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Red Sox notes: Change is starting with the warning track

02.29.12 at 5:30 pm ET
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FORT MYERS, Fla. ‘€“ For the first time in the ballpark’€™s young history, JetBlue Park served as the site for the Red Sox‘€™ batting practice.

But while it was interesting to witness Cody Ross launching a home run over the left field, onto the practice fields in back of the stadium, with other players peppering the wall’€™s net three-quarters the way up the structure, the real value came elsewhere.

‘€œI know this $80 million facility wasn’€™t built for me,’€ said new Red Sox third base coach Jerry Royster, ‘€œbut it surely is helping.’€

Royster and the rest of the coaches are taking full advantage of the dimensions of their new spring training home, which conveniently offer many of the intracacies of Fenway Park.

For example, it was determined that warning track at JetBlue Park was much softer than the one at Fenway, a discovery that will lead to one of the first changes at the new facility.

‘€œI’€™ve walked around with [Tim Bogar]. It helps all of us,’€ Royster said. ‘€œWe’€™re able to find all the kinks and see what’€™s going on. Just talking to the guys and seeing what is like Fenway and what isn’€™t.

‘€œIt really helps me tremendously. They can tell me what the ball does off the wall. I can learn that here. Also, coaching third and not being able to see down the line, I can do that here where he didn’€™t get to do that. Bogie had to do his first game, trying to figure out what to do on the fly.’€

Along with batting practice, virtually the entire team was on the main field, practicing calling out pop-ups, with the ball being sent skyward via a pitching machine.

At first either the outfielder or the infielder called for the ball, but then the infielders were instructed to not call for anything and wait for the outfielder to make the call.

‘€œThat stuff’€™s just called pop-up priority,’€ said Red Sox manager Bobby Valentine. ‘€œWho has the priority? It’€™s basic, one of those things everyone checks off. When it goes up, we want to catch it and not collide with each other. I know that’€™s simplifying it, but that’€™s basically it. There could be more than one person going after it, let’€™s not collide and let’€™s catch it.’€

In other news from Wednesday ‘€¦

  • Aaron Cook and Chris Carpenter threw batting practice for the first time as members of the Red Sox.
  • Ryan Kalish came away from his first game of catch in nearly six months in fine fashion, making 30 throws fro 45 feet.’€œFirst day, feeling it out. It was rusty,’€ Kalish said. ‘€œIt’€™s a milestone, obviously, because I’€™m happy I’€™m throwing. But in scheme of things it’€™s just the beginning of the process.’€ Asked if he saved the ball, he said. ‘€œI’€™ll save a ball when I get back to where I need to be, the big leagues.’€

‘€œHe looks pretty healthy,’€ Valentine said of the outfielder, who underwent shoulder surgery in November. ‘€œOf course you have to see, once guys start new activities, how they feel later. But he did a workout and then he went down and bunted with Bogie for a while. He was bouncing around. He’€™s a pretty good-looking athlete. That’€™s about where we are right now. But he’€™s not hurt. He seems to be recovered pretty nicely. Maybe not 100 percent, but pretty nicely.’€

  • The Red Sox will play a ‘€˜B’€™ game against the Twins across town at Hammond Stadium Thursday (1 p.m.), with nine pitchers ‘€“ including Daniel Bard and Alfredo Aceves ‘€“ each pitching an inning. Included in those position players participating are catcher Ryan Lavarnway and shortstop Jose Iglesias.
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