Sox have plenty of evaluating to do in spring training

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Sox have plenty of evaluating to do in spring training

WORCESTER -- The Red Sox will go into the start of spring training with a number of jobs open for competition, a task made more difficult by the fact that spring is a tough time to evaluate players.

Managers and executives often say that March and September are the toughest two months to evaluate. But given that there are openings at shortstop, right field, the starting rotation and the bullpen, the Sox have no other choice.

"You rely on your evaluators and you make sure you're not fooled by results,'' said manager Bobby Valentine, who appeared at a Town Hall event at Worcester Technical High School. "The reason spring training is a bad indicator is people use the results of spring training as the indicator of the evaluation. And that's foolish, I think.

"But because we have a lot of very talented people in uniform and out of uniform who are going to be watching these guys day-in and day-out, we'll make a pretty good guess. You have to understand what you're looking at and then hope that the bright lights (of the regular season) don't change anything. But I think you can at least make a proper talent evaluation, given seven weeks of spring training.''

"Spring training is a difficult competition place . . . It takes a little imagination and some times you make the wrong decision. It's never the end of the world -- a wrong decision in April."

Said GM Ben Cherington: "It's not an ideal time to evaluate, but there are things that you can evaluate. You can certainly evaluate health, raw physical ability, if a guy is healthy. And then you can combine that with track record and get a pretty good sense for what a guy is capable of doing."

More complicated, said Cherington, is evaluating players like Daniel Bard, who's moving from the bullpen to the rotation.

"That's a little bit more involved,'' said Cherington. "We've got to look at different things. We've got to look at how they're responding to different things, how they're bouncing back and their work between outings.

"But teams have done it in the past and figured it out and we'll just have to figure it out ourselves.''

With Thomas drawing attention, Stevens turns to Rozier in big moment

With Thomas drawing attention, Stevens turns to Rozier in big moment

BOSTON – Prior to Saturday’s game, Terry Rozier talked to CSNNE.com about the importance of staying ready always, because “you never know when your name or number is going to be called.”

Like when trailing by three points in the fourth quarter with less than 10 seconds to play?

Yes, Rozier was on the floor in that scenario and the second-year guard delivered when his team needed it.

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But Rozier’s fourth quarter heroics which forced overtime against Portland, did not provide that much-needed jolt that Boston needed as the Blazers managed to fend off the Celtics in overtime, 127-123.

For Rozier’s part, he had 15 points on 6-for-13 shooting.

The 15 points scored for Rozier was the most for him since he tallied 16 in a 30-point Celtics win at Orlando on Dec. 7.

But more than the points, the decision by head coach Brad Stevens to draw up a play for him in that moment, a time when most of what Boston does revolves around the shooting of Isaiah Thomas who has been among the top-3 scorers in the fourth quarter most of this season, was surprising to many.

And at that point in the game, Thomas already had 13 fourth-quarter points.

Stevens confirmed after the game that the last shot in the fourth was indeed for Rozier, but Thomas’ presence on the floor was important to its execution.

“He (Thomas) also draws a lot of attention,” Stevens said. “So I think you just weigh kind of … what kind of shot you’re going to get, depending on who it is.”

Rozier had initially screened for Thomas, and Thomas came back and screened for him.

“I was open as soon as I caught … and I let it fly,” Rozier said. “Coach drew up a play for me and it felt good to see the ball go in.”

Being on the floor at that time, win or lose, was a victory of sorts for Rozier.

He has seen first-hand how quickly the tide can change in the NBA for a young player.

After a strong summer league showing and a solid training camp, Rozier had earned himself a firm spot in the team’s regular rotation.

But a series of not-so-great games coupled with Gerald Green’s breakout night on Christmas Day, led to his playing time since then becoming more sporadic.

Rozier, in an interview with CSNNE.com, acknowledged it hasn’t been easy going from playing regular minutes to not being sure how much court time, if any, he would receive.

But he says the veterans on the team have been good about keeping his spirits up, and one in particular – Avery Bradley – has been especially helpful.

Like Rozier, Bradley’s first couple of years saw his playing time go from non-existent to inconsistent. But Bradley stayed the course and listened to the team’s veterans who continued to tell him that his hard work would pay off sooner or later.

Those same words of wisdom Bradley received in his early days, he passes on to Rozier.

“It’s big,” Rozier told CSNNE.com. “He (Bradley) tells me things like that. I felt I was ready for this (inconsistent minutes) after all that he told me. It’s big to have a guy like him that has been through it all with a championship team, been around this organization for a while; have him talk to you is big. It’s always good. That’s why I stay positive, and be ready.”

Which is part of the reason why Stevens didn’t hesitate to call up a play for the second-year guard despite him being a 33.3 percent shooter from 3-point range this season – that ranks eighth on this team, mind you.

“He’s a really good shooter,” Stevens said of Rozier. “I think with more opportunity that will show itself true, but he made some big ones in the fourth quarter. We went to him a few different times out of time-outs, and felt good about him making that one.”

And to know that Stevens will turn to him not just to spell Thomas or one of the team’s other guards, but to actually make a game-altering play in the final seconds … that’s major.

“It helps tremendously,” said Rozier who added that his confidence is through “the roof. It makes me want to do everything. You know defense, all of that. It’s great, especially to have a guy like Brad trust you."