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Red Sox notes: Bobby Valentine on the beer ban, Carl Crawford and Felix Doubront

02.25.12 at 3:25 pm ET
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FORT MYERS, Fla. — The lasting symbol of the Red Sox‘ collapse at the end of last season became the consumption of beer and fried chicken by pitchers in the clubhouse. This year, the Sox now have a new rule in place that could prevent a recurrence of such behavior.

New manager Bobby Valentine detailed some of his rules and expectations for his team. Among them will be a prohibition on beer in the clubhouse.

“The rules are [for the players] not to embarrass themselves or the team, the community, their teammates, themselves. I don’t think that’s a new rule. That’s a long standing rule of life,” said Valentine. “There’s no beer in the clubhouse and no beer on the last leg of plane trips.”

In explaining the beer prohibition, Valentine said that he is following the same approach he had in all of his previous managerial jobs except for with the Texas Rangers. He also received and expects little objection to the policy.

Asked for the team reaction, Valentine joked, “You mean like standing ovation or booing? I didn’t get either of those. It was probably somewhere right in between a standing O and a standing boo.”

Valentine said that the idea of objecting to the beer rule seemed somewhat silly given that the majority of major league clubhouses have now abolished drinking.

“What would happen if they got traded to St. Louis? Would they refuse the trade? Or New York. Or one of the other 19 teams, or however many teams there are?” mused Valentine. “I doubt it. I don’t know what kind of pushback you could get.”

OTHER NOTES

— While the Red Sox had suggested on a number of occasions that the offseason wrist surgery on Carl Crawford could render the outfielder unavailable for Opening day, Crawford appears to be testing that notion. He took 35 swings at 80 percent (“I don’t know how you actually do 80 percent, personally — I never quite got that,” joked Valentine) in the batting cage on Saturday, a sign that his recovery is progressing quite well.

Asked when Crawford looks like he might return to games, Valentine said, ‘€œSooner than I thought originally. Hopefully, not so soon that it sets him back. We’€™re trying to make the time right. Of course, we’€™ve talked about some absolute time frames. We’€™re not trying to set that out as a public statement right now, but he’€™s doing well.

‘€œI think [playing on Opening Day] could be realistic, but again I don’€™t know. I wouldn’€™t doubt it. Talking to Carl, I wouldn’€™t doubt many things. He seems very determined.’€

— Valentine offered the following impressions of left-hander Felix Doubront, the 24-year-old who is being examined as both a rotation and bullpen possibility for 2012, a year in which he is out of minor league options.

“When you’€™re a left-hander with talent, it always intrigues pitching coaches and managers. He seems to have a very good pitching feel,” said Valentine. “He understands his body very well ‘€“ threw three pitches today at the end of his workout and understood exactly what he was doing to have those pitches misfire. The fact that he keeps the ball down in the zone and has a breaking ball. Left-handers who are kind of scripted are usually successful if they can maintain any kind of consistency. I think that’€™s what they like.’€

— Valentine said that he expects most if not all of his pitchers except for Stolmy Pimentel (sidelined by a lat injury) to pitch by March 6. That could include Russ Ohlendorf (back) and Aaron Cook (precautionary shoulder approach), right-handers who had been held back slightly in their bullpen schedule. Both are now back throwing side sessions.

“They’re really not far behind,” Valentine said of Ohlendorf and Cook.

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