Red Sox fans: baseball is back! And so is this blog, hopefully!
Today was the first day of Spring Training workouts for the Red Sox pitchers and catchers, as well as a number of early-to-report position players, and we are only nine days away from the first split squad games against Northeastern University and Boston College next Thursday.
Pitchers and catchers were due to report voluntarily yesterday, and position players will report in a few days. The mandatory date for all non-World Baseball Classic players to report is February 20th. The Red Sox have three participants in the Classic this year: Xander Bogaerts (Netherlands), Alfredo Aceves (Mexico) and Shane Victorino (USA). Bogaerts is with the club right now and will be for the next two weeks before he heads to Arizona to work out with his national team and eventually heads to Taiwan for pool play. Victorino is at camp, but will miss about three weeks of time starting on March 1st, which is a little bit of a concern for the team. Manager John Farrell has repeatedly stressed the importance of Ellsbury, who reported early, and Victorino to get as many reps playing next to each other in the outfield as possible. Aceves has been with the team for two years now, so his brief departure is of little concern.
The first club workout was held this morning and the first full squad practice will take place on Friday.
Today’s news and links
The big story of the day was Clay Buchholz, who strained his hamstring in a pitcher fielding practice drill only hours into day one of camp. He will be re-evaluated on Wednesday. A large collective sigh could be heard from Red Sox fans growing impatient with Buchholz’s perceived injury proneness, but Buchholz downplayed the injury saying the strain was as “mild as it can be” and that he expects to be back by the weekend. Either way, this is not the way the Red Sox, who used the DL more than any team in baseball last year, wanted to start camp.
Daniel Nava was seen fielding grounders at first base, a position he hasn’t played since his junior college days, as his potential competition Ryan Sweeney looked on probably wondering if he should be doing the same. While it might be much ado about nothing, it could perhaps be a further indication that first base depth is a bit of a worry for the club right now.
Lyle Overbay took extra reps at first base as well. According to Nick Cafardo, Overybay, who is signed to a minor league deal and competing for a backup spot, has talked about getting some reps in at left field, a position he played last played in college. He also spent time with Arizona hitting coach Don Baylor and they worked on shortening his swing which he claims had gotten a bit “long” and perhaps contributed to his disappointing last few seasons.
David Ortiz said that he will be ready by opening day, and said that he is at about 90% health and has zero fears about his Achilles. He has been working out for a few weeks now and has been able to hit without any pain. Ortiz, who was one of the few to speak out in defense of Bobby Valentine last year, did have some less-than-stellar things to say about his former manager on Tuesday as well.
New addition Mike Napoli took some hacks in the batting cage this morning, and claims to be ready to go. Farrell did say later on in the day that the team plans on limiting his hitting early on and restricting certain baseball activities for Napoli. He’ll undergo another MRI later in the week and based on the result they’ll decide how to progress and what baseball activities they can move on to. Both sides did sound optimistic for the season, and if all goes well he’ll start receiving reps at first base early next week.
Jose Iglesias, who could be fighting for an opening day spot, said that he had the best of season of his life. He worked with Dustin Pedroia this offseason in Arizona and said that he has gained confidence and is entering camp with a completely new mindset as compared to recent seasons. He also told reporters that while he was surprised that the club signed Stephen Drew, he views it as motivation and understands the team needs to do what’s best for the team. Iglesias also entered camp 8 pounds heavier after the club recommended he add a little bulk in an effort to improve his hitting.
Bryce Brentz, the organization’s 6th rated prospect according to soxprospects.com, recently shot himself while reportedly cleaning a gun. Why the gun was loaded while he was cleaning it is anyone’s guess, but the injury is not serious and he participated in activities this morning.
John Lackey visibly looked to be in great shape and much slimmer, and the mood around camp seemed very optimistic. Jon Lester had nothing but nice words to say about Lackey on and off the field. Lackey figures to be a solidifying force in the clubhouse, a clubhouse which figures to see a drastic change in atmosphere — hopefully for the better. John Farrell recently named him as one of the five starters, so the expectations from him certainly are clear. He enters camp with absolutely no restrictions and a subtle hunger for redemption. His interview with Tom Caron and Peter Gammons is certainly worth a watch.
Will Middlebrooks recently talked to Evan Longoria about rehabbing his broken wrist, and enters camp with no restrictions.
Farrell stated the other day that Felix Doubront and Craig Breslow were going to be “held back” some at camp due some discomfort felt during long-toss, but both players seem upbeat about camp and don’t figure to be restricted for long. Doubront shattered his career high in innings last year with 161 pitched, and despite being shut down for a few starts in August, showed no signs of wearing down during his last four starts in which he posted a 3.08 ERA to close the season. He spoke about a goal to pitch 200 innings this year
Daniel Bard reportedly was throwing all his pitches today in a bullpen session and by all accounts looked great.
Here are some video links.
The team will be back on the field tomorrow at 9:30. Check back in for more updates.