FORT MYERS, Fla. — The Red Sox had Wednesday off. But Alfredo Aceves reported to Fenway South to pitch an inning in a minor league game.
When he was done, the righthander sat on a folding chair outside the clubhouse and answered a few perfunctory questions about the 14 pitches he threw.
When the topic of building arm strength came up, Aceves became philosophical. He said that pitching is more about talent and nerve than anything else.
“It’s not about force,” he said. “It’s about also how to get through that. Get it done how. It’s not about force, it’s also about maña [skill].
“It doesn’t have to be like that all the time. Kind of just let it go and good things will come out. It’s not about how hard you throw. It’s not about that. It’s about getting people out.
“Ask anybody what’s harder to hit: 90 in or 100 in the middle? So they will say it’s harder to hit 90 in. It’s not about how hard you throw, if you locate it at the corners with all your stuff.”
What was particularly interesting about Aceves taking that stance is the fact that he has made great strides with his physical fitness in recent years, adhering to a regimen of stretching, yoga, and weightlifting that greatly reduced his body fat and left him looking more like a triathlete than a pitcher.
Aceves said his improved velocity last season was more a product of skill than strength.
“Honestly, it was more maña,” he said. “If I’m doing my good mechanics, not forcing it, just let it go. My mind tells me to relax my body and let my body do it. That was the message, the maña that I’m talking about.”
Aceves returned from the World Baseball Classic Monday, and the Sox had him pitch an inning against Minnesota’s Double A team to prepare for his start Saturday against Tampa Bay.
Aceves threw seven strikes in his 14 pitches. After a ground out to first, he walked a batter. Well-regarded Twins prospect Miguel Sano then doubled into the corner in left field, driving in a run. Aceves ended the inning on a popup to center and a grounder to second on which he took the throw.
Manager John Farrell, pitching coach Juan Nieves, assistant GM Mike Hazen, and pro scouting director Jared Porter watched Aceves pitch, as did scouts from several other teams.
Asked if playing for Mexico in the WBC disrupted his spring training routine, Aceves said, “Not at all. Everybody is doing the little things we do to maintain ourselves to be in shape and get to that level we want to be. I feel good with my last outing and looking forward to the next. Maybe one inning or two innings more.”
Aceves threw three innings in his last WBC appearance. The Sox have been preparing him as a starter in case the need arises.
Boesch gets a look
Sox officials are discussing the merits of outfielder Brennan Boesch, who was released by the Tigers Wednesday. If Boesch clears release waivers — which seems likely, given that a team otherwise would have to pick up his $2.3 million contract — he would become a free agent.
According to a team source, the Sox would make a play for Boesch if they conclude that he represents an upgrade on the players they have in camp now who are vying for a spot on the bench.
The 27-year-old lefthanded hitter was a regular in right field last season for Detroit. He hit .240 with a .659 OPS and had 12 home runs. Boesch has experience in both corner outfield positions.
With David Ortiz surely headed to the disabled list, the players on the bench will take on greater significance, given the team’s plans to use a rotating designated hitter.
The Sox play the Twins at Hammond Stadium in Fort Myers Thursday afternoon. Ryan Dempster will start against Mike Pelfrey . . . The five Red Sox minor league affiliates started their 17-day schedule of games Wednesday. They finish up March 30. Two or three games will be played at Fenway South starting at 1 p.m. every day except Sunday . . . Bryce Brentz, the outfield prospect who accidentally shot himself in the leg with a handgun in January, has been cleared to play and is expected to be in Pawtucket’s lineup Thursday.
Peter Abraham can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.