Manager Bobby Valentine of the Boston Red Sox smiles during batting practice just before the start of the Grapefruit League Spring Training Game against the Pittsburgh Pirates at JetBlue Park in Fort Myers, Florida. (Photo by J. Meric/Getty Images)
There was a bit of worry among Red Sox fans when Bobby Valentine took over as the team's manager. Because of things he had said when he was an analyst, the fact he was a National League manager, and the emphasis on bunting during camp, it was assumed the Red Sox would do a whole lot more bunting in 2012 than they had in the past.
Well, until Brian MacPherson asked Valentine about the subject, anyway:
"I'm not real big on that," Valentine said. "As I told the guys, if we're going to have a bunting situation, I hope they can perfect the bunt for a base hit. That's why we have bunting stations today."
Try not to get blown over by the collective sigh of relief coming from bunt-hating Red Sox fans. Valentine is learned in the ways of baseball, so it's no surprise for him to realize sacrifice bunts are inefficient. If you need more proof, he also had things to say about the squeeze play:
"I like the squeeze play when you can walk off the field, when it's a play that's a determining factor in winning the game -- if the guy can bunt," he said. "I don't think we're going to squeeze that often, but you never know."
That reads like someone who understands that the time to play for one run is when you only need that one run. And, given the Red Sox' powerful lineup, Valentine is right in that they might not have to play for one run that often in 2012. They already sacrificed less than anyone in the league in 2011, and even with Terry Francona gone, it doesn't sound like they will sacrifice all that much more in the future.
Aaron Cook got his first appearance of the spring in Sunday against the Orioles. His shoulder had limited him to that point, but you wouldn't have known it from his performance. While he walked two and struck out just one, the lasting image from the two-inning appearance are weakly-hit ground balls right at defenders. Get used to seeing that image if he can stay healthy.
Valentine doesn't think Cook will be far enough along to be the fifth starter when the season opens, but he does view him as a starting option later in the season once his arm is ready to go.
Expectations for Aaron Cook are something we've covered here in the past -- if his shoulder is good to go, there is a very good chance he'll be a significant piece in Boston's rotation. He needs to go healthy, though, and that's likely why you won't see the Red Sox or Valentine rushing him to start right out of the gate.
Jose Iglesias has been fighting a strained groin for about a week now, but didn't let anyone know about it until Saturday. He missed yesterday's B game against the Orioles because of it, and, according to Ian Browne, might even be held out until Wednesday just for precautionary purposes.
Iglesias is hitting .300/.364/.500 this spring in four games and 10 at-bats. It's a little early to get excited about him in 2012 just yet given his horrific 2011 season, but it's also far too soon to give up on him entirely. In the long run, missing a few games could be good, in the sense we won't have to hear anyone clamor for him to get the starting gig for Opening Day if he gets fewer looks. After all, they do have Mike Aviles in tow, and there are reasons to like him.
With Carlos Silva and Andrew Miller tending to injuries, and Aaron Cook coming along slowly, the Red Sox might be in need of another starter should the market give them a chance to acquire a useful one. According to Alex Speier, though, the supposed offer for John Lannan of the Washington Nationals didn't happen this weekend.
Lannan might not sound like a sexy name, but he's a perfect fit for The Rotationettes if the price is right. In fact, 66 percent of the Over the Monster community voted he was worth looking into back when the idea was first brought up back in early February; do you feel the same way about the groundball and double-play-inducing Lannan now that we're in mid-March?