Quick hits from Bobby V: 'New beginning'

February, 19, 2012

FORT MYERS, Fla. -- It begins.

Red Sox manager Bobby Valentine held his first media session of spring training Sunday morning, the day all pitchers and catchers are required to report. With the exception of Alfredo Aceves, who was having visa issues, everyone has reported on time.

(UPDATE: Aceves was spotted in the Fort Myers airport later in the day by a Red Sox reporter.)

Among the highlights from Valentine’s session:

* It was clear the new Sox manager does not want to dwell on last September’s collapse, calling this season a “fresh start” and a “new beginning.”

“This is 2012. This is the year that could be the most special year of their lives,” Valentine said. “That is definitely a message I want them to understand.”

* Valentine said he does not know whether Jason Varitek plans to accept the invitation to spring training, but doubted it. “I haven’t heard that we should get his uniform ready,” Valentine said.

* There are some questions about the Red Sox roster as spring training starts. There’s a competition for the starting shortstop position and there are spots available in the rotation and bullpen. The manager said he thought it was the right move for the organization to trade shortstop Marco Scutaro, which leaves Jose Iglesias, Nick Punto and Mike Aviles to battle for the starting job.

“We talked about that trade before it was done, and I was all for it -- totally,” Valentine said.

Scutaro was traded to the Colorado Rockies in January for pitcher Clayton Mortensen in a move that was seemingly designed to get money off the books to spend elsewhere. Scutaro will make $6 million this season.

* Valentine said he’s been impressed with the leadership both Josh Beckett and Jon Lester have shown since both arrived at camp.

"If they lead by example as much as they've led by example the last few days, that will be enough," Valentine said. "I won't ask more."

Here are his full comments on Beckett and Lester:

* The manager also likes what he sees with Clay Buchholz, who has already thrown 10 bullpen sessions this winter and said he feels strong. Buchholz missed most of last season with a back injury.

“First impressions of Clay Buchholz have been very impressive impressions,” Valentine said. “His health, reports from the training room, have been excellent and he has a great look in his eye.”

* Speaking of health, Valentine said there are very few lingering issues with the team this spring.

* Reliever-turned-starter Daniel Bard is receiving a lot of attention. He tossed a 55-pitch bullpen session on Saturday and Valentine said he “loves” the idea of Bard being a starter.

* Valentine said there were eight pitchers fighting for the five spots in the rotation. Assumiung Beckett, Lester and Buchholz are shoo-ins, that leaves five guys battling for two spots. That list includes Bard, Aceves and left-handers Andrew Miller and Felix Doubront.

Here's Valentine talking about positional battles and health:

* Red Sox bullpen coach Gary Tuck is recovering after double hernia surgery and is not in camp. Valentine said he has given Tuck as much time as he needs to report.

“He’s a tough guy who is going through a personal situation internally and it’s painful,” Valentine said. “Until he can give us his best effort, he doesn’t want to be out here and I told him to take as much time as he can.”

* When asked how many lineups he’s already put together in his mind or on paper, Valentine said not many. But added: “I think we’ll use 100 lineups this year.”

Here's Valentine talking about the challenges for him and his coaching staff to run spring training:

Joe McDonald

ESPN Staff Writer



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