WEEI>On Demand>>Spring Training Report: Will Middlebrooks' role, the leadoff spot and more

Spring Training Report: Will Middlebrooks' role, the leadoff spot and more

Feb 18, 2014|

FORT MYERS, Fla. -- WEEI.com's Mike Petraglia and Alex Speier talk about the future of Will Middlebrooks, the health of Shane Victorino and the edge of Jonny Gomes on Day 2 of Red Sox spring training from JetBlue Park in Fort Myers.

Transcript - will not be 100% accurate

Welcome to sunny Fort Myers, Florida unlike the -- joined by baseball expert for WEEI dot com. Alex -- you are indeed an expert Alex there's no question about Matt -- about nothing including my own life you are two humble indeed. We are at a beautiful -- ballpark this is day two of spring training 2014. For the defending World Series champion Boston Red Sox. A number of position players in addition to the pitchers and catchers Alex. Have already reported as a matter of fact everybody pretty much is on board something that really pleased John Ferrell today. When he spoke with the reporters. I wanna touch on the first of all a couple of things that that. The Red Sox will be focused on here in spring training right out of the gate and one story is something you wrote about will middle -- he is somebody. And it's in a season 2013. We're almost everything went well he frankly it was a disappointment how do you figure he will bounce back. Well it's it's quite interesting because you're right they're really 2013 must for most of the guys on the team it was in a way validation for their careers. In middle Brooks -- case it was pretty drastically different from whatever what else experienced and he described the experience as having essentially had just based pushed into the dirt. A few different times he said look it's not fun to struggle it's not fun to be told and I could not have some fun to be sent down to the minors. But he's using all of that all of his struggles of 2013. As compelling motivation. -- to assert himself and to show a bit. Think he's more the guy we was in 2012 when he looked like the future franchise cornerstone. As opposed to the guy last year who didn't have a defined role and lost his job twice so I think it. Mel Brooks is one of the huge stories and -- because there is certain uncertainty. About what he is is a big leaguer given the wide disparity. Between those two seasons he is. In in great shape he added twelve pounds of muscle. This offseason mindful of the fact that the physical demands of the Major League season. Ended up costing him some production when he suffered a lower back injury he tore the cartilage in his ribs so -- he has driven he's he's a guy with a chip on his shoulder this year. How much do you think it helps will Mel -- Alex the fact that Zander but it's Stephen Drew is not here we know Zander -- is gonna start. The season or start certainly spring training at at shortstop. The job at third base as wills to win. It certainly is right now he is the Red Sox third baseman but. There's still uncertainty about that because until Stephen Drew his situation is resolved then. There might be a bit of looking over the shoulder of the -- middle -- put it is I don't I'm not going to concern myself with anyone else I need to focus on doing what I can as well as I can. And if he does that and he shows then -- show that he's an everyday major leaguer. If he is indeed if he looks like the guy that he wasn't 2012. Another storyline here on Tuesday. It's the first week of spring training 2014. Alex is the arrival of Shane Victorino. And his offseason thumb surgery which by all accounts today and and previously went very well John Carroll said this morning. That it went very well he started to throw the ball he has not taken live BP some dry swings not hitting. The ball quite yet. But chain victory know where do you think he stands coming into the season. And do you think the fact that you know it's Kobe Els areas no longer here. Really helps him in terms of his position at the top of the batting order. Well I think he'll -- As a likelihood that victory no winds up splitting -- -- duties with Daniel -- so long as both of those guys are comfortable with that Victorino is obviously. I'm a has a true lead off hitters still set especially against against left handed pitching because he performed so well throughout his he's performed so well throughout his career. Against lefties. It's possible that because he has this secondary skills of lead off hitter speed and I and that sort of thing that he might end up being the full time lead off hitter but. There's going to kind of work through that and spring training but obviously Shane Victorino was a pivotal member of the team in 2013 his ability to play gold glove caliber right field. His ability to be a really really good hitter in the number two hole. We're we're transformative for the Red Sox his