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Veteran pitchers help Webster turn things around

JUPITER, Fla. -- Red Sox right-hander Allen Webster struggled in his Grapefruit League debut on Saturday, so a few veteran teammates stepped in to lend their expertise. After some time watching video with Jon Lester, John Lackey and Clay Buchholz -- and some more applying their suggestions in the bullpen -- Webster came back a different pitcher on Thursday.

The 24-year-old, ranked by as the Red Sox's No. 3 prospect, started against the Marlins at Roger Dean Stadium and breezed through three scoreless innings, allowing one single and one walk while striking out one.

"You pay attention to every word," Webster said of his trio of advisors. "I was very thankful they would even take their time like that."

According to manager John Farrell, pitching coach Juan Nieves wanted Lester and Lackey -- two guys who exhibit strong front sides in their deliveries -- to reinforce those qualities in Webster. They watched some video of Webster pitching last year, and told him he needed to stay back on the rubber to get more on top of the ball and create a better downhill angle toward the plate.

"I think any time you've got a peer or a teammate, particularly with the success they've had, that's going to resonate and maybe draw a little more confidence from the message being delivered," Farrell said. "So to their credit, they take him under their wing and are trying to help in any way they can."

Webster took his teammates' suggestions into the bullpen, where he worked on them with an exaggerated motion. He carried that over into Thursday.

In his three innings, Webster used only 30 pitches, inducing seven groundouts. Thanks to the tweaks, he was able to avoid pushing his pitches off to the side or having them sail. Instead, Webster threw strikes, got ahead in the count and kept the ball on the ground.

"Sometimes he comes out and tries to be a little too perfect with his pitches and ends up having a high pitch count inning," Farrell said. "More than anything, to see the ball hit on the ground is key for him."

Andrew Simon is a reporter for Follow him on Twitter @AndrewSimonMLB.
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