It's becoming one of the least important of spring training events, but today is, in fact, the day that position players report for the Red Sox! Of course, many of them had already shown up earlier in the week, but now it's official!
This means, of course, the start of an onslaught of beat writers tweeting pictures of players exercising, taking team photos, and signing autographs. So far there are no shocking surprises to be gleaned from these photos--all players have the expected number of chins and limbs--so I'll leave you to peruse those on your own.
Meanwhile, however, there are the usual tidbits out of Fort Myers.
First up comes the exciting prospect of the Red Sox making a big move. No, neither Oswalt, nor Floyd, nor any other starting pitcher is involved. Instead, we're looking to the Dominican Republic and the possibility of making a splash in the IFA market with one Jorge Soler. According to ESPN, the Red Sox have had their eyes on the 19-year-old Cuban defector, and are expected to make a big push for him.
There's little question that Soler is one of the most exciting (if untested) young prospects to come on the IFA market in recent years. Remarkably fast with a big arm and incredible power, it's expected that Soler will cost more than $20 million to sign.
It's a huge risk to take for any player so young and far from the majors (he would likely start in the low-mid minors), but if there's any individual talent who could boost the Sox' farm system back into elite territories, Soler is it. With the new CBA likely to stem the Sox' draft spending, the team might be happy to throw their financial weight around in this market.
WEEI, meanwhile, has been killing the "everyone wants to be a starter" story. First, we have the great Alex Speier looking into why Daniel Bard doesn't anticipate any need for an innings limit:
Indeed, one of the best performances of the 26-year-old's career came when he had the biggest innings load of his life.
Indeed, Bard led the Cape that summer with 65 innings pitched, giving him a total of 154 2/3 for the season. Interestingly, not only did he survive with such a workload -- he excelled.
Bard went 3-3 with a 1.25 ERA (third best in the league) with a league-leading 82 strikeouts and 20 walks. He was named the second-best prospect in the league, with a performance that all but cemented his status as a first-round pick in the 2006 draft.
Of course, the Cape League isn't necessarily the end-all be-all when it comes to developed baseball talent, but it's good to see that Bard still has his arm despite throwing so many innings in a year. Of course, given the reaction to the conversion these past few months, it's hard to imagine anything short of a full, healthy year will convince any skeptics, but it is what it is.
In that same vein, Rob Bradford relates Vicente Padilla's satisfaction in having a chance to work his way back into a starting rotation. Padilla seems to be the favorite right now for the fifth spot in the rotation, but it's a fairly open battle that could end with anyone from Alfredo Aceves to Carlos Silva filling the role.
But to get back to those exercises, there was one tidbit that seemed particularly worth sharing. Peter Abraham tweets the following account of Josh Beckett throwing to one Zach Kapstein:
Rookie ball catcher Zach Kapstein had a line drive off Beckett. 50-50 he hits him next time
Beckett brushed him back with a high fastball. Then the kid hit one out This is great. He'll definitely hit him the next time.
Kapstein is a 19-year-old who had all of 60 ABs last year in the Gulf Coast League after being drafted in the 44th round of the 2010 draft. Josh Beckett is a 31-year-old with two World Series rings, a second place Cy Young Award finish, three All-Star selections, and has made millions and millions of dollars in his career.
If Kapstein does nothing more in the course of his career--an entirely likely scenario--then at least he'll have this story to tell his kids. And possibly a bruise for the next week.