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Pitchers weren’t in the zone on this day

Daisuke Matsuzaka was one of three pitchers who struggled in an 11-2 loss to Florida. Daisuke Matsuzaka was one of three pitchers who struggled in an 11-2 loss to Florida. (Charles Krupa/Associated Press)
By Michael Vega and Peter Abraham
Globe Staff / March 6, 2011

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FORT MYERS, Fla. — Terry Francona says he demands only three things of his pitchers during spring training. No matter if they are starters or relievers, the Red Sox manager said, “We want all our pitchers to work quick, throw strikes, and keep the ball down.’’

That proved to be problematic for Daisuke Matsuzaka, Tim Wakefield, and Daniel Bard in yesterday’s 11-2 loss to the Marlins in a split-squad game before 7,195 at City of Palms Park.

The trio combined to allow all 11 runs and 13 hits, with Matsuzaka leading the way by giving up seven runs (five earned) on six hits, including a two-run homer by Dewayne Wise.

“He got ahead OK, but he certainly didn’t put anybody away and he got deep counts,’’ Francona said. “He wanted to throw some cutters today — which he did — and changeups, a couple of good ones. A couple of breaking balls he left up, one to Wise that he wanted to wrap around his ankle and he leaves it over the plate.

“Those are the things you hope happen in spring training and not during the season. It gives us something to talk to him about.’’

Matsuzaka, who had been bothered by a virus in his right eye before his second spring appearance, threw 55 pitches (33 strikes) and had two walks to go along with a strikeout. It was an uneven performance that came on the heels of a two-inning outing in a 7-6 win against the Twins last Monday in which he allowed one run on one hit and had one walk with one strikeout.

“From what I said the last outing, it’s pretty obvious what I wanted to do today,’’ Matsuzaka said. “It’s always ideal to get both results and what I want to do. At the same time, this time it wasn’t going that way. Personally, I don’t care about the results today because I was doing something I wanted to do.’’

Wakefield approached the game as though he were starting and was prepared to throw three innings or 50 pitches.

“Obviously, the 50 came before the three, but I felt good,’’ Wakefield said. “Tito came out and said, ‘You’re at 58.’ I really didn’t feel I had thrown almost 60 pitches so that told me I’m in shape.’’

Bard struggled to make the transition from the bullpen to the mound.

“He felt good in the bullpen, but the first couple of hitters he was really fighting it. You could tell,’’ Francona said. “He threw a lot of pitches, his velocity was fine. He just needs a little bit of work.’’

Jonathan Papelbon and Bobby Jenks, though, each submitted 1-2-3 innings — Papelbon in the seventh, Jenks in the ninth.

“I thought Pap was really encouraging,’’ Francona said. “His direction to the plate, the ball was down, and you didn’t see that fastball wandering. I thought he had a good split.’’

Jenks mixed in a cutter and changeup and struck out the first two batters he faced.

“That was a really sharp breaking ball we saw today,’’ Francona said. “His velocity was a little bit more than we expected early on in camp, but that was a really good inning.

“A day like today, when you’re getting beat around, you can hang your hat on a couple of the good things that happened and try to fix the things that didn’t work.’’

Calling in sick J.D. Drew and Jon Lester did not show up at the park because they had flu-like symptoms. Francona said Lester likely will miss his turn today against the Mets at Port St. Lucie and that Michael Bowden will start . . . Francona said that lefty Felix Doubront, who was shut down nine days ago because of a tight elbow, had begun throwing again . . . MRI results on Brent Dlugach’s dislocated left shoulder revealed that surgery will not be required. “That was great news,’’ said Dlugach, who suffered the injury Tuesday vs. the Twins . . . After coming out of yesterday’s game, a famished Dustin Pedroia was spotted returning to the Sox clubhouse with three hot dogs he purchased from a concession stand. Asked if he had any rules barring players from visiting the concession stand, Francona cracked, “No, not if he shares.’’

Aceves shines As Matsuzaka struggled, would-be starter Alfredo Aceves allowed one unearned run over three innings against the Orioles in Sarasota. He gave up two hits. “I missed a couple of pitches and I feel disappointed,’’ said Aceves, who missed his spot when Joe Mahoney had an RBI single in the third inning. Still, Aceves has not allowed an earned run in five innings and said the back injury that led to the Yankees releasing him is no factor. “Nothing, nothing, nothing, just pitching,’’ he said after throwing 46 pitches, the final 15 in the bullpen.

Quick debut Lefthanded reliever Dennys Reyes retired the three Orioles he faced in his first outing of the spring. Oddly, all were righthanded hitters. “We wanted Reyes just to have a clean inning, no matter lefty or righty,’’ said bench coach DeMarlo Hale. Reyes said he felt strong and succeeded at keeping his fastball down . . . Jose Iglesias, the 21-year-old shortstop, played 18 errorless innings in a span of 21 hours, going 5 for 7 with three runs, a walk, and an RBI against the Yankees and Orioles. “That was fun,’’ Iglesias said. “I love it.’’ . . . Second baseman Oscar Tejada, also 21, was 5 for 7 with two triples and six RBIs in those two games. . . . Veteran lefty Lenny DiNardo, called up from the minor league camp, struck out three of the four Baltimore hitters he faced.

Michael Vega reported from Fort Myers, Fla.; Peter Abraham reported from Sarasota, Fla.

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