Notes: Sox pitchers go on the defensive

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Notes: Sox pitchers go on the defensive

By Sean McAdam
CSNNE.com

FORT MYERS, Fla. -- In 2010, the Red Sox pitching staff made 21 errors, the most of any staff in the American League. Toward that end, in the first pitchers and catchers workout Tuesday, the Sox focused on pitcher's fielding practice (PFP) and what the Sox label "game awareness."

The latter, explained Terry Francona, is "just talking. And it's just what it sounds like -- walking through some of the things that are important to us, trying to slow the game down when the game speeds up on pitchers. It's just a way to to talk about things that are important to us.

"We do so many drills, but there are some psychological things and some things they need to think about that we want to spend time talking about, including situational approaches, holding runners at second when we"re not in a bunt play, slide-stepping, why we"re slide-stepping . . . "

As for the team"s unusually high error total on the mound, Francona couldn"t offer one primary reason.

"I think the biggest reason is the game starts going too fast," said Francona. "You see a ball bounce off a pitcher's shin, and they run over to try to make the play and instead of planting their feet, they try to made the play sidearm and fire it away. Throwing balls to first base, we (at times tried) to be too quick. We were sloppy and we made too many errors, too many things happened that don't help you win games."

Despite the issues, the Sox didn't hold much PFP during the season.

"The reason we don"t do it too much,"" Francona said, "is you can"t do it full speed in-season. The times when it really helps is when guys have their arms loose and they can throw the ball full speed and run, and the guys can't do that during the season. So doing it is almost a little bit of 'cover your ass,' instead of helping. So we don't do it a lot."

After tests revealed that Brandon Duckworth and Tony Pena were exhibiting some shoulder weakness, the pair were held out of throwing Tuesday and will undergo further testing.

Typically, pitchers are tested in the spring to provide a baseline for future comparisons during the season and Duckworth and Pena were "a little bit on the weaker side on strength," said Francona. "When they're on the lower end of that spectrum, we just want to a little bit of testing to make sure there isn"t something there that shouldn"t be there."

Also, Jason Bergmann has been shut down "for the near future," according to Francona, "until we can kind of get a better grasp" on some pain in his shoulder.

Sean McAdam can be reached at smcadam@comcastsportsnet.com. Follow Sean on Twitter at http:twitter.comsean_mcadam

David Ortiz re-enacts Boston movie scenes as part of charity video

David Ortiz re-enacts Boston movie scenes as part of charity video

As part of a charity promotion with Omaze, David Ortiz has made a video re-enacting scenes from Boston-set movies. 

The movies range from a classic -- "Good Will Hunting" -- to very good crime movies -- "The Departed, The Town" — to the just plain bad "Fever Pitch," but all of the scenes are entertaining. Ortiz plays every part in each scene, often playing to characters interacting with one another. 

At the end of the video, a link is given to Omaze.com/papi, which gives fans the opportunity to enter a drawing to attend his jersey retirement ceremony by donating. Proceeds go to the David Ortiz Children’s Fund and the Red Sox Foundation. 

The David Ortiz Children Fund aims to help children in New England and the Dominican Republic who are born with congenital heart failure. 
 

Drellich: When will Red Sox players hold themselves accountable?

Drellich: When will Red Sox players hold themselves accountable?

BOSTON -- Whether John Farrell is managing the Red Sox next week or next month, keep an eye on player accountability.

Five years ago, Bobby Valentine was supposed to be the disciplinarian that stopped babying the clubhouse. Disaster followed, largely because Valentine was a terrible fit for this group, his approach extreme and dated.

But this year’s team makes you wonder whether a distilled sense of Red Sox entitlement lingers.

At Fenway Park, is the message from the veteran voices one that includes a sense of public accountability for not just the manager, but the players as well?

In FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal’s piece on Farrell, Rosenthal noted “some players, but not all, believe that [Farrell] does not stand up for them strongly enough to the media.”

Those unnamed players Rosenthal cites need a mirror, badly. Or at least a glance around the room.

Where’s the guy in the clubhouse standing up to the media with any consistency? There’s no voice that regularly shields the younger, less experienced guys from tough but expected questions after losses.

Dustin Pedroia gets dressed and leaves the clubhouse faster than Chris Sale will get the ball back and throw it Wednesday. 

Pedroia mentioned something about whale poop in Oakland over the weekend. He can be very funny, but he’s not exactly keen to deliver calming, state-of-the-union addresses — not with frequency, anyway.

Farrell, of course, has been criticized for doing the opposite of what the FOX Sports story noted. The manager was mobbed on social media last year for saying David Price had good stuff on a day Price himself said the opposite.

The premise here is amusing, if you think about it.

Follow: Players are upset that the manager does not do a better job lying about their performance. And this, in turn, affects how players play?

Get a grip.

The public isn’t dumb. If you’re bad, you’re bad, and you’re going to hear about it in Boston. No manager changes that.

Whichever Sox player seeks more protection from Farrell really needs a reminder from a teammate to play better.

Too often, some of the most famous, prominent athletes can be sensitive, and over-sensitive. Look at how LeBron James handled a question about what led to his poor performance in Game 3 of the Eastern Conference finals.

It is true that some players question Farrell’s leadership, as Rosenthal reported. But it can also be difficult to separate questions of leadership from whining and grumbling that a manager isn’t providing said player more chances, more opportunities, even if undeserved.

How can Drew Pomeranz's unfounded dugout complaints be Farrell's fault?

The situation and player that make Farrell look the worst this year is Hanley Ramirez. The idea of him playing first base is gone, his shoulders apparently too screwed up to make that viable. 

Somehow, Ramirez made 133 starts at first base last year. One has to wonder how all of a sudden Ramirez can barely play a single game. 

If he’s hurt, he’s hurt. But the Sox didn’t come out of the gate in spring training and say, first base is out of the picture because of his health. They kept saying there was hope he'd be able to play in the field.

If Ramirez is being obstinate, he’s in turn making Farrell look weak. And, more importantly, hurting his team.

What would Ramirez be doing if David Ortiz hadn't retired? Spending the year on the disabled list?

Farrell can pack up his bags today, tomorrow or after the next full moon. The players would still need to take it upon themselves to do what’s best for their team: to focus on what matters.

If they’ve forgotten, that’s about performing up to their abilities and being accountable for themselves -- publicly and privately -- when they don’t.

A manager’s quote in the media doesn’t change whether you’re playing bad baseball.