FORT MYERS, Fla. -- Takeaways from Day Seven of Red Sox camp:
New rules, no problem: Manager John Farrell indicated Thursday that he doesn't expect the new pace-of-play rules to be a major issue for David Ortiz, despite the spirited objections the slugger expressed the day before.
“I think he’ll adhere to the rules," Farrell said. “Any time we’re going through some subtle changes or some adjustments, the pace of game or replay, there’s going to be some growing pains. We fully anticipate that. I think it’s important we all give this a chance to come to fruition a little bit, see how it may or may not affect the flow of the game or an individual routine. I think that’s what’s important here. There’s a personal routine at the plate and on the mound that is part of the natural flow of the game. Some might consider that slow. I think that’s important that it’s preserved. That’s what puts a player in the right frame of mind to execute what he’s trying to get done.
“I don’t think [Ortiz] put a target on his back. He spoke his mind. That’s where we don’t want to make this too much of an issue. I think it will end up being a subtlety inside the game. But this is no different than when they had fines and potential suspensions for relievers coming out of the bullpen who took too long. We dealt with our guys who were slower than normal."
Step to the plate: This was the first day of pitchers throwing live batting practice. Most hitters chose to track pitches in their first sessions, meaning they did not take any swings but instead stood in the box and watched pitches. Mike Napoli, who stood in against Clay Buchholz along with Dustin Pedroia, spoke to Buchholz afterward. “He told me the ball looked like an Advil," Buchholz said.
On Field 3, where Farrell was watching along with GM Ben Cherington, Buchholz and Rick Porcello threw to catcher Ryan Hanigan. Wade Miley, Eduardo Rodriguez and Anthony Varvaro threw to Blake Swihart.
“Pitch to contact," Farrell said when asked what he is looking for from his pitchers in their first live BP. “Every pitch that they throw should be with the idea of throwing a first strike, regardless of the type of pitch. Even though a hitter is going to see five pitches or take five swings (per round), we want the pitcher to think it’s the first pitch of the at-bat, where you’re executing first-pitch strikes.
“Strike-oriented. You’re using all your pitch mix for the first time seeing hitters. You’re seeing how hitters react to the stuff you’re throwing at the plate."
Shane switches it up: Shane Victorino, who tracked pitches from Varvaro, did so from the left-handed batter’s box.
Farrell confirmed what Victorino had indicated upon his arrival in camp last week that he intends to resume switch-hitting. Farrell said he has talked to Victorino about his return to batting from the left side against right-handers.
“It’s likely that he hits left-handed in games," Farrell said. “If you think back to ’13, late in the year, he switched solely to the right side because there were physical restrictions. With those freed up now, the left side of the plate comes back in play.
“What I would hate to see happen is that here’s a nine-year major-league veteran who switch-hit the entire time all of a sudden be solely one-sided. There was a reason why he hit left-handed to begin with, and that was to better attack right-handed pitching."
Pedey's one-liners: Dustin Pedroia delivered another clever comment regarding pace of play. Last week, it was, "My kids go to bed at 8, so I’m not in a rush. I don’t make the rules, I don’t break them. So that’s where I’m at."
Pedroia, asked again Thursday about pace of play in the wake of David Ortiz’s rant the day before, said: “Baseball isn’t a drive-thru."
Scouts in the house: The team’s pro scouts have assembled here for two days of meetings before they fan out to camps in Florida and Arizona. Let the trade speculation begin in earnest.
Brentz sits out: Outfielder Bryce Brentz, who has some soreness in his right knee, was held out of workouts for the second straight day. He was the only player unable to participate in Thursday’s work. On a social note, the newspaper in Murfreesboro, Tenn., where Brentz starred in baseball for Middle Tennessee State, recently ran a feature story announcing the engagement of MTSU’s “First Couple": Brentz and Anne Marie Lanning, who was picked the best high school basketball player in the state before scoring over 1,000 points at MTSU. The two are to be married at Lanning’s family farm on Nov. 20, the story said.
Pitchers get in the action: Among the drills the pitchers performed Thursday was something the team calls “The Juanchi," named after Sox pitching coach Juan Nieves, in which the pitchers play all of the infield positions.
“What we try to do is have every pitcher understand the responsibilities of defensive players at their position. We rotate guys through so they can anticipate game situations, what a player does at their respective positions, and it’s more just understanding a situation and anticipating it more."
Serious about bunting: Infield instructor Brian Butterfield, while conducting bunt drills, admonished the players when the execution became a bit sloppy. “This is a very serious business," he said. “This is the difference between winning and losing."
“That’s not the first time that’s been brought up in this camp," Farrell said. “Typically those situations arise late in a game, whether a tie game or one-run ballgame. What we don’t want to do is just be satisfied with just one out, which means we’d just take the out at first base. If we can execute and knock down a lead runner, and be a little more attentive with that out, that’s the way we’re drilling."
Moncada's snow day: Yoan Moncada arrived Wednesday night in Boston with the city in the grip of a deep freeze and piles of snow everywhere, and reacted the way you might expect a Cuban teenager who had never seen snow before.
“The first thing he did at the hotel last night was go out in the snow," said David Hastings, the Florida-based CPA who accompanied Moncada to Boston for the completion of his physical, having completed the first phase here Wednesday.
“And no, he didn’t change his mind [about signing with the Red Sox]. Everything is going well."
The Red Sox have yet to announce that they have struck an agreement with Moncada, who agreed Sunday to accept a record-setting $31.5 million bonus from the Sox. They may do so once the physical is completed, although a press conference has not been scheduled and may not come until next week, when Moncada is scheduled to report to the team’s minor-league camp.