“We like (competition) for spring training,” general manager Ben Cherington said Monday night atFenway Park [map]. “We’ve had years where we haven’t had a ton of competition for the team. I think some level of competition is healthy and it gives (new manager) Bobby (Valentine) and the staff a chance to evaluate players a little bit more of a legitimate setting.”
There is no question that some uncertainty about who will be playing where is an advantage for a team with a new manager. As Valentine gets to know his team and vice versa, the best icebreaker could be sheer effort and dedication on a baseball diamond.
“My overall philosophy on that is I wish the roster were extended through April so we could have real competition under the lights and real atmosphere, and not in this sunny park morning baseball/afternoon baseball atmosphere,” Valentine said. “But I think it’s always good for guys to feel they have a chance to work and to make the team, so they work a little harder because the more you work and practice, the better foundation you have to last the entire season. I think it’s a real tough place to compete.”
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I'm a little surprised to see the story skewed this way (and ProJo took the same angle). It seems to me that these "competitions" -- namely shortstop, catcher, and right field -- will ultimately be platoons.
We've heard all offseason how Punto has no bat and Aviles has no glove, so it's unlikely one or the other will win out at short. There might not be a true platoon (other than if they have Punto play short for more ground-ball-type pitchers), but I can't see either dominating that job.
Salty is going to get the bulk of catching duties, with Shoppach mopping up. (A big spring from Lavarnway could throw a kink in those plans.)
Right field should be a true platoon. All we've heard since the Sox became interested in Cody Ross was that he dominates lefties and can't hit righties. Sweeney is a good defensive outfielder and a left-handed hitter...which slots him in nicely against righties.
The most competition -- and the only true competition -- will be the pitching staff. Of course you have the last two starting spots going to some combination of Daniel Bard (who seems very likely to get one of them), Alfredo Aceves, Aaron Cook, and possibly Carlos Silva, with guys like Vicente Padilla, Michael Bowden, Felix Doubront, and Cy Clay Mortensen hoping to get a chance. Beyond that, there will certainly be competition for various bullpen roles. The only ones that are likely settled are closer (Andrew Bailey), set-up man (Mark Melancon, until Bard reaches his starting pitching innings limit), and LOOGY (Franklin Morales).
But hey, at least I had something to write about other than the Cubs' compensation for Theo.
CSNNE | Yankees' Granderson excited about Kuroda, Pineda additions | Matsuzaka throws off mound for first time since surgery | Globe | Ask Nick: When will Sox get their compensation? | ESPNBoston | Daisuke Matsuzaka throws bullpen | ProJo | This year, spring training won't just be fun in the sun | Cherington adopting different free agent approach | Image: Redsox.com