With the Red Sox out on the road on Tuesday, they sent a lot of their depth players out to take on the Pirates in spring training action, along with Nick Pivetta and some other key arms. As it has gone recently for this team in spring training (in which the results, we must emphasize, don’t much matter), things did not go well. The Red Sox dropped to 7-5 in Grapefruit League action with a 6-2 loss on the road against the Pirates. Here are the notes from the day.
Another rough one for Jake Diekman
Earlier today we wrote about recent Red Sox signing Jake Diekman and the home run problems that suddenly began to pop up last year, hoping that it would be a one-year blip. Your mileage may vary on how much to care about spring training results, but on that front specifically the early returns are less than ideal. Diekman on Tuesday pitched a full inning against Pittsburgh, hitting the first batter he faced, issuing a one-out walk, and then promptly giving up a two-out, three-run homer off the bat of Kevin Newman on what appeared to be a laser-straight fastball up in the zone over the middle of the plate. The Red Sox southpaw did strike out two in the inning, but overall the command issues outweighed the stuff, which will always be the concern when he’s on the mound. We should also mention that he allowed three stolen bases in his inning as well.
This was the third outing of the spring for Diekman, who got a bit of a late start signing after the lockout, and he’s allowed at least one run in all of them. Even worse, back to the home run point, the dinger to Newman was the second he’s allowed in 2 2⁄3 innings. He’s also struck out three and walked five, plus the hit batsman this afternoon. Diekman is an important pitcher in this Red Sox bullpen, and his ability to miss bats should put him in a lot of key late-inning situations to start the season. Now is the time to be working out kinks, and he’s got to find the right tweak to get ready for the season to start next Thursday.
Command issues for Nick Pivetta as well
Overall it has been a strong spring for Pivetta, which Bryan noted earlier today, which is good news because he appears to be entering the season as the de facto number two starter with Chris Sale on the injured list. Tuesday did include some positives as well, striking out five batters in four innings, but command issues also got the best of him. Ultimately the righty allowed three runs over his four innings of work, giving up two homers himself, along with two doubles, while issuing three walks.
Overall on the spring, Pivetta has now tossed 10 2⁄3 innings, allowing seven runs (only five earned) with 16 strikeouts and five walks while allowing four homers as well. It all seems, well, very Nick Pivetta-y. They’ll need a bit more if he’s to be a suitable number two behind Nathan Eovaldi, at least in the short-term, but there’s been enough positives here with the strikeout and walk numbers to have some cautious optimism, because that’s what this time of year is for, isn’t it?
- There wasn’t a whole lot of good to take away from the offense in this game, but they did get one home run late in the game from prospect Ceddanne Rafaela. He’s more known for his defense and athleticism than his power, but he got ahold on a ball right over the middle of the zone and launched it out to straightaway center field for a two-run shot, scoring prospect Nick Yorke. Rafaela should start the coming season at High-A Greenville.
- The only player in the Red Sox lineup with multiple hits in this game was Franchy Cordero, who stayed as the DH for the entire game. He had a single and a double on Tuesday. Given the current look of the Red Sox outfield depth chart, Cordero has a chance to play himself back into a major-league bench role with a good start to the season at Triple-A Worcester, though understandably I don’t see anyone buying in too hard unless he starts to show some of that production in the majors.
- We highlighted two poor(ish) pitching performances above, but two key depth arms had good days. Kaleb Ort, a minor-league Rule 5 selection from last winter, got the fifth inning and tossed a perfect frame. He figures to be among the top non-40-man relief depth options to start the season in Worcester. Later on, it was Kutter Crawford closing out the day with two scoreless innings, allowing just a single and a walk while striking out five.
- The other position players getting hits in this game who have not yet been mentioned were: Christian Arroyo, who notably got the start in right field for this game and went 1-3 with a walk and a single; Bobby Dalbec, who was the lone projected starter in this game and started at third base, going 1-4 with a single; Christin Stewart, a minor-league signing from early in the offseason who started in left field and went 1-4 with a single and a pair of strikeouts; and Rob Refsnyder, who currently projects to be the fourth outfielder to start the season despite not being on the 40-man roster and went 1-4 with a double and a pair of strikeouts.