Felix! Felix! He's our man! If he can't do it, maybe Aaron Cook can? Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-US PRESSWIRE
The biggest news today was the earlier reassignment of shortstop Jose Iglesias to Triple-A. While at one point this seemed like an inevitability come the end of spring, the short media frenzy around the idea of Jose Iglesias as the starting shorstop either brought to the surface or created from thin air the possibility of a positional battle. Obviously, that possibility is no more.
While manager Bobby Valentine was quick to dismiss the stories of a "rift" between himself and GM Ben Cherington that seemed to go hand-in-hand with the story as "lazy journalism," it seems his actual decision to send Iglesias down was based on recent events:
"About two weeks ago, he had a mechanic that looked like it was real functional," Valentine said. "I think an 0-for-3 took him out of it. That's one of the things that he has to develop - confidence in his program."
"I don't stop believing in a player until I see him stop believing in himself," Valentine said. "I saw that the other day. I just thought that he came into the dugout and he had that look of wonderment, of wondering, that I don't like to see. It's not the time to be searching. You can't go into the major-league season searching. You have to be confident."
We've already covered why another year at Triple-A is probably the best thing for Iglesias, so it's good to see the organization taking this process at the appropriate speed. Iglesias not being ready yet isn't a condemnation, it's simply an acknowledgement of the reality that his time is yet to come. As Valentine is quick to point out, that doesn't mean it never will:
"My message to him ... was, ‘Just because God delays does not mean God denies,'" Valentine said. "He won't be denied. That's what I believe. That's what Ben believes. It's not if, it's when."
(Once again, via Brian MacPherson at the Providence Journal)
The #RedSox rotation looks set. Beckett pitches today and Buchholz will start a minor league game tomorrow. Thursday: Aceves against Toronto; Doubront in a minor league game. Friday: Daniel Bard against Minnesota So the rotation is set up as Lester, Beckett, Buchholz, Doubront, Bard. It hasn't been announced as such, but it's probably no coincidence Doubront is pitching in the minors instead of against the Jays. If he is the No. 4 starter, his first game would be 4/9 in Toronto.
Seeing Doubront start the year in the rotation isn't terribly surprising. Between a strong spring performance, his lack of options, the injuries that have slowed Aaron Cook and Vicente Padilla, and Alfredo Aceves' bullpen role, Doubront was the obvious choice to have the first go.
While Doubront may not inspire the greatest confidence in all Red Sox fans, it was only a year ago that we were anticipating a significant contribution from him during the regular season. Unfortunately, poor conditioning would keep him from having an impact on the season, but the results this year seem to suggest he's learned his lesson and is ready for the opportunity he squandered last season.
The only other interesting note is that Daniel Bard will actually be the team's fifth starter, as meaningless as that may be at this point.
Speaking of curious orders, in a game which saw the complete Opening Day lineup take the field, Mike Aviles somehow found his way to the top of the batting order Tuesday afternoon.
Generally speaking, spring training lineups aren't anything to pay attention to, but with the rest of the order looking almost exactly like what we can expect in a week's time, Valentine was asked whether Aviles at leadoff was something he was considering:
"Kind of trying to warm up to it,'' said Valentine, sounding less than entirely convinced, "seeing if I can see it. He quickly strikes fear in a pitcher's heart, I'll tell you that. The ball he led off the game with today, gets a guy doubting his stuff in a hurry. We'll see.''
"It's not like he swings at the first pitch all the time,'' Valentine said. "And I'm not sure [Jacoby] Ellsbury is that kind of grind-it guy, other than he fakes that bunt a lot to get one pitch into the count.''
(Via Gordon Edes of ESPN)
That Valentine isn't too enthused by the idea is likely a good thing. On the whole, Aviles should expect to be one of the worst batters in the lineup next year, and exchanging the 100-odd plate appearances Aviles would gain by moving to the top spot for 100-odd plate appearances spread amongst the rest of the lineup--including Pedroia, Ellsbury, Ortiz, Gonzalez, and Youkilis--is not an appealing thought.
Dustin Pedroia may not love the leadoff spot, and Jacoby Ellsbury may seem too powerful for it after last year, but giving quantity to the far superior hitters has to come before those concerns--especially the latter.
Finally, Alex Speier has a piece on Xander Bogaerts over at Baseball America entitled "Red Sox Try To Pump Brakes On Bogaerts' Hype."
It's behind a paywall, so I can't give you too much, but I will say that it's not doom and gloom in case the title made you think that. All that seems to refer to is Ben Cherington trying to downplay the Hanley Ramirez comparison (a very high mark to live up to for any prospect) and make sure everyone realizes that, as with any other prospects, it's not always going to be homers and hit streaks.
Beyond that, however, Speier includes the story of how the Red Sox managed to get in early on Bogaerts thanks to the above-and-beyond efforts of international scout Mike Lord, who tracked down Bogaerts in bed with the chicken pox. Bogaerts put on a show, and the rest is history. If Bogaerts keeps going strong, then Mike deserves quite a bit of thanks for that particular find.