During spring training, the Red Sox skipper preached the importance of speeding around the base paths. With Carl Crawford and Jacoby Ellsbury sidelined with injuries, however, the Red Sox had lost the luxury of speed. Until now.
Despite dropping Tuesday's game to the White Sox 7-5, the Red Sox showed flashes of Valentine's philosophy in place, amassing four steals — three from Crawford and one from Ellsbury — to give the offense a jolt.
"That's my game," Crawford said. "It's been my game my whole career and like you said, I didn't really get a chance to show that last year and you know I'm thankful for the opportunity this year to be able to have a few games to show what I can do up there and hopefully, it's a spot where they'd like to see me stay."
The first inning epitomized Valentine's strategy. As Crawford squared off against White Sox pitcher Phil Humber in his first at bat, Ellsbury wasted no time bolting toward second base and safely swiping the bag.
Once Crawford connected on Humber's fastball, Ellsbury rounded the bases for the game's first run. The steals continued in the subsequent at-bat, when Crawford swiped second and ultimately scored off Adrian Gonzalez's single.
"It's part of our game and something we can attack teams with," Crawford said of speed with Ellsbury. "It's something we'll have to use, especially with [David Ortiz] being out. When you're doing it all the time, it does become fun."
Crawford also dashed with urgency in the eighth, stealing third base before Will Middlebrooks drove him in. Had Gonzalez avoided a groundout in the frame, Crawford — who had a huge jump to second — might've had four steals for the game.
Even on routine fly balls, the pair threatened Chicago with their speed. After Crawford belted a fly ball to deep center in the third, Ellsbury tagged up and rushed to second, where he barely beat the throw.
While the offense couldn't score Ellsbury, Valentine enjoyed the fact his vision was coming to fruition.
"They had a couple of good games together," Valentine said. "Getting on base, running the bases aggressively, scoring runs. I'm really happy both of them are back. They look really good. Carl's playing with real fire. It's a good thing to see."
And the Red Sox will be more aggressive on the base paths because of it.