FORT MYERS, Fla. — A year after the Red Sox were decimated by injuries, they will be careful about not pushing players early in camp.
Among the measures being taken by manager Terry Francona and his staff is using the shuttle run drill, a staple of the spring training regimen, as just a conditioning drill rather than a real test of a player's fitness. That will prevent some players from doing something too physical, too soon.
"You start putting some guys in awkward positions," Francona said Monday in Fort Myers. "Some wouldn't want to run it. Some we thought would run it too hard. So we just decided that we would do it as part of the conditioning."
Francona had players like Jason Varitek, Dustin Pedroia and Mike Cameron in mind when he announced the plan. All three are coming off injuries, the first two to the lower body, and each carries with them enough of a competitive spirit to make a testing drill too much.
"We love the fact that guys do it," Francona added. "But then all of a sudden you?re thinking, OK we've got a long year ahead of us, let?s do what makes sense."
Another slight alteration to the plan will allow position players a day or so before they are forced to face live pitching upon reporting to camp. In years past, they would arrive and get into hitting drills rather soon. This will give them time to get their feet wet and take a little pressure off the team's pitchers as they begin their throwing programs.
"The hitters won?t mind one bit," Francona said. "That?s not their first love, showing up and facing [Josh] Beckett and [Daniel] Bard."