DUNEDIN, Fla. -- The Red Sox learned the value of having depth in the Triple-A Pawtucket bullpen a year ago, and it looks like this year's edition could feature plenty of Major League experience.
Boston had 22 different pitchers work in relief at least once last season en route to the World Series. This year, it seems likely that the Red Sox will be able to call upon a few hurlers with big league service time, including Francisco Cordero, Rich Hill, Jose Mijares and Tommy Layne.
"One great thing that [general manager Ben Cherington] has always had an eye on is the overall depth, and that continues," Red Sox manager John Farrell said Friday. "To be able to tap in and call upon a guy who's already transitioned, in a way, to the big leagues, it's extremely helpful."
Cordero, who signed as a free agent in February, has recorded 329 saves during his 14-year Major League career. And he's pitched well this spring, allowing only three hits and a walk while striking out six over five scoreless innings.
"He's getting outs when he goes out there," Farrell said. "He's throwing strikes. He's not beating himself. ... I think [he was learning to pitch with diminished velocity] even in Cincinnati. If you look at the strikeout numbers at the time, they were lessening per nine, but he was starting to use his changeup more, particularly against lefties. I think that style has continued for him."
Farrell gave an interesting, albeit noncommittal, answer when asked whether Cordero could find himself competing for a spot in Boston's bullpen.
"I'm not going to say that he's not. We've got two and a half weeks to go here, and anything can happen," Farrell said. "Most importantly, what he's doing when he gets opportunities is what matters most."
Herrera, Holt in close competition for infield spot
DUNEDIN, Fla. -- Listening to Red Sox manager John Farrell talk about the competition for Boston's utility infield spot, it's pretty clear there's not much separation between the top two candidates.
Jonathan Herrera and Brock Holt can both play shortstop, the most challenging spot for a utility infielder. They can both hit left-handed, which could be important in balancing out an otherwise entirely right-handed-hitting Red Sox infield. Herrera, 29, might be a more adept defensive infielder, but the 25-year-old Holt has shown more promise at the plate.
So, with both starting Friday's game -- Herrera at third, Holt at shortstop -- what are the Red Sox looking for as they evaluate those two this spring?
"Defensively, you always prioritize shortstop as the No. 1 position. That's the one that requires the most skill. Then, you see how the fit is," Farrell said. "The fact that both can hit left-handed is a plus for both, so it's not so much a separator when you look at the two. They both have good running speed.
"In that role, you're looking for a guy that's going to bring energy the day that he's on the field. Both of them understand that. Both have that personality.
"In general, a left-handed utility guy is, I think, a plus," Farrell added. "The majority of [Boston's] infielders are going to be right-right type guys, so you can mix and match and maybe be a little bit more selective against certain matchups to give a regular guy his blow or a day off his feet. I think it's helpful."
Hill makes first appearance since death of son
DUNEDIN, Fla. -- Red Sox reliever Rich Hill made an emotional return to the mound Friday against the Blue Jays, throwing a perfect inning in his first appearance following the tragic death of his newborn son.
Hill's progression this spring was delayed by a late arrival to camp following his infant son's recent death. But Hill impressed Boston manager John Farrell with how quickly he prepared himself after reporting and wound up recording three straight outs in the bottom of the fifth inning Friday at Florida Auto Exchange Stadium during Boston's 3-1 win.
Afterward, Hill couldn't hide his emotions when asked what was going through his mind on the mound.
"It was tough, but it was good," Hill said, pausing to compose himself. "It was good to get out there and pitch. ... I remember the 3-2 count, and before you'd [think], 'I've got to make the pitch, I've got to make the pitch.' And it just comes to you where you're just -- you're playing baseball. This isn't something that you were dealing with a few weeks ago.
"So it was kind of a sense of ease just to go out there and play the game the way that we were meant to play it as kids. So that was kind of the emotions and the feelings that were out there today."
Added Farrell: "He's done everything he could to get back in a game. I'm sure in his mind just to get back out on to the field and compete hopefully gives him a little peace of mind. Still, we're going to reserve any judgment and any kind of evaluation until we get more appearances. But more than anything, he's out there and he's in the flow of things."
Hill said he had to fight the desire to do too much and work too hard to catch up with the rest of Boston's pitchers, but he was pleased with the way he threw Friday. Hill got Dioner Navarro on a popout, induced a flyout to center field from Moises Sierra and struck out Ryan Goins looking. The lefty admitted he didn't have his best stuff, but that might have made the results even more encouraging.
"You really had to focus on feeling the ball come out and trusting it and just executing the pitch," Hill said. "It was a great day because you look at it and you take it as, 'Wow, you had 'B' stuff today but you were able to go out there and execute and get guys out.' That was exciting for me."
Denney arrested for driving with suspended license
DUNEDIN, Fla. -- Red Sox Minor Leaguer Jon Denney, a third-round pick in the 2013 First-Year Player Draft, was arrested early Thursday morning for driving with a suspended license.
According to the Lee County Sheriff's Office records, the 19-year-old Denney was booked at 4:06 a.m. on Thursday and released at 8:30 a.m. after posting a $500 bond.
"The Red Sox are aware of the incident involving Jon Denney. At present, we are still gathering more information," the team said in a statement. "At this time the club will make no further comment."
According to a Yahoo Sports report, Denney was arrested at 2:22 a.m. He was pulled over at 11:57 p.m. on Wednesday night when his Ford F-150 Raptor fishtailed after a quick acceleration. According to Yahoo, Denney, whose license was restricted to business and emergency purposes only, called a friend to drive him home. Denney reportedly drove out of a parking lot about two hours later and was pulled over again.
Denney, a catcher drafted out of Yukon High School in Oklahoma, spent last year with Boston's Gulf Coast League affiliate, where he hit .203/.379/.243 in 26 games. The Red Sox likely will make a decision regarding Denney's status this weekend.
• Right fielder Shane Victorino didn't play in a Minor League game on Friday because he felt something in his right thumb on Thursday. Victorino did take batting practice, however, and is expected to play Saturday night against the Phillies.
• The Red Sox on Friday introduced dynamic pricing, in which prices are determined by the market in real time, for seats and standing-room tickets on the Green Monster. Green Monster tickets for games in April and May will go on sale Tuesday at noon ET on redsox.com/greenmonster.
• Lefty reliever Craig Breslow was slated to throw another bullpen session Friday and is "getting closer" to pitching in a Spring Training game, Farrell said, though there is no specific date set for Breslow's Grapefruit League debut. Farrell said he'd like to have Breslow make three-to-five appearances before the regular season, but it's not necessary.
"It's more about how he feels physically and how he's responding to the consistent work," Farrell said. "He's always contended that as long as he has his arm strength and maintaining arm slot, then he's confident that he can execute pitches."