Jake Peavy breaks out his Koji Uehara splitter in first Grapefruit League start

Rob Bradford
March 13, 2014 - 10:27 am

FORT MYERS, Fla. -- Making his Grapefruit League debut for this spring training, Red Sox starter Jake Peavy overcame a slow start to turn in a solid three inning against the Twins at Hammond Stadium Thursday afternoon. The showing was part of what turned into a 4-3 win over the Red Sox over Minnesota. Peavy -- whose progress has been slowed by a fishing knife-induced cut on his left hand -- escaped a first-and-third jam in the first. He then settled down, ultimately making it into the fourth inning before exiting after walking the first batter of the frame, Josh Willingham. Willingham would eventually score on an Andrew Miller wild pitch, resulting in the only charged run against the Red Sox' starter. The righty finished his outing giving up two walks and two hits, while striking out a pair. Peavy threw 53 pitches (31 strikes). But the big news from the outing was that Peavy threw a boatload of splitters, a pitch he only started throwing this spring after witnessing the mastery of the pitch by Red Sox closer Koji Uehara. "I would have done it regardless. But that pitch is Koji Uehara," said Peavy, who also got help with the offering from pitching coach Juan Nieves and bullpen coach Dana Lavangie. "That is him. If he doesn't have that pitch, he's not him. It's encouraging. I thought to myself, 'Why would I try? So that's where it came from." He added regarding Uehara's tutelage, "He showed me how he holds it. Other than that, there's no much he can do. He tried to tell me some things he thinks about while he's doing. It's not going to be Koji Uehara's split-finger, don't get me wrong, by any means. Why would you not try to see if you can expand your game? It's something I felt like we're going to use a good bit and have as a weapon. But if you can't work on it here, where are you going to work on it? We certainly did that today. I threw way too many balls, but I knew that going in." Peavy had not only been slowed this spring by the finger cut, but earlier in the camp his progress had been derailed by tendonitis in his right ring finger. But the earlier injury has healed up, and after making some adjustments to catching the ball with his glove hand (he is using his normal glove), the pitcher seems to be back on schedule. If all goes well from here on in this month, Peavy said he is right on the mark to make what figures to be a start in the Fenway Park home opener against the Brewers. "[Jon] Lester went out and threw three innings. Peavy threw three innings. So he'€™s not that far behind," said Red Sox catcher A.J. Pierzynski. "I think he'€™s where he needs to be. I think obviously he would like to get out there and pitch more. But I think now that he'€™s been out there, he'€™ll be fine. I just have to keep reminding myself I can'€™t throw the ball back hard to him because when I do he shakes his finger." While Miller struggled (two runs on two hits, walk while retiring one batter), Brandon Workman threw three innings of scoreless ball in which he gave up just two hits while fanning three. Francisco Cordero claimed the save (his third of the season), pitching a flawless inning. Dustin Pedroia and Victorino each came away with two hits apiece.