Valentine pleased with first official workout

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Valentine pleased with first official workout

FORT MYERS, Fla. Red Sox manager Bobby Valentine was pleased with the first official workout for his pitchers and catchers.

My impressions are that bench coach Tim Bogar and the coaching staff did a fabulous job of executing a plan for the pitchers and the catchers, he said. And I think from my observation and everything that they reported back, it went ok. It went real well.

Valentine made the rounds between four fields at the Sox spring training complex, quickly moving from one diamond to the next.

Just getting to know people, he said. Theres something different going on at every field, a different fundamental. So were jotting down strengths and weaknesses, figuring out how we have to continue to work. So I like to see guys. When someone tells me about a guys backhand I want to know what he means. When he tells me theres something on his pickoff I want to know what he means. So if I say something to him, Im reinforcing what theyre saying, he hears it in stereo.

Thats the way Ive always done it. I just like to see it and feel it. A lot of times, I think with the Mets, I know with the Mets, there was a tower at times where you could make a shorter walk around and see a lot of stuff thats going on. In japan there were three fields. There werent six. So it was a little easier walk.

One difference so far this spring is that Josh Becket, Jon Lester, and Clay Buchholz have been split up, working with three different groups. In the past, they have generally worked together.

Its pitching coach Bob McClures design, Valentine said. He made the groups. He felt in the early session that all three of them were exhibiting some leadership qualities. So I wasnt surprised when I saw the groups. I didnt have to approve them or anything. Bob made the groups and put them into the plan.

Valentine said all the pitchers came through the first day of workouts unscathed, except for right-hander Stolmy Pimentel, who developed a lat issue Monday. Pimentel had a difficult season in 2011, going a combined 6-13 with a 6.79 ERA between High-A Salem and Double-A Portland. With Portland, he was 0-9 with a 9.12 ERA.

Of Aaron Cook, who Valentine said Monday would be on a slower pace than the other pitchers, Valentine said:

Cook says hes going to listen to the training room a little and be ready to go with everyone else.

Giardi: Butler's offseason may cut deep, but it's time for him to battle back

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Giardi: Butler's offseason may cut deep, but it's time for him to battle back

This hasn’t been easy for Malcolm Butler. None of it. He’s never been given anything. Hell, at times he’s pissed his future away. But with a tenacity that reminds you of a certain 199th pick in the 2000 draft, Butler has fought his way back, into college, into the pros and, in 2015 and 2016, into the upper echelon of NFL cornerbacks. He’s a two-time Super Bowl champ, making arguably the most memorable play in the history of that game.

He should be drinking in the adulation, savoring an incredible start to his career and a very lucrative future. Instead, he’s in both professional and Patriots purgatory. Free agency beckons but there’s a season to play, and as this is the only professional team he’s known, a burning desire to be recognized as an important piece, not just in the present, but the future of this organization as well.
 
One of his closest friends on the team, Dion Lewis, calls Butler a warrior. “The game means so much to him.”

Another teammate, fellow defensive back Devin McCourty said of Butler, “This is what he does. He competes.”

Duron Harmon insists that the 27-year-old corner has been the same guy he’s always been. Actually, they all say that. But clearly, the coaching staff sees something different, leading to Butler’s demotion Sunday in New Orleans. 
 
Bill Belichick has been short when talking about Butler dating all the way back to the spring. That hasn’t changed now that the games count. He’s dismissed past performance. All that matters is how you’re playing now. Butler has not established that same level. Why? There is no easy answer.
 
The lack of a new contract cuts deeply. The unsettling offseason -- was he going to be a Saint? -- left quite a mark as well. But Butler came back to Foxboro with purpose, reporting for voluntary workouts. He was hell-bent on proving to all -- Belichick included -- that he was still the lead dog, not Stephon Gillmore, despite the $31 million dollars in guaranteed money the organization forked over to the former Buffalo Bill.
 
That strategy worked for a time. Butler was one of the Pats best players in training camp, right up until the joint practices with the Texans midway through August. What happened? Butler doesn’t know. But one mistake became two. His play in the preseason game with Houston was poor. His confidence suffered. He started pressing. That didn’t help. Butler was just as bad at Detroit. The kid that had always answered a knockdown with one of his own, instead wobbled to his feet. The inconsistencies were evident in practice but the "he's-Malcolm-he'll-fix-it" thought process that teammates echoed didn’t prove true, at least not entirely.
 
According to Eric Rowe, the cornerbacks were informed of the role change at the beginning of last week. But other teammates said they didn’t realize Butler wasn’t starting until the walkthrough Saturday. The ensuing fallout wasn’t surprising -- HE’S MALCOLM BUTLER, SUPER BOWL HERO, DAMMIT -- but the worry around the team has been justified because Butler takes things to heart. His swagger comes from the game. That was stripped away prior to the game against the Saints, and even at the beginning of this week, leading into the Texans game. Butler had to get his head right. If his meeting with the media Thursday is an indication, he has.

But the proof is in the play. Butler has always known that. And while his play didn’t warrant a role reduction, another message has been sent by the powers that be in Foxboro. What happens next is all on Butler. His future depends on it.

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Patriots place Vincent Valentine on IR, promote Geneo Grissom

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Patriots place Vincent Valentine on IR, promote Geneo Grissom

FOXBORO -- Anyone hoping to see Vincent Valentine make his season debut got some bad news Friday. 

Valentine, who has been inactive for both of the Patriots' first two games with a knee injury, was placed on injured reserve. ESPN's Field Yates was first to report the news.

With Valentine on IR, Geneo Grissom was added to the roster from the practice squad. ESPN's Mike Reiss had that one first:

Valentine, whom the Pats chose 96th overall in 2016, has not been practicing with the team as he's dealt with the knee injury.

A third-round pick of the Pats in 2015, Grissom was released by the team in September and signed to the practice squad a day later.