The Red Sox are hosting a rookie program at Fenway Park this week, with the goal being to introduce minor-league players to the world of the majors and true professional baseball. Tim Britton has the details:
The players will work on strength, conditioning and fundamentals while also hearing from several members of the organization, including manager John Farrell and special assistant to the general manager Jason Varitek. Even Celtics head coach Doc Rivers will speak to the group.
We're getting a glimpse here of what Varitek, in his role as assistant to the general manager, will be doing with at least part of his job. He was a dedicated player, lauded for his work ethic and his skills, and it's not surprising to see the former captain utilized like this early on in his tenure, with the intention of setting the kids on the right path.
In case you're not all familiar with Doc Rivers, one of his finest qualities as an NBA head coach -- despite that his players clearly respect him -- is that he's a very honest person. Rivers will be clear and upfront with his players and the media, even if that honesty is negative in tone. He's always fair, though, and is also patient and understanding -- having someone like that come in to talk to rookies, even in another sport, should be a positive experience. Rivers is the kind of guy you can expect to hear the truth of a situation from, and as a coach who has seen his share of rookies come up from schools and developmental leagues, he likely knows a thing or two about the transitions.
The top prospects in the system are not all attending this program, but you can sense a theme here: it's the players who are very likely to be in the majors in the near future, nearly all of them on the 40-man roster. Then, there's Xander Bogaers, Jackie Bradley, and Bryce Brentz, who might all see the majors by September. Bogaerts will be Rule 5-eligible next off-season, while Bradley might very well be a starting outfielder in 2014 for Boston. Brentz was just in the Arizona Fall League, and finished his season with Pawtucket -- like Bogaerts, he's Rule 5-eligible in less than a year, so a September call-up wouldn't be a shock if there's 40-man room to play with.
Alex Wilson, also on the 40-man and a prospect who was with Pawtucket last year, is not part of this group, but he did participate in the 2011 program. It's a little odd, in the sense that Farrell and Varitek weren't there, and practicing fundamentals doesn't have to be a one-time thing, but if there is a limit on how many players Boston wants to participate in a given year, then repeat sessions would be unlikely. Rivers did speak at that event as well, at least, so Wilson isn't totally missing out.