In case you’ve missed it, the Boston Red Sox have amassed a small village of outfielders this offseason and head into 2015 with far more bodies than starting spots. We’ve got Shane Victorino, Hanley Ramirez, Allen Craig, Jackie Bradley Jr, Mookie Betts and Rusney Castillo, among others.
That’s a lot of outfielders, no?
“Yeah, it’s interesting,” former Red Sox World Series champion and current MLB Network analyst Kevin Millar said on CBS Sports Radio’s The Doug Gottlieb Show. “They talk about depth. Maybe this is like the NFL Draft. You need depth at every position. The thing about it is they finished last in 2012, (they were) World Series champs in ’13, (and they finished) last in ’14. If they go to first place in ’15, what in the heck are we seeing? You don’t see that in sports too often. It’s the first time in history we’ve ever seen last to World Series champs and then back to last place.
“They’re a unique team,” Millar continued. “They’re definitely going to better than they were last year. Offensively, they were rough to watch at times with all the injuries and just a lot of the things you don’t see big-market clubs go through. But it seems like they rebuilt.”
While the Red Sox have plenty of outfield depth, they’re still hoping for a bounce-back season from Shane Victorino, who hit .268 with two home runs, 12 RBIs, two steals and 14 runs in just 30 games year. Victorino underwent back surgery last August and is expected to be fine for Opening Day.
Still, what can Boston can expect from the 34-year-old this season?
“He’s a baseball player, so if he’s healthy, he’s going to give you what he gives you,” Millar said. “Good defense, scrappy, get hit by pitches – the guy can play and he understands the game. He still can run and throw. The main thing is his health.”
Millar added that he’s not worried about Ramirez switching from shortstop to left field. Why? Because if Millar – and Manny Ramirez, for that matter – could handle left field, so can Ramirez.
“Believe me, I wasn’t a very good outfielder at all,” Millar said. “Hanley’s going to be fine out there.”
Millar was also asked about MLB’s pace-of-play rule changes, which limit the actions of hitters between pitches. David Ortiz is not a fan of the new rules, even using some colorful language recently to express his feelings.
It appears Millar is on the same page.
“The pace of play is controlled by the guy holding the baseball,” Millar said. “Guys that are on the mound with good tempo – that controls the game. Throwing strikes and all that stuff. If we’re going to help the pace of play in baseball, have the pitching coach jog out there to the mound, not walk. Have the manager run out there to the mound (or) make the pitching move in the dugout.”
Too often, Millar said, a manager will walk to the mound – knowing full-well that his reliever in the bullpen needs six or seven more warm-up pitches – and will stall to slow down the game. Similarly, a catcher will walk to the mound and go over signs and strategy with a pitcher, thereby causing further delay.
“That’s the stuff – the tempo of baseball,” Millar said. “It’s not the hitter stepping out for a second and adjusting his batting gloves. Believe me, most of the time, the pitcher is not waiting on the batter. The batter is waiting on the pitcher.”