3/6/2014 5:16 P.M. ET
Veteran pitchers help Webster turn things around
By Andrew Simon / MLB.com
JUPITER, Fla. -- Red Sox right-hander Allen Webster struggled in his Grapefruit League debut on Saturday, so a few veteran teammates stepped in to lend their expertise. After some time watching video with Jon Lester, John Lackey and Clay Buchholz -- and some more applying their suggestions in the bullpen -- Webster came back a different pitcher on Thursday.
The 24-year-old, ranked by MLB.com as the Red Sox's No. 3 prospect, started against the Marlins at Roger Dean Stadium and breezed through three scoreless innings, allowing one single and one walk while striking out one.
"You pay attention to every word," Webster said of his trio of advisors. "I was very thankful they would even take their time like that."
According to manager John Farrell, pitching coach Juan Nieves wanted Lester and Lackey -- two guys who exhibit strong front sides in their deliveries -- to reinforce those qualities in Webster. They watched some video of Webster pitching last year, and told him he needed to stay back on the rubber to get more on top of the ball and create a better downhill angle toward the plate.
"I think any time you've got a peer or a teammate, particularly with the success they've had, that's going to resonate and maybe draw a little more confidence from the message being delivered," Farrell said. "So to their credit, they take him under their wing and are trying to help in any way they can."
Webster took his teammates' suggestions into the bullpen, where he worked on them with an exaggerated motion. He carried that over into Thursday.
In his three innings, Webster used only 30 pitches, inducing seven groundouts. Thanks to the tweaks, he was able to avoid pushing his pitches off to the side or having them sail. Instead, Webster threw strikes, got ahead in the count and kept the ball on the ground.
"Sometimes he comes out and tries to be a little too perfect with his pitches and ends up having a high pitch count inning," Farrell said. "More than anything, to see the ball hit on the ground is key for him."
Salty reflects fondly on Sox, but ready to move on
JUPITER, Fla. -- After helping the Red Sox win a World Series title, Jarrod Saltalamacchia has moved on, but he isn't holding on to any hard feelings.
Saltalamacchia hit cleanup against his old team at Roger Dean Stadium on Thursday, their first encounter since he signed a three-year, $21 million contract with the Marlins in December.
"I hope they go 0-162 like I said yesterday, and they're all sleazeballs," Saltalamacchia joked, referencing critical comments that the Tigers' Ian Kinsler made recently about his former club, the Rangers. "No, it's an exciting time to see those guys again. I had a lot of fun with them as always, but I'm kind of ready for this to move on a little bit."
The 28-year-old catcher played an important part in Boston's run last season, setting career highs in plate appearances (470), batting average (.273), slugging percentage (.466), OPS (.804) and RBIs (65). But he told The Boston Globe on Wednesday that the Red Sox made the lowest offer out of the six teams that went after him this offseason.
Boston manager John Farrell, who started David Ross ahead of Saltalamacchia in four of six World Series games last October, said he talked to his former catcher throughout the offseason and again on Thursday morning when his team arrived.
"He did an outstanding job for us last year," Farrell said. "Probably his best year offensively, and you know, he was rewarded with the deal he got from Miami. We wish him well."
Saltalamacchia, who had been with the Sox since a July 2010 trade from the Rangers, played down any disappointment about how the offseason transpired.
"Like I said, I'm ready to move on to start that chapter here [with Miami]," he said. "They had a lot of history [in Boston], but it's time for us to start some history here and win a World Series for ourselves."
Saltalamacchia still keeps in touch with his Boston teammates, but he's also ready to start fresh in South Florida.
"Those are memories that'll last forever," he said of his time with the Sox. "But you don't want to live on those. You want to start some new ones. But we have a great thing here, and that's what I'm looking forward to doing."
Slick-fielding Marrero continues to impress
JUPITER, Fla. -- Before pulling off a trade with the Tigers last July, the Red Sox had a young shortstop who pushed his way to the Major Leagues largely on the strength of an excellent glove.
Could Deven Marrero be the next Jose Iglesias? Perhaps it's not a fair comparison, but in Thursday's Grapefruit League game against the Cardinals, Boston's latest slick-fielding shortstop prospect put on an impressive show.
"Not comparing him to Jose," manager John Farrell said, "but if the need were to arise, based on what he showed last year and in his first year of professional baseball, and the way he goes about his drill work and what we see on the field, we'd be hard-pressed to find a shortstop that's going to make better plays than that. Four or five different types of plays within a given game. He came through the Draft with that calling card, as an elite defender, and he's showed that."
Marrero completed some routine plays, but also executed a diving stop on a ground ball up the middle, snared a line drive to the third-base side and made an acrobatic turn on a 4-6-3 double play with a runner breathing down his neck.
"Defense is my thing, so I'm ready every pitch and I expect anything," Marrero said. "Everything else just happens, it just flows. It happens so quick that you don't have time to think. You just react."
The 23-year-old was the 24th overall pick of the 2009 First-Year Player Draft out of Arizona State, and last year he split his first full Minor League season between Class A Advanced Salem and Double-A Portland. He hit .252/.338/.317 overall, with 20 doubles, two home runs and 27 stolen bases.
Marrero did pick up two singles in four at-bats on Thursday, but his glove stood out the most. It's likely what will carry him toward the big leagues, even if his path could be blocked for the foreseeable future by the even younger Xander Bogaerts.
"I don't look ahead," Marrero said. "What I like to think is I just have to go out there and play every day and do what I can to get better that day and let everything take care of itself. All that stuff's out of my hands. Xander's a great player. He's there for a reason and they trust him for a reason.
"The Red Sox are going to put the players out there that they need to win the World Series. They have trust in him right now. The season's going to play out, and I'm going to do my thing, and when they think I'm ready, I'll be ready."
• Right-hander John Lackey progressed to throwing to live hitters on Thursday morning back at the Red Sox's complex in Fort Myers, tossing three innings during a Minor League intrasquad game. He threw 38 pitches, putting him on track to start a split-squad game against the Marlins on Tuesday.
• Righty Jake Peavy was able to wear a glove during Wednesday's 40-pitch bullpen session in Fort Myers, but he wasn't allowed to catch any throws. Peavy, recovering from a lacerated left index finger, previously felt off-balance while trying to pitch without a glove.
• Farrell said that catcher David Ross, out of action since Sunday with a foot injury, will start behind the plate against the Braves on Friday. Fellow backstop A.J. Pierzynski, dealing with his own foot ailment, went through baseball activities on Thursday, but the Sox will wait to see how he feels on Friday before deciding when he will return.
• Outfielder Shane Victorino, who has yet to play in the Grapefruit League, is going through "normal everyday activity," Farrell said. Victorino (back, hamstring, etc.) is stretching, throwing and taking batting practice with the team, and has suffered no extra stiffness or other setbacks.