By Maureen Mullen
FORT MYERS, Fla. With just two weeks to go before Opening Day, Red Sox manager Terry Francona said his team will spend the remaining time in Fort Myers working on fundamentals, something his team has been able to focus on only sporadically recently because of scheduling.
Well, we still have some fundamentals that we need to cover, Francona said. We got to get through the next three or four days. We got three games in the next 24 hours. So, our travel schedule here is not real conducive to sometimes getting our work done. Its not a complaint. Its just stating the facts. We spend a lot of time on buses because of where were located. So we try to do our fundamentals periodically. When we have a couple home games well spend a little extra time doing stuff like that . . . Once we get through with this stretch, well probably pare the number in camp down a little bit more and well get in the last of our fundamentals.
After this stretch a split-squad, day-night, home-away doubleheader on Friday, and a game in Bradenton Saturday against the Pirates the Red Sox will make additional roster moves, paring the number from the current 43.
But, with every position on the roster just about set, there remain very few spots open one or possibly two spots in the bullpen. Who will fill those spots are the real decisions. Those in the mix include left-handers Andrew Miller, Randy Williams, Dennys Reyes, Hideki Okajima, and Rich Hill, and righties Matt Albers, Scott Atchison, Brandon Duckworth, Michael Bowden, Matt Fox, Alfredo Aceves, and Tim Wakefield.
Franconas decisions this spring are a little different than in past springs.
Just as difficult, but for different reasons.
In the past, I think weve had real tough decisions, he said. This year its a little different because I think we feel like we have good depth. Sometimes youre making a decision out of like, Uh-oh, somebodys got to emerge here where youre kind of scrambling. Last year we brought lefty reliever Scott Schoeneweis in late. This year we feel like weve got a lot of good decisions to make. Its going to be tough on some guys because they probably feel like they deserve to make the team.
Nobodys really separated themselves in a bad way. Everybodys kind of done what we hoped theyd do, were going to have some decisions to make. Its tough for guys, but its a good way to set up your team."
Dont expect any hints from Francona on who his picks will be.
I would never sit here and talk about somebody being on the team, he said. I cant do that. Thats so disrespectful to the players. I would never do that. Thatd be awful.
He did acknowledge, though, that Wakefield and Aceves, for example, could fill similar roles long relief, spot starts but with very different styles.
Reyes, who got to camp late from Mexico because of visa issues, has pitched five innings over five games, giving up one earned run. He is scheduled to pitch in Friday afternoons game against the Tigers.
I think hes a little bit behind, Francona said. We certainly have to make a decision with him. But hes got that two-seam, when the balls down and hes got the late-breaking slider. Just want to see how consistent he is.
Were going to have some interesting decisions to make here, Francona said.
Fortunately, guys have really shown well. Im sure pitching coach Curt Young and I and general manager Theo Epstein and assistant GM Ben Cherington will sit down, as we have been, and try to make the best decisions, not only for Opening Day but for the organization. Its going to be tough.
Maureen Mullen is on Twitter at http:twitter.commaureenamullen