FORT MYERS, Fla. — The buzz circulated throughout Red Sox camp, and no one could make sense of it. Everyone played the role of speculative arm chair psychologist while wondering: Did you see it? Did you hear about it? What on earth was Alfredo Aceves doing?
Sunday marked the second day of live batting practice, in which pitcher’s face their teammates from behind the protective “L” screen. The exercise is meant to give pitchers an opportunity to build arm strength while introducing a hint of the competitive adrenaline that will characterize games. It also helps hitters to get used to seeing pitches at game speed.
But when it was Aceves’ turn to throw to Jarrod Saltalmacchia, Jonny Gomes and Mauro Gomez, he did not throw at full speed. He did not even throw at batting practice speed. For about 15 pitches, he simply lobbed the ball to the plate, at approximately the speed at which a pitcher might toss a ball into an umpire if he wanted to replace it.
Members of the Sox staff were flummoxed. Triple-A pitching coach Rich Sauveur tried to get Aceves to pick up the pace. Manager John Farrell asked the pitcher if he was okay; Aceves responded that he was, but kept lobbing the ball to the plate. Finally, pitching coach Juan Nieves visited the pitcher on the mound, at which point Aceves finally started throwing with something resembling the intended intensity of the exercise.
At the conclusion of the session, Farrell summoned Aceves to discuss the pitcher’s approach to his first live batting practice session of the spring.
“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. “He’s healthy and it’s been addressed.”
Aceves likewise had little to say about what either Nieves or Farrell told him.
“It’s in the team. Stays in the team,” he said.
And what did he get out of his session?
“We get through a lot of work coming through the spring training. I’m pretty satisfied with today,” said Aceves, who characterized the session live batting practice as “whatever is usual for me. And also usual for every single of us. Try to train another day of the spring training.”
The behavior was, of course, bizarre in its own right, but in Aceves’ case, the matter appears more disconcerting because it echoes other disciplinary concerns that the Sox had with the right-hander towards the end of last year. He was suspended for three games in late August after he ripped off his uniform in the bullpen in a game when Andrew Bailey was asked to record a save. When he returned from the suspension, he got into a dugout disagreement with Dustin Pedroia during which he brushed aside manager Bobby Valentine. Later in the month, he walked off the back of the pitcher’s mound when Valentine came to pull him so that Aceves would not have to cross paths with his manager. At the end of the season, Aceves showed up later and later, long after his teammates had arrived at the park, often less than two hours prior to game time.
All of that happened with Valentine as the manager. Farrell was committed to starting the year with the proverbial clean slate.
“Start everybody fresh,” Farrell said of his approach. “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. … Still getting to know [his personality]. Just from across the field, he’s a heck of a competitor and a very talented pitcher. I’m starting to gain my own personal history with him right now. We had a part of that discussion today.”
Farrell had talked with Aceves during the offseason, both about his expected role for the 2013 Sox — though he will be stretched out as a starter in spring training, assuming that all five slated starters emerge healthy this spring, Aceves is ticketed for multi-inning relief duty — and about the necessary commitment to the team if he was to be a contributor.
Farrell has repeatedly praised his talent, versatility and durability. But those traits will only impact the Sox if Aceves can show the ability to fit into the team.
“What you mentioned that is most important there is what our team concept is,” said Farrell. “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.”
Farrell had a chance to do just that today, “reinforcing what we set out on Day 1 on our full-squad meeting,” the manager said. “We’re good.”
Based on track record, however, it is fair to wonder whether that remains the case, and if so, for how long.
Shortly after the NFLRA released its statement demanding an apology from ESPN, Jim Quirk, the NFLRA's Executive Director, joined Mut to talk about the statement
WEEI's Chris Price joins Mut to talk about his experience of being in yesterday's Patriots championship parade, and which New England free agents could return to play for the Pats next season.
Super Bowl champ Vince Wilfork joins the show to talk about his feelings about winning the Super Bowl and what his future holds.
Flannery joins Mut to break down the Isaiah Thomas trade to Boston and what it means for the Celtics this season and in the future. Paul also chats with Mut about the other deals that happened at the NBA's trading deadline
We talk to Chris Mannix from SI to break down the C's acquisition of Isaiah Thomas and the crazy trade deadline in the rest of the NBA.
