FORT MYERS, Fla. — Allen Webster made a terrific first impression on the Red Sox in spring training last season, showing a lively fastball that overmatched even seasoned major league hitters.
The righthander, obtained from the Dodgers in 2012, struck out 14 with one walk over 11 innings and gave up two earned runs.
That led to an April call-up and Webster pitched well in a spot start against the Kansas City Royals, giving up two earned runs over six innings.
But Webster was hit hard in his other seven appearances with the Sox, allowing 27 earned runs on 32 hits and 17 walks over 24 1/3 innings.
Webster pitched well for Triple A Pawtucket but those shaky appearances in the majors raised doubts. His performance on Saturday against the Minnesota Twins added to those questions.
Webster was unable to get through two innings, getting pulled with two outs in the second inning after throwing 45 pitches. He gave up three runs on four hits, one walk and one hit batter.
“I got in there and got a little anxious and left a few balls up and they made good contact,” said Webster, who allowed three runs in the first inning.
The first inning was a problem last year. Webster threw a simulated inning on Saturday but it didn’t help.
“Trying to get settled into that first inning, something we’ve had different conversations with him about,” manager John Farrell said. “It’s still a work in progress.”
Before the game, Farrell said the Sox are trying to harness what they know is considerable talent.
“What we’ve stressed since he’s been in the organization — because he’s got such a live fastball — is the basic of pitching. That’s on the plate, down in the zone and strike one,” Farrell said.
Herrera’s new home
One sleeper transaction this winter for the Red Sox was the December trade of lefthander Franklin Morales to the Rockies for infielder Jonathan Herrera.
The Sox went through much of last season without a true utility infielder, to the point where they used shortstop Jose Iglesias at third base for 34 games. In Herrera, 29, they now have a player with experience at second base, shortstop and third base.
“He’s got good hands. He’s got good range, we saw that early on in some of the drill work,” Farrell said. “We’ll see how the bat plays as we begin the game schedule. The versatility, he’s a smart player and he understands the concepts behind some of the things we do on our infield defense. He’s a true pro.”
Herrera has the least experience at third base and will get extra work there this spring.
“I was surprised at that moment when they told me I had been traded,” Herrera said. “But to get traded to this team, the world champions, it’s a good thing for me and my family.”
Herrera hit .265 in five seasons for the Rockies. He offers little power at the plate but the Red Sox believe he’s a good fit on their roster.
“We’ve looked at him for a while. We’ve always liked him,” assistant general manager Mike Hazen said. “He can protect us defensively up the middle. That’s something you’re always looking for. He can do a lot of things that could help us.”
Herrera, who started at shortstop against the Twins, singled to drive in a run in the third inning. He struck out in other two at-bats.
“I think I’ll get a chance to play and get in the lineup sometimes. I’m really happy about the opportunity here,” he said.
Johnny Football on hand
Texas A&M quarterback and former Heisman Trophy winner Johnny Manziel put on a Red Sox jersey and watched the morning workout at Fenway South. The jersey had No. 2 on the back, the number he wore for the Aggies.
Manziel, who entered the NFL draft after his sophomore season, has a partnership with Fenway Sports Management to handle endorsements and sponsorships.
The association is via LeBron James and Maverick Carter. Their management firm, LRMR, is affiliated with Fenway Sports Management.
Manziel, Carter and an entourage of about a dozen watched the workout.
On Friday night, Manziel attended a charity event at JetBlue Park and posed for photos with a few Red Sox players including Jackie Bradley Jr., Steven Wright and Alex Wilson.
Through one of his handlers, Manziel declined to answer questions from reporters.
Sox catcher A.J. Pierzynski met Manziel last year and said hello again on Friday.
“I think he can be a good NFL guy,” Pierzynski said. “Maybe he can replace Tom Brady.”
Pierzynski then smiled. “I’m joking, I’m joking. Make sure you write down I was joking,” he said.
Young Yaz on the way
Baltimore manager Buck Showalter told reporters in Sarasota that minor league outfielder Mike Yastrzemski would join the Orioles for Sunday’s game against the Red Sox in Fort Myers. He is the grandson of Hall of Famer Carl Yastrzemski. Mike Yastrzemski, 23, played at St. John’s Prep and Vanderbilt before being drafted by the Orioles last June. … Lefthander Rich Hill, who was signed to a minor league contract, has yet to report to camp because of what Farrell termed a “serious family issue.” There is no timetable for when he will join the team. … … Grady Sizemore was 1 for 3 and played four innings in center field. He lost his footing on the warning track chasing a ball and went down but popped right back up. “No problem, I’m fine,” he said. Sizemore is scheduled to play again Tuesday. … Righthander submariner Shunsuke Watanabe pitched a scoreless eighth inning. The 37-year-old accepted an invitation to minor league camp in hopes of earning a spot at some point this season.