Hughes, Buchholz look sharp in Twins-Red Sox 4-4 tie

FORT MYERS, Fla. (AP) Phil Hughes and Clay Buchholz each had a final spring training tuneup Wednesday as the Minnesota Twins and a Boston Red Sox split squad played to a 4-4 tie in nine innings.

Hughes, slated to start Minnesota’s regular-season opener Monday in Detroit, struck out five, walked two and gave up one run and four hits in four innings against a squad that included starters Dustin Pedroia, Pablo Sandoval and Mike Napoli.

Buchholz, slated to start Boston’s regular-season opener in Philadelphia, struck out four, walked one and gave up six hits in four scoreless innings.

It’s night and day for me,” Buchholz said of how he felt compared to a year ago. ”I feel like I’m under control. If I feel like if I’m off with something, I can make the adjustment a lot quicker than I did a year ago. Things are getting better each time out.”

Red Sox manager John Farrell said Buchholz has seemed more confident and poised. Last season, Buchholz missed most of June with a knee injury. He was 8-11 record with a 5.34 ERA last year.

”In the middle of February, that was noticed,” Farrell said of Buchholz’s improved confidence. ”After a normal offseason being healthy and having an appropriate number of bullpens before coming into camp, he felt pretty good physically. Last year, it was maybe more effort for him to bring the velocity. Now he’s healthy and not trying to overthrow with his delivery.”

Pedroia went 2 for 3 with a walk and had the only multihit performance for the Red Sox.

Torii Hunter went 2 for 3 with an RBI and a run scored for the Twins, while designated hitter Kennys Vargas had two hits. Eduardo Escobar started in left field in place of Oswaldo Arcia, who was out with the flu, and went 2 for 3 with two RBIs.

SENT DOWN

The Twins optioned Caleb Thielbar to Triple-A Rochester, bringing their pitching staff to their regular-season number of 12.

STARTING TIME

Hughes said he tried working on his changeup more this spring and had mixed results with it. ”Now that spring training is over, we have bullpens and things like that,” Hughes said. ”We’ll still work on some things between starts. I didn’t throw as many as I would have liked this spring, but at the same time I’m not going to completely abandon it.”

TRAINER’S ROOM

Twins: RHP Kyle Gibson, scratched from his start Tuesday because of the flu, is slated to start the Grapefruit League finale on Saturday.

Red Sox closer: Koji Uehara (strained hamstring) is scheduled to throw a bullpen session Thursday. … Christian Vazquez had his right elbow examined by Dr. James Andrews, and the team said the catcher will have Tommy John surgery on Thursday.

UP NEXT: The Red Sox and Twins play each on the final four days of their Grapefruit League seasons. Red Sox RHP Rick Porcello faces Twins RHP Ervin Santana at Hammond Stadium on Thursday.