FORT MYERS, Fla. Alfredo Aceves is presenting Red Sox manager Bobby Valentine with a dilemma: Finding a spot for the versatile right-hander.
Right now Aceves is penciled in as the fifth starter. But after proving to be one of the most reliable bullpen arms last season, its difficult for Valentine to determine what Aceves ultimate role will be or for how long.
Its a relatively new situation for Valentine.
I havent had many pitchers like Aceves, Valentine said. Cant tell you that I reach back into that experience jar and pull one of them out. I havent had as many pitchers as talented as he is who is as versatile as he is. Had versatile guys without exceptional talent, and thats why they become versatile, like I was a versatile player.
Aceves has always expressed his desire to be in the rotation, but he has also said that he is willing to do what is best for the team.
He started a B game Thursday against the Twins, and followed Daniel Bard to the mound Tuesday against the Orioles. Aceves threw two perfect innings Tuesday, with two strikeouts.
Aceves looked like it was just a day at the beach for him, Valentine said. He was throwing the ball well, and hit his spots, and used more pitches, and different type pitches than Daniel did. They all seemed to be pretty effective.
Last season, Aceves made 55 appearances for the Sox, with four starts, spanning 114 innings all career highs. He posted a record of 10-2, with two saves and a 2.61 ERA. Valentine liked what he saw.
He seemed to be able to attack different types of hitters in a variety of ways, Valentine said. Thats what jumped out at me. And then I saw it was pretty good stuff that he was featuring doing that. And then Ive heard about him and watched him.
Hes almost like a pitching savant kind of guy. He seems to have a great feel for his craft, innate almost. He sees things other guys dont see, I think.
While Aceves is making Valentines job easy for now saying and doing all the right things eventually the task will get more difficult.
Aceves is a very valuable asset, but it becomes a quandary after a while, a personal dilemma, Valentine said. But between me and him, probably our pitching coach and him, the group and him. Its great to have him. Keep him healthy, thats the key.
Valentine is not totally sold on that notion of informing pitchers in spring training of their precise roles, he said. Besides, those roles can change throughout the course of a season.
If I thought that all the answers that Im seeking would be discovered by April 5, then I didnt learn anything from the other 24 years that I tried to do this job, he said. I dont do a timetable on it. Sometimes things take more time to develop and to try to have Opening Day, the 29th of March, the 15th of May, any one of those days be the determining factor isnt fair to the situation or the individuals.