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Bobby Valentine notes: Jose Iglesias not that bad; David Ortiz needs to be ready at first base; Carl Crawford better

03.03.12 at 12:30 pm ET
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Jose Iglesias has left a solid impression on Bobby Valentine. (AP)

FORT MYERS, Fla. — Prior to his first official spring training game as the manager of the Red Sox, Bobby Valentine touched on a variety of subjects before Jon Lester threw the first pitch to Northeastern Saturday afternoon.

On the hard news front, Valentine passed along word from the medical staff that the swelling was down in Carl Crawford’s left wrist, with a “nice range of motion,” and that progress had been made in the past few days.

When the subject of Jose Iglesias came up, Valentine offered some interesting analysis regarding the shortstop’s offensive skills. First off, the manager submitted the reasoning behind hitting Iglesias first against the Huskies.

“To see him more,” Valentine said. “Just get guys who we haven’t seen and the jury is out on play when the game is fresh and turn their third at-bat over sooner so they can get a full day’s work and somebody else can also get some playing time.”

Then came Valentine’s overall take on where Iglesias’ much-scrutizined offensive skill stand.

“He has pretty good skills. I’m surprised at his skills,” the manager said.

“For my money, when he’s a good baseball player at the major league level his offensive resume has to read more than just plate discipline,” Valentine added. “He has to be able to bunt for base hits in game situations. I don’t mean leading off a game and bunting for a base hit but with a man on second and no outs he better be able to bunt for a base hit and get him over or squeeze if necessary if it’s a big run, or hit and run if there’s a situation I need runners advanced and I don’t want to sacrifice a play.

“His offense needs to be fine-tuned and then if he learns to start his swing a little sooner so that he’s not jumping at the ball, I believe his discipline will be fine, I think. But we’ll see.”

- Valentine explained his motivation for putting David Ortiz at first base in the Red Sox’ nightcap against Boston College. Ortiz hadn’t played in the field during a spring training game since 2007, and only manned the position twice during the 2011 regular season.

“He’s done all the drills since he’s been here at first base, so he’s conditioned to do it. If in fact in interleague play it’s determined he should play in the field I think he should have these reps on his resume so he feels he’s done it before this year and he can do it again,” Valentine said. “This isn’t just to get him his at-bats, this is because I’ve talked to him and Adrian [Gonzalez] and there might be a situation during the year where he is going to be a first baseman.”

Asked if Gonzalez might see some time at designated hitter, Valentine said, “Maybe, but talking to him he doesn’t think so. After 15 innings I think so, day game or something like that. I think they all want to DH then.”

- Valentine said nothing should be read into Jacoby Ellsbury hitting second.

- When asked about the new playoff format, Valentine reiterated his stance, “I like that more fans will be involved. More teams can be involved. I think that’s a good thing and playing to win it is what we’re doing right now and the division champion will be decided who plays right until the end. There won’t be anybody letting down at the end feeling there is no consequence or benefit fro winning the division.”

But then he offered the reminder of how it works in Japan, where whichever playoff team doesn’t win the division is put in an automatic one-game hole in the best-of-five series. That team also gets to play no home games in the series.

- Regarding the chance to play in JetBlue Park’s first game, Valentine said, “No one realizes it but when they’re all older and vacationing in Florida, they will all say I played the first game in Fort Myers. Or most of them will. This is a memory. A memory in the making.”

- Catcher Dan Butler impressed Valentine — and everybody in attendance — in winning the ‘Dancing With the Stars’ contest Friday night.

On his philosophy regarding a lineup’s approach, Valentine said, “I think outs are precious, precious commodities. We only get 27 of them. There is always sacrifice for gain, in the game of baseball and for life. It just depends on what type of gain. I don’t like to give up outs depending on what I’m gaining.”

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