WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. — The Red Sox have developed a list of terms they use to describe the activities of their pitchers during spring training.
There’s an “aggressive bullpen” which is just like a normal bullpen session but you pretend there’s a hitter at the plate. Sometimes there actually is a hitter but he doesn’t get to swing.
There is “live batting practice” when the hitter does get to swing.
Some pitchers then advance to “controlled scrimmages,” which are like games but there’s a strict pitch count per inning. That could mean getting two outs or maybe four.
There are still actual games against another team in the stadium. And for the bulk of the rotation, that time has finally come.
Rick Porcello is scheduled to start Sunday against Tampa Bay at Port Charlotte. The Sox are off Monday but Chris Sale will pitch in a minor league game at Fenway South. David Price is set for next Tuesday against the Tigers at JetBlue Park and Nathan Eovaldi will go next Wednesday against Minnesota at JetBlue.
The Sox have broken in Eovaldi, Porcello, Price, and Sale slowly this spring coming off the World Series. The idea was to further rest their arms and guard against injury.
Porcello was happy to finally get on the mound Tuesday and throw live batting practice in Fort Myers.
“The ball is coming out really good; I’m happy with everything,” Porcello said. “Physically, pitches are working well and the new changeup we’ve been working on has been getting some good results early on. I’m excited about everything that’s happening.”
Porcello has worked with Eduardo Rodriguez on that new changeup.
“I wasn’t really happy with my changeup the second half of last year, and Eddie’s got a great changeup,” Porcello said. “I knew that he threw a two-seam changeup grip and that was something I thought could possibly work for me.
“I just kind of asked him about his grip and he showed it to me and I started playing catch with it with him and each day I got a little bit more comfortable with it and felt better and better, and now that’s the grip that I’m going to go with this year.
“It’s funny, he was really excited he taught me something because all of us are usually trying to keep him in line.”
The hard-to-pin-down date of Dustin Pedroia’s first game in spring training is coming into focus. It should be Thursday at JetBlue Park against the Twins.
The alternative is Friday at Sarasota against the Orioles, but the Sox would prefer Pedroia play his first game at home with the full medical staff present in case there is an issue with his left knee.
With the regular season not starting until March 28, the Sox have ample time to get Pedroia ready. Manager Alex Cora said they would want to see the second baseman get through seven innings in a game and play back-to-back games.
“We’ll take it step by step,” Cora said. “Like any other player, we get information and we go from there.”
Cora was critical of Rodriguez Monday for falling behind hitters while pitching with a lead in his start against the Mets.
Rodriguez agreed with his manager.
“We’re on the same page,” he said. “Just need to improve that and attack the hitter. That’s the point to be a starter. When you score four runs, you’ve got to go out there and get three outs and get back to the dugout. That’s all.
“I like that he be honest all the time, even if he tells [the media] or told me. I like that. That puts me on pace to work to make everybody happy. I like it because I know he’s worried about me and he says things like that because he likes me.”
Rodriguez next starts Saturday, again against the Mets.
Ryan Brasier and Heath Hembree are a few days away from getting back on the mound. Brasier missed a week with an infected toe and Hembree was away on paternity leave . . . Sam Travis was scratched from the lineup, the latest victim of the illness going around. Tony Renda (oblique tightness) also was unable to play. Cole Sturgeon did play and made a diving catch in center field to end an 8-4 victory against the Nationals.