Today's takeaways: Big day for D-Mac

March, 23, 2012

SARASOTA, Fla. -- Takeaways from Ed Smith Stadium, where owner Peter Angelos made his first appearance of the spring for the Orioles’ 6-5 win over the Red Sox and wheelman Pat Sajak sat in a luxury box behind the wordsmiths on press row:

* Darnell McDonald, who came into camp as a potential odd man out in the outfield mix, especially if Carl Crawford was healthy, continued his great spring with three hits, raising his average to .500 (12 for 24).

“He’s a hitting machine,’’ manager Bobby Valentine said. “A flat-out hitting machine. What is he hitting, .700? He’s swinging, the ball is finding holes, jumping off his bat, hitting off walls. I liked his second at-bat, where he hit that fastball to right field. His other hits have been pulled.

“I think he knows there’s a potential Opening Day [start], some spots, some room. He wasn’t happy with last year. He’s proven he belongs on this team. I like everything I see.’’

[+] EnlargeClay Buchholz
AP Photo/Charles KrupaClay Buchholz gave up five runs against the Orioles, but was happy he was able to get his pitch count up.
* Clay Buchholz acknowledged the obvious, that he is scheduled to pitch the third game of the season in Detroit on April 8, with Jon Lester pitching the April 5 opener and Josh Beckett going April 7.

Buchholz gave up five runs on seven hits, including home runs by Nick Markakis and Adam Jones, but more importantly he threw 86 pitches and got up and down five times. He said he had the option of calling it a day after four innings, but wanted to pitch one more.

Markakis had thrown his bat down, thinking he hadn’t hit the ball well, and Buchholz was walking off the mound, thinking the second inning was over, but the wind carried the ball over the fence.

Jones’s home run, in the first, was hit a long way. “The pitch was up,’’ Buchholz said. “And that’s what he does.’’

“I know I needed to get my pitch count up,’’ he said. “I wasn’t ready for my first couple starts last year. I didn’t think I threw enough innings in spring training. It’s been a topic of everybody starting wise. Everybody wants 20 innings. I don’t want to make my first start and have the fifth inning feel like it’s the ninth.’’

* Valentine plans to go with the team Saturday to Jupiter, where Felix Doubront is scheduled to pitch against the Marlins, with Alfredo Aceves starting in JetBlue Park for the split squad against the Phillies.

This will be the first time the Sox have played the Marlins since Marlins manager Ozzie Guillen was ejected, Valentine waved farewell, and Guillen reacted profanely when told of Valentine’s gesture.

“I won’t be waving,’’ Valentine said. “I’ll wave to him before the game.’’

* Valentine said second baseman Dustin Pedroia, who sustained a bruise on his right forearm after being hit by a pitch Thursday night and came out of the game after three innings, is fine and will play Saturday in JetBlue Park. “He was more upset about the umpire calling him out,’’ Valentine said.

* Shortstop Jose Iglesias played short Friday and struck out twice chasing sliders out of the zone. He’s batting .200.

Earlier in the day, Valentine gave a strong validation of Mike Aviles’ qualifications to play short:

“When he moved to his left, as he did last night, caught a ball behind the base, he was able to collect himself and make a good throw to first. On balls to his right and backhanded, he’s been able to stand up and fire across the infield. He’s made plays on the run, he’s turned double plays, he’s worked pickoff plays, tag plays from the catcher, and run after popups in the outfield. He’s basically done all the plays that you’d like to see a shortstop be able to cover. He’s been alert, worked well with the guys he’s worked with around the bag, seems like he can play short.’’

Gordon Edes

ESPN Staff Writer



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