Notes: Buchholz holds his own vs. Rays

Notes: Buchholz holds his own vs. Rays

FORT MYERS, Fla. -- You probably figured that Clay Buchholz, Boston's highly regarded pitching prospect, had a sleepless night leading up to his first start in Major League surroundings.

Turns out the guy couldn't keep his eyes open.

"I went to bed at 7:30 last night," said Buchholz. "I stayed asleep all the way through until 7:30 this morning. It was more that just sitting around the house sort of took a little bit of energy out of me, so I just went upstairs and tried to take an hour or two nap and it ended up being a 12-hour nap."

Then he got out on the mound and faced a lineup that included Carl Crawford and Delmon Young and pretty much put the Devil Rays to sleep -- at least for his first four innings.

After keeping the Devil Rays off the board in those first four, he gave up three runs in the fifth. In all, Buchholz went 4 2/3 innings and allowed seven hits and three runs. He walked nobody and struck out three.

Not a bad day for a guy who has never pitched above Class A and will start this season at Double-A Portland.

"I thought Buchholz accounted for himself very well," said Red Sox manager Terry Francona. "He did a good job. The scouting reports are pretty accurate. He just needs to go pitch. For a young pitcher, that delivery is pretty simplified and not a lot of moving parts, and allows him to show his athleticism. It's good."

Speaking of his athleticism, Buchholz is the rare pitcher who doubles as a speedster. Rumor has it that he would be able to hold his own in a footrace with Boston's top baserunning prospect, Jacoby Ellsbury.

"I'm not going to say I'd win, but it would be close," Buchholz said. "Forty yards isn't that far. There's no way he could beat me by 15 yards."

Buchholz, who was a football star in high school, was once clocked with a 4.32 40 and a 6.31 60.

But his rise through the Minor League ranks figures to be more of a marathon than a sprint. Despite his great stuff, it's important to remember that Buchholz is still relatively raw, less than two years removed from being drafted out of Angelina (Texas) Junior College.

"He's only had a handful of starts above low [Class] A ball," said Red Sox general manager Theo Epstein. "Fastball command is the biggest issue for him. He's an outstanding athlete, lightning quick arm. [He has] really advanced secondary stuff. He's an exciting pitcher to watch."

Minor scare: In what was supposed to be a relaxed Grapefruit League finale, some heart rates were temporarily raised in the Boston dugout when closer Jonathan Papelbon slipped over the bag while covering first in the ninth inning.

He basically tripped with his right ankle, but turned out to be fine.

"Basically, I just went over to cover first, and I just got ahead of myself too much and had to kind of just catch the bag behind me," said Papelbon. "Once I put my weight on it, it just gave on me. But I'm alright. A little bit of pain, but I just rolled my ankle, basically. That was it."

Papelbon was impressive in his one inning of work, striking out two of the three batters he faced in Boston's 3-3 tie with the Devil Rays.

"For me, I took the game today as if we were up by one run," said Papelbon. "That was my whole mind-set. I think I'm there. Hopefully I can pitch in Philly and get one more chance to get my routine settled in, and it should be good."

Timlin on schedule: Though Mike Timlin is eligible to be activated from the disabled list for the fifth game of the regular season in Texas, Francona indicated that the club will stay with the original plan of bringing him back for the April 10 home opener.

"I think we could have tried to push it and have him available on Saturday in Texas," Francona said. "I just don't think in the big picture that makes a lot of sense."

Leaving Fort Myers: The Red Sox were definitely ready for Thursday night's plane ride to Philadelphia.

"It's time," said Francona. "Guys are antsy."

Matsuzaka's mound: Shortly after the final Grapefruit League game at Roger Dean Stadium in Jupiter, Fla., two pitching rubbers were dug up to commemorate Daisuke Matsuzaka's spring debut.

Matsuzaka faced the Marlins on March 6, marking his first game against a Major League team. MLB asked for the pitching rubber, which is being authenticated. Roger Dean Stadium is taking the bullpen rubber that Matsuzaka warmed up on, and that will be auctioned off by the stadium.

Coming up: Julian Tavarez will make Friday night's start for the Sox in Philadelphia. First pitch is scheduled for 7:05 p.m. ET.

Ian Browne is a reporter for Joe Frisaro, a reporter for, contributed to this report from Jupiter, Fla. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.