USA TODAY Sports
In today's notes: Ellsbury as a power hitter, Pedro Beato reassigned, and Bard has his groove back.
According to Rob Bradford, the Red Sox are trying to get Jacoby Elsbury to approach his plate appearances with a different mentality. While Ellsbury used to be a slap hitter, in his MVP-caliber 2011 campaign the speedy center fielder showed he has what it takes to do so much more. Speaking to hitting coach Greg Colbrunn, Bradford learned that the Sox are hoping to find a way back to that peak:
"We're trying to get in his mind thinking that he's more of a power-hitter, Being aggressive. And that's something we've been trying to stress with him, and he's been stressing it to himself," said Red Sox hitting coach Greg Colbrunn. "That drive-the-ball mentality instead of just getting on base."
Of course, we all would love to see Ellsbury dominate in 2013 like he did in 2011, but there's certainly an element of risk to be found here. In the past, before 2011, Ellsbury was actually criticized at times for trying too hard to show power. A bit too much uppercut on a few too many swings led to fly ball outs where some fans believed line drive hits could be had. Now, it's probably worth the risk given the upside on Ellsbury and the all-or-nothing nature of the Red Sox this season, but it's possible that they'll need some retooling after a month of fly balls that just don't carry.
Reliever Pedro Beato has been reassigned to the minor league spring training camp. This shouldn't be coming as much of a surprise to anyone--Beato wasn't even a long-shot to make the team, and hasn't been on the 40-man roster since being designated for assignment to make room for Ryan Dempster. Add in that he's allowed four runs in recording four outs in the Grapefruit League, and this was a matter of when, not if.
Daniel Bard pitched another inning today, and the radar gun keeps on providing good news. Per Tim Britton, Bard topped out at 96 today, on a gun that Rob Bradford notes is a tad slow. While we all have fond memories of Bard hitting 100, it is worth noting that triple digits weren't reached every game, and he generally sat around 97. If that gun in the Twins' stadium is, indeed, a couple MPH slow, well, that would put Bard right back where he was two years ago, before the transition to starter that saw his fastball velocity plummet and his effectiveness vanish.
Of course, there's more to pitching than just throwing fast, and Bard did offer up a walk today in an otherwise clean inning. Command was a big part of the problem last year. But for a time of year when little of real importance happens on the field, this is one big concrete sign of improvement that can't really be faked.