De La Rosa an early standout in camp

FORT MYERS, Fla. -- Rubby De La Rosa will start the season in the Minor Leagues mainly due to the fact he is still rebuilding his arm strength after Tommy John surgery, but he clearly looks like a Major League pitcher, and it's fairly easy to envision he will help the Red Sox before the 2013 season ends.

De La Rosa looked in complete command on Friday night in his relief outing against the Pirates, allowing one hit over two scoreless innings and striking out two.

"I feel good. I feel very comfortable," De La Rosa said.

Though De La Rosa typically hits the mid 90s with his fastball, that is hardly what stands out about him.

"Most impressively is the feel for his secondary pitches, particularly his changeup," manager John Farrell said after the Red Sox's 5-2 win. "A couple of 3-2 counts, right-handed, left-handed, he's not only willing [to go to the secondary] but he goes to that pitch with confidence, and when you combine that with the power, it's really a rare combination.

"And just with two outings in Spring Training, he's not been afraid to go to any pitch in any count. It's been very encouraging the way he's thrown the baseball."

It's already evident why De La Rosa was viewed as the key piece who came back from the Dodgers in the blockbuster for Adrian Gonzalez, Carl Crawford and Josh Beckett.

Former Red Sox ace Pedro Martinez has made De La Rosa a pet project during this Spring Training.

"I think the most important thing is he feels great physically," said Farrell. "He's been a student around [pitching coach] Juan [Nieves] and Pedro. He's a very good-looking young pitcher."