Spring Training: 3 Things we learned on Day 1

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Several players have been in Fort Myers for many days now, but Red Sox
camp became a more official entity Sunday with pitchers and catchers
reporting for duty.

Josh Beckett is contrite. Sort of.
In his first full media session since last season, Beckett admitted to
some blunders but stopped short of providing a tell-all on the
September collapse.
“I’m not saying we didn’t make mistakes because we did make mistakes in
the clubhouse,” Beckett said. “But the biggest mistake we made was –
the biggest mistake I made — was not pitching well against Baltimore
[in my last two starts]. I was prepared to pitch every time I went out
there. I just didn’t execute pitches when I needed to.”
Beckett also pointed some fingers, although it wasn’t exactly clear who the targets were.
“I’m upset with myself for the lapses of judgment, but there’s also
some ill feelings toward some people,” he said before refusing to
identify those people.
While some fans still may desire an apology from Beckett for his
involvement in the fried chicken and beer fiasco, they should simply
hope for a clean bill of health this spring. Beckett’s last two springs
have been interrupted by physical issues. A nasty flu crippled his
progression through the 2010 camp and set the tone for a miserable
season. Beckett also sustained a mild concussion that sidetracked him
last spring. While he was excellent for much of the season, the late
swoon — which included a 5.06 ERA over his final eight starts and a
sprained ankle — deprived him of a finishing touch, and it was hard
not to notice a decline in conditioning.

Lester moving on
A relaxed and upbeat Jon Lester spoke at length about many of the same
issues that surrounded the September nose-dive. To his credit, he has
been a central figure in an early dose of motivation not apparent last
spring.
“You have a lot of guys out here and we’re not really supposed to be
here today. It’s ‘report’ day,” he said. “You’re just supposed to be in
town and kind of hanging out. You have guys throwing bullpens and guys
working hard. I’ve been down here for two weeks. It seems like we’ve
been running a camp without supervision for the past two weeks. I think
that’s a big sign that people want to work and want to get better and
show we are a very good team.”

Bobby brimming with positivity
In a media session that lasted nearly 30 minutes, new manager Bobby
Valentine was able to address a little of everything. Knowing the page
has to turn at some point from 2011, the skipper offered up a heavy
dose of positivity:
“I grew up waiting for the grass to get green and the tulips to come up
and the weather to warm and the snow to melt. It’s the greatest part of
the year for me,” Valentine said of spring. “It was more than
Christmas. It was more than birthdays for me. I think a lot of people
of region empathize with that and understand it’s a new beginning.
That’s what spring is, it’s a new beginning.”
Valentine also offered two notes regarding the catching position.
First, he said that he doesn’t have any expectation for Jason Varitek
to accept an invitation to camp. “I haven’t heard that we should get
his uniform ready.”
Also, Valentine said that bullpen coach and catching instructor
extraordinaire Gary Tuck is not in camp as he recovers from double
hernia surgery.


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