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News, notes, quotes and observations from today's workout

Posted by Peter Abraham, Globe Staff  February 22, 2012 02:36 PM

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David Ortiz (left) and Dustin Pedroia were fan favorites today in Fort Myers. (Jim Davis/Globe Staff)


FORT MYERS, Fla. Some news, notes, quotes and observations from today's workout:

Bobby Valentine on the arrival of David Ortiz: "They told me it would be loud and merengue [music]. They were right. The clubhouse seems to be full of David right now. I expect him to have that smile as often as possible so he can light up our clubhouse and our dugout. I'm hoping he can swing the bat the way he did last year. Don't know that he can hit lefthanders equally as well, I hope he can. Provide some leadership, provide some experience and put some fear into the hearts of opposing pitchers."

Hmm. "Don't know that he can lefthanders equally as well." Bobby V seems to be issuing a challenge to his DH.

After hitting a few balls in the dirt during batting practice, Ortiz turned to the fans and said, "If I don't start hitting bombs, I'm going back to the fried chicken."

Valentine spent some time slapping ground balls to an infield of Lars Anderson, Oscar Tejeda, Jose Iglesias and Will Middlebrooks.

Hard as he tried, he could not get a ball past Iglesias. The kid was showing off, too, flipping the ball backhanded to second base with his glove several times.

Valentine said, from a quick look, that Iglesias has better range than Rey Ordonez, the defensive whiz he managed with the Mets.

Iglesias has gained 10 pounds and cut down on his body fat. He launched two balls over the fence during batting practice today. "Just lucky," he said.

But Iglesias clearly is stronger and that could help him become a better offensive player. This is a player, after all, who has just 27 extra-base hits in 618 minor league at-bats.

See tomorrow's Globe for more on Iglesias.

Valentine was asked if he wanted a team captain. "I hadn't planned on that," he said. "If the team thinks a captain's a cool thing, I think that could be considered. I don't think a captain is necessary. I don't know that it's so necessary you can't live without it."

Despite several questions about the lineup, Valentine hasn't said much. Then again, it's only Feb. 22. He did openly wonder about the wisdom of sending Jacoby Ellsbury up to the plate with the bases empty at least once a game (as the leadoff hitter) given the many extra-base hits he had last season.

One of Valentine's friends, former Dodgers and Pirates pitcher Rick Rhoden, was here watching. As they chatted in one of the dugouts, Valentine turned to the crowd and said, "Hey, folks, say hello to Rick Rhoden, one of the greatest righthanded hitters who ever lived!"

The fans applauded. Rhoden was a pitcher but also hit .238 in his career with nine home runs and 75 RBIs. He was a four-time Silver Slugger winner.

"That's Bobby," Rhoden said.

Valentine was asked what could be done about speeding up the game. He said pitchers and coaches should only be allowed two trips to the mound all game for the same pitcher, not two an inning. We vote yes on that.

Comeback Carl Crawford took some more swings in the cage today.

According to Joe McDonald of ESPN Boston, Rob Gronkowski of the Patriots was here today.

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