Tuesday, February 21, 2012
Quick hits from a busy Red Sox clubhouse
By Joe McDonald
FORT MYERS, Fla. -- The Red Sox clubhouse at Fenway South was a busy place Tuesday morning.
As pitchers and catchers were preparing for their first official day of workouts, a lot of position players arrived early.
Dustin Pedroia, Cody Ross, Nick Punto, Ryan Sweeney, Darnell McDonald and Jose Iglesias were all in the clubhouse and ready to participate.
In taking attendance, it seems virtually all position players -- with the exception of David Ortiz and Jacoby Ellsbury -- have been spotted.
Here are a few quick hits:
* Pedroia looks to be in great shape and has trimmed down a bit. It didn’t take him long to hit the batting cage, but before going out he said, "Hey, media. I knew I smelled something. . . I’m jacked.”
He hit in the cage and then was on the field at JetBlue shooting a Sullivan Tire commercial.
* Sweeney, who came to Boston from Oakland as part of the Andrew Bailey trade, is hoping to win the everyday job in right field.
“I’m looking forward to it. I think it’s a great opportunity, a new chapter to go from a younger team like the A’s, to a team that if you don’t make it to the playoffs it’s a disappointment,” he said. “I’ve never been in a playoff-type atmosphere and to be a part of a team that does that pretty much every year is pretty exciting.”
Right field is open as spring training begins and Sweeney hopes to be the guy to patrol that position at Fenway. It’s not an easy place to play given all the nooks and crannies out there.
“I’ve played there quite a bit coming in and playing against the Red Sox, but obviously that’s something I would get better at as the year went on,” Sweeney said. "I don’t foresee it being a huge issue. I’m the type of outfielder who gets good reads and jumps on balls and I really pride myself on working hard on my defense.”
Sweeney believes the newest closer in Boston will do just fine.
“Watching him over the past three years, he’s done great. I think he’s going to thrive off the fans,” Sweeney said. “He’s an intense guy when he’s out there in that ninth inning and he wants the ball. I think that’s a good mentality to have when you’re playing in a big market like this. I don’t think he’ll have any problems with it.”
* Punto will be part of a three-man competition for the starting shortstop job, along with Mike Aviles and Iglesias.
“I’m thrilled, excited to be a part of a franchise like this, a team like this and it’s kind of a dream come true,” Punto said.
The veteran infielder has spent the majority of his career with the Minnesota Twins. He played for the St. Louis Cardinals last season and helped them win the World Series. He’s hoping to accomplish the same with Boston.
“My season ended pretty well by winning the World Series, so I want to do that again,” he said. “I have that taste in my mouth and I would like to do that every year.”
Punto, listed at 5-foot-9, came up with the line of the morning when asked about playing with Pedroia:
“He’s probably the first [player] that I’m taller than.”
* Ross also adds depth to the outfield and can play all three positions.
“I’m really excited right now to be a part of an amazing organization. These guys want to win and that’s what I want to do,” he said. "It’s a great group of guys and I’m really looking forward to getting going.”
Ross said he felt the Red Sox were a great fit and that’s why he decided to sign. He said playing in the American League will be a change for him, but the transition should be a smooth one. There were other options for Ross, but he wanted an opportunity to play in Boston.
“This was the best situation for me and I felt like this team was on the right track, trying to get back to that next level and trying to win another championship,” he said. "I’ve talked to a few guys about being down from last year, but looking forward to this year.”
* Pitchers don’t need to pick up a bat until interleague play in June, but Bobby Valentine has them scheduled to be in the in the cages (bunting and slashing) as part of Tuesday’s first workout.
* Red Sox outfielder Ryan Kalish continues to rehab from offseason surgeries on his neck and shoulder. He’s progressing well and is hoping to get clearance soon to start baseball activities.
“My body has turned a corner and it’s a great feeling,” he said. “It’s a fantastic feeling to have, so I just want to keep that up and keep working out and keep getting better.”
Kalish, who missed the majority of last season due to injury, has no restrictions in the weight room. His focus has been on the shoulder and core areas.