FORT MYERS, Fla. — Nick is on the way to Bradenton for the game today. But here are a few notes from the clubhouse in Fort Myers:
• Pitching coach Juan Nieves is excited about righthanded reliever Jose De La Torre and his performance in the WBC for Puerto Rico.
There are two reasons for that. De La Torre could help the Red Sox at some point this season and Nieves is from Puerto Rico and proud of the team for reaching the WBC championship game on Tuesday.
“There are some good young players on that team. They’re on the rise,” Nieves said. “It’s good for the people there.”
De La Torre faced five batters on Sunday’s 3-1 victory against Japan and struck out three of them. The 27-year-old has appeared in five WBC games. Over 5.1 innings, De La Torre has allowed three runs on seven hits. But he also has struck out 11 with one walk.
De La Torre is a minor league journeyman who has played for the Mets, Indians and now the Red Sox and never advanced beyond Triple A. He pitched well for Pawtucket last season after being obtained from Cleveland for infielder Brent Lillibridge.
(So at this point, De La Torre represents the return on Kevin Youkilis).
• Andrew Bailey and Andrew Miller will pitch back-to-back games on Wednesday (at Tampa) and Thursday (at home against the Phillies).
• Red Sox starters (Jon Lester, Clay Buchholz, Ryan Dempster, Felix Doubront and John Lackey) this spring: 53.1 IP, 13 ER (a 2.19 ERA), 15 walks, 43 strikeouts. That counts Lackey’s start against Puerto Rico.
Spring stats are relatively meaningless. But it’s worth noting that at this point last year, the Sox did not know who their No. 5 starter was (which proved to be Daniel Bard) and were banking on good things from Josh Beckett.
Nieves and John Farrell have the starters working quicker, being aggressive in the strike zone and generally showing a better sense of purpose than over the previous two seasons.
• Did you know that Anthony Carter, Chris Hernandez and Jonathan Diaz are still in camp?
Carter is a RHP who spent seven seasons with the White Sox in the minors before signing a minor league deal with the Sox. He has thrown 8.1 scoreless innings without allowing an earned run. Carter has six strikeouts and no walks.
Carter was signed by White Sox scout John Tumminia, who is the father-in-law of Red Sox GM Ben Cherington. That little nugget was unearthed by Maureen Mullen of Comcast on Sunday.