Alfredo Aceves wants to start. He's fighting for the fifth spot in the Red Sox rotation along with a laundry list of others, but given his success in the bullpen and the presence of all of those other candidates, it's not a given he gets his wish.
Last year, Aceves threw 114 innings, with 93 of those coming in relief. His starts were so-so, but his work out of the pen was fantastic. Aceves was something of a super reliever:
According to Baseball Reference's wins above replacement (rWAR), Aceves was one of the 10 most valuable relievers in baseball in 2011. He didn't have the pure numbers of closers Rivera or Craig Kimbrel, but he made up for the difference in quality with quantity: combined, Kimbrel and Rivera threw just 24 more frames than Aceves. The difference in rWAR would have been even less had Aceves stuck in the pen all year, where he is a better fit, rather than throw 21 forgettable innings in the rotation.
According to Tim Britton, Aceves might want to start, but he's not going to be too disappointed in whatever role he ends up in. Pitching coach Bob McClure thinks that Aceves is capable of starting, but manager Bobby Valentine might be keen on keeping Aceves in the pen where he's already succeeded:
"He can do either/or. We'll see how that plays out and see how his health plays out," Valentine said last week. "Those innings, I mean, 90 valuable innings is pretty valuable when they are in meaningful ball games."
Curious that Valentine said 90 valuable innings, isn't it? Seems intentional.
Games that don't count, but games nonetheless. The Red Sox lost to the Twins today in their "B" game, started by the aforementioned Aceves. There was a solid showing from Red Sox farmhands at the plate, with Ryan Lavarnway hitting a homer in the first inning, Will Middlebrooks smacking a single his first time up and drawing a walk his second, Jose Iglesias taking a free pass and then stealing a base. Alex Wilson walked two batters in the seventh, then Drake Britton followed with a scoreless frame.
It was a whole lot of players like that who likely won't be involved much with the 2012 Red Sox (or the Opening Day squad, at least). Daniel Bard threw from the windup in a game for the first time in years, and his arm did not immediately fall off. A good first step!
Peter Abraham at the Boston Globe kept a live blog of the game, if you want the play-by-play details from the first of many games that won't count this spring.
Jason Varitek is officially retiring today at 5:30 eastern. You can watch the press conference live on NESN or via live stream at NESN's website. Ben Buchanan will be giving you the rundown on it later today if you can't make it, but let's leave you with a quote about Varitek from current Miami Marlins manager Ozzie Guillen: