FORT MYERS, Fla. -- Relief pitcher Alfredo Aceves, who returned to the Boston Red Sox after serving Team Mexico in the World Baseball Classic, started and pitched one inning Wednesday at the Fenway South complex while the rest of his big-league teammates had the day off.
Aceves had a rocky end to his WBC experience, taking several punches in the head during Mexico and Canada’s wild brawl this past Saturday.
But back to business with Boston on Wednesday, Aceves gave up one run off an RBI double by Minnesota Twins 3B Miguel Sano (one of the top prospects in baseball) during the first inning of the first minor league game of spring training.
Aceves faced a group of mostly Double-A Twins players interspersed with lower-level minor leaguers. He gave up one walk with no strikeouts. He threw 14 pitches, seven of them for strikes.
“I just came in to do my work today,” Aceves said. “I feel healthy.
“As a professional, I’m trying to do the best for my team.”
Aceves had a 2-10 record with a 5.36 ERA in 69 relief appearances for the Red Sox last season. He also had 25 saves. He projects for a mid-relief role this season after wanting a starting rotation spot last spring training.
Aceves threw 52 pitches for Team Mexico before being pulled in his one WBC outing, giving up two runs in three innings. He said the Red Sox program would have called for 65 pitches. Otherwise, Aceves said the WBC did not dramatically alter his routine to prepare for the regular season.
“I didn’t get to that point of being tired,” Aceves said. “I pretty much feel good with my last outing. I’m looking forward for the next maybe one inning or two innings more, I’ll let you guys know if I’m capable of going to the next inning.”
Aceves, mixing Spanish with English on Wednesday, said he likes to use the Spanish word “maña,” pronounced “manya” when describing the feel he wants when pitching.
“Maña is a word in Spanish that we use,” Aceves said. “It’s not about force. It’s about also how to get through that. It’s not about force. It’s about maña.
“It’s just kind of like letting it go. It’s not about throwing hard or how hard you throw. It’s not about that. It’s about getting people out.
“Ask anybody what’s harder, a fastball 90 (miles per hour) in, or 100 in the middle. They’re going to say 90 in. If you locate it at the corners, you’re doing your job.”
A reporter pointed out that Aceves pitched to velocities of 95 to 97 miles per hour last season, the best of his career.
“It was more maña than fuerza,”Aceves said of the Spanish word for “force.” “If you can throw with fuerza one inning, dos innings, tres innings, quatro, cinco, I think you get more tired than you do throwing with good mechanics and maña. Just let it go. When my mind tells what my body to do, I can do it.
“That’s the maña that I’m talking about. Fuerza, fuerza, fuerza -- I don’t think so.”