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Red Sox reliever Hirokazu Sawamura makes a good first impression in first outing

Hirokazu Sawamura said he needs only three or four outings to be ready for the season.Toru Takahashi/Associated Press

FORT MYERS, Fla. — Hirokazu Sawamura needed only nine pitches to dispose of the first three hitters he faced in a simulated game at JetBlue Park on Tuesday morning.

The Red Sox wanted to see more of their new righthander and had him stay on the mound to face another hitter.

Gilberto Jimenez gave Sawamura a battle, fouling off three two-strike pitches before swinging through a slider. The first impression of Sawamura was resoundingly impressive. He struck out three and threw 13 of his 17 pitches for strikes. Christian Vázquez, with a popup to left field, was the only batter to put the ball in play.


“The slider was a good pitch,” Vázquez said.

So was the splitter, which produced some awkward swings from Josh Ockimey and Marcus Wilson.

“Getting out there on the mound and facing batters, it got me fired up,” Sawamura said via an interpreter. “I think I did a pretty good job.”

Manager Alex Cora and pitching coach Dave Bush watched the outing from behind home plate.

“You can see the fastball has good spin on it, good velocity. The split should be good. It should play,” Cora said. “Only a simulated game, but the fact he went through it. You can get nervous in those situations, right? It’s your first one with hitters in the big stadium and he was OK with it.

“It was a good start.”

Koji Uehara, who had 79 saves and a 2.19 earned run average using a fastball and splitter for the Red Sox from 2013-16, watched Sawamura from a seat behind the plate.

Uehara now lives in Florida and works as an analyst for the Japanese television network NHK. He wore No. 19 with the Sox, and Sawamura chose the same number to honor his friend.

“I have a lot of respect for him,” Sawamura said. “We hang out on and off the field.”


Sawamura expects that his next outing will be in a game. He said he needs only three or four outings to be ready for the season.

Pivetta sharp

In Port Charlotte, Nick Pivetta allowed one run on three hits in three innings against the Rays in an 11-3 loss. The righthander also struck out three without a walk.

“Bunch of weak contacts, no walks, a bunch of positives today, but still some things to work on,” Pivetta said.

Nick Pivetta saw action against the Rays Tuesday.Jim Davis/Globe Staff

Pivetta has started two games and given up two runs over five innings without a walk.

“He was very good. Good stuff. With him, just got to keep trying to get him in the strike zone,” Cora said. “It’s very important. His stuff is that good. He faced some good hitters today and did a good job.”

Eovaldi goes three

Nate Eovaldi pitched three innings in the simulated game, allowing one run on two hits with two walks and four strikeouts … The Sox used six pitchers against the Rays. All allowed at least one run. Michael Chavis was 2 for 3 and is 6 of 14 in the six games he has played … The Red Sox reassigned 12 players to the minor leagues. Catchers Roldani Baldwin and Austin Rei were demoted along with pitchers Seth Blair, Matt Carasiti, Raynel Espinal, Durbin Feltman, Frank German, Zac Grotz, Kaleb Ort, AJ Politi, Thad Ward, and Josh Winckowski. Minor league camp does not start until April 1, so the players will remain at Fenway South.


Peter Abraham can be reached at peter.abraham@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @PeteAbe.