Saturday, March 24, 2012
Bobby V: Sox 'have a wealth' of SS talent
By Matt Porter
JUPITER, Fla. -- Boston Red Sox manager Bobby Valentine thinks anyone who frets about his team’s Opening Day starter at shortstop is missing the point.
“It’s all ridiculous,” he said of the interest in who gets the job.
Jose Iglesias’ hitting and Mike Aviles’ defense have improved to the point where Valentine feels comfortable with either as the starter.
“It’s not tough, because we’re going to have a good player,” Valentine said of the decision. “We don’t see it as a problem. We see it as, we have a wealth of talent.”
Valentine said he’s impressed with Pedro Ciriaco, who carries a
.419/.438/.645 spring batting split and a Grapefruit League-best five steals into Saturday's game with the Miami Marlins. Iglesias and Ciriaco are 1-2 in the lineup against Marlins lefty Wade LeBlanc.
“It’s all about how the team feels about their member,” Valentine said. “That they’re secure with the person that’s playing the position [and] they feel confident that he’s a championship-caliber player.”
* Felix Doubront gets the ball Saturday. Valentine said he wants to see two things out of the 24-year-old rotation candidate. He wants to see him throw more than five innings as well as “a couple pitches, when he’s ahead in the count, that are aggressive,” Valentine said.
The manager said Doubront came into camp in “much better” shape than he anticipated. He has both the stamina and the stuff to be a starter.
Valentine would like to see more of a mean streak.
“His mound presence is something that we wanted to see develop, and it has developed. His pitches are the caliber that we need them to be. Now we’re looking for that competitiveness,” Valentine said.
Valentine said he’s pleased he’s been able to “keep an open mind” in evaluating players. That includes Doubront, who did not impress last season in Triple-A Pawtucket (2-5, 4.22 ERA in 16 starts).
“I haven’t gone to the places most everybody else has in making decisions,” Valentine said.
* Valentine was cagey when asked about last year’s flirtation with the Marlins’ open manager position. “I talked with some of the people involved. More than once,” he said. He wouldn’t say if the discussions went further than he anticipated.
“Then I’d have to tell you what I thought,” he said.
* Saturday’s game is a homecoming for outfielder Cody Ross, who spent most of five seasons playing for the Marlins. Ross seemingly greeted everyone in sight during batting practice.
* Valentine stopped an interview, and several players halted warm-up drills, to watch Marlins outfielder Giancarlo Stanton crush several long homers in batting practice. David Ortiz, who is batting fourth in Saturday's lineup, was seen offering him a few words of hitting advice.
* Former Red Sox utilityman/bullpen option Nick Green is in the Marlins' lineup. He's batting eighth and playing short.