FORT MYERS, Fla. — Clay Buchholz is showing signs that he is ready for the season. Mike Napoli is proving to his new Red Sox teammates that he can be a durable addition.
Buchholz pitched four scoreless innings, and Napoli played in consecutive games for first time this spring training and had a run-scoring single and a double, helping the Boston Red Sox over the Toronto Blue Jays 5-3 Tuesday.
“Everything is starting to fall together,” Buchholz said.
“I was able to go out there and execute pitches, like one after another, a little bit better than the last time out and the time before that. I feel like it’s all coming together for the spring, getting up and down a little bit more and the next time when I go out it’ll be five innings. It’s starting to feel more real now.”
Napoli, diagnosed with avascular necrosis in both hips during his off-season contract negotiations with the Red Sox, is batting .429 (6 for 14) with two homers and six RBIs.
Buchholz earned the win, going four scoreless innings, giving up three hits with a strikeout.
In his recent side work, the Red Sox have tried to improve Buchholz’s tempo.
“Better tempo once again, consistent with his last outing,” Red Sox manager John Farrell said.
Eight of the 12 outs Buchholz recorded were on groundballs, including a double play to end the third with runners on first and second.
“I think any time we see Clay putting the ball on the ground, he’s got a sinker, he’s got his late action pitches working down in the zone,” Farrell said.
“And that was the case again today. Key double-play ball for him. And I think as we’ve seen his evolution as a starting pitcher, as he’s gone to that two-seamer, it really puts him in a good position to not only be efficient but when he needs to, get a groundball double play as the case was today.”
Toronto right-hander Justin Germano gave up two runs in three innings on five hits with no walks and two strikeouts.
“My last couple outings, I feel like there were just a couple plays that didn’t go my way,” Germano said. “But today I think I was down in the zone more consistently than I had been my last couple of outings and in return got groundouts.”
It was Germano’s first start of the spring after four relief appearances.
“Over the years I’ve learned how to get ready for the game as a reliever but my comfort zone definitely is starting to develop,” he said. “I’ve done a lot better getting into the zone and I’m comfortable doing it. At first it was kind of a mess out there, a lot going through my head but I’ve been able to slow it down having to do it more.”
The Sox added a run off Claudio Vargas in the fourth when Will Middlebrooks doubles to centre, scoring on Ryan Sweeney’s single to centre.
Jim Negrych’s two-run homer in the fifth off Boston lefty Andrew Miller closed the gap. But Boston got two runs off Chad Beck in the seventh. The Blue Jays scored a run off Allen Webster in the ninth.
NOTES: Right-hander Brandon Morrow was scheduled to throw four innings in a minor league game on Tuesday. … Right-hander Marcus Stroman, the Blue Jays No. 1 pick in 2012, was scheduled to pitch in the same game. It will be the spring training debut for Stroman, who was suspended for 50 games in August for violating baseball’s minor league drug program. … Left-hander Darren Oliver is scheduled to pitch in an instrasquad game on Wednesday. … Third baseman Brett Lawrie has returned to the Blue Jays from the World Baseball Classic. He strained his rib cage while with Team Canada but is expected to be ready for opening day. … Right-hander Kyle Drabek, who underwent Tommy John surgery in June for the second time in his career, is set to begin throwing off a mound this week. … Red Sox minor league games begin Wednesday. Right-hander Alfredo Aceves, who returned from pitching for Mexico in the WBC, will pitch in a minor league game on Wednesday.