Boston Red Sox relief pitcher Allen Webster (64) against the Toronto Blue Jays during a spring training split squad game at Florida Exchange Park earlier this year. (Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports)
Another strong outing for Red Sox hurler Webster
Asked yesterday for his impressions of right-hander Allen Webster after yet another strong outing, the Red Sox manager didn't mince words.
"He's pretty damn good," Farrell said.
Featuring a fastball that sat at 96 mph and a devastating changeup that he threw confidently in any count, Webster once again looked like the story of spring training. He allowed three hits and one unearned run in three innings against the Toronto Blue Jays, walking none and striking out three in a 5-3 Sox win in Grapefruit League play at JetBlue Park.
Webster's spring ERA stands at 1.64 in four appearances. In 11 innings, he has allowed nine hits and one walk, striking out 14.
"What's been impressive is young pitchers that are able to throw that changeup on a 3-2 count," Farrell said. "He's showing the ability to throw a breaking ball to both sides of the plate, in addition to a live fastball, heavy sink. He's done a great job."
The plan remains for Webster to open the season at Triple A, but if he keeps pitching like this, the Red Sox are going to have a decision to make.
"The one thing that he's grasping is that with his stuff and the action of his two-seamer, he doesn't have to pitch to a third of the plate," Farrell said. "He can be more aggressive on the white part of the plate, and it's allowed him to pitch and at least execute strike one at a higher rate. It just opens up so many more options for him. In a nutshell, it's his ability to attack the strike zone, strike one."
Farrell was asked if he saw this coming early in camp when Webster was just throwing bullpens.
"You could see the athleticism in his body and delivery for sure," Farrell said. "But the one thing is the strike-throwing ability, particularly early in the count. That has maybe been somewhat better than anticipated."
For now, the plan is to continue to have Webster piggyback off Clay Buchholz' spring starts, though Farrell left open the option of starting Webster, perhaps to keep an AL East opponent from seeing Buchholz too close to the season.
A little bird said
David Ross found himself amusingly trending on Twitter for a time yesterday after former Atlanta Braves teammate Chipper Jones joked on the social networking site that the catcher should start a rumor that the third baseman is coming out of retirement to play for the Red Sox. Jones was playing off quotes from New York Yankees general manager Brian Cashman, who said he'd love to have Jones join his team, resulting in about 10,000 more followers for Jones' Twitter account.
Ross wants no part of it.
"I asked him if he was staying in retirement, and he said, 'I ain't going nowhere,'?" Ross said. "I came in thinking I'd help him out, but then I realized it probably wasn't a good idea. It's funny to Chipper, but all of a sudden if my name's attached to it, I might have to answer to our front office."
Added Ross with a laugh: "I think I'd be in the manager's office pretty fast."
Buchholz' strong spring continues.
The righty shut out the Blue Jays for four innings, keeping his spring ERA at 0.00 in 81/3 innings. He allowed only three hits and recorded eight groundouts.
"Everything's starting to fall together," Buchholz said. "Just able to go out there and execute pitches one after another a little bit better than the last time out and the time before that."
Buchholz threw 45 pitches (30 strikes).
The Red Sox made six cuts, sending the following players to minor league camp: knuckleballer Steven Wright and fellow right-hander Pedro Beato, and outfielders Alex Hassan, Mark Hamilton, Jeremy Hazelbaker and Juan Carlos Linares. . . .
Farrell said shortstop Stephen Drew (slight concussion) has improved. The hope is that he returns to the field today for a day of work.