Red Sox Fort-itude: The rotation shapes up
|02.10.11 at 12:45 pm ET|
FORT MYERS, Fla. — Greetings from Fort Myers, where gentle breezes prevail on a calm, overcast day.
As for the players, with pitchers and catchers due to report on Feb. 13, a number of Red Sox pitchers have now reported to the team’s minor league training facility. Indeed, four-fifths of the team’s starting rotation is now on the scene in Fort Myers.
An annual rite of passage renewed, with the arrival of Daisuke Matsuzaka at spring training generating a bit of international interest this morning. That said, the pool of reporters covering Matsuzaka has diminished significantly in spring training this year. Just four reporters from Japan were present to cover the pitcher’s first comments of the spring.
Even so, the pitcher is throwing this morning, and appears to be in good shape following a year in which his stuff was impressive, even if his results remained typically (and wildly) inconsistent. John Lackey and Josh Beckett also arrived, joining Jon Lester, who has been here for a few days.
–Red Sox right-hander Robert Coello, who was designated for assignment on Wednesday in order to make room on the 40-man roster for Alfredo Aceves, remains in Fort Myers. He actually had just rented a condo for spring training, and so the uncertain predicament in which he finds himself is challenging. He came by the Red Sox minor league training facility to work out and throw on Thursday morning, and said that he has little recourse but to wait for the next 10 days to pass before he can figure out where he ends up.
–As for Aceves, the right-hander’s bullpen session at Fenway Park this week was described as extensive and impressive. (Epstein later clarified that Aceves threw two bullpen sessions for the Sox, and it appears he faces no restrictions. One source suggested that the greater concern was with the pitcher’s lower back — which sidelined him for most of last year — than with the broken clavicle he suffered in a bicycling accident this winter, but that everything checked out well in his physical.) He seems likely to open the year in Pawtucket’s rotation — Aceves, in fact, expressed a clear preference to sign with a team that would give him an opportunity to start. Of course, the possibility of signing with a Red Sox team that offered a chance to stick it to his former club was also appealing. The GM said that Aceves represented an opportunity to address a position of need for the Sox, as the team felt that it needed to find a reliable rotation depth option with the stuff and experience to be an effective AL East starter. Aceves, of course, proved just such an ability while with the Yankees, helping convince the Sox to sign him. –Lenny DiNardo is also on hand. The left-hander, who signed a minor league deal with the Sox this winter, now lives in Fort Myers, so he is spared the effort of searching for a spring training condo.
–Red Sox pitching prospect Drake Britton is in camp. He pronounced himself excited for the coming year, saying that “it looks like the leash is going to come off” with regards to the innings limits that he faced last year. Britton is one of the top prospects in the Sox system, a hard-throwing left-hander with a swing-and-miss breaking ball. He struck out 78 in 75 2/3 innings last year with Low-A Greenville last year, and the 21-year-old said that the organization would like to see him boost his innings total to about 120 innings in the coming year. Britton hopes to exceed that threshold.