FORT MYERS, Fla -- John Farrell, who labeled managing the Red Sox his "dream job'' last fall, took a big first step in that role Friday, addressing all 59 players in camp, shortly before the start of the Red Sox' first full-squad workout.
The meeting, which lasted about 50 minutes, is an annual rite of spring. But for Farrell, it was also a new start as he returns to manage the team he served as pitching coach from 2007 through 2010.
"There was a lot to mention,'' said Farrell. "More than anything, a lot of it was introductory for a number of new players, new people they're coming in contact with. They were able to hear from ownership, from Ben, from myself. It was pretty typical, I would think, for an opening of spring training.
"There's a good number of players there's no history with. I think more than anything, that first conversation, first talk, is a way to set the tone, which I think was clear. But the thing we wanted to emphasize is that it's a matter of what we do on the field and not what we're talking about.
"We're hopeful and with every intent that our actions speak certainly more volume than our words. To a man in that room, everyone associates the name Red Sox with winning. And that came out in conversation throughout the off-season. There's been an eagerness to get back down here and get started and re-write that script.
Following the meeting, the Sox then went through their paces on their first full-squad workout.
"It was good,'' reported Farrell. "I thought things flowed well, based on what we set out to accomplish. Understanding that baserunning is an emphasis, we were able to get into that right away. Fortunately, the weather held off and it was a good work day.''
The Sox are waiting on a recent MRI of Mike Napoli before clearing Napoli to begin some work at his new first base.
"We're hopeful we get the results or read of that later today. No update as of yet.''
Meanwhile, David Ortiz met with Dr. George Theodore to check on his strained right Achilles. He later ran around some cones and took part in some sprints.
"It's part of his current rehab,'' said Farrell. "He's not (yet) in the baserunning or conditioning drills that we do or are doing. They're specific to his protocol, so he feels not only getting stronger, but with each passing day, there's less hesitancy to be a little more agile, a little bit more explosive. ''
Felix Doubront, who was found to have some weakness in his left shoulder earlier in the week, is on schedule to throw off a mound next Wednesday. First, he'll throw long toss at a distance of about 135 feet Saturday.
Lefty reliever Craig Breslow played long toss from 75 feet Friday and according to Farrell, has made "steady progres.''
Finally, there's Clay Buchholz (hamstring), who played long toss at 120 feet. He needs to pass what Farrell termed "functional running tests'' before the Sox allow him to fully participate in his normal spring activity.
"It's likely he'll get back on the mound -- he has no ill effects throwing -- to keep his arm strength going, probably prior to keeping loose with all the agility, PFP training.''
Will Middlebrooks blossomed last year before being struck on the hand with a pitch in the first week of August, causing him to miss the remainder of the season.
Farrell is still in the process of getting to know him, but likes what he sees.
"We know that there is still room to improve defensively,'' said Farrell, "with consistency in his footwork and range to his glove side. As the book gets out on him around the league, theres going to be, Im sure that adjustment, counter-adjustment as the league reacts to him. Hes set himself up at least in the first two-thirds of a season, hes started his career on the right foot.''
Middlebrooks is fully healed from the broken hand which he suffered in Cleveland last August.
"Theres no limitations at all,'' said Farrell. "When you see him take BP, the sound off his bat is different than most guys, even in this camp. Hes fully healed from the fracture.''
A number of players in the clubhouse -- including Dustin Pedroia, David Ortiz and Jacoby Ellsbury -- know Farrell from his previous stint here. Still others, however, are just getting to know him.
"With many of the new players or guys I have no history with,'' said Farrell, "I have to earn my trust with them, earn my credibility. By virtue of the position, its not carte-blanche. Theres got to be trust established. Thats part of spring training. Thats one of the things from my end, in building a relationship with new players, well need every bit of these seven weeks.''