FORT MYERS, Fla. (AP) — Clay Buchholz is ready for the big crowds.
Buchholz pitched one-hit ball for four scoreless innings, and the Boston Red Sox beat the Minnesota Twins 6-1 Thursday night in the first of three straight games between the teams to end spring training.
"I'd rather just be able to make a smooth transition (into the regular season), carry on everything that we've done to prepare for that first start and everything," Buchholz said. "Just keep doing the same thing. The same game, just more people watching you do it."
Buchholz walked one and struck out six. The right-hander allowed just two runs over 22 2-3 innings in six starts.
"Thought he was very sharp," Red Sox manager John Farrell said. "A number of two-seamers that he threw in to left-handers that came back on the plate for some put-away pitches, strike-three calls. Good cutter, changeup, four-pitch mix for strikes. I thought he looked very sharp."
One pitcher who did not look sharp this spring was Daniel Bard, and he learned he was being sent to Double-A Portland to work on his mechanics.
While the Red Sox believe Bard, who turns 28 in June, can regain the form that made him a successful setup man prior to a failed attempt at becoming a starter last season, the move to Double-A rather than Triple-A was to emphasize that the organization is not looking for a quick-fix to his problems.
"The point of emphasis we made to Daniel was we didn't want him to think if he put up three consecutive scoreless innings or three appearances where he pitched well, that he was on his way back to Boston," Red Sox manager John Farrell said. "We don't see him as a filler on a major league staff. We still see him as a very capable, very good, and potentially dominant late-inning reliever. And first and foremost is the foundation he pitches from and that's his delivery. That's the focal point."
Bard, a first-round pick in 2006 — 28th overall — has not pitched at Double-A since 2008.
In eight spring training games, spanning eight innings, Bard allowed seven runs — six earned — for a 6.75 ERA.
After two appearances early in the spring, Bard was held out for 11 days to work on his mechanics. Bard returned, showing some improvement, but reverted back to his struggles in recent outings. Farrell acknowledged he was surprised Bard was not able to make the necessary adjustments.
"Maybe a little bit right now particularly after the three outings he put together it looked like he was well on his way or at least on a more direct path, a more clear path," Farrell said. "We're not disappointed but at the same time, we don't think this is something that's a long-term fix, but one that still needs work.
Twins starter Kevin Correia was pleased with his outing. He went five innings, giving up one run on five hits and a walk with one strikeout.