speed on the bases well. Gave the team both the opportunity to manufacture runs and had a certain kind of style of play. So they need a healthy Shane Victorino. Because I don't think that it was hard to imagine him having as good a season as he did last year at the time that he signed his contract certainly a lot of people thought that. Thought that it was not he was not going to performance that kind of level. He's he's a pretty pivotal guy especially as we talk about I mean you should probably. I you have more thoughts about this about as as the Red Sox try to prepare for -- that Jacoby Ellsbury. Well I think with chain victory know one thing there was interest king and and John Carroll was asked that Shane Victorino was asked that. Will he switch -- in 2014. John Ferrell said. Cutting guarded his answer a little bit saying he'll hit the as far as I know right now but as we learned in the past being last year. When he got injured his his back and his hamstring. He. -- exclusively from the right hand side do you think he will switch at this year. I don't know I mice might guess right now would be yes because. -- he's talked a lot he talked a lot throughout last year. About how it's something you worked so hard on to have taken a master throughout his career. This is not a natural thing this was a years long thing in. And there were times when that it was taken away from him in the minor leagues and he worked hard to get him back in the proof that it was something he could do. When you fight. To demonstrate the you have a still you don't give it up very easily. But holy smokes he was productive -- point he was insanely productive when he went to you exclusively to the right side of the plate. In August and September of last year and into the post he's -- became the first person Major League history. To have gave the game winning RBIs in three separate clincher -- and when post season I was already handed. And that is amazing and that is one reason Jon Carroll said today they can't argue with what he's done right handed meaning I think he's leaving himself. And Victor Reno that out that if victory -- feels most comfortable hitting right handed. He'll let him make to be the final judge there OK let's start about Jonny Gomes that beard is gone I hit the much ballyhooed beard is gone he is in camp. Looks very relaxed one take away -- young and he looks very young as a matter of fact I believe it was Shane Victorino said he looked like a freshman in high school joking around them. In the locker in the clubhouse this morning but. Jonny Gomes John Ferrell said today he was the edge of that. World Series championship team towards the end of the postseason run last year it's one reason. -- pointed to that. He did not platoon in the World Series when a lot of people thought that he might in the -- Leven said had this been July people who had been wondered why am I not platoon him with Daniel Nava. Your thoughts and Jonny Gomes coming back here for a second season with the Red Sox. Well even in October people are asking John -- why are you doing this even at this juncture. Because Daniel and Alvarez and at tremendous hitter we can't overlook the fact that this was a guy. Who hit over 300 had the fifth best on base percentage in the American League. And was a standout kind of kind of a quote unquote mormons shouldn't suit Hewitt in a way. In terms of on base abilities. -- but it'll be interesting to see because -- domes. Relish that opportunity to play every day in the World Series but now the team might have to kind of get stuffed back into the bottle little bit. Because you have to play Daniel Nava -- that it's back. In the regular season format. That is Jonny Gomes is not going to be the everyday guy in the field unless there's an injury that permits him to be bad but. I mean he's obviously he he remains the edge you know he shows up and he talks about. How rare it is to to be a back to back champion. How you know he his his great phrase was -- -- you're hungry for a championship and then once you get a taste of it. You start starving for one -- and you know I think that he he really does. His presence does do something in terms of making sure that there's a clubhouse of guys focused on the game. It is an intangible to be sure for these Red Sox and obviously the Red Sox are hoping that continues in 2014. The story line on Wednesday will be the one presence of David Ortiz he was here with -- son De'Angelo. Or relaxing on on the outfield number one. On the infield that taking some swings De'Angelo even took some swings that would be the big story. Alex on Wednesday will be sure to follow that be sure to follow all the spring training coverage on WEEI dot com. Back slash spring training. For Alex beer I'm Mike -- rally at jetBlue park in Fort Myers, Florida WEEI dot com.

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