LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. — Clay Buchholz got in his work Friday with 96 pitches and he said he felt fine.

But there’s no escaping the fact that Atlanta pounded him for 12 hits in five-plus innings in the Braves’ 4-2 Grapefruit League victory over the Boston Red Sox.

“Didn’t really have an easy inning,” Buchholz said. “Felt like my stuff was really good. The fastball command was OK, except for the balls that got squared up.”

The biggest damage was a three-RBI double by former Boston infielder Pedro Ciriaco. Kelly Johnson’s home run to lead off the sixth inning ended Buchholz’s day.

“He gave up a lot of hits,” Red Sox manager John Farrell said. “Couple different ways to look it. He made some big pitches with men on base. I thought his stuff, the definition of his pitches, was better than the linescore.

“Granted, there were 12 hits on the board. I thought there were a number of times when he was ahead in the count and he could have done a better job of finishing batters off.”

The pitch to Ciriaco, for example was a cut fastball meant to go outside. It caught too much of the plate and Ciriaco drilled it.

Buchholz later shrugged his shoulders when talking about the pitch, saying he really didn’t want to throw a cut fastball, but had already shaken catcher Blake Swihart off three times.

When the games count, Buchholz, presumably, will throw the pitches he wants.

Buchholz’s outing left Farrell pleased with the progress, but not the results.

“There’s a positive inside of this, but there is definitely room to improve,” Farrell said.

This had been a good spring for Buchholz, who is rebounding from a 8-11 season with 5.34 ERA — the highest of any major leaguer who pitched at least 162 innings in 2014.

In five appearances this spring, including an inning against Northeastern and an intrasquad game, Buchholz had allowed nine hits and two earned runs (16 innings). Both of those runs also came to the Braves.

Buchholz is next scheduled to make a shorter outing on Wednesday, which will put him in line for the season opener April 6 in Philadelphia. But Farrell said he’s not ready to name the Opening Day starter. Buchholz said he had not heard anything about it.

BOSTON’S CATCHING situation remains muddled as the Red Sox determine if Christian Vazquez and his sore arm will be ready for the season.

Vazquez caught in a minor league game Friday, but his throwing was restricted. He singled, walked and grounded out in three plate appearances.

After the game, Vazquez was scheduled to undergo an MRI, the results of which have not been announced.

Vazquez’s back-up, Ryan Hannigan, is ready to go. If Vazquez needs to be replaced for a short time, Blake Swihart’s name may be called. Swihart, the third of three catchers on the 40-man roster, has already been sent to the minors, but he keeps getting summoned for major league spring training games, including Friday’s.

After Swihart, the Red Sox have three non-roster catchers in major league camp — Humberto Quintero, Luke Montz and Matt Spring.

“Anybody in uniform is under consideration,” Farrell said. “We’ll see how things play out the next eight, nine days.”

MOOKIE BETTS continues to shine brightly in spring training. Batting lead-off again, Betts reached base three times in four plate appearances, including a lead-off single and home run off Braves starter Julio Teheran.

“He’s never seen the guy before and the second pitch is a base-hit,” Farrell said. He later watched Betts turn on a fastball for two-run over to left.

“Guys try to pound him in and he’s so quick. He’s very exciting to see … And he’s facing some of the better pitchers that are going to pitch this season.”

Betts is batting .487 (13-of-39) in 13 games, with a 1.435 OPS.

Betts, playing center field, as he has all spring, got a late jump on a shallow fly ball in the fifth inning. But Betts still was able to charge in, dive and make a bobbling catch.

“(The batter made a) full swing and it threw me off,” Betts said. “Plays like that are rare. But as long as I catch it, that’s the main thing.”

WHERE ALLEN CRAIG fits in the crowded Red Sox outfield may be a question mark, but Farrell made it clear Friday that Craig — and not Daniel Nava — is the primary back-up at first base. Craig played there Friday, while Nava was in left.

Starter Joe Kelly threw in a minor league game Friday: Three innings, two hits, one run, two walks and five strikeouts. The plan is for Kelly to make his next start against major leaguers, but Farrell said that was not definite.

IF ONLY KEVIN BOLES made the trip to Disney World with the Red Sox, then there would have been four former Sea Dogs managers on the field — along with Red Sox first base coach Arnie Beyeler and Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez and bench coach Carlos Tosca.

Boles, Boston’s Triple-A manager, stayed back in Fort Myers.

Tosca, the Sea Dogs first manager from 1994-96, always brightens when approached by someone from Portland.

“My best experience in the minor leagues was in Portland,” Tosca said.

There was a connection to a fourth manager on the field Friday. Braves third baseman Chris Johnson is the son of former Dogs manager Ron Johnson, now the Orioles’ Triple-A manager.

IT WAS ONLY AN EXHIBITION game, but it was played at Disney World’s Champion Stadium, so you could expect Disney prices. Remaining seats for Friday’s game ranged from reserved bleacher ($45) to lower level reserved ($59).


Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or to participate in the conversation. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.