FORT MYERS, Fla. -- On the other side of the field, the big story Tuesday afternoon at Hammond Stadium was Joe Nathan, Minnesota's star closer who was pitching for the first time since undergoing Tommy John surgery a year ago.
Jonathan Papelbon isn't rehabbing any body parts. Instead, Boston's closer is trying to restore his status and get back to the elite pitcher he was in his first four seasons before he struggled last year.
From the day Spring Training started, Papelbon has walked around the Red Sox's clubhouse with a T-shirt that reads "Doubt Me." Papelbon is aware that there might be some doubt about him after a career-high eight blown saves last year, and perhaps that will drive him.
In Papelbon's first outing of Spring Training, he certainly looked locked in, needing just six pitches -- five of them strikes -- to finish his inning. He got two groundouts and a popup.
2010 Spring Training - Boston Red Sox
News & Features
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- Doubront, Red Sox close spring slate on high note
Sights & Sounds
Spring Training Info
Late last season, Papelbon rediscovered his mechanics. He tried to bottle them over the winter and keep them this spring.
"I was pleased," Papelbon said of Tuesday's outing. "You know, it's something I've taken from the end of the season -- the last couple of months last year, when I was throwing the ball really well -- and have tried to take it into this spring, and it looks like I've been able to do it."
The Red Sox have retooled their setup crew, bringing in Bobby Jenks and Dan Wheeler to help Daniel Bard. If Papelbon can regain his form, Boston's bullpen could develop into one of the best in the league.
"I thought Pap was good," said Red Sox manager Terry Francona. "He was down. He got the bunt play, then he got the comebacker. He threw the ball well. He wasn't flying all over the place. He stayed closed. He threw the ball downhill. We'll take that any day."
Lester glad to get first out of way
FORT MYERS, Fla. -- Jon Lester's favorite thing about his first outing of Spring Training? It's over.
Though the lefty often resembles a power-pitching clinic, he always feels a little out of sorts the first time he takes the ball in a given year. If there was any rust with Lester on Tuesday, it didn't show. He allowed one hit and one walk over two seemingly effortless innings.
"It's the first one," Lester said. "I'm just glad the first one is done and over with, because that one always seems to give me the most trouble. I feel good. First one is hard to get in front of a crowd, different hitters. So this is good. It's done and over with, you move on and keep building from here."
For the last three years, Lester has been a machine, keeping his win total between 15-19. Given that he is 26 years old, there's no reason he shouldn't roll through another summer.
"He's one of those guys that gives you a good opportunity to win every game," said outfielder Mike Cameron. "He's going to have good stuff the majority of the time, whether it's Spring Training, 10 o'clock game, whatever. Everybody's trying to build velocity. He does a good job."
But if Lester has any individual goals for the season, he is keeping them to himself.
"World Series," said Lester. "I don't know how many times I can answer that question as far as goals or anything like that. In baseball, it's hard to set goals. There's so many things you can't control. Go out there and work hard and make 32, 34 starts this year and see where we are at the end of the year."
Aceves could stick as swingman
FORT MYERS, Fla. -- Alfredo Aceves, who didn't sign with the Red Sox until the week leading up to Spring Training, looks primed for a comeback season.
The righty was an invaluable setup man on the Yankees' World Series championship team in 2009 before lower back woes ruined his '10 season.
After being designated for assignment by New York in December, Aceves could find rebirth on the other side of the rivalry.
Aceves fired a pair of shutout innings on Tuesday against the Twins.
"You know what, he's a pretty interesting guy," said Red Sox manager Terry Francona. "Fastball, changeup, breaking ball --he's got all three pitches and he loves to compete. He's a really interesting guy."
Aceves can start or relieve, though his best hope of making Boston's Opening Day roster is to do the latter.
An offseason bike accident in November left Aceves with a broken left collarbone, which required surgery. But other than the large scar that rests on his non-throwing shoulder, Aceves doesn't feel any lingering effects of the health issues that plagued him.
"I'm 100 percent," Aceves said. "That's all I've got."
Dlugach dislocates left shoulder
FORT MYERS, Fla. -- Brent Dlugach's reward for a great catch is a significant injury. The utility infielder, in Red Sox camp as a non-roster invitee, dislocated his left shoulder while making a sprawling catch on a bunt in the bottom of the fifth inning of Tuesday's 5-0 win over the Twins.
"You could tell right away," said Red Sox manager Terry Francona. "[Pitcher Jonathan Papelbon] even said he kind of heard it. You feel bad. The kid is kind of coming in and trying to show what he can do. He is getting some scans and we'll do some follow-up stuff [Wednesday], and then we'll figure out where he's at."
Dlugach, who turns 28 on Thursday, has never played in the Majors.
It has been a tough early portion of camp for Dlugach, who was drilled on the backside by teammate Bobby Jenks in batting practice on Saturday.