Red Sox notebook: John Farrell playing it safe with Shane Victorino, Koji Uehara and Junichi Tazawa, and a Jonathan Herrera experiment

Mike Petraglia
February 27, 2014 - 6:30 am

FORT MYERS, Fla. -- The Red Sox are making no apologies for playing it safe with some of their aging veterans as they enter camp as World Series champs. Manager John Farrell announced Thursday before the team's college doubleheader with Northeastern and Boston College that Shane Victorino is easing his way back into full baseball activities after his legs needed some extra rest after early work in camp. "Shane continues to address some of the things we discovered in those legs," Farrell said. "I want to be clear, his first two days of work coming in were extremely good. But then we saw some needs and we're addressing those right now. He continues to throw and is doing some running and we're just addressing the overall core strength." Farrell said there's no firm schedule for when Victorino might be ready to get into spring games. "Not yet. He's going to be out there when he's first ready," Farrell said. "We know this from Shane, he's going to want to get out there maybe before we might want to put him in games. There's no reason to think that he's not going to be ready for opening day. That's not in our concern right now." In addition to surgery on his thumb in December, Victorino battled hamstring, groin and hip issues throughout last season. The Red Sox are trying to be proactive this spring to make sure those ailments don't recur often. Farrell also indicated Thursday that, despite the proclamation of Pedro Martinez on Wednesday, Junichi Tazawa and Koji Uehara will be held out for about the first week of games in camp as they get their work in on the side and the back fields. The reason? Simple, both were used in many high leverage postseason situations for a full extra month of baseball last year. "He and Junichi, they'll get in games probably around the third-way through the game schedule mark," Farrell said. "There's nothing that says otherwise why we're holding them back. They're throwing the ball extremely well right now but we're just trying to balance out the number of appearances last year, as well." As for Martinez saying Uehara, at 38, looks like he could already be pitching in regular season games, Farrell said there's reasons for that. "One they're durable. Two, their work ethic in the offseason shows up when they first come into camp and the way they're able to throw bullpens with shorter rest, so their recovery time has been great. But we still have to balance what they went through last year with a full month of additional pitching," Farrell said. Here are some other highlights of Farrell from Thursday morning:

  • On importance of spring games beginning: "I wouldn't select only the rookies or the first-year players in camp. For everyone in camp, these games are important, regardless of the position. We're trying to get a foundation laid that is the next step in our overall preparation to begin the season. It's good to get the games started, I know that."
  • More on strength of bullpen right now: "I think we have a very good relief corps across the board with the entire projected group to begin the season with. It's an above-average strike-throwing group of relievers. There's multiple guys in the back end that have had closing experience. We've got contrasting styles. We've got match-up ability, strikeout ability. But the most important thing is their overall strike-throwing ability. That's the most important thing. "Arm strength is going to continue to build throughout the course of camp. You're looking to get their foundation right, and that's their deliveries. Get their alignment normal to their specific delivery and overall, just fill in the strike zone as much as possible. We want guys to pitch to contact and really establish strike one."
  • On development of Andrew Miller: "There is such a wide spectrum of when lefthanders get it. The one thing with him is your talking about a guy that is 6-7, 6-8, and the length of limbs and the ability to time things up, it may be that it's a little more challenging. The one thing he's done of a great job with is adjusting his delivery. He's eliminated that leg kick to a slide step. It's simplified and a pretty straightforward deliver. I think with the shortened stints and eliminating four or five days in between appearances on the mound. That repetition and the simplified delivery has allowed him to [pitch] at a baseball better."
  • On Jonathan Herrera being the leading utility player on roster: "He's got good hands. He's got good range. We saw that early on in just some of the drill work with Butter. We'll get to see how the bat plays as we begin the game schedule now. The versatility. He's a smart player. He understands all the concepts behind some of the things we do on our infield defense. He's a true pro. "Because of our composition of the roster last year, our backup infielders were starting at another position. We might not have that luxury as we stand here today but the normal utility type guy, the versatility. When you look at that utility guy, the ability to play shortstop is number one in their abilities and he's got that. And we're going to take a long look at Brock Holt in that same role. The one position that he hasn't played the most is third base. We're going to get some early reps at that position just to get him comfortable with it."
  • On Daniel Nava (neck) getting into games this weekend: "Nava will take full work on the field today. At the earliest tomorrow possibility but likely sometime on the weekend, he'll be in the lineup.