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Red Sox get creative in the infield

Posted by Peter Abraham, Globe Staff  February 17, 2013 06:40 PM

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FORT MYERS, Fla. — It was the kind of thing that made you look twice. But that really was Daniel Bard at first base with Ryan Dempster at second, John Lackey at shortstop and Andrew Miller as the world’s only 6-foot-7 lefthanded third baseman.

The Red Sox were having some fun on Sunday morning, but with a purpose. As part of working on bunt defense, they had the pitchers rotate through the infield positions to get a better sense of what their teammates do.

Pitching coach Juan Nieves suggested the drill. It is something his former team, the Chicago White Sox, do in spring training.

“It serves a couple of purposes. One, it continues to allow the pitchers to go through the bunt responsibilities. But it also gives them insight in what every other player on the field’s responsibilities are,” manager John Farrell said.

“They get a better understanding of not only reading the pace of the bunt, they can understand how much distance has to be traveled in certain situations. From that standpoint, it was helpful.”

The pitchers enjoyed the challenge of scooping up throws and charging the ball. Lackey, who played first base in junior college, was particularly adept at those skills.

“I played shortstop when I was a sophomore in high school,” Miller said. “I kind of knew what to do. But Lack was pretty good.”

Defensive drills can get boring for pitchers. But the Sox made it into a competition, counting who had the fewest mistakes. They were a noisy bunch.

Farrell was enjoying himself watching the action.

“I’ll tell you, when you get into spring training one of the tough things is to get creative,” he said.

What if there’s an emergency some night, might Farrell try one of his pitchers in the infield?

“Let’s hope it doesn’t come to that,” he said.

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