The first week of Red Sox Spring Training is in the books, and already strong themes are playing themselves out in Fort Myers, Fla. And all of them trend toward redemption after last September’s inglorious demise. Here are the three things we learned in Week 1:
Bobby V means business
He said upon his hiring that he wasn’t a fire-breathing dragon, but he is clearly the new sheriff in town and discipline – the mental variety, not punishment – was the hallmark of camp’s first week. The Prohibition declaration on Saturday was an obvious move – any new manager would have ended the open-bar clubhouse culture – but Valentine’s heightened attention to detail on the field caught many Fort Myers observers by surprise, even after years of a fairly-tightly run ship when bench coach Brad Mills was Terry Francona’s top camp counselor.
Lack of mental and physical discipline is what led to the September collapse, and it’s clear that Valentine is setting the example immediately that such sorry history will not repeat itself in 2012.
Carl Crawford is rehabbing more than a wrist
The offseason news that Carl Crawford had undergone wrist surgery only seemed to further the narrative that John Henry was right – the seven-year, $142 million contract was heading to Bust-Ville. But in a matter of days this week, Crawford is rehabbing more than just the wrist – which alone is big news.
Henry apologized to Crawford Saturday for his ill-advised comments, and Crawford continued his rapid progress toward recovery by taking more batting practice and working on his baserunning. Crawford was originally expected to miss several weeks of the regular season, but every day he seems more and more likely to be ready for Opening Day, and perhaps a return to the dynamic, impact player the Red Sox hoped they were getting 15 months ago.
David Ortiz is the unofficial team captain
Hopefully, he won’t have to wear that cheesy “C” on his jersey, but David Ortiz made it very clear Saturday that he is the new captain and team leader, making an impassioned address to the team during a closed-door meeting Saturday morning – the only player to speak during the 45-minute session. Ortiz is now the longest-tenured player in the clubhouse and he had their rapt attention Saturday, even earning a standing ovation when he finished. Oritz backed it up at the plate last season with a strong, rebound year. Now, he is leading by more than example at a time the team needs strong leadership behind the scenes.