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Notes: Buchholz fights through trouble

Notes: Buchholz works through trouble

FORT MYERS, Fla. -- Red Sox right-hander Clay Buchholz went three innings in Friday's 7-2 split-squad loss against the Twins, and as he did in Sunday's loss to Minnesota, Buchholz got off to a rough first inning of work before settling down.

Buchholz went three innings, allowing three runs on three hits with three strikeouts. The Twins did all their damage to Buchholz in the first inning Friday, as seven batters went to the plate.

Buchholz hit Twins leadoff hitter Denard Span with the first pitch of the game, then gave up home runs on consecutive pitches to Justin Morneau and Craig Monroe. In the second and third inning, he retired Minnesota in order.

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"Well, I gave up four runs that last game. Now I gave up three. So it's a work in progress, I guess," Buchholz said. "I felt good overall again. Pitches were up again that the guys hit out. After that I felt like I regrouped, throwing the ball the way I should throw it the next two innings."

Which may all be good for him in the long run.

"I think he has great stuff and I think he's learning even if it's Spring Training that if you make a mistake with Major League hitters, they make you pay a price," Sox manager Terry Francona said.

"Maybe that's a good thing. I mean, we don't want to see anybody get hit around, but I think even at this early stage of his career he knows that when he makes pitches he has the ability to make good hitters even look silly, not just get them out."

Buchholz, who was pleased with the overall outing, including the progress with his fastball command, is unsure of the reasons for his first-inning struggles.

"If I knew, I'd try not to struggle," he said. "I don't know what it is. I don't know if it's the first-inning jitters or [me] just not out there thinking enough or thinking too much. I've got a couple more starts down here. I'll have to figure that out before camp breaks."

Colon progressing: Bartolo Colon threw 50 pitches in a bullpen session Friday morning at City of Palms Park as he prepares to face hitters for the first time Sunday morning, with the target of March 15 for his first appearance in a game. For the first time, he mixed sliders, about 10, into his session.

"Again, he threw the ball really good," said pitching coach John Farrell. "He kept the endurance and the tempo of his session consistent throughout the 50 pitches that he threw this morning. The breaking ball that he added, a slider, was a solid pitch for him."

According to Farrell, Colon will throw 40 pitches of batting practice Sunday, simulating game conditions by sitting down and getting back up after finishing half of the session. Following the outing, the Sox will determine if next Friday or Saturday is the best fit to get Colon into a Grapefruit League game.

"I think it would be ideal for us to see him in games twice before we leave for Japan. That being said, we'll map that out on Sunday," Farrell said.

One more day: Center fielder Coco Crisp and shortstop Julio Lugo were not in either of the split-squad lineups Friday.

Crisp has been out with a sore groin, and also had a root canal Thursday. Lugo, who said the tightness in his back felt better, will be out until at least Monday.

"The one thing Coco needs to do is full-out sprint, and he has not done that," Francona said. "He's going to hopefully do that [Saturday], so he won't be in the game. [Lugo], after talking to the doctors, we elected to leave him out until he'll be examined Monday again."

Lugo did participate in some drills and hit in the batting cage Friday.

To DH or not to DH: The Red Sox will travel to Vero Beach on Sunday to play the Dodgers, and to Port St. Lucie on Monday to play the Mets. Johan Santana, who spent his career before this season in the American League, is expected to pitch for the Mets, who want him to get at-bats. The Sox, therefore, will not be able to use the DH. With the DH-pitcher option open in Spring Training, it is expected the Sox and Dodgers will use the DH in their game.

"David [Ortiz is] going to go now to Vero to DH," Francona said. "We don't have a DH on Monday, so we'll probably take some [Minor Leaguers] and use them as pinch-hitters."

Welcome to the bigs: The Red Sox will play a four-inning simulated game Saturday morning at 9:30 a.m. ET at City of Palms Park before the main attraction. Michael Bowden and David Pauley are scheduled to throw three innings each, with Kyle Jackson and Edgar Martinez each scheduled to pitch one inning. Several players will be brought up from the Minor League camp to round out the roster and will stick around to be backups for the "A" game against the Marlins.

Long road home: Francona is taking the pragmatic approach to the team's long, season-opening road trip. After leaving Fort Myers on March 19, the Sox have games in Tokyo, Los Angeles, Oakland and Toronto before Fenway Park's Opening Day on April 8.

"Nineteen days. One day longer than Spring Training," Francona said. "I've obviously thought about it a little bit.

"We go where they send us. We'll try to play the best baseball we can. There's no way to make that trip faster. We do the same thing all the time."

For the Red Sox, fun comes from creating distractions on the plane. Rather than complain, they'll put on a cribbage tournament or find another way to make time pass.

Up next: As the Sox host the Marlins at City of Palms Park on Saturday, Josh Beckett is expected to start against the team for which he was World Series MVP in 2003. Game time is 1:05 p.m. ET. Beckett will be followed by Mike Timlin and David Aardsma.

Maureen Mullen is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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