The Red Sox pitching staff isn't know for having slick gloves in the field. Last season, they were ranked last in the East and 8th in the American League. Bobby Valentine is out to change all of that, putting a huge emphasis on pitchers getting work in the field during Spring Training.
New Red Sox manager Bobby Valentine has spent much of spring training stressing to his pitchers the importance of fielding their positions.
He wants it in their heads at all times.
So, two of the six television screens in the new clubhouse have been dedicated to baseball highlights, including defensive plays by pitchers, from fielding bunts, ground balls, and comebackers, to holding runners on at first. And Jim Kaat, one of the best fielding pitchers in the modern era, was a guest in camp earlier this week.
"I'd like to have our pitching defense improve," Valentine said in an understatement. "We were last in a lot of categories. We weren't really good at a lot of stuff other than pitching the ball. Hopefully, we can improve on that. Might win a game or two."
First the man bans beer in the clubhouse, now he's forcing them to watch "highlights" (and I can't use that term loosely enough) of pitchers holding runners on first and fielding ground balls? I would almost pay money to watch Josh Beckett sit on a couch and watch Mark Buehrle hold runners on first. Almost.
And speaking of Buehrle, just for fun I wanted to look up the AL Gold Glove winners to see if any Sox pitcher has ever won. Not only have they not, I think I've uncovered a vast conspiracy that has to go straight to the top.
Since 1957 when the award starting being handed out, only 13 American League pitchers have won the award. THIRTEEN in 54 years. The National League is no better. 17 pitchers have won it in their league. And Jim Kaat and Bobby Shantz have both won it multiple times in both leagues.
Basically the writers all agree on the best fielding pitcher and keep shoveling that guy the award until he retires. That's really the only explanation for this. With Buehrle switching leagues, perhaps Lester can step in and be the default American League Gold Glove winner. He could have a solid 10 awards on his mantle before he retires if he plays his cards right.