FORT MYERS, Fla. — Clay Buchholz, Jon Lester, John Lackey and pitching coach Juan Nieves talked and Allen Webster listened. The pay off was a huge step back in the right direction for the young starter.
Webster rebounded from a rocky first spring training start to turn in three solid innings against the Marlins, allowing only one hit while striking out a batter in what resulted in an 0-0 tie between the Red Sox and Miami in Jupiter.
After the start, Webster explained the difference this time around was executing some adjustments suggested by members of the Red Sox starting and coaching staff.
“Between my last start and this start, I sat down and talked to Lackey, Lester and Buchholz pulled me over, and we looked at a little video, and they saw me drifting forward, and they pulled me aside and told me to stay back over the rubber and get more angle, get more downhill to the plate,” Webster told reporters. “It felt good in my bullpen.”
The video the group diagnosed was from the 2013 season, with the adjustments taking place a few days ago with Webster getting a chance to throw side-by-side with Lackey.
“It’s mainly right to the very last minute, right before I throw the ball, I pull sideways instead of pull down, and I get alongside the ball and tug the ball to the side or sail it up and away,” the righty explained.
It was a process — and result — that pleased Red Sox manager John Farrell.
“I think any time you’ve got a peer or a teammate, particularly with the success that they’ve had, that’s going to resonate, probably draw a little bit more confidence from the message being delivered,” Farrell told reporters. “To their credit, they take him under their wing and they’re trying to help in any way they can.”
Another encouraging sign was the second straight solid performance by Drake Britton, who threw two shutout innings (one hit) while following up Webster.
Shortstop Deven Marrero was the only member of the Red Sox to come away with multiple hits (singling twice). Marrero also continued to shine in the field.
“Not comparing him to Jose [Iglesias], but if the need were to arise based on what we showed last year, even in his first year of professional baseball and the way he goes about his drill work and what we see on the field, you’d be hard-pressed to find a shortstop that’s going to make better plays than that — and four or five types of plays inside a given game,” Farrell said. “He came into the draft or came to the draft with that carrying card, an elite defender, and he’s showing that.”