Rick Porcello

Douglas DeFelice/USA Today Sports

Porcello makes breakthrough at end of spring training outing in Red Sox win

John Tomase
March 16, 2018 - 9:29 pm

FORT MYERS, Fla. -- With so much focus on the raggedy back of the Red Sox rotation, it's easy to lose sight of the pitcher who could make or break the team's chances.

Right-hander Rick Porcello is two years removed from a Cy Young Award and one year removed from the opposite of a Cy Young Award. He took the hill against the Twins on Friday night hoping to work out the kinks of what thus far has been a lackluster spring.

After a slow start, he believes he made progress.

Porcello allowed four hits and two runs in five innings of a 4-2 victory. He noticeably improved as the outing wore on, retiring the last six batters he faced, including two of the final three by strikeout. In the course of those final two innings, he found consistency with his sinker -- which had been missing low in the zone -- and felt more like himself.

"I was able to settle in and my last inning was pretty much by far my best so far," Porcello said.

Porcello seemed content to work on his two-seamer and off-speed offerings. He won't impress a radar gun until he starts throwing his four-seamer.

"I'm throwing all two-seamers and that's a pitch that, velocity isn't a huge factor me," he said. "It's about late movement and location. So the ball feels like it's coming out good. I've only looked up at the board a couple times, and it's not anything I'm focused on right now. If I'm throwing four-seamers I want to be up there in the low-to-mid-90s, but with the sinker it's all about the movement and location. I really don't care if it's 85 or 95 as long as it's moving and they're hitting the top half of the ball. That's all I want."

On that count, Porcello recorded seven groundouts and zero flyouts, a welcome change from last year's career-worst groundball-to-fly ball ratio of 0.65.

"Continue to build off that last inning," Porcello said in summation. "That was by far my best inning of the game and all spring."

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