PORT CHARLOTTE, Fla. -- One of the big concerns the Red Sox had with right-hander Allen Webster last year is that when he faced adversity on the mound, he had a tendency to let it snowball.
Webster demonstrated in Sunday's Grapefruit League start against the Rays that he is maturing in that department.
Though his linescore (four-plus innings, three hits, two earned runs, three walks, three strikeouts) was hardly dazzling, Red Sox manager John Farrell saw plenty of positives.
"I thought today, Allen Webster continues to grow as a pitcher," Farrell said. "There were some things that happened today that are gonna happen to him from time to time behind him. And I thought he did a great job of maintaining his poise, continuing to make pitches. He continued to keep the ball on the ground and keep things from becoming a big inning when you give the opposition one or two outs in an inning. I thought he did an outstanding job of minimizing that."
Webster projects to start the season as a starter for Triple-A Pawtucket. But he wants to prove to the Red Sox that they can depend on him if a need arises. He felt Sunday might have helped his case.
"I felt like it was a big improvement -- an improvement I needed. I feel real confident coming out of it," said Webster.
Bradley shows improved approach against Price
PORT CHARLOTTE, Fla. -- Even on a day David Price had dominant stuff, Jackie Bradley Jr. was still able to take a strong cut against the ace lefty and hammer a double into the gap in left-center.
Bradley is involved in the only position battle in Boston's camp, trying to beat out Grady Sizemore as the starting center fielder.
The Red Sox couldn't care less about Bradley's .182 average in Grapefruit League action. All they are looking for is a consistent quality to his at-bats.
"I thought Jackie's at-bats were very good today," said Red sox manager John Farrell. "He stayed on some fastballs away from him. He laid off some tough pitches in, even after he gets hit."
Bradley did get picked off by Price, but Farrell knew exactly why.
"And he went first move," Farrell said. "We've been encouraging him to be a little bit more aggressive and that's part of the learning curve right now for him."
Before the game, Farrell was asked what the club needed to see from Bradley in the final two weeks of camp.
"Quality at-bats," Farrell said. "That's not hinged to a batting average. That's just putting up quality at-bats as consistently as possible. Defensively, there's nothing to suggest that needs development. That area of the game, we're confident in him. But it's quality at-bats, getting on base and then finding his spots to be a little bit more aggressive on the basepaths -- just using his skillset."
Marrero impressing Red Sox with glove
PORT CHARLOTTE, Fla. -- How good has prospect Deven Marrero been at shortstop this spring?
"Deven Marrero has looked spectacular at shortstop if you ask me," said Red Sox manager John Farrell. "Plays that he's ranged up the middle, plays he's gone deep in the hole, plays that he's gone to his backhand.
"The play that stands out to me is the one in Sarasota against Alexi Casilla, where he hits a high chopper in the shallow 5-6 hole, and it's somewhat of an acrobatic play and yet we're talking about a solid-average to above-average runner that he still throws out at first base."
Marrero was drafted by the Red Sox with the 24th overall pick out of Arizona State in 2012.
Defense will never be an issue for Marrero. His offense, however, is a work in progress.
"I don't ever want to put a number on a guy because then you feel like you're limiting him and that's the expectation and then he gets labeled, but I think he's a guy who has gap power," said Farrell. "There's been such an emphasis on his part to be a situational hitter, and you see a lot of the stroke can be inside out at times. There's gap power in there. He's still developing as a hitter."
And on cue, Marrero drilled a solo homer to left in the top of the ninth in Sunday's 8-4 loss to the Rays.
Britton shrugs off sub-par outing vs. Rays
FORT MYERS, Fla. -- Lefty Drake Britton, who got off a to a dazzling start this spring, was knocked around by the Rays on Sunday.
Over 1 2/3 innings, he gave up six hits and five runs, walking two and striking out one.
"I just wasn't finishing off pitches," Britton said. "I feel like a lot of the hits came on 0-2. Most of them were pitches I should've done a better job executing. As much as it stinks to go through an outing like that, I think it's good as well. It'll give me discipline to give me the things I need to work on to get me ready for the season. Today was a rough one, but tomorrow is a new day."
Manager John Farrell thinks that Britton's recent inactivity played a role in the outing. Britton became accustomed to the constant repetition of pitching in relief late last season, but has been used more like a starter during the early stages of camp.
"He had four or five days off from his last appearance and I think as he's converted to the bullpen, the more frequency of usage, the more touch and feel that he has," Farrell said.
Britton also feels stronger mentally these days, to the point that an outing like the one he had on Sunday won't phase him.
"It used to weigh on me a lot," Britton said. "I was so hard on myself, I used to get upset with myself, but I feel like that's what drives me every day to get better -- so I mean this one happened, it's over with. It's Spring Training. I'm ready for the next one."