FORT MYERS, Fla. — Adrian Gonzalez took a scheduled day off from hitting off a tee today but will resume normal activity tomorrow, according to Sox manager Terry Francona.
Francona said the rest was according to plan and that the training staff decided to “cut back on everything and he’ll come back tomorrow and start over again. He’s been feeling good, but that’s what we wanted him to do.”
Gonzalez said his surgically repaired right shoulder felt fine and was going to follow the plan of the staff. He said he was eager to keep working toward getting into a situation where he can take live batting practice. There’s no timetable yet on that.
Gonzalez did take infield practice.
Francona was excited about two of his lefties — Rich Hill and Andrew Miller — both of whom had throwing sessions.
Francona said about Hill’s new sidearm motion: “He bought into it last September when he was throwing from various angles. It’s what we liked him to do, but if a guy doesn’t feel comfortable, it’s not going to work. He actually brought to our attention that this (sidearm) is his comfort zone. When he’s out there playing long-toss on flat ground, that’s the angle he throws with. It seems that’s where he’s comfortable. The hard thing is when you go out there and give up some runs and staying with it. But I think this is something that will allow him to be part of a major league bullpen.”
Francona added that Hill’s angle “makes lefthanded hitters give. He creates that angle, especially with a breaking ball.”
Francona was thrilled by the progress made by reclamation project Miller, the tall lefty who is trying to reinvent himself with the Red Sox. All signs point to Miller starting at Pawtucket, but the question is as what? The Sox may see him as a reliever, but Miller is now throwing a mid-to-high 90s fastball, a changeup, and a curveball. Miller said he doesn’t yet know whether the team will stretch him out to start because of the number of starters in camp.
“We don’t want it to be a big adjustment,” Francona said. “I know he’s been through a lot. He has the high leg kick and because of the way he threw, teams tried to change him. We really tried to simplify it and let that athleticism and let that ability take over. Some pretty special stuff is coming out of that arm. Rather than have 30-pitch side days to find the results, I want him to enjoy the journey. That’s kind of what we’ve been telling him.”
Francona said the many moving parts in Miller’s delivery, as a result of his being so tall, (he’s 6 feet 7 inches, 210 pounds) always will be an issue.
“That’s always gonna be the case. Guys like Randy Johnson … you see some of the taller guys. It takes a while because the biggest thing is to repeat your delivery. When you have that much body, it’s hard to repeat. But when he gets it right, it’s awful pretty.”
Francona also said he will not name an Opening Day starter until later in camp, bucking the trend around the league of managers already naming their first starters. Francona only remembers making an early announcement when he managed in Philadelphia when he gave the nod to Curt Schilling.
“Yeah, it doesn’t make a lot of sense,” he said. “Would rather get through the bulk of spring and know for a fact that’s going to happen.” Francona said there’s always the possibility of an injury changing things and he doesn’t want to commit now.
It would appear all signs point to Jon Lester being the Opening Day starter, but there’s also some consideration for veteran Josh Beckett.