FORT MYERS, Fla. — Henry Owens, a 21-year-old lefthander, made his spring training debut for the Red Sox Thursday, pitching a scoreless inning against Northeastern in the first game of a doubleheader.
Owens struck out two and walked two, showing why he’s so well-regarded by the Sox and why he still has work to do.
“I felt good,” said Owens. “A lot of positives, a few negatives obviously. Got to get ahead in the count early.”
The two walks didn’t bother manager John Farrell.
“First time seeing him in game activity,” said Farrell. “Not going to make too much of the first time out.”
Owens was 11-6 with a 2.67 earned run average in 26 starts for Single A Salem and Double A Portland last season. He struck out 169 over 135 innings but also walked 68, hit nine batters, and threw 11 wild pitches.
“My fastball command got better,” he said. “But again, that’s my weakness, too. I keep working on that. You can’t walk two guys and get away with it too often. Obviously it still needs to be refined and hopefully I can get better.”
Owens, who will pitch again Monday against the Pirates in Bradenton, has a low-key personality that may help him on the mound.
“I’ve always been cool and collected,” he said.
Game 1 starter Brandon Workman allowed a leadoff single, then retired the final five NU batters he faced, two by strikeout. Outside of an inning in the University of Texas alumni game, it was his first appearance since Game 6 of the World Series.
Workman said the intensity wasn’t as different as you might think.
“First one of the year, I definitely had some adrenaline going,” he said. “I was excited to be back out there.”
The righthander has been one of the more impressive pitchers in camp, showing good command of the strike zone. He said his focus has been to improve the consistency of his secondary pitches.
“I believe in myself,” he said. “To have some success last year, in the World Series, definitely helps that.”
Said Farrell: “It’s a tribute to the focus and the concentration he’s gained. Today he comes out and attacks the strike zone, showed a good breaking ball.”
Spacing them out
Koji Uehara and Junichi Tazawa are scheduled to pitch Monday against the Pirates at Bradenton. Their second appearance won’t come until much later in the week.
The Sox will be judicious in how they use Uehara and Tazawa after how heavily the two were leaned on last season.
The plan is to have four- or five-day breaks between outings and to use them against mostly National League teams.
Uehara appeared in 73 games in the 2013 regular season, then pitched in 13 of 16 postseason games.
Tazawa was in 71 games and also pitched 13 times in the playoffs.
The Red Sox are being even more cautious with lefthander Craig Breslow, who hasn’t started throwing batting practice yet.
Grady Sizemore, who is making a comeback after missing two seasons with injuries, was 0 for 2 and played three innings in Game 1. He hit the ball hard twice and ran well. Sizemore was one of the stories of the day, and David Ortiz was asked what he thinks when he sees the outfielder. “He looks all sexy and good-looking,” said Ortiz. “What do you want me to tell you?” . . . The Red Sox will start their Grapefruit League schedule at home Friday with a game against the Minnesota Twins. Anthony Ranaudo will start, with Dalier Hinojosa, Francisco Cordero, and Andrew Miller to follow. The Twins are scheduled to start Mike Pelfrey. The teams meet again Saturday at Hammond Stadium in Fort Myers.
NESN broadcaster Jerry Remy made his first appearance at camp. He has not been with the team since last August, when his son was charged with murder. Jared Remy is awaiting trial . . . Jon Lester, who beat the St. Louis Cardinals twice in the World Series, will not face them Wednesday in Jupiter. He will pitch a simulated game in Fort Myers instead . . . The Red Sox ownership group and their limited partners are in the Fort Myers area for their annual meeting . . . Red Sox great Dwight Evans, a minor league instructor, arrived at camp . . . There was a moment of silence before the second game for Boston College basketball sports information director Dick Kelley, who died of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis Feb. 13. The first pitch for the game was delivered to the mound by former BC baseball captain Pete Frates, who is battling ALS.Peter Abraham can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @PeteAbe.