By Kevin Pereau — @kpereauMLB
Sifting through my notes on how things are progressing down in Fort Meyers… It is encouraging to see the lack of drama and trepidation going into this year’s spring training. It is also nice to see so very few names on the injury report. Progressing nicely are Steve Wright, Eduardo Rodriguez and Drew Pomeranz. Truthfully, I am not losing much sleep over which two of this three gets the nod for the fourth and fifth spot in the rotation. I will be amazed if we get between 120-140 innings out of each but hey, that may be enough. We seem to have depth at starting pitching which is a rarity. There is no way any of these fine talents make it through an entire season without missing a few starts or going on the injured reserve list. Having Henry Owens, Joe Kelly and whichever of the three is odd man out available for spot starts will take a little off the edge for Sox fans this summer. Nobody in their right minds will be pulling for Owens or Kelly to be permanent fixtures in the rotation but they should occasionally be able to step in when needed. Baseball is such a long season. The players are constantly making adjustments. It is actually good to throw in the occasional non sequitur. I am at a crossroads with Owens. He came up with such fanfare and hype that I expected more. If he ever figures out his control issues, he could provide a welcome lift. Getting his first pitch over for a strike would be a huge step in the right direction. He always seems to pitching from behind in the count and it just kills him.
The more I read about Hanley Ramirez’s shoulder the more I expect him to be our full time DH. Last year, Hanley was an over achiever who exceeded any and all expectations. He simply did an outstanding job at 1B. Nobody was as shocked as me. His days of playing on the left side of the infield are behind him. Trying him in left field was such a colossally bad idea. I would just as soon forget we did it. The “Ortiz” affect on Hanley was remarkable. He went from surly to affable, reclusive to available. He even hung tough on days he was less than stellar. On top of that, he gave us tier one defense at a notoriously difficult position to play. I am reminded of that scene in Billy Ball where Billy Beane sits down with Scott Hatteberg and tells him we are moving you from catcher to 1B. Its easy he said, you will do fine. Right behind him was Gene Washington giving him the real story—“Its incredibly difficult, we will work with you”. Last year, Hanley was amazing. This being spring training, I am a little surprised they are not giving Blake Swihart a serious look at 1B. He hits and runs too well to not make the everyday roster and this just seems like such a logical spot for him. I love Swihart but lets be honest, he is an average catcher at best and will never win us over at catcher with the likes of Sandy Leon who was a huge surprise and Christian Vasques who gives us stellar defense but can he hit?
Lost in all this is Alan Craig. I wish him nothing but the best this year. His drop off since becoming a Red Sox is just astounding. I don’t get it. He has held his head high throughout a very trying time. You never hear him complain and he will play anywhere on the field. He could very well become another Brock Holt playing wherever he is needed in the OF, DH and at 1B. Everywhere he goes, his teammates gush about what an awesome presence he brings to the clubhouse. Here is hoping he remains healthy and gets another shot at 1B. I am not yet sold on Mitch Moreland.
If there is one major disappointment, it is the lack of maturity and progress shown by Rusney Castillo. We just flat out misjudged this guy’s talent and aptitude. He does not belong in MLB and is playing his way out of baseball. Not running out ground balls in spring training when you are on the cusp of being given up on is just unthinkable. This was the year when he finally shined. His family is finally here. He can now speak a little English. He knows what to expect in the show. It is time for a change of scenery for Rusney. Here is hoping we can push the limits of the greater fool theory and get some pitching help this summer.
Before we know it, March will be over—Play ball!