Jessica Camerato of basketballinsiders.com joins the show to talk about Marcus Smart, the starting lineup, and trade deadline.
David Ortiz takes a few minutes to talk with Mut, Bradford, and Tomase about some of his new teammates, who Pablo Sandoval reminds him of, and the rules aimed at speeding up the game of baseball.
Mut, Bradford, and Tomase are talking Red Sox spring training. and talk with Red Sox DH David Ortiz about the rules aimed at speeding up the pace of the game
Catcher Blake Swihart, one of the Red Sox top-rated prospects, sits down with Lou to talk about Spring Training and his expectations for the upcoming season
DJ Bean joins Middays with MFB to talk everything going on with the struggling Bruins
Pierre McGuire of the NBC Sports Network joins the show to talk about the Bruins' continued struggles, and what the team needs to do to improve moving forward
Dale, Michael and Jerry Thornton talk with the great Jack Edwards of NESN fame to get his insight on the struggling Bruins as the chances to salvage this season continue to dwindle.
Mookie sat in with Dino, Gerry and Kirk to discuss the upcoming season and his preparation for playing in the outfield. Mookie also details one of his favorite hobbies, bowling.
All the latest stories brought to you by Kirk Minihane.
The guys kick off a free form Friday by looking at the competition in the outfield and a possible peace with Pete Abe.
On this weeks Aloha Friday, Tim apologizes to our producer Tom for not knowing who Leonard Nimoy was, Christian bashes Kanye West, and Joey makes amends for mistaking camel noises for llama noises
DJ Bean joins Middays with MFB to talk everything going on with the struggling Bruins
On this week's Fauria Five, Christian asks what the over/under on how many times Ortiz will be fined for stepping out of the batter's box this season, will the Bruins make the playoffs, will the Patriots use the franchise tag on Devin McCourty, where does Adrian Peterson play next year, and what color was the dress that went viral yesterday
We discuss the good week that was for the prosecution in the Aaron Hernancez murder trial with attorney and professor of law Michael McCann.
Dale and Michael discuss the plight of the Bruins as the trade deadline looms.
Dale and Michael go back and forth on the circumstances around Vandy coach Kevin Stallings verbally berating a player on national TV, and using harsh language like "I'll kill you"
Mikey, Mut, and Lenny are joined by the Rev girls, who are revealing the New Revolution uniform Tuesday at the House of Blues in Boston and talking about the Revs.
Mikey, Lenny, and Maggie talk Red Sox baseball with Red Sox Hall of Famer Bill Lee, who is in Florida and out of the snow that's perpetually burying the area.
Mikey gets a call from Kirk Minihane, who wants to clear the air with Mikey and get everything settled. It goes better than you think.
Boston University coach David Quinn joins WEEI’s Scott McLaughlin to discuss the Terriers’ Beanpot title and how he feels about his team as the postseason approaches. Quinn also discusses reports about NHL interest in goalie Matt O’Connor and briefly touches on a recent misstep by Jack Eichel.
After a wild trade deadline, Ben Kichen and Sam Packard breakdown the Celtics and the rest of the NBA. Then Sam yells at Ben about the use of analytics in basketball. Ben yells back.
Chris and Nate from Barstool Sports review the events of Fast Lane and Raw while discussing the potential card at Wrestlemania.
Big John can't take it anymore, JUST TALK ABOUT SPORTS!!!More from this show
Mookie sat in with Dino, Gerry and Kirk to discuss the upcoming season and his preparation for playing in the outfield. Mookie also details one of his favorite hobbies, bowling.More from this show
All the latest headlines brought to you by Kirk Minihane.More from this show
Dale, Michael and Jerry Thornton listen in as David Ortiz goes off to the media about the pace of game rule changes being put in place this year in Major League Baseball. They listen to David, discuss it among themselves, and talk with YOU.More from this show
Bogaerts sat down with Dino, Gerry and Kirk to talk about the upcoming season. He revealed that he lost his confidence last season after a tough start and is looking forward to settling into shortstop in the future.More from this show