“We’re going to collectively map this thing out now,’’ he said Monday after the Red Sox lost to the Twins, 8-4, at JetBlue Park. “It’s about time to really figure it out. Probably going to make some cuts again so that we’re down to a real manageable number and we’ll have a pretty definite spot that they’re going to pitch in.’’
Valentine said he’s “not happy’’ with the bullpen because nobody has pitched in the role they’ll be in once the season starts.
“I’m a bit confused with the whole bullpen situation only because we haven’t been able to fit any pieces together,’’ he said. “Confusion is filtering [down] and everyone is something other than settled. That’s where we have to go from here.
“I think all the pieces are there, but some of them are contingent upon the starters. We need to start making it look like something other than a bunch of pitchers getting their work in.’’
Globe | Valentine eyes bullpen puzzle
Always good to hear your manager say he's confused.
But then again, I can't blame him. We brought in about a dozen candidates for one spot (considering Bard is basically locked into starting), and now we're two weeks away from starting the season without a lot of significant decisions having been made.
Yes, Carlos Silva is out of the picture. Vicente Padilla doesn't appear to be a real candidate. Some of the deeper cuts off the album of possibilities, Clay Mortensen and Justin Germano, don't appear to stand a real chance.
But there are still options. Alfredo Aceves has shown us what he has. Everyone says he's so valuable in the bullpen...but if you have good starters a good mop-up guy is useless. Aaron Cook is...a pitcher. He has an arm and can throw a ball, so he's a candidate. Then there are Felix Doubront and Michael Bowden, who have been our top pitching prospects since 1994. I think the advantage is with one of them, namely Doubront.
Although, by the sound of it, Bobby V is unconvinced. On page 2, we look at Doubront's outing yesterday.
Despite pitching constantly with runners on base, Doubront managed to limit the damage.
“It wasn’t that bad,” Doubront said. “I pretty much stayed calm and tried to work on those pitches and make those pitches to get an out, a ground ball to get a double play. We’re confident with runners on base.”
Doubront is locked in a battle with veteran Alfredo Aceves and possibly Aaron Cook for the fifth starter spot. The Red Sox hoped Doubront would win it outright entering camp, since that would allow them to keep the valuable Aceves in the bullpen.
Valentine didn’t sound convinced yesterday.
“I liked a lot and I wished for more,” he said. “I see him as a guy who’s going to pitch for our team sometime this year. I don’t know if that’s at the beginning of the season. . . . He has a good changeup and a good curveball and a good fastball, and he locates and gets ahead. But we need that other thing that’s going to force them to put it in play weakly or strike them out. I didn’t see it today.”
This snippet is a little scary. A touch of Matsuzakian base clogging, a dash of Lackeyish excuse making.
The important thing, though, is if he has the talent. Salty says he does. His performance thus far in the big leagues says otherwise. But that's a small sample size, so he likely is better than he's shown. It would be a huge benefit to the Sox if he could start to show it.
Globe | With ace backing, Lester Sox' Opening Day starter | More random thoughts from spring training | Herald | Jon Lester first for starters | Mentors played key roles for Sox | Andrew Bailey changes tune | CSNNE | Red Sox end of rotation still a cloudy situation | Iglesias shows another defensive flash of brilliance | Lester 'honored' to be named Opening Day starter | ESPNBoston | Takeaways from Fort: Jabs from Bobby V | Morning report: Sweeney returns