FORT MYERS, Fla. - A funny thing happened on the way to sewing up a spot in the starting rotation: Alfredo Aceves had a terrible outing.
Aceves, who was seemingly the most consistent starter in Red Sox camp, blew up Saturday, allowing 10 hits and nine runs in three innings. The hope was that he could go six innings, but instead he threw only 58 pitches, 36 for strikes, far short of what was anticipated.
Will this poor start affect whether he makes the rotation?
In Jupiter, Felix Doubront made a strong start Saturday. Daniel Bard is scheduled to start Sunday vs. the Blue Jays in Dunedin. The three are vying for two spots in the rotation, with veteran Aaron Cook having an outside shot, though the Sox seem to think he’ll fall one or two starts short of making the minimum they prefer for a pitcher breaking camp.
Cook started slowly out of camp because of shoulder concerns and then a groin pull.
Aceves had no control from the outset, walking leadoff batter Shane Victorino and allowing two runs in the first, with a wild pitch accounting for one of them. He surrendered two of the three homers in the second inning, hit a batter, and just got pounded by a Phillies lineup that thought it was having extended batting practice.
“It looked like he was out of sorts from the get-go,’’ said Sox bench coach Tim Bogar. “Seemed out of whack, didn’t seem like himself. I haven’t seen that since last August.’’
“Little bit up,’’ Aceves said. “I watched the video and I was up. One of the homers was down. I had one bad game, moving on.
“One bad outing is not going to tell you the value of a pitcher. Of course, every single day is important. We’re almost to the end of spring training and almost ready for the season.’’
Aceves said he would not be disappointed if he had to return to the bullpen. Until now, he has received no indication from manager Bobby Valentine which way it’s going to go.
When it was mentioned that a scout thought he had reached the “dead arm stage’’ of camp, Aceves said, “No, I feel good and I see the ball jump off my hand, you know? Just one of those days when nothing went good.’’
Asked whether this hiccup could hurt Aceves’s starting chances, Bogar said, “He’s got a track record and he’s shown us he can pitch. We tried to stretch him out to six today, but it just didn’t work out.
“I do think how he reacts the next time out is a big deal because he hasn’t struggled in so long.’’
Bogar said Carl Crawford continues to make progress with his hitting and throwing as he tries to return from left wrist surgery. Crawford has been unable to participate in any games and will not start the season with the team. He is likely to stay in Fort Myers once the team breaks camp and play in some minor league games . . . Franklin Morales and Vicente Padilla pitched scoreless innings against the Phillies, as did closer Andrew Bailey . . . Comebacking lefty specialist Rich Hill threw one inning in a simulated game in Fort Myers and struck out two . . . Mike Aviles improved his average to .293 with two hits . . . Nick Punto had three hits as the DH.
In Jupiter, Pedro Ciriaco was 2 for 3 with a double and a run against the Marlins. He has six extra-base hits in 34 at-bats. Not bad for a career minor leaguer with a .297 on-base percentage. “How about Ciriaco?’’ Valentine said. “He’s a very good player, I’m telling you. Well, he’s played very well. He has very good talent and he’s played very well.’’ . . . The Red Sox watched Marlins outfielder Giancarlo Stanton take batting practice and came away impressed, as one of his shots cleared the fence in left field, a parking lot, and a building that houses the Miami clubhouse. “Never seen anything like it,’’ said Cody Ross, a former Marlin. “He’s amazing.’’ After the game, Marlins manager Ozzie Guillen referred to Stanton as “Michelangelo.’’ . . . David Ortiz made the long bus ride and was 1 for 3 with an RBI. “No complaints, he just wanted to play,’’ Valentine said . . . Justin Thomas retired the final nine Miami batters in relief of Doubront. In all, Red Sox pitchers set down the final 14 Marlins.Nick Cafardo can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org; Peter Abraham reported from Jupiter, Fla.