it. Hes smart enough to know that even though Gonzalez is here -- if he does what hes supposed to do you dont see too many guys that belong in the big leagues that arent there. Things have a way of working out, and he knows he needs to just go out and play.Anderson hit .200 with 4 RBI in 43 plate appearances for the injury-plagued Sox last season, but hes well aware that he still has plenty to learn at the age of 23. The slugger worked hard on his defense in the offseason, and knows that major-league power can be one of the last things to come along in a hitter's development.Its like any spring Ive ever had. One day youre feeling good, the next day you have no idea, and then youre feeling better again the day after that, said Anderson. Springs are always a roller coaster for me. Theres still a newness to it every year, and where youre at individually that particular year.I would say generally, yes being with the Sox last September helped, because you know the routine, the times and you know the ballparks and staff a little bit. But Ive changed so much in a year that its always a different vibe. I think I see the world a little differently with some different ambitions and goals. Im learning a little bit every day. When asked about Adrian Gonzalez proclaiming on Sunday morning at City of Palms Park that he wanted to play all 162 games for the Red Sox this season, Francona didnt seem to have all that much of a protest.I would have no problem with that, said a smiling Francona with a chuckle.
Francona indicated that he thought Gonzalez and Carl Crawford would both be in the lineup Monday against the New York Yankees at City of Palms Park, but that some of the starters would only play a few innings against the Bronx Bombers. If a player is headed to Lakeland against the Detroit Tigers on Tuesday afternoon, they wont be in the lineup for very long.Well have a lot of guys playing tomorrow, and theyll just be playing short if theyre in the lineup vs. the Tigers, said Francona. Daisuke Matsuzakas baseball career has been one big adjustment since coming to the Red Sox prior to the 2007 seasons, and that continues with new Boston pitching coach Curt Young. The Sox are convincing Matsuzaka to break up the days when he throws long toss and goes for his side session in an effort to get him into more of a regular routine the rest of the pitching staff observes.Young and Matsuzaka had been talking about throwing his side a day later. With what Matsuzaka has been doing over the course of his career, in Japan, they had the extra day, said Francona. So hed have long toss and then side. Here hes been doing it on the same day. Hes always done it. He was adamant that he would do it. Curts trying to get him where he doesnt do it on the same day. We asked him, Hey, just try it. Thats what were attempting to do. Francona said that he should have a Red Sox Opening Day starter to announce by the end of this week. Jon Lester is the leading candidate.
Sean McAdam can be reached at email@example.com. Follow Sean on Twitter at http:twitter.comsean_mcadam