Bobby Valentine addressed a few topics today, speaking with Peter Abraham of the Boston Globe. The new Red Sox skipper talked about his plans for Spring Training. Even without Bobby Valentine, this spring would be different forBoston. The team is entering their first season in the new JetBlue Park at the Fenway South complex inFort Myers,FL. The new facility is larger with the fields more widely spread across the complex, something that might not fit in well with Valentine’s plans for a more intensive schedule.
With the wide open competition for the two final rotation spots, Valentine wants more innings to evaluate the pitchers; “To get guys really ready, I think everyone’s working the deadline to get a starter with 30 innings and five [starts]. The numbers just don’t compute.” Abraham speculates that the team may play more intra-squad games and notes that the manager wants the 7 inning scrimmages with Boston College and Northeastern extended to full 9 inning matches.
In addition to play more baseball, the team will also spend more time on drills and skill development and less time standing around. Valentine was not pulling punches: “It’s because there’s a lot of lazy people in the game today,” he told Abraham. “There can’t be enough. Everyone says [spring training] is too long. I think that’s baloney.” This will mean more work on baseball skills for all players.
Bench Coach Tim Bogar expounded on Valentine’s plan in an interview with Rob Bradford at WEEI.com. The former third base coach said his new manager plans to model this year’s camp on the model he learned inJapan. “Bobby had told me over there they worked for a long time and did a lot of things and over here they don’t work as long as they do there,” Bogar told Bradford. “But what we’re trying to implement this year is that they’re all going to be doing some type of baseball activity at all times during practice, so there’s not a lot of standing around. There’s not a lot of dead time”
This will be music to the ears of all those fans who felt that a poor work ethic and the lack of disciple tanked the Red Sox in 2011. Whether it will result in real improvement remains to be seen. The Red Sox were a good fielding team last season and their offense was the best in baseball even with the MLB’s worst running game. A return to fundamentals is always a good thing, but unless that renewed emphasis can help the pitching staff allow fewer runs, it is likely more of a talking point for the media than anything else.
Valentine also spoke about Carl Crawford and his place on the team-
“When he’s ready and he’s healed, he is going to be a welcome addition to our team, whenever that is. The more I’ve looked at Carl on film and tried to evaluate the whole thing, he’s really special and we really need him. If it’s later, than that’s when it will be.”
It’s nice to hear that Valentine is looking forward to C.C.’s return, but his implied patience might be a bad sign for the Sox if it means that he has reason to believe Crawford will need extended time to recover. The left fielder could be ready by Opening Day but this statement seems to imply that even an April return might be optimistic.