Red Sox pitchers working harder

FORT MYERS, Fla. — There are only so many ways pitchers can practice fielding. A coach hits a ball, the pitcher picks it up and throws it somewhere. That about covers it.

But under Bobby Valentine, who has the energy of a puppy on Red Bull, the Sox are moving at a much faster pace. They are literally running from place to place and the drills move fast.

For starters, Valentine broke up the work groups. Instead of having all the established veterans together, guys like Josh Beckett and Jon Lester are mixed in with minor league hopefuls.

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The Sox also are actually throwing the ball this year. In past years they prohibited the pitchers from throwing to the bases during drills. The idea was to protect their arms, so they would pretend to throw.

Now they’re going full speed. Valentine wants them to practice how they play.

The pitchers are even scheduled for bunting practice. No waiting for a week before interleague games. Knowing Valentine he’s capable of finding a good bunter and using him even in AL games if there’s a need.

There’s definitely a new sheriff in town.