Red Sox Notes: Buchholz hasn't had it easy

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Red Sox Notes: Buchholz hasn't had it easy

By Sean McAdam
CSNNE.com

TAMPA -- Clay Buchholz hasn't had the luxury of easing into spring training.

In his first start, he faced a stacked Minnesota Twins lineup. Then, Friday night, he drew a Yankee lineup that featured Derek Jeter, Mark Teixeira, Alex Rodriguez, Robinson Cano and Jorge Posada.

"I looked at (the lineup card),'' said Buchholz, "and I was like, 'Man, another All-Star team.' But I think it's good. It's good facing guys like this is definitely not fun if you don't have your stuff or you're not locating.

"But it definitely makes you better, because this is the time to get better and work on your pitches.''

Buchholz rose to the early-spring challenge with three scoreless innings. He allowed one hit and two walks and struck out two.

"I worked hard coming into spring training,'' he said. "I wanted to come in, throwing three or four bullpens or live BP sessions. It's been about a month in the making before spring training. I feel good. I feel like the pitches are there. I just have to work on the command of a couple of pitches and try to stay in my delivery a little better.''

As the schedule sits, Buchholz is in line to pitch Monday, March 14, but the Sox will have him pitch a camp game rather than face a division rival two times before the season begins.

"I like facing these lineups, '' said Buchholz of the challenge, "but obviously, we face them a lot during the season. Right now, this means nothing so I'd rather face them during the season, when we have to play them for real.''

Still, Buchholz didn't hold back Friday, throwing his full repertoire of pitches.

"I wanted to try and throw all of my pitches,'' he said. "I think they're out there working, too.''

The Red Sox were encouraged by Josh Beckett's three-inning simulated game and expect him to make his next scheduled start, Tuesday, at City of Palms Park.

"He did well,'' said manager Terry Francona. "The ball came out of his hand well. I think he felt good about it. It's not like you look out there and think, 'OK, he's coming back from anything.' It was a regular day.''

Beckett will probably throw three innings Tuesday, a split-squad day for the Red Sox. They'll host Houston at home, where Beckett will throw.

Using a lineup without a single player expected to be in the Opening Day, the Red Sox beat the Yankees, 5-3 at George M. Steinbrenner Field.

In the seventh, Juan Carlos Linares put the Sox ahead with a single and infield prospect Oscar Tejeda followed with a two-run triple, scoring Che-Hsuan Lin and Linares.

The Sox had broken a scoreless tie in the top of the sixth when Daniel Nava smacked a run-scoring single.

The Yankees managed a run off reliever Brandon Duckworth in the bottom of the inning thanks to an RBI-double from Robinson Cano. They added two more off Tony Pena Jr in the bottom of the ninth.

Adrian Gonzalez took his first swings against the pitching machine Friday and will intensify his workload each day.

"He did the normal progression (with balls off the tee and soft tosses), said Francona, "and then he finished up with 10 swings off the machine and he felt pretty good about it. I think he finished up with about 80 swings and felt really good. He's pretty excited.''

Francona said "intensity and amount,'' will increase daily for Gonzalez, with an eye toward taking his first live batting practice later next week before graduating to game action the week after.

"He's doing well,'' said Francona. "But (the timetable) will all go on how he feels.''

Jed Lowrie got his first pro start at first base Friday night. As the team's likely lone utility infielder, he needs some playing time in case he gets thrown into a game in the event of an injury to Adrian Gonzalez during the season.

"He's a shortstop by trade, so he certainly is not going to have a tough time catching the ball,'' said Francona. "His reactions (at first), when the ball's hit, I still think he has to think his way through it. At second, short and third, it's more instinctual for him. So the more he's over at first, the better that will be.''

The Sox have received permission from all of their National League road opponents this spring to use the DH in those games...Francona watched David Wells, obviously slimmer, throw batting practice to the Yankees. Told by a New York reporter that Wells hadn't eaten any carbs in two months, Francona cracked: "I wonder what else he's throwing in there, though.''

