Quintin Berry is returning to the team with which he won a championship in 2013. (Jamie Squire/Getty Images)

Morning Fort: Why Quintin Berry chose to jump into baseball's most crowded outfield; starters address 'ace' issue; Malcolm Butler influence

Rob Bradford
February 22, 2015 - 5:21 am
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FORT MYERS, Fla. -- You remember Quintin Bery, the outfielder the Red Sox acquired to offer a pinch-running threat throughout the 2013 postseason. Well, he's back. His previous stop with the Red Sox made a whole bunch of sense, with the speedster going 6-for-6 in stolen base attempts (including 3-for-3 in the postseason) after being acquired from Kansas City on Aug. 27, 2013. He was billed as the next Dave Roberts -- the man whose stolen base in the 2004 ALCS will go down as one of the franchise's signature moments -- and Berry didn't disappoint. "I saw [Roberts] when he threw out a first pitch," Berry remembered. "I told him, 'You don't really know this, but you got me a job.' " A fit with the Red Sox wouldn't have even been out of the question last year with some uncertainty in John Farrell's outfield. But Berry ultimately signed with the Orioles, where he played in just 10 major league games. This time, it's worth asking the question: Why? The Red Sox have one of the deepest, most complicated outfield depth charts in baseball. Currently ahead of the 30-year-old Berry are Hanley Ramirez, Rusney Castillo, Mookie Betts, Shane Victorino, Brock Holt, Daniel Nava, Allen Craig and Jackie Bradley. Yet, when it came down to making a decision, Berry chose to take the Red Sox' offer to return on a minor-league deal. "The thing about it is that you have to compete wherever you go," said Berry, who hit .285 while going 25-for-31 on stolen base attempts at Triple-A Norfolk last season. "Everywhere you go you'€™re going to be fighting the numbers and you'€™re going to be fighting the players. Because of this team and the relationship I had with the coaching staff, the way they treated me and took care of me, I really wanted to get an opportunity to get back here no matter was in front of me." Evidently, the two-month stint with the Red Sox really left an impression on Berry. "I really liked it here. I enjoyed myself," he said. "I loved the coaching staff here. But I really wanted to come back in 2014. I was really hoping. I was just glad they were going to give me the opportunity to come back this year, be back with the team and hang out with the players I built a good relationship. I loved it here." -- Most of the Red Sox position players have Sunday off, with their official reporting date coming Tuesday. (David Ortiz remains the only player not in camp after the arrival of Berry and Allen Craig.) Still managing to make an appearance were Dustin Pedroia, Mookie Betts, Deven Marrero, Garin Cecchini and a few others. -- The entire starting rotation, except for Joe Kelly, were besieged by a healthy number of media members Sunday morning. Here are how a few of them answered the "ace" question: Clay Buchholz: "I believe that there'€™s five guys who have been really, really good in the past. It'€™s a matter of being healthy and making your 33 starts during the season. I think if everybody does that, I don'€™t think this staff is going to have a problem. It'€™s fun to be out there and called the number one or whatever. I'€™ve been No. 5, I'€™ve been No. 2, I'€™ve been No. 3. It seems like I'€™m always facing the aces of other staffs after that first, second week of the season because of off-days. I don'€™t think you can take it too far. It'€™s an honor, obviously, to do the Opening Day gig, but after that, there'€™s not a whole lot to it." Justin Masterson: "What is an ace on a staff? I think in general people want to have an ace because they want to set this person out. Typically they just put it on the person who does well, '€˜Oh there'€™s your ace.'€™ '€˜Why'€™s he you'€™re ace?'€™ '€˜Because he pitched well.'€™ That'€™s kind of what they put it on. I think just in general we have leaders and we have quite a few of those. Guys who are going to do the right think, work hard, and the biggest thing is your team has confidence in what you'€™re doing. So when I go out there and play Clay, Wade [Miley], Rick [Porcello], Joe when any of us go out there the guys have the confidence in us, we'€™re the ace that day. And they look forward to having each of us go out there. There'€™s going to be times when one'€™s going to struggle and another the next guy is going to struggle and they know the next guy is going to pick them up and they know the next guy is going to pick them up and I think each guy can satisfy that role." Rick Porcello: "Whoever's pitching that night needs to be an ace. We need five aces to be successful. We can't just have one guy go out there. We only pitch once every five days. We need five guys firing on all cylinders. We need to get in a rhythm as a staff. We all have to be aces." -- Third base coach Brian Butterfield -- as intense a New England Patriots fan as there is -- suggested he is going to simulate Patriots defensive backs coach Brian Flores waving in Malcolm Butler into the game at the end of the Super Bowl when sending runners home this season. Remember: "Malcolm, go!"

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