FORT MYERS, Fla. -- For the Red Sox, the most intriguing theme of Spring Training continues to be the stellar work from the top Minor League prospects.
One day after Rubby De La Rosa put on a show in relief, the other right-hander the Red Sox received in the blockbuster trade with the Dodgers did the same.
Allen Webster looked so dominant during his three-inning stint that manager John Farrell expressed compassion to media members who were interviewing players in the clubhouse and missed the chance to see the outing.
"You missed Webster? You missed the highlight of the day," said Farrell.
Webster gave up two hits and no runs, walking one and striking out two. He hit 99 mph on the radar gun. It was a nice follow-up to his first Grapefruit League outing, when he struck out four over two innings.
"With each added inning as he went out there, he had better rhythm and better feel for his secondary pitches," said Farrell. "Once again, high 90s with his velocity with good location. He threw three pitches for strikes -- a very impressive three innings. Twenty-nine pitches in three innings. He was really good, especially the last inning. You can ask all the umpires. It was an impressive performance."
While velocity wows fans, Farrell and pitching coach Juan Nieves are looking at other things for their evaluation.
"Up to 99 again today," Farrell said. "Again, velocity is one thing, but still, I just think the action to the stuff [stands out] and keep in mind, this is someone who has always been a starter, so the first inning coming in in the middle of the game is a little bit different for him. But with each successive inning, you can see the rhythm and just the flow of the game really start to take over. He has three very good weapons you can go to."
Like De La Rosa, Webster will open the season in the Minors, barring an injury. The Red Sox are excited about their depth options if they do need to find a starter at some point during the season.
"Provided everyone is healthy, our rotation is spoken for," Farrell said. "The one thing we're getting a better read on and a feel for are the abilities of these guys in key spots and their ability to make certain pitches in some tight situations. Albeit it's Spring Training, but still, still, they are handling those situations well. They come into a new organization and they are making very good impressions."
Ortiz may make Grapefruit debut late next week
FORT MYERS, Fla. -- Following a two-day leave for personal reasons, Red Sox slugger David Ortiz was back in camp for a full work day on Saturday, running the bases for the second time this week.
In fact, Ortiz, who has been on a conservative program as he works his way back from a right Achilles injury, will now shift his workout program to all baseball activities.
Manager John Farrell said the club is targeting Ortiz to make his Grapefruit League debut in about a week.
"He'll run the bases again today," Farrell said. "His protocol, for lack of description, will turn all to baseball activities. The agility work he was doing previous, that's now all on-field. We don't have a hard date, but we're still looking at the end of this upcoming week that he'd be in games."
Ortiz has had a relatively smooth spring, pretty much staying right on course with the program the trainers set out for him.
"Were there times he experienced a little stiffness after an aggressive day? A little bit," said Farrell. "But nothing to the point of having to alter his program."
Bard throws side session, slated to pitch Monday
FORT MYERS, Fla. -- Daniel Bard hasn't pitched in a game since Monday, when he fired a scoreless inning against the Rays. The reason is that he's been focusing on side work.
The righty fired a side session on Saturday and is expected to pitch in Monday's game against the Rays.
"He's going through some work with [pitching coach] Juan [Nieves]," said Red Sox manager John Farrell. "We're just trying to work out his lower half, more stride direction, so he had a work day [Friday], just throwing on a line where there's some lateral type drills where we're trying to get that stride direction consistent."
Bard is coming off a rough season when he struggled with a transition to the rotation and couldn't get in a groove when he moved back to his familiar relief role.
He is working exclusively as a reliever heading into this season.
Middlebrooks returns; Salty, Gomes remain out
FORT MYERS, Fla. -- The Red Sox got third baseman Will Middlebrooks back in the lineup on Saturday, just three days after a scare with his recently fractured right wrist forced him out of the game after an uncomfortable check swing.
But manager John Farrell does have some other bumps and bruises to track.
Catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia and left fielder Jonny Gomes were out of the lineup for the third straight day.
Saltalamacchia, who has been bothered by lower back stiffness, is expected to return in a day or two.
Gomes, who needed three stitches in his left knee after running into the wall in Sarasota, is on the same schedule.
How is Gomes doing?
[Complaining] and moaning about why he's not playing," said Farrell. "He feels good. But last year, there was a situation with another laceration where it lingered on by not taking advantage of the time initially. We want to make sure the initial healing of the skin is heading in the right direction before we get him back out there. I would hope, whether it's Sunday or Monday, we just want to give it three to five days initially to let that suture take care of itself."
Victorino, Aceves receive final Classic tuneups
FORT MYERS, Fla. -- Shane Victorino was given the option of playing Saturday's day game after a night game, or using his final day in camp before the World Baseball Classic to work in the cages.
The outfielder opted to make the short bus ride to Hammond Stadium to face the Twins, and wound up going 0-for-2 with a walk.
Though Victorino is hitless in his first 11 Grapefruit League at-bats, he's been around far too long to be worried about that.
Instead, he is just trying to get his timing down --- a quest that will continue when he flies to Arizona to meet up with Team USA on Sunday.
"Yeah, at this point, I definitely feel where I would be any other time," Victorino said. "Getting my at-bats is the only part I'm focused on. That's the one thing that worries me -- not playing every day. But all that stuff will come with time, getting my work in in the cage and batting practice and working extra. That's something I'm going to focus on."
Righty Alfredo Aceves (Team Mexico) also made his last appearance at Spring Training before leaving for the Classic. Over 3 2/3 innings, Aceves scattered five hits while giving up a run. He walked none and struck out three.
"He got a couple of key double plays," said Red Sox manager John Farrell. "With the exception of the leadoff hitter every inning, I thought he threw the ball well. We were able to get him stretched out to close to 50 pitches, which was the goal today. And then he'll leave and join Team Mexico."
Buchholz focuses on process, not numbers
FORT MYERS, Fla. -- Clay Buchholz, who made his first outing of Spring Training on Saturday, vowed not to judge his upcoming season by statistics.
Perhaps Buchholz put too much pressure on himself last season, when he got off to a nightmarish start that snowballed. In his first nine starts of 2012, Buchholz had a 7.84 ERA. For the rest of the season, his ERA was 3.41. The final numbers? An 11-8 record with a 4.56 ERA.
"Just pitching as far as being evaluated, it's all numbers," said Buchholz. "For the most part, it's hard to control any of those numbers. You can't really control your ERA; you can't control the errors behind you or the home runs that you give up or wins and losses, for that fact. But if I'm going to go deep into games and keep the team in the game every time I'm able to go out there, I think that alone will take care of everything. Then the numbers will come, if you do all the little things right that you need to do."
On Saturday, Buchholz went 1 1/3 innings, reaching his pitch limit of 40. He gave up a hit and two walks while striking out two.
Buchholz's first start of the spring was delayed because of a minor right hamstring injury earlier in camp.
"He used all his pitches," said Red Sox manager John Farrell. "He likes to pitch with a constant mix. I think with repetition, sharpness will come. No ill effects with the hamstring. It was a good day of work."