FORT MYERS, Fla. -- It was a relatively quiet and quick day for the Boston Red Sox on Friday at JetBlue Park.
The team held its annual charity golf tournament in the afternoon, so workouts began an hour earlier than usual. The morning was spent with the team working on bunt defense, fielding practice for the pitchers and live batting practice.
Afterward, Red Sox president Larry Lucchino was the third member of the ownership group to meet with the media this week, and his comments were in tune with what John Henry and Tom Werner said earlier.
“The goal for 2014 is October baseball,” Lucchino said. “That’s always our goal, year in and year out. We repeated it [Thursday] to the new players who are here and the old players have heard it over and over, but it’s to play baseball in October. That is our annual goal.”
* At this point, it appears the Red Sox will begin the regular season with three young players in the starting lineup, including center fielder Jackie Bradley Jr., third baseman Will Middlebrooks and shortstop Xander Bogaerts. Even though the Red Sox are the defending World Series champions, Lucchino is comfortable with the youthful lineup.
“I like the idea and I look forward to it,” he said. “We’ve been saying for a long time, particularly in recent years, that this is a game for young players and you can’t really make it a game for young players unless they play.”
The team's depth is also impressive, especially with the pitching staff. Drake Britton, Rubby De La Rosa, Anthony Ranaudo, Allen Webster and Brandon Workman are all on the 40-man roster and are expected to contribute at the big-league level.
Each spring, Red Sox manager John Farrell keeps a close eye on the younger pitchers in the organization, especially during live BP.
“It’s more about how are they responding with so many eyes on them,” Farrell said. “And, are they able to channel that potential distraction into quality pitches.”
* It’s considered the most hated drill of spring training for batters when pitchers are scheduled to throw live BP. It’s an opportunity for the pitchers to see a batter in the box for the first time this spring, but the hitters hardly every swing because they want to avoid bad habits.
Farrell and pitching coach Juan Nieves stressed the importance of the pitchers to work in all of their pitches, and throwing them for strikes during the sessions.
“You’re looking for the progression of both hitters and pitchers facing one another,” Farrell said. “You’re getting a little bit closer to game speed.
* Hard-throwing right-hander Rubby De La Rosa entered camp completely healthy, which is much different from a year ago when he began his first full season in the Red Sox organization still rehabbing from Tommy John surgery. He spent the majority of 2013 at Triple-A Pawtucket, and when he did get an opportunity in Boston he was effective. Now, he has no restrictions and will compete for a spot.
“It’s going to be depended upon who else is on the staff,” Farrell said. “Where the opportunity lies, we feel comfortable if he is put into the bullpen that he certainly has the physical stuff to succeed in that role.”
If he doesn’t earn a spot in Boston’s bullpen, he will be sent to the minors and serve as a starter for the PawSox.
“Long term with Rubby, we have not closed the door on one role or the other, because when you grade out his stuff it projects as a starter, and he’s had success all the way through the minor leagues and for a short time in the big leagues as a starter. We’re not limiting his role at this point,” Farrell said.