|John Farrell notes Saturday: Tim Wakefield can help Steven Wright, Daniel Nava stands tall at 1B||02.16.13 at 3:10 pm ET|
FORT MYERS, Fla. — For years, Phil Niekro gave advice to Tim Wakefield when the Red Sox pitcher was, at times, trying to find consistency on the mound.
It appears the time has come for Wakefield to return the favor and he’s only too glad to do so.
John Farrell said Saturday that he spoke at length with Wakefield on Friday and that the retired knuckleball pitcher will come to camp next week and advise promising knuckleballer Steven Wright.
“It’s such a unique pitch and it’s going to be unique to the individual as well,” Farrell said. “Actually, Wake and I had a pretty lengthy conversation [Friday] and he’ll be in camp here in about another week to work with Steven directly so, understanding what worked well for Wake is not to say the same it’s going to be the same exact checkpoints for Steven. That’s such a fraternity, a tight-knit fraternity, the knuckleball pitcher. I think to have Wake as a resource and have him in here, he’s more than willing to share some of his thoughts and talk about it.”
Farrell made it clear that he is not putting the cart ahead of the horse when it comes to projecting where and when Wright might be able to help in the organization.
Acquired from Cleveland at the trade deadline last year, Wright made a total of 30 starts for Double-A Akron, Double-A Portland, Triple-A Pawtucket and Escogido in the Dominican Winter League, accumulating a 10-8 record and 2.53 ERA while punching out 7.3 and walking 4.0 batters per nine innings.
As WEEI.com’s Alex Speier pointed out, the right-hander was drafted by the Indians out of the University of Hawaii in 2006 as a pitcher with good command of a low-90s fastball and a good slider that he could throw for strikes. Farrell first got a look at him while farm director with the Indians.
“I think it’s a little premature to begin to talk about Steven, just not knowing him all that well,” Farrell said Saturday. “It’s going to take a few outings to get a better understanding of what works well for him.”
Other notes from Saturday:
On the first day of live BP: “I thought it was a good work day overall, particularly pitchers making their next step, seeing hitters in the box. We came out healthy out of today so it was a good day.” Dustin Pedroia and Jacoby Ellsbury batted against Koji Uehara while David Ortitz and Jonny Gomes batted against Junichi Tazawa. It was while Tazawa was facing Gomes, that the Red Sox had their first scare of camp as Tazawa drilled Gomes in the back with a fastball, causing Gomes to turn to catcher David Ross and shout, “Old Ironsides,” an apparent reference to brushing off the ball.
“I heard about it, I heard about it,” Farrell said, before asking rhetorically, “It wasn’t intentional was it?”
Speaking of Gomes, Farrell indicated he has every intention of give Gomes a chance to prove he can handle right-handed pitching as well as left-handed pitching in camp and during spring training games.
“We have every intent to do just that,” Farrell said. “So, what that total number of at-bats against right-handers for Jonny, remains to be seen. More importantly, we don’t want to go in and say, ‘we’re closing the door on him facing any right-handers.’
“Until we see it more first-hand, I’ll have a better answer then.”
And if it doesn’t work out?
“Barring any additions, we’ll go with who’s here,” Farrell said of right-handed hitting options in left field.
On 5-foot-10 Daniel Nava handling the duties of first base, a position normally anchored by a taller player: “As long as we throw the ball low, none whatsoever,” Farrell joked. “I know one thing, in the early going, when we talked about this internally and then had him on the field prior to camp opening up, he showed decent actions around the bag. With each passing day and added reps, he’s getting a little bit more fluid and a little bit more comfortable there. Maybe we’re better able to address the height issue once we get into some games and some errant throws.
“In junior college. He played, I want to say, roughly about 20 games there. He’s one of the guys we want to take a look at as a secondary position.”
There is no shortage of candidates to fill the role of back-up first baseman behind Mike Napoli, if he winds up winning the job in camp. Lyle Overbay is the clear favorite but Nava is in a group with Mitch Maier and Mauro Gomez, all of whom figure to battle for playing time during spring training.
“We can balance it. There’s enough work on the field right now with the amount of time we spend pre-game, both in shagging [balls] and at his normal and natural position in left field and still getting some reps at first. The real key is going to be at game-speed. That’s where we’re going to get a more accurate and true read on it. But as far as his transfer, his footwork, those have all been positive to date.”
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