With Camp Apology getting into full swing, the Red Sox are finally close to putting out the fires of 2011 and focusing on firing up a comeback season.
After Sunday’s Mea culpa session with Jon Lester and Josh Beckett – with one more culpa than the other – Carl Crawford addressed the media Monday and tried to put John Henry’s “I never wanted him,” comments behind him.
That largely closes the book on the biggest controversies of last season. Now, it’s about baseball and what this team needs to accomplish this spring to remain a contender in the competitive American League. Here are three stories to follow the rest of this first week of camp:
V for victory?
There’s a new sheriff in town, and while Spring Training under Terry Francona was never ragged, Red Sox players can expect an even higher level of organization and time utilization under new manager Bobby Valentine. This isn’t Dick Williams in 1967 either, but Valentine is not likely to give a lot of rope to the veterans, especially after last September’s collapse. How the veterans respond to life with Bobby will go a long way toward determining whether the Red Sox are mentally prepared to battle this season.
Position players don’t begin their workouts until later in the week, but two of the most important pieces – Crawford and Kevin Youkilis – are already in camp. Crawford is recovering from offseason wrist surgery, and he said Monday he hopes to be ready by Opening Day. Youkilis is ready to go now, after ending last season on the disabled list with a bad hip. Although operating on different timetables, how their bodies respond to workouts and how close to 100 percent they are come April will be a huge factor in determining if the Red Sox are to be competitive.
Any way for Jose?
The Red Sox begin camp without a definitive starter at shortstop. Mike Aviles and Nick Punto are expected to battle for the starting job, but with neither an exciting option, could there be an opportunity for 22-year-old rookie Jose Iglesias to at least make an impression with Valentine that leads to a call-up during the season. The Cuban star has the tools in the field. How he hits will likely determine where he fits.