Aceves' batting-practice lobs perplex Red Sox
Farrell: 'He didn't go through the drill as intended and we've addressed it.'
FORT MYERS, Fla. -- When pitchers move to the portion of Spring Training when they start throwing live batting practice, it is designed to be a competitive situation in which they start ramping up toward game action within the next week or so.
That's why it was so baffling to watch Red Sox right-hander Alfredo Aceves essentially lob the ball up there for a large portion of his session on Field 4 on Sunday morning.
Red Sox pitching coach Juan Nieves appeared perplexed and quickly had some words in Spanish with Aceves.
Even after that talk, the lobs continued for a while longer. Only toward the end of the session did Aceves seem to be pitching normally.
At first, manager John Farrell seemed concerned. Was Aceves hurt? Once it became clear it wasn't a health issue, Farrell then became annoyed.
"The one thing I'll say about that is that he didn't go through the drill as intended and we've addressed it," said Farrell.
The manager didn't elaborate much more to follow-up questions.
"As I said, his session on the mound didn't go as intended. So he's healthy and it's been addressed," said Farrell.
Aceves was cryptic during his session with reporters.
"It's in the team," Aceves said. "Stays in the team."
Aceves had a fitting choice of words there -- team.
Last August, he certainly seemed to have himself in mind more than the team when he unloaded on then-manager Bobby Valentine following a win in which he wasn't brought in during a save situation. Aceves was suspended three games for his tirade and had to fly his own way to Anaheim for the team's next road trip.
Instead of the discipline serving as a motivator, Aceves seemed to go through the motions for the rest of the season, getting hit hard in a reduced role.
But the good side of Aceves was on full display in 2011 -- his first year with the Red Sox. Serving mainly as a reliever, Aceves was perhaps the most clutch member of Boston's staff, pitching days on end with the pennant race hanging in the balance. He went 10-2 with a 2.61 ERA in 114 innings.
Things were far different for Aceves in 2012. He became the surprise closer at the start of the season, thanks to Andrew Bailey undergoing thumb surgery. He went 2-10 with a 5.36 ERA in 84 innings, losing the closer's job to Bailey just prior to his suspension.
When Aceves is on top of his game, he is the type of swingman any team would like to have.
However, the Red Sox are determined to create a culture this season in which every player is fully on board with a team concept.
"What you mentioned most important there is what our team concept is," Farrell said. "There are 25 individuals on this team, but there are certain things that are going to be accepted, and I think those are normal in any kind of clubhouse or team setting. If someone strays outside of that, that's our job, or my job, to make it clear on what's expected."
When Aceves was asked whether he was satisfied with the work he put in today, he said that he was.
"Of course. Of course. Of course," Aceves said. "We get through a lot of work coming through the Spring Training. I'm pretty satisfied with today."
Aceves is expected to be a starting pitcher for Team Mexico during the upcoming World Baseball Classic. The Red Sox will keep him stretched out during the spring, but he projects as a reliever for the club once the season starts.
Boston has a lot of bullpen depth in camp, so there's no guarantee Aceves will get a roster spot if he doesn't appear 100 percent committed as a teammate and a professional. The team could also trade him.
Prior to camp, Farrell outlined his vision to the righty of what he felt Aceves could offer.
"That he was going to come into camp and stretch out as a starter, but provided every starter in our rotation that we project to start the season with is healthy, he would go back into the bullpen as a multi-inning reliever," Farrell said. "That's not to limit or outline the exact inning he would pitch. We want to take advantage of his versatility and his resiliency."
What does Farrell know about the personality of Aceves?
"Still getting to know it. Just from across the field, he's a heck of a competitor and a very talented pitcher," Farrell said. "I'm starting to gain my own personal history with him right now. We had a part of that discussion today."
Farrell has vowed not to make judgments on Aceves or any other player based on events that happened before he became the manager of the Red Sox.
"Start everybody fresh," Farrell said. "What took place last year, I can't speak to first-hand. I can get background on certain situations. I think it's important that -- not only Alfredo, but every other guy in our clubhouse -- we build that relationship and earn that trust along the way."