[W]hat we're trying to implement this year is that they're all going to be doing some type of baseball activity at all times during practice, so there's not a lot of standing around. There's not a lot of dead time. ... I think what's going to jump out to them is all the skill work and the detail work that is being worked on constantly on all six fields down here. You're going to have your live BP, but you're also going to have guys working on pickoff plays, baserunning, reading balls off the bat, you're going to have guys standing in tracking pitches, and doing all kind of things. You're not going to see the normal stand around the cage, watch batting practice and stand in the outfield and shag. Instead of shagging players are going to be doing baseball activity which will benefit them in the long run. ...It's impossible to argue with any of this. And it would be fantastic if this added activity would translate into better fundamentals during the season - outfielders hitting the cut-off man, pitchers covering first and backing up third and home, players not making bone-headed decisions on the bases - but I'm skeptical. Can a few weeks of extra drills overcome years of actual in-game practice?
[Valentine] said there wasn't going to be one emphasis. The emphasis is to play the game correctly in all areas. He doesn't want one thing more important than anything else. He wants everything to be emphasized equally and with the same importance. So when you talk about pitchers' fielding and their PFP, and you talk about cut-offs and relays and you talk about infield play, bunt plays, catchers' throwing … there's ton of areas that need to be worked on and improved and Bobby wants it to be emphasized exactly the same. There's not one area. If it's one area, it's the game of baseball.
Valentine claims that some players are "frowning" at the change of plans.
When I look at the program we devised, I don’t think of it as tough. But it seems it's different because a lot of people are frowning. I just asked them to give (it) a few days. We all know that no one likes change except for those who are making other people change of what that person want them to. I happen to be one of those guys who likes change because guys are doing what I want them to do. I would bet there will be 100 guys who won't really like it because it's change for them. But they'll get used to it.If the Red Sox have a good April, Valentine will look like a genius. If they get off to another slow start, he will be blameless as the players will catch the heat for ignoring the manager and remaining tied to 2011's poor attitudes. It's all about the narrative.
The players are saying the right things to the media, however.
Sometimes when you veer off the path that you need to take, you need someone there to tell you, "Hey this is where we need to go and I see you doing this." In that aspect, it's going to be good for us.Adrian Gonzalez:
One of the things I really like is that in spring training we're going to pay attention to a lot of details. Not just doing things for the sake of doing them, but actually doing them to get something out of it. ... Spring training is something that is really going to set the tone for the rest of the season, I think.Valentine comes a little to close to "elegant gait" and "calm eyes" territory for my comfort when he talks about how to tell when players like Ryan Lavarnway and Jose Iglesias are ready to stick in the big leagues.
Sometimes how a guy walks through the clubhouse - you look at it, you can figure it out, you can almost see it. I don't mean once. But by March 20 or so, whether he thinks he belongs or the guys around him think he belongs, that's a part of it. You can see it.Well, Bobby V better add a few clubhouse walking drills to the new schedule. Gotta make sure we swagger better than the Yanks and Rays.
Valentine also says he would like more games so he can better evaluate the players he has. Split-squad and intra-squad games are not as plentiful as in the days of yore "because there's a lot of lazy people in the game today".