SARASOTA, Fla. -- As much as a pitcher wants to simulate a Major League game in Spring Training, the environment sometimes makes it tough to do so. Clay Buchholz thought he pitched pretty well on Friday in the Red Sox's 6-5 loss to the Orioles, even if his stat line (five innings, seven hits, five runs, one walk and three strikeouts) didn't prove it.
It was one of those warm sunny days when the wind was blowing out and the ball was carrying with ease.
There was one occasion when Nick Markakis swung and flipped his bat down in apparent disgust at a routine flyout. Well, that baseball flew over the left-field fence in the bottom of the third inning for a home run.
"I think I left a couple pitches up. It's never fun to see a guy throw his bat down and the ball go out, you know," Buchholz said. "Nick's a good hitter and he's always been a good hitter. Some of 'em aren't going to go your way, some of them are going to go theirs. But overall, I think I did pretty well. The pitch that [Adam] Jones hit was up, [and] that's what he does. A couple fly balls I think the wind got to them and found a spot to land on with nobody there."
Buchholz was pleased to get his five innings in, as it put him one step closer to being ready to pitch the third game of the regular season, which is April 8 in Detroit.
"He was working on his curveball today. He threw a lot of curveballs," said manager Bobby Valentine. "Some of them were good, some of them just got up into the wind. The 2-2 pitch, 3-2 curveballs left-handers hit that were wind-blown, [he] could have been out of the inning easily. I think he worked on everything he wanted to work on. It was good work. His stuff was good."
Four pitchers vying for final two rotation spots
SARASOTA, Fla. -- Though Vicente Padilla is recovered from the right hamstring injury that plagued him the past few days, he is no longer in the running for the starting rotation.
Manager Bobby Valentine noted the ailment as the reason, in that it deprived Padilla the time he needed to get stretched out.
With Andrew Miller in the same boat, Boston's starting rotation derby is down to Daniel Bard, Alfredo Aceves, Felix Doubront and Aaron Cook for the final two spots.
Aceves and Doubront will both start on Saturday, with the former pitching at home against the Phillies and the latter making the bus ride to Jupiter, Fla., to face the Marlins.
Bard will start Sunday's road game against the Blue Jays.
As for Padilla, Valentine thinks he can be an effective option out of the bullpen, while perhaps starting at some point if he gets the opportunity to get stretched out.
Padilla will pitch an inning in relief against the Phillies on Saturday.
"He's still in the mix as a starter, as I told him, just not 10 days from now," Valentine said.
Padilla told Valentine he was perfectly willing to pitch in relief, but the righty doesn't know if he can be as effective as he is as a starter.
"Well, you know, he likes to throw a lot of pitches to get a feel for it. He'll do what he can do, but he explained -- and he is -- he's a real feel guy," Valentine said. "And a lot of times, feel guys need some pitches."
Sporting bruise, Pedroia hopes to play Saturday
SARASOTA, Fla. -- Dustin Pedroia's right forearm bruise was improved enough by Friday morning that the second baseman thinks he can start on Saturday afternoon.
"I'm going to hit a little bit and see how it feels. I'm going to probably try and play tomorrow," said Pedroia.
In fact, manager Bobby Valentine said that the thing Pedroia was most annoyed about was the fact the umpire ruled that he swung at the pitch that hit him.
"I check swung and it hit me," Pedroia said. "I just tried to get out of the way. It was a sinker. It started in and I committed, then I tried to get out of the way."
McDonald continues to make strong impression
SARASOTA, Fla. -- Once the season starts going, an established star like Dustin Pedroia or Adrian Gonzalez will probably emerge swiftly as the best hitter on the Red Sox. However, in Spring Training, the club's best offensive player has been Darnell McDonald.
The outfielder had another big day in Friday's 6-5 loss to the Orioles, going 3-for-3 to raise his Grapefruit League average to .500.
In 24 at-bats, McDonald has accumulated five runs, five doubles and two homers.
"He's a hitting machine, just a flat-out hitting machine," said manager Bobby Valentine. "What's he hitting, .700? He's swinging, and the ball's finding holes and jumping off his bat or hitting off of walls. He's swinging really well. I liked the second at-bat where he got the base hit to right field. That's a really good sign. Other than that one, all of his hits have been pulled. He hit the hanging curveball, he hit the fastball to right, he hit a little cutter. He hit a lot of pitches."
With left fielder Carl Crawford destined to start the season on the disabled list, there's a chance McDonald could play with some regularity the first few weeks.
"I think he knows there's a potential Opening Day [start], there's some spots, some room," Valentine said. "He wasn't happy with last year. He's proven that he belongs on this team."
Tazawa headlines latest round of cuts
SARASOTA, Fla. -- The Red Sox made their latest batch of roster trims on Friday, and the most notable name on the list was righty Junichi Tazawa.
Tazawa, who underwent Tommy John surgery in 2010, is the type of pitcher who could impact Boston's bullpen at some point this season, but manager Bobby Valentine thinks Tazawa has mental hurdles to overcome first.
"Tazawa just -- as I told him -- has to cut it loose," Valentine said. "He's one step away from being totally back. His pitches show the crispness that we need, but not the consistency. As he has admitted to, there's just always a little trepidation of taking that extra step. He's just got to do it. A lot of guys have had the same thing that I've dealt with, once they do it, and they believe the ligament is even better now than it was before, it's all downhill."
Tazawa was optioned to Triple-A Pawtucket along with righty Clayton Mortensen and catcher Luis Exposito. Lefty Jesse Carlson, catcher Max St. Pierre and outfielder Alex Hassan were reassigned to Minor League camp.
The Red Sox have 46 players left in big league camp, including 32 on the 40-man roster, two on the 60-day disabled list and 12 non-roster invitees.