This year, I feel more comfortable with my fastball and my command. I feel that I can spend the time in the bullpen working on other pitches than just my fastball. ... I don't think you ever master a pitch. It's something you have feel for and you have command. That's really all we're trying to get. I'm not trying to have the best changeup in the league. I'm just trying to get a changeup that's effective or one that I can throw behind in the count when we need to.Terry Francona explained why:
The idea is twofold. One is to incorporate the changeup more and give him another weapon. And in the meantime, staying away from the cutter early in camp helps with arm strength and saves some wear and tear. [The cutter] is a weapon and then all of sudden, it's a very effective weapon. You go to it, you go to it and all of a sudden, your fastball [loses velocity]. ... We understand how good a pitch it can be, but you can lose some of your fastball with it.Tito was also impressed with Takashi Saito, who allowed one hit and struck out two in his inning of work.
I didn't expect to quite see that out of him today. ... here comes 93 [mph] with a pretty good breaking ball. That was nice to see. The ball came out of his hand real nice. He had good spin on the breaking ball.Saito has high praise for one of Boston's newest pitchers, 22-year-old Junichi Tazawa:
I think that he is going to become the type of person that's going to change what it means to be a Japanese baseball player. ... I look at Tazawa and I think of when I was 23 years old and I was a rookie. I certainly wasn't that calm and collected. He's here in a camp surrounded by all these famous, major league ballplayers. ... I think he's got it together really well.Jonathan Papelbon (now scheduled to pitch on Sunday) and Brad Penny each threw 40 pitches of live batting practice. ... Penny will start next Thursday against the Puerto Rico WBC team. ... Francona says Mike Lowell is running at 75-80%.
On the MFY front, Alex Rodriguez has been told by management to keep Cousin Yuri (who picked Slappy up from practice two days ago) away from the team at all times. ... What kind of contract is Manny Ramirez waiting for? He turned down the Dodgers' fourth offer -- $25 million for 2009 and a $20 million player option for 2010. That's amazingly (or insanely) generous.
Baseball's biggest rivalry continues this afternoon as the Red Sox travel to Port Charlotte to play the Rays at 1 PM. Michael Bowden will start. Kevin Youkilis, Jacoby Ellsbury, Jason Bay and Rocco Baldelli (he'll DH) will be in the lineup.