Clay Buchholz pitched three solid innings Sunday against the Pirates. (Photo courtesy USA Today Sports)
Ben Whitehead Contributing Writer
In what has been a slow start for the defending World Champion Boston Red Sox, this Spring Training has been more about the time for youngsters than it has getting everyone full-go ready.
The Sox entered the weekend with one win in seven tries thus far in Florida. They finished the weekend with two wins sandwiched around two Saturday losses to the Orioles. But things are starting to take shape and here's what you need to know...
Buchholz, Doubront looking sharp
Clay Buchholz and Felix Doubront didn't factor much in the way of the Red Sox starting rotation during the 2013 postseason. Buchholz was limited with back issues and Doubront pitched out of the bullpen. But the duo pitched masterfully in the Sox wins this weekend. Buchholz faced the minimum in three innings Sunday against the Pirates and Doubront went four innings of two-hit ball Friday against Atlanta. Assuming Jon Lester and John Lackey pitch like they did a season ago, and Buchholz can pitch close to what he did while he was healthy last season, Boston is in good shape with four really promising pitchers once again. And that's without Jake Peavy pitching in - the Sox five-man rotation could be the deepest in the league.
Brentz making a statement
Outfield Bryce Brentz climbed the Sox ladder and is knocking on the door of the big league club. It doesn't hurt that he already has three home runs this spring. With the already deep outfield - including rising star Jackie Bradley Jr. and the addition of Grady Sizemore - there might not be any room for Brentz this season. However, he's making the decision harder on the front office, and that's a good problem to have.
No, not the second of the Hunger Games book series, but Christian Vazquez. The Red Sox prized catching prospect continues to impress during the spring camp. Moreso than his already widely known defensive skills, his offensive progression is showing out. He knocked a two-run homer in the ninth inning of a 13-2 loss to the O's. Although the Sox are set with A.J. Pierzynski and David Ross for this season, Vazquez will be fun to watch in Triple-A Pawtucket and is a likely call-up in the case of injury or at season's end.
Sizing up Sizemore
A slow progression for Sizemore will ramp up this week as he is expected to play back-to-back days, Monday and Tuesday. John Farrell wants to make sure the Sox are easing the transition back to the game, but with a full week of games down, it's time to start seeing how Sizemore answers the call. If things continue going well, he could not only be in the starting lineup Opening Day, he may be batting leadoff.
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