Sean McAdam can be reached at smcadam@comcastsportsnet.com. Follow Sean on Twitter at http:twitter.comsean_mcadam

Bogaerts' "maturity is clearly taking hold"

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Bogaerts' "maturity is clearly taking hold"

NEW YORK -- Xander Bogaerts enjoyed a terrific 2015, his second full season in the big leagues.

He finished second in the American League batting race, established himself as a solid defender at short and generally showed immense promise.

The only thing he didn't do was show much home run power, limited to just seven homers.

This past spring, both manager John Farrell and Chili Davis expressed confidence that the home runs would come, and that they would come organically.

And so they have. In Thursday night's loss to the New York Yankees, a solo homer in the fifth by Bogaerts represented the only Red Sox run of the night in a 5-1 loss. It also gave Bogaerts 21 homers for the year, exactly triple his output from a year ago.

"The maturity is clearly taking hold," said John Farrell of Bogaerts' growth. "You start to get a couple thousand at-bats at the major league level, you're starting to understand your swing, you're picking out certain counts in which to leverage a little bit more. He's been able to do that.

"Home runs are up across the board. But with Xander in particular, he's physically maturing and he's maturing as a major league player as well."

Bogaerts took the advise of Davis and others and didn't set out to try to hit more homers this year. He knew they would come in time.

"Maybe not this quick," he said of the big increase, "but probably in the future, yeah. That's what I did in the minor leagues, so it's kind of something that I thought might translate to the big leagues, too."

Bogaerts is hard-pressed to put his finger on any on factor to explain the big uptick. After all, he didn't change his swing or his stance.

Rather, the homers came as a result of him understanding himself better as a hitter and consistently taking the right approach at the plate.

"It's just (a matter of) taking good swings in good counts," he offered. "Sometimes, you're looking for one. But overall, it's just being a more mature hitter and looking for the right spots to pick and choose."

It hasn't hurt that he's surrounded by quality hitters in the Red Sox lineup, with Mookie Betts and Dustin Pedroia ahead of him earlier in the year, and now Pedrioa ahead of him and David Ortiz behind him.

In addition to seeing better pitches because of who's surrounding him, Bogaerts has also benefitted from listening to Ortiz, who watches his at-bats and offers advice when called for.

Still, most of the credit belongs to Bogaerts himself, who has grown into his power naturally -- just as his manager and hitting coach forecast.

Quotes, notes and stars: "It seems like everybody was happy that I'm leaving"

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Quotes, notes and stars: "It seems like everybody was happy that I'm leaving"

NEW YORK -- Quotes, Notes and Stars from the Red Sox' 5-1 loss to the Yankees:

QUOTES

* "It seems like everybody was happy that I'm leaving." David Ortiz, unaccustomed to ovations and cheering at Yankee Stadium.

* "I thought he threw a high number of strikes. There was good swing-and-miss to his changeup and he took the opportunity and showed well." John Farrell on Henry Owens.

* "It's just taking good swings in good counts. It's just being a more mature hitter and looking for the right spots to pick and choose." Xander Bogaerts, who has tripled his homer output since last year.

NOTES:

* With his fourth-inning homer, Xander Bogaerts tripled his home run total from last year, improving from seven to 21.

* The season series between the Red Sox and Yankees ended with the Sox winning 11 of the 18 games.

* The Boston bullpen has given up eight runs in the last two nights after allowing only seven this month before Wednesday night.

* The Sox suffered only their second sweep of the season. They were also swept by the Tigers in July.

* Jackie Bradley Jr. has reached base safely in his last 13 games.

* Junichi Tazawa has contributed seven straight scoreless outings.

* Robbie Ross Jr. allowed a season-high three walks -- all in the same inning.

* Henry Owens has a career ERA of 8.53 against the Yankees.

* David Ortiz went hitless (0-for-11) in his final series at Yankee Stadium.

STARS:

1) CC Sabathia

Sabathia turned back the clock and looked like a far younger version of himself, pitching into the eighth and allowed just a run on four hits while striking out eighth.

2) Jacoby Ellsbury

Ellsbury had a hand in the first Yankee run -- walk, stolen base, run scored -- and doubled home the second run in the fifth inning.

3) Xander Bogaerts

The Sox had little offense on the night, but Bogaerts smoked a solo homer in the fourth to account for their only run.